Watch the videos that TED uses to reset your brain

Better than cat videos.
Better than cat videos.
Image: Ryan Lash/TED
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With over 90 speakers over the course of five days, the TED conference is a cerebral workout. Speaker after speaker, the audience who gathered in Vancouver and Whistler last week was bombarded with exciting scientific breakthrough, emotional revelations, indelible performances, and ardent appeals for social and systemic change—one after the other. The program and post-conference activities stretched to 12-hour mental marathons at times.

The TED program curators were wise to the effect this can have on the audience, so with every few speakers, an interstitial video would be shown, as a kind of palate cleanser for the mind.

“It burns a muscle,” TED curator Chris Anderson observes. “If you spend two hours just pushing one part of that muscle, it gets tired. A lot of conferences most of the time are just pounding on the left brain and the analytical side, or give you inspiration after inspiration only and gouge into your compassion reservoir.”

A cut above run-of-the-mill internet cat videos, the clips were carefully selected by TED from dozens of videos from animation festivals, short films, and commercials throughout the year. The videos helped reset the mood in the room, bridge a topic, or helped the host shift gears.

After Monica Lewinsky’s revelatory talk for example, Anderson segued to delightfully silly video, saying “We need a quick mental break. So in the immortal words of John Cleese, and now for something completely different…”

“If the Senate took a Beethoven break every couple of hours, it might just change America,” says Anderson. “You’ve got to get people a different mode of opening up.”

For your viewing pleasure—or sanity—we’ve collected some stand-out interstitial clips from the program:

“I feel uninspired. Show me something sublime”

“How about some cute puppies”

“I’m sleepy”

“Show me the silly”

“I just need to dance for three minutes