Monthly Archives: December 2004

Cultivated Perception

Lots of psychology isn’t rocket science – it’s not exactly stuff you couldn’t have figured out yourself if you’d have thought about it for long enough. Often the conclusions from some area of investigation are explained to you and you think ‘Well, hey, that’s obvious’. And of course there’s an argument that true answers often […]

The Social Yawn

All animals yawn (see animalyawns.com) and in humans yawning seems to be contagious. Seeing another person yawn, or even just reading about yawning can make you yawn. (We talk about unconscious immitation in chapter 10 of the book). James Anderson from the University of Stirling gave a lecture in Sheffield last week about yawning – […]

Hallucinations in macular degeneration

The Fortean Times has an online article about the unusual experiences that can occur in a condition called macular degeneration, where light sensing cells in the part of the eye called the macular cease to work. As well as blindness in the central part of vision, hallucinations can occur. “Hallucinations? What do you mean?” I […]

Scientific American ‘Mind’ launches

Scientific American has launched a quarterly magazine on psychology and neuroscience called Scientific American Mind. I have the first issue in front of me which I just bought from the newsagent. It seems to be well put together and mercifully short on adverts, although isn’t cheap at 3.75ukp. There’s some sample articles in full on […]

Finding Geschwind’s territory

A new connection has been found between two of most important language areas in the brain. Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area have been linked to speech production and language comprehension respectively. They were some of the first discoveries that linked particular brain areas to specific mental abilities and are known to be joined by a […]

The face, the brain and Marilyn Monroe

Researchers from London and Italy have just published a study on the brain areas involved in perceiving and understanding faces. They created an elegant experiment where they used morphing to compare how brain activity changes as a photograph is gradually blended from one person to another, for example, from Marilyn Monroe to Margaret Thatcher. They […]

Hack #102 : Alter Input With Expectations

This is a hack which never made it into the book, but we thought it worth sharing. At this point, to get the most out of this hack, look at this figure (in a pop-up window) quickly before reading on. It’s not important to try and work out what it is, but have a good […]

First week shouts

Our heroic contributor Alex Fradera has a nice way with some kind words about the book here Suffice to say that if you want to know about the brain, and the mind, and you want a bunch of mavericks to illuminate it using cognitive and visual illusions, pop culture and web-references, wrapped up in a […]

Ghosts in the machine

Controversy has erupted over Michael Persinger’s findings that applying weak complex magnetic fields over the temporal lobes can induce unusual experiences, particularly the experience ‘sensing a presence’ in the room, which Persinger has linked to religious belief and spiritual experience. This work was part of a larger project in which Persinger and his colleagues have […]

Online neuroscience tutorial

The second part of a three part neuroscience tutorial has just been published on kuro5hin.org. While the first part covered the basic physiology of the neuron and how signals are generated and propogate within them, the second part deals with how signals are passed between neurons, over the synapse. The synapse is the principal part […]

Imaginary friends

Psychologists from the University of Oregon have been studying children’s imaginary friends. Their study found that 65% of children had imaginary friends at the age of 7, a much higher rate than expected, and that the presence of an imaginary friend is linked to better emotional understanding and ‘theory of mind’ skills (the suggested ability […]

Left-handers survive best in violent societies

A study investigating the number of left-handed people in tribal societies has found that the more violent the society, the higher the number of left-handers in the population. The researchers speculate that this is due to left-handers having an advantage in hand-to-hand combat, as shown by the higher number of left-handed champions in sports like […]

Vaughan

I’m one of the contributors to the book and have been kindly asked to write for mindhacks.com. I’m a clinical and research psychologist and there’s more about my work at my staff page. You can find me on Twitter here (@vaughanbell) where I also post various mind and brain snippets. License: I write because I […]

UK-a-Go-Go

It’s taken a couple of weeks to cross the Atlantic, clear customs, and get through the warehouses… Mind Hacks is now in stock at Amazon UK, with a dispatch time listed of 3-4 days. And if you order now, you get 30% off. Buy Mind Hacks at Amazon UK, and get it in time for […]

Sinister Research

A couple of interesting bits of research on handedness in the news today. Chimps brains are asymmetrical in similar ways to human brains, and this is reflected in whether they’re left or right handed too. Why we have a preferred hand is still being debated, but this research shows handedness isn’t a consequence of the […]

Applying the hacks

It’s good to try some of the ideas in Mind Hacks on real-world problems. We have a piece up on the O’Reilly Network today, using visual attention concepts to comment on Flickr’s Daily Zeitgeist toy. Photos continually fade in and shrink down on a grid of pictures–what does this mean, from the perspective of change […]

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