Monthly Archives: March 2005

Fantasy friends

While most children believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny at some point, researchers are now starting to discover that children’s fantasy worlds are more subtle than previously suspected, and may even last into adulthood. An in-depth article from Science News Online examines a child’s understanding of fantasy characters and how imagination is being […]

More cartoon fun

Further to the dinosaurs Vaughan speaks of below, there is a Flash-based dynamic comic* at Neuroscience for Kids which is a nice intro to the entire nervous system, with Sam and his friendly neurons. In addition, there are also suggestions for a number of neuroscience-based fun lesson plans, like synaptic tag. Sam’s brainy adventure: link […]

Banishing depression with exercise

This week is Mental Health Action Week, and a major attempt is being made to highlight the beneficial effects of exercise in treating depression. Depression is commonly treated with antidepressant drugs, and for some people, these may be the most effective treatment. For mild or moderate depression however, regular excercise is known to work as […]

Tyrannosaurus reflex

In a wonderful comic strip, dinosaurs explain the neural mechanism of why locking the hands together can release the knee jerk reflex. It’s not often the finer points of neurological examination are explained by cartoon dinosaurs, but may this be the first in a long line of comic book / neuroscience fusion spectaculars. Link to […]

Turn on, tune in, spin out

Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell studies attention deficit disorder (ADD) and is becoming increasingly concerned that using information technology is causing an acquired form of the condition. He argues that the constant task-switching required when using the likes of mobile phones, email and instant messaging can lead to an effect he has called ‘Attention Deficit Trait’ or […]

2005-03-23 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news, with internet radio easter special: An archive of old advertisements for hypnotism books and training guides. Researchers argue Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was inspired by the hallucinogenic effects of ergot. Scientists link gene to dyslexia (again). A specialist in the psychology of […]

Do you really want to quit?

I have a question about dialog boxes on my computer. This is something I mentioned last night, and I’d appreciate some help. Below is a picture of a well-assembled dialog box. UI folks say that dialog box options should be verbs, not nouns, but that’s not important here. (ie, you should have options “Don’t save” […]

When faces fade

Prosopagnosia is an inability to recognise faces. It most commonly occurs after brain injury, although this week’s New Scientist reports on a recently completed study on a type of inherited prosopagnosia, suggesting a genetic basis for face recognition. The research was an international effort, led by husband and wife team, geneticists Thomas and Martina Gr√ºter. […]

What motivates cognitive science ?

Online editions of The Times and Guardian have a review of neurobiologist Steven Rose’s new book The 21st Century Brain, that discusses the motivations behind the funding and support for neuroscience research. Rose is a controversial critic of many aspects of mainstream science, and his new book argues that the recent explosion in psychology and […]

Reminder: Talk at Foyles is tomorrow, Wednesday

Just so you all the Londoners know, Mind Hacks at Foyles is at 6.30pm tomorrow. They’re expecting the tickets to sell out later today, so grab yourself a ticket if you haven’t already. See you then! ps. Bring a pen, for experimental purposes.

The fine art of neuroscience

This week’s issue of the science journal Nature has a number of articles on science and art. Sadly most are closed-access, although one gem is freely available. An article by psychologist Patrick Cavanagh discusses the techniques of visual art and how they can inform neuroscience, particularly in understanding the construction of the visual system. Artists […]

Test Your Synaesthesia

Dear Kathryn I’ve been thinking about the way you see colours that go with each number, and also colours for each day of the week. It’s called synaesthesia- but you probably know that- and you seem like the have number-colour synaesthesia (which is common). There are other kinds like sound-colour synaesthesia or even sound-taste synaesthesia […]

Reviewing the brain on film

Movies often borrow themes from psychology and neuroscience, although only a few have the compliment returned by scientists in the field. Two recent films however, have sparked engaging commentaries from a number of scientists, owing to their accurate depiction of brain function. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was praised by Kirk Jobsluder for eschewing […]

Are psychiatric drugs stifling art ?

An article just published on discusses whether psychiatric drug treatment is robbing society of artistic talent. Many authors have argued that mental illness and creativity are linked. Perhaps most notably, psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison discussed the associations between mood disorder and creativity in her book Touched with Fire. Although Jamison largely deals with literary […]

Spike activity 2005-03-18

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Researchers from the University of Zurich suggest kindness to strangers may be uniquely part of human nature. An insightful article on mindfulness meditation discusses its benefits for mental health and the supporting research. Hormone treatment for prostate cancer has been shown to have effects […]

Studying the nose to understand bipolar disorder

Nerve cells from the nose are helping scientists study the neural basis of bipolar disorder, the condition often known as manic depression. These cells, called olfactory receptor neurons, are located just inside the nose, and are similar in many ways to cells within the brain, but are easier (and safer) to get to. The research […]


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