Monthly Archives: April 2005

‘Mind reading machine’ for sale on eBay

More futuristic eBay tomfoolery: “hello, i am selling what i believe to be a mind reading machine built by Dr. J. S. Strauss in the year 2282″. It is difficult to write anything about the auction page that even partially captures its kooky brilliance. Although you may be interested to know that apart from getting […]

2005-04-29 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Brain scan sees hidden thoughts says sensational BBC headline. Interesting research mostly spun as a ‘mind reading’ discovery. Also here. Steven Johnson discusses the possible cognitive benefits of modern media – although this Scientific American article (PDF) has another take on the issue. Drug […]

Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time

This week, the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time (“Melvyn Bragg and three guests explore the history of ideas”) is on ‘Perception and the Senses’ (it must be neuroscience week at the BBC!). Listening to it now, it’s a fantastic romp through the low-level neuroanatomy, visual perception, how senses are integrated and so on, […]

BBC Frontiers on the psychology of risk

BBC Radio 4’s science show Frontiers goes for a cognitive science two-in-a-row as it follows-up last week’s programme on neuroprosethics with an analysis of the psychology of risk-taking, sensation seeking and risk-based reasoning. Psychologist Marvin Zuckerman tackles evolutionary explanations for individual differences in risk-taking, and discusses the personality attributes and biological influences of sensation seeking […]

Scientific American on neuromorphics, laterality, apophenia

The May edition of Scientific American has just hit the shelves, containing articles on neuromorphics – the science of building electronics inspired by brain cells, gender differences in brain function and sex-specific psychiatric treatments, and how the brain makes unlikely connections between events. The cover article discusses ‘neuromorphics’, a new term describing the application of […]

Ockham’s Razor on qualia

ABC Radio National’s 15-minute science programme Ockham’s Razor discusses the philosophy and neuroscience of qualia – the conscious experience of sensation. The importance of qualia is hotly debated within cognitive science. Some argue that it is the essential thing to explain in consciousness, with others arguing that either it is a red-herring and no more […]

Girl swirl neuro shirt

Design-by-anarchy t-shirt shop Threadless have a fantastic new shirt available by designer Guilherme Marconi, combining a beautiful girl, decorative swirls and the underlying structure of the brain. The picture of the brain seems to have dots in the orbitofrontal cortex, genu of the corpus callosum and the medial surface of the postcentral gyrus, plus a […]

Does email really reduce IQ ?

A widely reported news story suggests that email and phone calls reduce IQ by up to 10 points. At closer examination however, the majority of the headlines do not stand up to scrutiny. UPDATED: See comments.

Rate my shrink

A new website has been launched that allows patients to rate their psychiatrists. Think of it as an ‘Am I Hot or Not’ for mental health, but without the stomach churning pictures. The comments are priceless, and range from adulation: Awesome, lovely person. I could tell she really cared about me, and she didnt act […]

New Scientist on the changing fortunes of AI

This week’s New Scientist has a lead article on the ‘artificial intelligence winter’ of the 1990s and the recent renaissance in AI research. In recent years, AI techniques have largely been applied to modelling specific psychological processes, rather than creating seemingly intelligent software that can interact with humans, as tested by the Turing test. Computer […]

2005-04-22 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Researchers derive nonlinear difference equations to predict marriage outcomes, supposedly with 90% accuracy (interview with video). People who are happy are more likely to be healthy, as research suggests happiness seems to have a direct biological effects on the body. Politicians’ personalities can be […]

Simulating change blindness

Open access science journal PLoS Biology describes a computer model of brain function that incorporates biological accuracy while giving important insights into consciousness. Researchers Stanislas Dehaene and Jean-Pierre Changeux modelled the neurons that connect the thalamus and the cortex to simulate how they responded when stimulated, when compared to a ‘resting’ state. The researchers found […]

Free events: State of Mind at LSE

London’s LSE is running an exhibition and a series of free debates, where both artists and scientists will tackle some of the hot-topics in contemporary psychology. The exhibition runs from 28th April to 29th May 2005 and involves a number of artists, including Rod Dickinson who has re-enacted a number of historical events, including Milgram’s […]

Mescaline and the Member of Parliament

A comedy fansite has published the transcript of an unbroadcast television experiment that took place in 1955. Psychiatrist Humphry Osmond gave Labour MP Christopher Mayhew the hallucinogenic drug mescaline and the results were filmed. …but now I’m conscious also of remembering that the waves are going to come back, which, er, were originally physical and… […]

On female intuition

A study conducted at the Edinburgh Science Festival has suggested that female intuition may be a myth, although this is contrary to speculation in a landmark paper in cognitive neuroscience. Psychologist Matthew Lieberman published a paper in 2000, entited “Intuition: a social cognitive neuroscience approach”, and discussed a possible biological basis for female intuition: A […]

Everyday insanity: Psychosis and the mundane

Psychosis is usually considered as the least mundane of mental states. Occasionally however, the mundane and the psychotic collide, producing uncanny and jarring contrasts that highlight the unreality of everyday life.


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