Monthly Archives: May 2005

Metapsychology reviews…

Metapsychology is one of the hidden gems of the internet, publishing in-depth reviews of books on the mind, brain and society, at a rate of about 10 a month. The reviewers are largely professional psychologists, neuroscientists or social science researchers but rarely lapse into using the dry language of academia. The surprisingly diverse selection of […]

Avoiding ‘stereotype threat’ for better performance

An article in Scientific American describes ‘stereotype threat‘ – an effect where, if a person is challenged in an area they are concerned about, such as intellectual ability, the fear of confirming a negative stereotype can impair performance. The findings have largely been uncovered by psychologist Claude Steele, who found that the way a test […]

Is depression a brain disease ?

A article on ‘Demystifying depression‘ gives an excellent account of the experience of depression, but uncritically repeats some common assumptions about the condition – namely that it is a ‘physical illness’ caused by ‘low serotonin’. Despite the familiarity of these claims, both are problematic.

Health Report on the science and ethics of ADHD

ABC Radio National continues its tradition of high-quality science radio with an edition of Health Report focusing on Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, better known as ADHD. The programme discusses progress in current treatments for ADHD and the latest findings in causes, mechanisms and confusions in understanding the condition. ADHD is a controversial subject, particularly […]

2005-05-13 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Differing patterns of brain activation are found for faces of different races. A gene linked to depression may weaken a brain circuit linked to emotion and mood regulation. One of the basic tenants of motivation theory is questioned: Instrinsic motivation – doing things for […]

Pinker vs Spelke on gender determinism

A distinguished female biologist walked out when the Harvard President suggested that women were biologically less suited to science. The existence of such differences are now the subject of a heated exchange between psychologists Stephen Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke in the latest Edge debate. The topic is notable as despite its political importance, it is […]

Magnetism and human behaviour

New Scientist reports on research showing that social behaviour can follow the laws of a surprising phenomenon – magnetism. Physicists Quentin Michard and Jean-Philippe Bouchaud were interested in modelling imitation in society – to explain the drop in European birth rates, the explosion in mobile phone ownership and the way clapping at a concert suddenly […]

Pheromones and sexual attraction

Two recent studies have revealed the complex interactions between pheromones, sexual orientation and attraction – suggesting that our sense of smell may be an important part of the turn-on. Psychologists Charles Wysocki and Yolanda Martins have been studying the effect of human pheromones in an experiment where they asked participants to judge odour from a […]

Ramachandran interviewed on Radio National

Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran features on the latest edition of ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind where he is interviewed about how the mind and brain understand art. Ramachandran is well known as a broadcaster and author. Notably for his book Phantoms in the Brain and for giving the 2003 BBC Reith Lectures on The […]

Control context to aid memory

Reader Matt Doar writes in with this Mind hack which uses our brain’s natural ability to encode context as an aid to writing code: My hack/tip/thing that makes people look at me oddly, useful for when I’m working on a large piece of software, an activity which involves holding a lot of related abstract information […]

Fat, food and behaviour

An article in the schools section of the Education Guardian discusses the growing evidence for a link between fatty acids, brain function and behaviour. The story focuses on the potential effects on visual problems, dyslexia and difficulties with attention. The writer does seems to get a little carried away however, when he questions whether such […]

2005-05-06 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Children of women pregnant during the 9/11 attacks are more likely to develop stress disorders themselves, echoing similar findings from Finland. A review of cases of people who have woken up from coma. The latest issue of Nature Neuroscience has an temporary open access […]

The neuroscience of hyper-reading

Weekly research digest Science News has put this week’s cover article online – a story on the neuroscience of reading and children with hyper-advanced reading skills. The condition is called hyperlexia and involves an ability to read words far in advance of children of the same age, usually accompanied with problems with spoken language and […]

Sudden recovery of brain function after 10 years

The New York Times reports on a firefighter who has made a remarkable and sudden recovery after suffering severe brain injury in 1995. Donald Herbert sustained a serious head injury when a roof collapsed during a fire fighting operation and has been in hospital since, with his ability to communicate and recognise people severely impaired. […]

Virtual Reality test for brain trauma

A group of neuroengineers led by Michelle LaPlaca have developed a virtual-reality test for psychological impairments caused by head injury. The system called DETECT (‘display enhanced testing for concussions and mild traumatic brain injury’) is designed to pick-up subtle cognitive problems that can accompany blows to the head. Such problems are often difficult to detect […]

Mental health and human rights

Open access medical journal PLoS Medicine has a thought-provoking article on mental health, human rights and the standard of mental health care around the world. It mentions some shocking statistics that highlight how low a priority mental health is for most countries, despite the massive burden of disability it causes. According to the 2001 World […]


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