Monthly Archives: June 2005

Online guide to fault-finding the nervous system explains the standard examination conducted by neurologists to check the functioning of the nervous system, complete with video. The website is intended to accompany a book called Neuroanatomy through Clinical Cases, written by Professor Hal Blumenfeld. It works pretty well on its own however, and gives a fascinating insight into exactly what neurologists are […]

Brain re-wires for object recognition

Open-access science journal PLoS Biology reports on research looking at how the brain handles object recognition among the clutter of the everyday visual world. Researchers, led by neuroscientist Zoe Kourtzi, asked participants to detect objects hidden in various background images, whilst being scanned in an fMRI scanner. “The authors found that subjects demonstrated an increased […]

Cannabis and psychosis: The evidence

The BBC recently aired an edition of current affairs programme Panorama on cannabis and psychosis. If you missed it, they’ve summarised current research on possible links between cannabis and severe mental illness on their website. Although most people who smoke cannabis will not develop psychosis, the evidence for a link is now growing. The risk […]

Philosophy and limb amputation

Australian philosophers Tim Bayne and Neil Levy have argued that people who want to be amputees should be allowed to have elective amputations, even if they have healthy limbs. This unusual desire has been labelled ‘body integrity identity disorder‘ or BIID by psychiatrists. It has caused much ethical concern among doctors who are bound by […]

Maths ability without language skills

Scientific American reports on three individuals who retained remarkable mathematical skills after brain damage that left them unable to use language to communicate. Varley and her colleagues found that although the subjects could no longer grasp grammatical distinctions between, say, “The dog bit the boy” and “The boy bit the dog,” they could interpret mathematical […]

2005-06-24 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Insightful, sardonic and often sharply witty blog, detailing the trials and tribulations of a mental health nurse (via PsyBlog) Website from the Boundary Institute has online ‘Psi’ tests to look for extransensory abilities. Raj Persaud takes us inside the mind of an adulterer, discussing […]

Evidence for ‘grandmother cells’

This week’s edition of the science journal Nature reports that single brain cells may be specialised for recognising specific faces. This is an interesting finding, as it provides support for a derided hypothesis known as the ‘grandmother cell‘ theory, that was thought up to ridicule attempts to reduce human experience down to smaller and smaller […]

Cognitive daily on ‘childhood amnesia’

Cognitive Daily has an elegant summary of research on why we don’t remember the first years of life. The results suggest that it may be because young children lack the language resources to support the necessary memories. I would be tempted to quote some of the post here, but its described so succinctly its probably […]

Optical street art of Julian Beever

Julian Beever is a street artist who takes advantage of the way the brain understands the world to create some amazing artwork. The brain works out our 3D experience of the world from the 2D light patterns that fall onto our retina at the back of the eye. This process takes advantage of many of […]

At last! Female orgasm neuroimaged

Finally, someone has done a neuroimaging study of the female orgasm. Although the paper from this study has not been published yet, if the conference reports are anything to go by, it may be the first functional neuroimaging study of orgasm in healthy human females. My only caveat is the rather random way this story […]

Anaesthesia can lead to sex delusions

The Arizona Daily Star is reporting that doctors are being warned that some general anaesthetics are associated with sexual dreams which some people may remember as real. Although it is almost impossible to verify how often sexual hallucinations occur, some studies indicate it happens in 1 percent to 3 percent of anesthetized patients, Strickland said. […]

This is your girl on grapefruit

Research suggests that the scent of grapefruit causes men to judge women up to six years younger than their chronological age. Let’s see if the evolutionary psychologists can come up with an explanation for this one! Link to write-up from Link to story from

Neurotheology via Numenware

Numenware is a recently re-launched blog that covers the developing world of neurotheology – the neuroscience of spiritual experience and belief. The site is authored by Bob Myers, who manages to approach the subject in a critical but non-dogmatic way and avoids scoring easy points on complex topics. Some of my favourites include a post […]

Epilepsy and the risk of psychosis

A study published online by the British Medical Journal suggests that people with epilepsy or a family history of epilepsy may be more likely to develop schizophrenia or psychotic symptoms. Researchers from the University of Aarhus analysed the records of 2.27 million Danish people, and found the risk of schizophrenia-like psychosis slightly raised in people […]

Brain scan early detection of Alzheimer’s

A research team has announced that they have developed a brain imaging technique to detect the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease with a claimed accuracy of 78%. The technique, named HipMask and developed by neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi and her team, uses a brain scanning technique called PET. This involves injecting weakly radioactive glucose into the […]

Walter Freeman: Controversional lobotomy surgeon

Jack El-Hai, the biographer of surgeon and early lobotomy enthusiast Walter Freeman is interviewed on ABC Radio’s In Conversation. El-Hai has written The Lobotomist: a maverick medical genius and his tragic quest to rid the world of mental illness, that follows Freeman’s life, and the history of psychosurgery – the use of brain surgery to […]


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