Monthly Archives: September 2005

2005-09-30 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: People who are known to be pathological liars may show differences in the white matter in the frontal lobes of the brain. Cognitive therapy may be as effective as antidepressants as a treatment for severe depression, finds recent study. Satirical piece proclaims Tom Cruise […]

The psychology of religion

Online boffin club Edge has an article by psychologist Daniel Gilbert that discusses a psychological approach to understanding religious belief. One of the difficulties with combining science and religion is that science typically deals with predictions that can be falsified by experiment (allowing theories to be created and tested) whereas the main spiritual tenants of […]

Population control – for hire

Slate reports on the rise of psychological population control, often called PsyOps, as a form of commercial service. According to the report, a company called Strategic Communications Laboratories Ltd was advertising itself at a notable London arms fair, suggesting that it could fool the population into believing any number of things in an attempt to […]

Synapse wins Science visualisation contest

The National Science Foundation and the journal Science recently ran a competition to produce the best scientific images. The winner in the illustration category was an image of a neuron, moments before it transmits a signal across the synapse. The full size version of the image is both strangely beautiful and visually stunning. Science also […]

Stoned again

Slashdot: “Turns out, those endless news reports and blog entries in April about ‘texting makes you stupid’ were inaccurate“. Didn’t we have this back in April? Maybe all that weed is affecting my memory…

‘Subliminal’ marketing ploys of tobacco giants

The Sunday Observer reports on the increasingly subtle (or perhaps, desperate) ways in which tobacco firms are aiming to advertise their product in light of the increasing bans on explicit tobacco advertising. ‘All that former advertising money has to go somewhere,’ said one industry insider. ‘The tobacco firms are looking to create extensive “design languages” […]

On believing that you are dead…

This week’s edition of Radio National’s All in the Mind examines the curious phenomena of delusions – the unusual beliefs that sometimes arise during mental illness or after brain injury. Some of these beliefs can be quite striking, such as believing you are dead or don’t exist – known as Cotard’s delusion, or believing that […]

SciAm Mind: ‘Smart drugs’ and consciousness

The new edition of Scientific American Mind has hit the shelves and two articles are freely available online: one on ‘smart drugs‘ and the other on the problem of consciousness. The article on ‘smart drugs’ or ‘cognitive enhancers’ is by neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga – most renowned for his work on split-brain patients. Gazzaniga examines the […]

2005-09-23 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Tiny protein tubes in the brain known as ‘microtubules’ may be linked to mental illness say neuroscientists. One for Penrose to wave around in the next consciousness debate. Men and women not so psychologically different claims US psychologist. Large-scale study finds older and newer […]

Will science explain mental illness?

The latest issue of Prospect magazine features a juicy debate – “Will science explain mental illness?“, with Peter McGuffin, director of the social, genetic & developmental psychiatry centre at King’s College London, arguing ‘yes’, and Steven Rose (pictured right), director of the brain and behaviour research group at the Open University, arguing ‘no’. McGuffin opens […]

NewSci on Coffee, Smell and Intelligence

This week’s New Scientist has three articles for those interested in human behaviour: An article on the effects of coffee, one on the effects and possible treatments for losing the sense of smell, and Ray Kurzweil speculates on the future interaction between technology and human biology: One benefit of a full understanding of the human […]

Self affection

The Times has just published an article by neuropsychologist Paul Broks on the concept of the self and how it becomes distorted when affected by mental illness or brain injury. The self has a fascinating history in mind and brain science as the concept has changed considerably over the years. In the first chapter of […]

Beware the Jabberwack, my son

A chat program named Jabberwacky, designed by British AI researcher Rollo Carpenter, has won the Loebner Prize – the annual contest to see the most human-like chat software. The contest takes the form of the Turing Test where human judges have to work out whether they are chatting to humans or software by typing responses […]

Giant Squid – woah!

The giant squid has the largest eye in the natural world. Although squid’s eyes evolved on a separate branch of the tangle bank of life, they are remarkably like ours, except that they don’t have the blind spot that human eyes have (Hack #16). This picture is from a book ‘Extreme Nature’ by Mark Carwardine […]

Is the internet making us more intelligent?

CNET has put the first in a series of articles online about whether new technology is making us more intelligent. There are several ways of asking the question: Is the use of new technology shaping our minds and brains so they are better able to process information in all situations ? Essentially this is the […]

Madness in literature

In light of the new book by novelist Sebastian Faulks that focuses on psychiatry and madness, the BBC have put a piece online about the history of mental disturbance in literature. Many highly regard authors have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness, not least of whom is Faulks himself, who has been treated […]


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