Monthly Archives: September 2005

Focus on the cerebellum

Today’s featured article on Wikipedia is a fantastic piece on one of the most mysterious areas of the brain – the cerebellum. There are more connections in the cerebellum than in the whole of the rest of the brain put together, yet it is still not clear what sort of contribution it makes to thought […]

2005-09-16 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Survey finds that women are more likely to try bisexuality, particularly in their late teens and early twenties. Keeping your emotions in check during a distressing event may impair memory for the details. People who score highly on measures of schizotypy show greater right […]

The ‘inchoate’ science of consciousness

Neuroscientist Christof Koch manages to write an odd article on consciousness and gets an obscure word into the title of a piece published in The Scientist. Apparently ‘inchoate’ (I had to look it up) means “partially but not fully in existence”, which pretty much sums up the article. It starts with a brief overview of […]

The art and expression of mental distress

UK mental health charity Mind challenged their members to express the contradictions of mental turmoil and the self through artwork. The resulting pictures are colourful, diverse and striking. As the initiators were Mind Cymru, the Welsh branch of the charity, the artwork was exhibited at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Europe’s oldest cultural festival. Link […]

Addicted to food?

Science News has an article on studies suggesting increasing links in the brain process involved in drug addiction and obesity, also suggesting that some of the treatments for drug abuse may also be of use in overeating. When Volkow and her colleagues looked at the brains of 10 obese people, the team found a dopamine-receptor […]

Psychological seizures

American Family Physician has an article on the curious phenomena of ‘psychogenic nonepileptic seizures’. These can look like tonic-clonic epileptic seizures; that commonly involve falling to the floor, limb shaking and unconsciousness, but are not accompanied by a disturbance in brain activity, and are thought to be related to underlying emotional issues or psychological distress. […]

Hypnotism documentary online

Australian TV science programme Catalyst has a documentary available online on the science and uses of hypnosis. In my opinion, it’s a little sensationalised and uncritical in places, but does have some interesting comments from scientists studying the effects of hypnotic suggestion on the brain. Link to website and programme, available as streamed video.

Are you fMRI experienced?

The fMRI experience conference kicks off next Monday at Aston University, with the aim of encouraging new or less experienced researchers to mix with established scientists and ask the sort of burning questions that they might avoid in other symposia. The conference is held annually in places all over the world and provides free training […]

2005-09-09 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Headlines note that the Chernobyl disaster is “likely to kill 4,000” but most seem to skip over the more surprising conclusion of the report, that the most significant impact of the Chernobyl disaster has been on mental health. Stay Free! Daily note some recent […]

A view on hospitalisation

Erving Goffman spent a year working in St Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital in Washington DC, ostensibly as a physical education assistant. In reality, he was a sociologist studying the social situations of patients and staff. The following is a thought-provoking view on the reasons for hospitalisation from his classic 1961 book Asylums (p126), which he wrote […]

An Intelligently Designed Brain

A letter in the Economist (27th of August) on Intelligent Design: SIR ‚Äì The human brain has 100 billion extremely complex neurons connected by 1,000 trillion synapses. It is mathematically impossible for anything this unimaginably complex to have been the product of an unguided evolution, even over limitless aeons. One doesn’t have to know the […]

UK Psychologies magazine launches

As an update to a previous story on Mind Hacks – women’s psychology magazine Psychologies hit the shelves today and the website is now online. I’ve no idea what it’s like, as I’ve yet to get hold of a copy, but I’ll post a review when I’ve had a read. The website has some of […]

Reframing mental illness

A recently concluded confererence at London’s Institute of Psychiatry has been debating the classification and boundaries of mental illness and has been challenging the traditional views of psychiatric medicine. There have been longstanding critics of psychiatry, notably people like R.D. Laing and Thomas Szasz, who have argued that the medical concepts of mental illness are […]

The robots are coming

The Turing Test is where a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with two other parties, one a human and the other a machine, if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine has passed and is deemed intelligent. Sex, it seems, turns the Turing Test on its head. Blogger […]

Noel Sharkey on robot intelligence

ABC Radio’s In Conversation has an interview with cognitive scientist and AI researcher Professor Noel Sharkey who discusses his life, his work and the creation of robot intelligence: “Noel Sharkey left school at 15, became a singer and took substances. It was while reflecting on the effects of an acid trip (he had taken LSD) […]

Tribute to neuropsychology pioneer David Marr

Cognitive science site Mixing Memory has a tribute to David Marr, a pioneer in understanding visual perception, and in combining neurological and psychological levels of explanation, who died tragically early at the age of 35. Marr wanted to understand how the brain could start with two-dimensional arrays of light spots on the retina and subsequently […]


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