Monthly Archives: November 2005

Swimming with dolphins helps depression

Christian Antonioli and Michael Reveley at the University of Leicester recruited 30 mildly or moderately depressed people via adverts in America and Honduras. They allocated half of them to a two week course of swimming with dolphins in Honduras and the other half to two weeks of snorkelling and having fun in the sea without […]

Dijkstra on thinking machines

The great computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra on artificial intelligence and thinking machines: “John von Neumann speculated about computers and the human brain in analogies sufficiently wild to be worthy of a medieval thinker and Alan M. Turing thought about criteria to settle the question of whether Machines Can Think, a question of which we now […]

Vibrators shrink self-perceived waistline

If using vibrators to shrink your waistline makes you think of spam email, you may be surprised to find out it’s the basis of a fascinating neuroscience experiment published in open-access science journal PLoS Biology. The study relies on an unusual effect called the Pinocchio illusion, which occurs when a vibrating sensation is applied to […]

Newsweek on society, neuroscience and anorexia

The cover story in December 5th’s Newsweek is available online and tackles the science and treatment of anorexia, focusing particularly on why it seems to be increasingly prevalent in children as young as eight. At a National Institute of Mental Health conference last spring, anorexia’s youngest victims were a small part of the official agenda‚Äîbut […]

Walking zombie syndrome

Antonio Melechi explores one of the bizarre corners of the medical literature in his book Fugitive Minds (p211, ISBN 0099436272): In 1979, the Journal of the Tennessee Medical Association announced that the ‘Walking zombie syndrome’ – a condition in which depression and withdrawal led individuals to unconsciously believe that they were dead – was on […]

All in the Mind on sexual desire

ABC Radio’s All in the Mind starts a four part series today on the emotional brain, with the first in the series examining the complexity of sexual desire. Psychologists Dylan Evans and Doris McIlwain discuss whether we have one sex drive or many, and how it influences and gets tangled up with our other thoughts, […]

Did Mohammed have epilepsy?

Mohammed, founder of Islam, is often described as having epilepsy. He’s even described as such on epilepsy information site The historical basis for such claims are almost certainly false, however, and first stem from a historian writing almost 200 years after the Prophet’s death. The myth has been most comprehensively debunked by the respected […]

2005-11-25 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Great new blog on combating stress, depression and addiction is now online and accepting new readers! ‘Singing for the Brain‘ shows remarkable results in helping people with Alzheimer’s communicate by using song. Makes for a great story but probably best taken with a pinch […]

Through a scanner deeply

The New York Times has an article on the increasing interest in hypnosis among cognitive neuroscientists, who are trying to understanding how suggestion and belief can affect basic mental processing. The article describes some interesting recent work on hypnosis and perception, but omits some of the most fascinating experiments in this area. A study published […]

Misunderstanding mirrors

If I asked you to draw a full-size outline of your head on a flip chart, and then to draw the outline of your head as it appears in the mirror, would you draw the two outlines the same size? You shouldn’t do because the mirror image of your head (as it appears to you) […]

Autistic pride

The Observer has an article on the growing ‘autistic pride’ movement that aims to reframe autism as a variation of human experience with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, rather than as a neurological disorder that needs to be ‘cured’. Many people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome describe people without such traits as ‘neurologically […]

Tajne uma (Croatian Mind Hacks)

The Croatian translation of Mind Hacks has just been published. The full title is “Tajne uma. 100 hakerskih trikova na≈°eg mozga” and you can see it / buy it here. Kudos to the translator, Ognjen Strpic, who i discovered is not only fluent in English and Croatian, but also in Neuroscience too (Ognjen picked up […]

Modern-day psychosurgery

As a follow up to our previous post on the history of the now discarded practice of lobotomy, there’s been quite a bit of recent interest in the science and ethics of modern-day brain surgery in treating mental illness, a practice often known as ‘psychosurgery’. BBC Radio 4 aired a one-off documentary called Brain Surgery […]

Voting causes happiness? Really?

I love the New Economics Foundation and I think they do great work, but at first glance this report on Britain’s democractic deficit looks like it makes the classic correlation-is-not-causation blunder: ‘There is significant evidence that the democratic deficit at the heart of the British electoral system is making us unhappy. The 2001 post election […]

All in the Mind on epilepsy and altered states

ABC Radio’s All in the Mind has a special on epilepsy, examining the provision for epilepsy care in South Africa, and the link between altered states of consciousness and epileptic seizures. The programme interviews Professor Bryan Kies from Groote Schuur Hospital in South Africa, and discusses the difficulties with dealing with epilepsy without access to […]

Stingy Materialism

Geoffrey Miller, in an essay on the future of neuroscience, has this to say about the relationship of mind to brain: Too many of us have become Stingy Materialists. A Stingy Materialist takes the view that subjective experiences may not be real if they have not yet been associated with particular brain areas, neurotransmitters, or […]


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