Monthly Archives: December 2005

Shadows, agency and action

“We know that we are agents and that we are successfully causing the world to change. But as actors we move through the world like shadows glimpsed only occasionally from the corner of an eye.” From a recently published paper by neuropsychologist Chris Frith on the links between the neuroscience of action and delusions of […]

2005-12-16 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: British and American smiles may be different, claims book author (thanks David!). Cognitive Daily on the neglected area of self-discipline and its importance in acheivement. Author Jay Ingram on the evidence that subliminal ads influence behaviour. URB597, an antidepressant drug in development, increases brain […]

Is George Bush a secret neuroscientist?

Although the president of the USA is frequently villified for being a bit dim, I recently found a paper on “Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex: A role in reward-based decision making” authored by George Bush and colleagues. The paper claims that George Bush, the first author, is a researcher from Harvard Medical School, rather than the […]

Racism, mental illness and the limits of diagnosis

The Washington Post reports that a group led by psychologist Edward Dunbar are pushing to get extreme prejudice, such as intense racism or homophobia, diagnosable as a mental illness. It may seem a little ridiculous to medicalise what are essentially extreme opinions, but the move is interesting for what it says about psychiatric diagnosis in […]

Do americans have a propensity for hypomania?

The New York Times has a short piece on Peter Whybrow’s and John Gartner’s theory that Americans have a greater genetic propensity for hypomania, the elevated mood state sometimes found in bipolar disorder. This, they suggest, explains aspects of American culture such as focus on energetic enthusiasm and respect for new ideas. Interestingly, recent genetic […]

Diabolical cunning in the brain

There’s no credible motive but in 1903 that doesn’t matter, the prosecuting barrister can always blind the jury with a little bit of brain: Like you, members of the jury, I have at different moments of the trial, convinced as I am and as you will be of the prisoner’s guilt, I have found myself […]

Clinical neuropsychology takes to the stage

Neuropsychologist Paul Broks’ exploration of how brain injury affects selfhood, Into The Silent Land, has been made into a play that is currently showing in the Soho Theatre in London’s West End. The production is entitled On Ego and asks the question: “What are we? Skin, bone and a hundred billion brain cells? Or is […]

What lurks inside the teenage brain?

Author Nicola Morgan has written a book on neuroscience for teenagers, that explains why teenage experience and behaviour seems so intensely different during adolescence. The book, Blame My Brain, manages to accurately present scientific research, without presenting any ‘just so’ stories. Various theories and approaches are given where a strong conclusion is not widely accepted. […]

NewSci online brain channel

I’m not sure whether this is a new section to the website, or whether I’ve been asleep since it started, but I’ve just discovered the New Scientist brain channel that collects all their brain-related stories and articles in one place. It includes an archive of their news stories, feature articles and additional web only neuroscience […]

2005-12-09 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest launched! Arguments between couples slow wound healing (presumably suffered during previous arguments). Mirror neurons work differently in people with autism. Colour blindness may have hidden advantages (the ability to better discriminate shades of khaki!) Cycle helmet shaped […]

A problem with placebo-controlled trials?

Following advice from the Committee on Safety of Medicines, the only SSRI-type anti-depressant that UK clinicians can prescribe to children and teenagers is fluoxetine. The risk of suicide and self-harm associated with the use of the other drugs in the SSRI family has been judged to outweigh their benefit. But speaking at a conference at […]

Rumi on science and madness

An untitled poem on transformation, science and insanity by the 13th century Persian poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi: I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking on the inside! Real value comes with madness matzub below, scientist above. Whoever finds love beneath […]

Do gay parents have happy children?

The American Psychological Association’s flagship publication Monitor on Psychology summarises the research on gay parents and finds their children are generally healthy, happy and well adjusted, despite occasional homophobic teasing. Patterson‘s and others’ findings that good parenting, not a parent’s sexual orientation, leads to mentally healthy children may not surprise many psychologists. What may be […]


Research on smell – what scientists call olfaction – is discussed in the December issue of the Reader’s Digest magazine in an article by Paula Dranov. She explains how smells are composed of molecules that bind to our smell receptors located at the top of the nasal cavity. According to Nobel Prize-winner Linda Buck “A […]

Almost human

The International Robot Exhibition concluded recently in Japan, where the world’s robot manufacturers displayed their most advanced and, in some cases, human-like creations. The emotional response to robots was discussed by roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970, who created the theory of the Uncanny Valley. He argued that that as a robot is made more humanlike […]

New look ‘Science and Consciousness Review’

A long running web journal, the Science and Consciousness Review, has relaunched with a new look and growing content. The journal is run by three academic scientists who want to open up consciousness research and discussion to the internet. The journal contains book reviews, summaries of new papers and internet resources. One of the most […]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26,866 other followers