Monthly Archives: January 2006

A man walks into a bar…

As Tom said, Valentine’s is fast approaching. Just in time, Christopher Bale and colleagues have published a study in Personality and Individual Differences on what 142 female and 63 male undergraduates thought of 40 different chat up lines as featured in mini stories about a man attempting to woo a woman. It was thumbs down […]

Cajal and the history of the synapse

American Scientist reviews two new books on the scientific history of the synapse and the early work on neural communication, particularly focusing on the life and work of pioneering Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ram√≥n y Cajal. In his Nobel Prize winning work, Cajal discovered the synapse and first argued that the neuron was the fundamental unit […]

Revolutionary child brain database launches

A database of MRI scans of normally developing children has been launched that could revolutionalise the understanding of childhood brain function, injury and disease. It includes brain scans of 500 children from 7 days to 18 years-old and aims to be representative of the population at large. The understanding of child brain function is still […]

Polish Mind Hacks – 100 sposob√≥w na zg≈ǃôbienie tajemnic umys≈Çu

Mind Hacks has been published in Polish as 100 sposob√≥w na zg≈ǃôbienie tajemnic umys≈Çu. You can order it here, and at, the polish cognitive science website, you can read an interview Matt and I did. The interview is available in English and in Polish and is part of a series of three (the next […]

Imagination as torch bearer

“It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment – but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer?” […]

Cracking the neural code

There’s a piece in this month’s Adbusters magazine on ‘cracking the neural code‘ as part of a feature on ‘Big Ideas of 2006’: Chances are you have never heard of the neural code. And yet, from both a practical and philosophical perspective, the neural code is the most important remaining scientific mystery. Analogous to the […]

Zero wings

A recent news story has noted the consequences of drinking popular energy drink Red Bull in excess as a UK driver was booked for dangerous driving after drinking 20 cans (20 cans!) of the product. Interestingly, the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry published a case report in 2001 suggesting that excessive intake triggered a manic episode […]

2006-01-27 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Researchers find gene linked to the chance of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The Telegraph talk up psychology and neuroscience, arguing that ‘The Future is All in Your Head‘. The evolution and function of laughter is discussed in Seed Magazine. Brainscan Blog hails the […]

With our thoughts, we make our world

Wired magazine examines the recent interest in the neural basis of meditation and the political storm caused by the Dalai Lama’s speech at the last Society for Neuroscience conference, in a recently published online article. The Tibetan Buddhist leader’s presentation was the subject of much protest and counter-protest even before it began, which guaranteed that […]

neuroscience & the media

The recent column from Ben Bad Science Goldacre is on the widely reported, and improbable, neuroscience of why the novels of Agatha Christie are so successful (column here). The neurobabble used to obfuscate the fact that she wrote quite well is astounding. No, her books did not directly alter your brain chemistry to make the […]

Is that a brain charm in your pocket?

I’ve just discovered Brain Mart, an online shop for everything (and I mean everything) brain-related. They sell a great deal of educational material as well as a range of ‘brain novelties’. These stretch from the classic (a phrenonology bust) to the anatomically correct ‘brain cap’ (“Flip up the brim and expose the words, Think, think, […]

Gallagher on action, body image and psychosis

Philosopher and cognitive scientist Shaun Gallagher sits in the hot seat and is interviewed by Science and Consciousness Review who quiz him about how the body and its actions shape our thoughts, and how this can break down to produce bizarre experiences of being controlled by outside forces. Gallagher draws on the neuroscience of action […]

Foxtrot on ad hoc psychological testing

A recent edition of Bill Amend’s FoxTrot comic strip has a nice twist on the notional glass half-full / glass half-empty psychological ‘test’. The test also features in a Gary Larson Far Side strip entitled ‘The Four Basic Personality Types‘ that adorns the doors of hundreds of psychologists across the globe. (Thanks Nathan!)

Men, women and ghosts

Open-access science journal PLoS Biology has published an article by biologist Peter Lawrence where he suggests that the under-representation of women in science is not because they are biologically unsuited to scientific thinking (as some have controversially suggested), but because employers undervalue those attributes more likely, but not exclusively, to be present in female researchers. […]

Ajatus (Finnish Mind Hacks)

The translations come thick and fast! Ajatus (which means “Thought”, I understand) has now been released by publishers in Finland, in hardback no less. Many thanks to Chris Heathcote for picking a copy up for me in Helsinki. He took a photo of the book too, if you’d like to see. Grab Ajatus at […]

start the week with neuroscience

Today’s ‘Start the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 features Steve Rose discussing advances in neuroscience, in drug treatments (for illnesses or mind-enhancement) and the ethical issues that the public will have to increasingly deal with. Andrew Marr, the presenter, uses this lovely metaphor for brain scanning. It is like, he said (i paraphrase), looking at […]


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