Monthly Archives: February 2006

A beautiful madness – the authors respond

The story in Prospect magazine about Nia – “…too beautiful to be in a psychiatric ward” [see post here] caused quite a furore in the blogosphere. Now the authors have given their response here.

3D rooms

Perception is a fundamentally underconstrained problem. You get information in through your senses, but not enough information to be absolutely sure of what is causing those sensations. A good example is perception of depth in vision. You get a pattern of light falling on your retinas (retinae?), in two dimensions, and from that you infer […]

The ‘painful realism’ of eating disorders

Eating disorders, such as anorexia, are traditionally thought to be driven by a distorted body image, so affected people see themselves as excessively overweight (and therefore unattractive) despite being very thin. A recent study by psychologist Anita Jansen and colleagues has challenged this theory, by showing that women with eating disorders are actually more accurate […]

Changing people’s behaviour

If you were designing an advert to encourage university students to drink less alcohol, which wording do you think would work better? “Most university students drink too much, with dire consequences for their future health”. OR “University students are healthier than you think, most have fewer than four drinks when they go out”. A growing […]

Brain Ethics Blog

I’m currently enjoying reading the Brain Ethics Blog that aims to discuss the consequences of brain science amd the ethical issues that arise from it. It is run by two Danish neuropsychologists, Thomas Zo√´ga Rams√∏y and Martin Skov, who give their own take on the current hot topics of mind and brain science. The most […]

Sara Lazar on the neuroscience of meditation

Science and Consciousness Review have an interview with neuroscientist Sara Lazar, who conducted the first fMRI study of meditation in 2000, and recently hit the news for reporting that meditation may increase the thickness of the grey matter in the cortex. The interview explores Sara’s motivation for studying meditation, and discusses the science and implications […]

Reasons why you don’t exist

The band of reality skeptics over at The Huge Entity have finished their series of Reasons Why You Don’t Exist. As we mentioned previously, there’s a contribution from our very own Christian Jarret, and a number of other authors pushing their own brand of mind altering concepts. Gerry Canavan questions the concept of ‘you’ as […]

Fuzzy face recognition

ABC Radio’s All in the Mind discusses the curious condition of prosopagnosia, sometimes called ‘face-blindness’, where affected individuals can’t recognise faces despite having intact vision and being able to recognise objects. The programme discusses how face recognition can be affected after brain injury, and talks to both a person with the condition, and neuropsychologists trying […]

Sad Aunt Marge

As the cold winter evenings drew near Aunt Marge used to put extra blankets over the furniture, to keep it warm and cosy Mussolini was her lover, and life was an outoffocus rosy-tinted spectacle but neurological experts with kind blueeyes and gentle voices small white hands and large Rolls Royces said that electric shock treatment […]

Century of the Self available online

I notice that the award winning BBC documentary series Century of the Self is available on certain bittorrent trackers (for example, here). The series, made by producer Adam Curtis, follows the development of the concept of the self from the ideas of Freud, to the massively influential but largely unknown role of his nephew Edward […]

Fear of ghosts in Science

An interesting update on Peter Lawrence’s PLoS Biology article that discussed the role of social and biological differences between males and females, and the under-representation of women in science (see previously on Mind Hacks)… According to an article in The Telegraph, Lawrence’s article was accepted for publication in the journal Science but they bottled it […]

The I of the beholder

This week’s Science News has a cover article on the neural basis of the sense of self, which they’ve kindly published online in full. The article also discusses how the concept of self can breakdown after brain injury or during mental illness. For example, some people diagnosed with schizophrenia have the experience that they are […]

2006-02-17 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Research suggests that complex decisions should be ‘slept-on’ whereas simple decisions such as “selecting a brand of oven glove” (huh?) can be left to the conscious mind. Cinematical reviews new movie “Unknown white male” – a documentary about someone with retrograde amnesia. Japan sees […]

Dangerous advertising

Have you seen the new breed of lorry adverts? Surely they’re dangerously offputting? ;-] Thanks to J Mallory Wober for sending me the pic. It reminded me of these.

Snowboarding on the brain

Seed Magazine have an online article looking at the role of mirror neurons in appreciating spectator sport, particularly in light of the ongoing Winter Olympics. The article itself is quite speculative, taking some of the conclusions with regard to possible emotional identification with the competitors a little further than the evidence can strongly support, but […]

Erasing the need for sleep

The cover article in this week’s New Scientist is about the new generation of wakefulness-promoting and cognitive enhancement drugs being marketed and developed by pharmaceutical companies. Available drugs, such as modafinil, and those still in development, such as CX717, are being widely discussed as having the potential to alter society as sleep becomes a less […]

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