Monthly Archives: February 2006

Super Bowl brain scans with added hype

The ‘complete results‘ from the Super Bowl brain scans are online, and it does indeed seem as if the exercise has been mostly hype. Cardinal sins: 1) Not giving the comparison conditions and experimental design. This makes the reported results essentially meaningless. 2) Interpreting brain activity in certain areas to mean a certain response from […]


Just a quick note to say thanks very much to Mark Brown who got sick of not having a favicon… and made us one. You can see it up there in the address bar, or – possibly – by the title for your RSS feed. Much appreciated, cheers!

Beautiful madness

This month’s Prospect magazine features a touching story about Nia – “..too beautiful to be in a psychiatric ward“. The true tale conveys elegantly the dilemma that often faces psychiatrists as they weigh up the benefits of antipsychotic medication against the side effects that can sometimes be worse than a patient’s original symptoms. In this […]

What can brain scans tell us about Super Bowl ads?

To cut a long story short – don’t believe the hype. At least as it’s described in a story doing the rounds. According to the report, neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni and his team brain-scanned people while they watched the Super Bowl adverts to see which “won”. This is part of an emerging science called neuromarketing, which […]

music, wine and will

You go to the supermarket and stop by some shelves offering French and German wine. You buy a bottle of French wine. After going through the checkout you are asked what made you choose that bottle of wine. You say something like “It was the right price”, or “I liked the label”. Did you notice […]

Henry Perowne on the neural code

“Just like the digital codes of replicating life held within DNA, the brain’s fundamental secret will be laid open one day. But even when it has, the wonder will remain, that mere wet stuff can make this bright inward cinema of thought, of sight and sound and touch bound into a vivid illusion of an […]

Fear of clowns

Coulrophobia [fear of clowns] is most commonly triggered by a traumatic experience in childhood, said Steven Luel, a psychologist in New York specializing in anxiety and phobias. Indeed, that was the case with Wallace. At the age of 6, she met her first clown at the circus, an encounter she still remembers clearly 25 years […]

Cognitive science café

Psychologist Tania Lombrozo has collected suggestions for the menu of the fictional (but delicious sounding) cognitive science caf√©. It’s both full of psychology in-jokes and gives a lighthearted crib-sheet for some of the most influential thinkers in the field. Some of my favourites include: The Turing Tester Half Brie with apricot jam on a French […]

Beauty in body and mind

From Nancy Etcoff’s book Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty (ISBN 0385478542): “People judge appearances as though somewhere in their minds an ideal beauty of the human form exists, a form they would recognise if they saw it, though they do not expect they ever will. It exists in the imagination.” (p11) “Attitudes […]

The Times on art, neuroscience and self-harm

Today’s Times has two short but interesting articles in its ‘body and soul’ section, both of which are available online: one on the neuroscience of art and another on self-harm. Mark Lythgoe is a neuroscientist at University College London who has been involved in art / science projects for over a decade. He discusses the […]

experimental psychology of advertising resources

A few places where you can enjoy the intersection between experimental psychology and marketing research are at: (labs) The Food and Brand Lab (was ‘The Illinois Food and Brand lab’, but has now moved to Cornell) found at The Bangor University: The Experimental Consumer Psychology research group – see this article in New Scientist […]

Cognitive psychology & advertising

Here’s another approach to understanding how adverts work – cognitive psychology, as discussed in this Wired article from 2002 (thanks Lauren!) You’ll probably not be surprised that I’ve lots of sympathy for experimenal psychology as a method for understanding adverts (as opposed to, say, semiotics). A conventional experimental cognitive psychology approach to understanding something about […]

Explore your brain

A new online service called ‘PsychPop‘ has been launched by the Institute of Psychiatry in London. It allows members of the public to volunteer to help in research that aims to combat brain injury, neurological disease and mental illness. Often, one of the difficulties in conducting research is not recruiting people affected by medical conditions, […]

2006-02-03 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: A new blog ‘On The Spectrum‘ collects and discusses development in the science of the autism spectrum. Mixing Memory discusses the psychology of intellectual of insight ABC Radio’s All in the Mind discusses the effect of petrol sniffing on the brain. Scientific brain linked […]

Decoding Advertisements

Judith Williamson’s ‘Decoding Advertisements’ is a classic look at the semiotics of advertising – about how adverts construct and promolgate meaning, necessarily involving the customer in a system of signs and symbols, as a token in that system. It’s a great book and, in some sense, a forerunner of Naomi Klein’s book on Brands, No […]

NewSci on robots and chronobiology

Today’s New Scientist is a special on robots, particularly focusing on robots that mimic or model certain aspects of human behaviour. The issue also has an additional article on whether it is possible to regulate the brain’s ‘time keeper’ to change the conscious perception of time – a skill which could be used to allow […]


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