Monthly Archives: May 2006


Camberwell Green in London will be home to Bonkersfest! on Saturday 3rd June as mental health agitators and arts collective Creative Routes host a festival that embraces every aspect of the human mind. The festival will be kicked off by the Mayor of Southwark and the Southwark Town Crier by the firing of a banana […]

Destructive impact

This week’s Science News has a cover article on the psychology, neuroscience and genetics of how violence and anti-social behaviour develops in young people. The article examines how human biology and the influence of family and social life interact to increase the chances of violence and bullying in some, while leaving others able to control […]

Understanding consciousness easier than we think

Philosopher Alex Byrne writes about the problem of consciousness in the Boston Review. Against the current trend of labelling it ‘the hard problem’, Byrne argues that it may be easier to understand than we think. Byrne does a fantastic job of touring us through some of the classic problems and thinkers in the area, using […]

Wanted: eating disorder experts for Wikipedia

I’ve spent most of the last caffeine-fuelled 24 hours re-writing the Wikipedia page on anorexia nervosa which now seems to be in better shape than it was. It needs some well qualified stewards to keep an eye on it though, could this be you? If you are a clinician, researcher or enthusiastic student with an […]

Eric Kandel talks memory to Scientific American

Nobel prize winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel is featured on Scientific American’s weekly podcast where he discusses his past and current work and his speculations for the future of brain research. Kandel has just published his autobiography In Search of Memory (ISBN 0393058638) which has got positive reviews in both the mainstream press and scientific journals. […]

Flat lined

After a short and rather unspectacular life, I take it Action Potential is dead then…

Why sex matters for neuroscience

Neuroscientist Larry Cahill has written an in-depth review article for Nature Reviews Neuroscience arguing that understanding the difference between men and women is essential if we are to fully comprehend brain function and behaviour. Traditionally, research in this area focused largely on sex behaviour, and it has only been during the last decade when the […]

Ancient hallucinogenic ayahuasca ceremony

National Geographic sent a reporter to take part in an ancient Peruvian shamanic ritual where the hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca is used. The article describes the reporter’s account of what sounds like a profound and terrifying experience, and discusses the culture, traditions and interest from Western science that ayahuasca has inspired. The taking of ayahuasca has […]

Deep thoughts

I just found a couple of Flickr groups that have caught my imagination. The first is the ‘Brains‘ group for “fans of neuroscience, cognitive science, and other studies of how the mind and brain work”, and the second is ‘Deep Thoughts‘ which has some beautiful portraits of pensive people. The Brains group is not without […]

Illusions of taste

A curious comment just added to the discussion page of Wikipedia’s illusion entry has really got me thinking: the beginning of the article claims that all human senses can be fooled. I’ve yet to expirence an illusion of taste/smell. i.e. something salty tasting sweet. it may follow that consumption is the ‘truest’ of human expirences… […]

Sleeping pill wakes brain-injured from coma-like state?

Controversial findings were recently published in the journal Neurorehabilitation suggesting that the insomnia drug zolpidem roused three severely brain-injured patients from the coma-like persistent vegetative state (PVS). Zolpidem is better known by its trade name Ambien, and has also been in the news recently for causing unusual sleep behaviour such as sleep-driving. The study published […]

2006-05-26 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Mixing Memory looks at research on how much children believe from what they’re told. Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels! No really. A strangely vague news story suggests that measuring ‘brainwaves’ (EEG / MEG?) explains how optical illusions trick the mind. More details gratefully received. Smile! […]

Japanese War Tuba Hack

Via, the Japanese War Tuba Hack! (Or maybe we’ll call it “improve sound localisation by increasing interaural distance” or something). Similarly the way your visual system calculates depth from the different images that your two eyes get, you use the difference in when sounds arrive at your ears to calculate their location. Bigger distance […]

New brain scan detects ‘instant’ biological changes

Brain Ethics have picked up on a new development in fMRI brain scanning technology that has the potential to detect fast changes in brain activity. Research just published by neuroscientist Denis Le Bihan and his team has found that changes in brain activation can be detected by measuring water diffusion through neurons. This type of […]

Psychedelic researcher Alexander Shulgin at 81

The Sunday Herald sent a reporter out to meet legendary chemist and psychedelic researcher Alexander Shulgin to discuss life, love and phenethylamines. Shulgin has been the world’s foremost researcher of psychedelic compounds for many decades and has written about his research in several engaging books, including the notorious Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved. The […]

John Searle on the question of consciousness

John Searle, one of the most important and controversial philosophers of mind, is featured on this week’s ABC Radio The Philosopher’s Zone discussing the question of consciousness. Searle has been active since the 1960s and has made some of the most influential contributions to cognitive science, including the famous Chinese room thought experiment that addresses […]


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