Monthly Archives: June 2006

Children with half a brain

The New Yorker magazine has an article on hemispherectomies – surgical procedures which remove half of the cortex, usually in an attempt to cure otherwise life-threating epilepsy. These operations are usually carried out on children, as remarkably, those in their early years can often develop normal adult skills and abilities if surgery is carried out […]

2006-06-30 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Science News on how the ageing brain changes in its processing of emotions over time – do we mellow in old age? A computer system that can ‘read’ emotional expressions from the face is to be exhibited and tested at a London exhibition. Male […]

Plastic brains and seeing the light

There’s an intriguing letter in today’s Nature by Oliver Sacks and Ralph Siegel who report on a patient who has developed stereopsis (3D binocular vision) after 50 years of stereoblindness. It is generally thought that most visual abilities develop in the first years of life, and if they do not get a chance to develop […]

Is the US already using brain scan lie detection?

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to try and find out whether the US goverment is using brain scan lie detection technology on suspected terrorists. The most likely technology to be used for anti-terrorism purposes is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which can produce live, real-time images of […]

New series of BBC All in the Mind

New presenter Claudia Hammond kicks off a new series of BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind with a programme that includes features on decision making, synaesthesia and psychiatric patients writing their own medical notes. The section on decision making particularly focuses on decisions that involve predicting how the future will turn out and how […]

NPR on brain scan lie detection

As an update to our previous post on new neuroscience-based technology for lie detection, thanks very much to Swivel Chair Psychologist for pointing out that National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation science programme just had a programme on fMRI lie detection with Penn psychiatrist Daniel Langleben and bioethicist Paul Wolpe. Link to NPR Talk […]

Reality monitoring and psychosis

Mixing Memory has a fantastic account of recent research on memory distortions in schizophrenia that might explain the unusual experiences and strange ideas that characterise the condition. Memory distortions are often tested by the use of ‘source monitoring’ or ‘reality monitoring’ experiments (largely invented by Marcia Johnson), where participants are given a list of words […]

In Conversation on the psychology of dreams

ABC Radio National’s In Conversation has an interview with psychologist Susan Gilchrist who has been studying the psychology of dreams and emotion. As part of her research, she’s been asking people to record and rate and emotional content of their dreams, as well as the emotional impact of the events during the week. One interesting […]

Will someone please muffle Cliff Arnall

Petra Boyton has an article on yet another piece of useless pop psychology from Cliff Arnall – the guy who specialises in making up ‘formulas’ about the happiest day of the year and other such banalities. These press releases are usually on behalf of a PR company and usually make the headlines, despite being complete […]

First Synapse arrives

The first neuroscience writing carnival Synapse has hit the net. It should be coming round every two weeks, and if it continues as it has started, should be a welcome biweekly read. If you’re thinking of submitting something you’ve written, there are details here.

Brain-based ‘lie detection’ now commercially available

Brain Waves is reporting that two companies are now advertising brain-based lie detection services based on fMRI brain-scanning technology. This technology works differently from traditional polygraph-based techniques which measure arousal in the body and are based on the idea that we become more stressed (and hence, more aroused) when telling lies. Polygraphs are notoriously unreliable […]

Even paranoids have enemies

Ohio’s Free Times has an article on people who believe they are being targeted by top-secret mind-control technology. They regularly lobby government to legislate against such technology, while others claim they are, in fact, experiencing psychosis. Although distressed, many of the people who have such experiences do not seem particularly disabled by them and are […]


Brain Ethics has just picked up on the recent development of “evolutionary psychiatry” (evo-psychiatry for short) that aims to understand mental disorder in terms of how we have evolved to become susceptible to disabling thought and behaviour patterns. Evolutionary approaches to disease – including mental disease – is an attempt to describe and explain the […]

2006-06-23 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Science reports that researchers have found an inhibitor for the most potent known neurotoxin. Brain-scanning for the effect of car brands. Brain Ethics casts a skeptical eye over the research. Rare nerve disease gene found to be caused by mutation in a single gene. […]

Asylum from the modern world

PBS have put an award winning documentary about the number of mentally ill people in America’s prisons online. The programme recently won the Grand Prize in the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards and asks difficult questions about why so many people with severe mental illness are inmates in the US prison system. Fewer than 55,000 […]

it’s your brain, stupid

Language Log presents a post that acts as a case study of the danger of taking neuroscientific evidence, essentialising it and extrapolatating to policy. On this occasion, policy relating to how you teach reading in schools to the two sexes. Link: Language Log on David Brooks, Cognitive Neuroscientist


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