Monthly Archives: June 2006

Psyche on consciousness and self-representation

A new issue of respected online consciousness journal Psyche has just been published with a special issue on self-representation and consciousness. The issue debates the idea that mental states are only conscious when they are structured both to represent a particular object of thought and themselves. Take the ticking of a clock. The brain will […]

Pentagon memo lists homosexuality as mental disorder

According to a news report from NBC, it seems the Pentagon are still stuck way back in 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders: WASHINGTON – A Pentagon document classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, decades after mental health experts abandoned that position. The document outlines retirement or […]

The science of empathy

The Times recently published a curious article on the science of empathy after a case where an eight year-old girl broke her leg and several drivers apparently drove past without caring to stop and help. Apart from the grating “empathy has a physical location” (the spirit of phrenology lives on…) it’s a brief but interesting […]

Kandinsky’s roaring colours

The Telegraph has an article on an upcoming exhibition at London’s Tate Modern gallery that shows how Kandinsky used his synaesthesia to create the world’s first truly abstract paintings. Kandinsky discovered his synaesthesia at a performance of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin in Moscow: “I saw all my colours in spirit, before my eyes. Wild, almost crazy […]

Better living through neurochemistry?

The use and abuse of psychiatric medication has been a hot topic in the news recently with discussion about whether we are too keen to medicate ourselves, and too keen to medicate our children, all in the hope of improving performance and behaviour. The Washington Times Post recently published a widely circulated article, on the […]

Swimming in bottomless lakes

“Our whole past experience is continually in our consciousness, though most of it sunk to a great depth of dimness. I think of consciousness as a bottomless lake, whose waters seem transparent, yet into which we can clearly see but a little way.” Philosopher Charles Peirce in Vol VII of his Collected Papers.

Is psychology a science?

One of the most common questions faced by psychologists is answered on video by 11 year old Professor Henry A. Waldorf while he skillfully plays the cello and wears a hat. Bravo Professor Waldorf! I look forward to your forthcoming presentations to the Royal Society. Link to ‘Is psychology a science?’ on YouTube.

Not tonight honey…?

Although headaches are a traditional turn-off for amorous couples, new research published in the journal Headache suggests that people susceptible to migraines actually report greater levels of sexual desire. The authors suggest that the link may be levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin – which are linked to libido and have also been found to increase […]

2006-06-16 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Boston Globe has a review of Walter Benjamin’s collected writings on drugs and intoxication. Study finds Prozac worse than placebo at treating anorexia (via AADT) South America’s indigenous Aymara people have a ‘reverse concept’ of time. The Phineas Gage Group apply behavioural science […]

Shy children more sensitive to life’s subtleties

Science have an interesting snippet on a study that shows that shy children may not only be more sensitive to unpleasant things, and also to pleasurable and rewarding experiences as well. A brain scanning study led by Dr Amanda Guyer showed that areas of the brain sensitive to both anxiety and reward were more strongly […]

Sexy images engage the female brain fast

A recent study examining how the brain reacts to different types of image has found that women show a quicker reaction to erotic images than other image types. This is the first time that a difference in brain activity for erotic images has been found in women. The research was led by neuroscientist Andrey Anokhin […]

Home transcranial magnetic stimulation

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a technique whereby magnetic fields are used to temporarily alter the function of the brain by inducing an electrical current in the brain tissue. In neuroscience research, TMS usually refers to the use of powerful magnetic fields (about 1.5 tesla or 40,000 times the earth’s magnetic field) focused on approximately […]

Imitating the sacred disease

New Scientist reports on a recent study that looks at the differences between epilepsy and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures – a mysterious condition that looks like a standard epileptic seizure (e.g. falling to the floor, limb shaking and unconsciousness) but does not seem to involve any disturbance in brain activity and instead is linked to underlying […]

Being subjected

Fox TV have just started a new reality TV show called ‘Solitary‘ where contestants are put into solitary confinement and stressed until their physical or mental health can’t take any more. According to the website, “a test may include repetitive cycles of number games, conducted while being subjected to loud sirens and during times of […]

Remembering Kitty Genovese

Kitty Genovese was murdered outside her apartment block in 1964 by a stranger. The story of her death had a massive influence on psychology, leading to the description of the bystander effect – where people are less likely to intervene in an emergency when they’re in groups as when they are alone. This arose from […]

Science of Happiness on the air

The Canadian science radio show Quirks and Quarks had a recent special on the Science of Happiness – an area that has seen an upsurge of interest in recent years. The show interviews some of the leading psychologists in the field and discusses the sometimes counter-intuitive findings about how our happiness is affected by our […]


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