Monthly Archives: July 2006

Encephalon #3 arrives

Issue 3 of neuroscience writing carnival has just been published on Thinking Meat and contains articles on everything from whether video games desensitise us to violence to whether spindle neurons will be the next fashionable thing after ‘mirror neurons’ have lost their media sparkle. See the complete issue for a raft of other commentaries on […]

What do antidepressants do?

There’s a thought-provoking piece in the latest issue of open-access medical journal PLoS Medicine on whether antidepressants ‘correct’ a problem in the brain, or just create an altered state that may be useful for people with low-mood problems. It is notable that the way psychiatric drugs are described is usually because of marketing. For example, […]

Psychology Wiki on recovery from brain injury

The Psychology Wiki is a wide-ranging Wikipedia-like resource that is edited by psychology professionals and students. It focuses on the mind and brain and contains a number of fantastic articles. They’ve just announced their first ‘featured article’, an comprehensive piece on the science of Recovery from Acquired Brain Injury. The article examines the neuroscience of […]

Dennett interviewed on explaining religion

ABC Radio’s All in the Mind sees the return of long-time presenter Natasha Mitchell with an interview with philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett on a scientific approach to understanding religion. Dennett is tackled on some of the issues raised in his recent book Breaking the Spell (ISBN 0713997893) and particularly on his reliance on […]

Me and My Memory

As part of the BBC Memory Season, BBC Radio 4 are running a series of programmes on people with unique memories – either because of disorder or because of remarkable talents. The series is called Me and My Memory and started last Wednesday. All the programmes are archived online, and the first was on prosopagnosia […]

Mind-reading competition

Don’t worry, this isn’t about telepathy and doesn’t involve Uri Gellar. No, it’s about a team of three Italian researchers who won $10000 in a brain-activity interpretation competition organised by the University of Pittsburgh earlier this year. Entrants were provided with the fMRI data and behavioural reports recorded when four people watched two movies. The […]

Amateur psychiatry is booming

World of Psychology has a short but interesting article on the increasing trend for people to order unprescribed psychiatric medication as a form of self-treatment or simply to get their kicks. The trend is being fuelled by ‘no prescription’ web sites that will deliver drugs to anywhere in the world and online instructions of dubious […]

Manic exhilaration

There’s a wonderful piece in yesterday’s British Medical Journal by Raquel Duarte, a fourth year medical student at Edinburgh University, on the sheer exhilaration of being with a manic patient. She describes the first time she interviewed a manic patient during her attachment to a psychiatric ward. …my patient sat down in the family room […]

2006-07-28 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Research in PLoS Biology reports that functional connections in the brain transform experience into memory. Some researchers still not disclosing their conflict of interest in key studies, reports AADT Blog. BBC Radio 4 programme Leading Edge discusses body clock genes and mind reading machines. […]

Nature vs nurture via neuroscience

For those of who you particularly enjoyed the Prospect article on the interaction between environment and genetics in promoting certain mental states and behaviours, Nature Reviews Neuroscience has an in-depth review article on how neuroscience is helping understand this complex process. If you haven’t got time to get down and dirty with a full-on review […]

Reflected glory

There have been some critical commentaries recently that suggest that the hype over mirror neurons has become unbearable and a backlash is about to begin. Mirror neurons are cells in the brain that are active both when a person is performing an action, or when they see someone else perform an action, and have been […]

The intelligent environment

Continuing our IQ theme, the New York Times has a fascinating article on the contributions of genetics and environment to IQ and argues that the effect of the environment becomes much more crucial for those from low-income backgrounds. [Psychologist Eric Turkheimer] has a reputation as a methodologist’s methodologist. In combing through the research, he noticed […]

Born to be bad?

The latest issue of Prospect magazine features a fresh in-depth analysis of whether there is such a thing as a criminal personality. The author David Rose of the Observer notes that contemporary politicans have tended to focus on the social causes of criminality – think of Blair’s ‘tough on the causes of crime’ speech. But […]

Happiness is an impossible dream

Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips is interviewed in The Guardian about the paradox of chasing happiness and the negative effects of emotional idealism. Phillips argues that trying to eliminate all sources of stress in your life is a pointless exercise and we should become better at tolerating difficult situations if we are to be become fully content. […]

The Flynn effect is reversing

American Scientist discusses the trend for changes in how well people score on intelligence tests and notes that the Flynn effect, whereby the population has been scoring increasingly well on intelligence tests over time, seems to be slowing down or reversing in some places. It is well-known is psychology that performance on cognitive tests changes […]

The science and culture of hallucinated voices

This week’s ABC Radio All in the Mind had an edition on auditory hallucinations that discusses the experience of ‘hearing voices’ as well as the neuroscience that might explain them. Hallucinatory voices are still largely mysterious to science. Originally they were linked to psychotic mental illness and particularly schizophrenia, but it later became known that […]

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