Monthly Archives: October 2006

Red pill or the blue pill?

“The colour of a placebo can influence its effects. When administered without information about whether they are stimulants or depressives, blue placebo pills produce depressant effects, whereas red placebos induce stimulant effects (Blackwell et al., 1972). Patients report falling asleep significantly more quickly and sleeping longer after taking a blue capsule than after taking an […]

Happy World Mental Health Day, well, sort of happy

Today is World Mental Health Day, and what could be a better way to celebrate a day of mental calm and tranquility than to ignite a blazing row at the core of psychiatry? A group of mental health activists are pushing for the diagnosis of schizophrenia to be abolished. Actually, the idea that schizophrenia is […]

Encephalon University hits the net

A wonderfully crafted new edition of psychology and neuroscience writing carnival Encephalon has just arrived online courtesy of Cognitive Daily. I’m currently enjoying an exploration of the representation of psychology in the novels of J.G. Ballard from PsyBlog and an analysis of the cognitive neuroscience of attention and memory in the Stroop Task from The […]

‘Switching off’ economic judgement with magnets

The Times has a concise piece on a recent study published in Science magazine suggesting that performance on an economic bargaining task could be changed by altering the function of the brain with magnets. Neuroscientist Dr Daria Knoch and her colleagues asked participants to pay the ultimatum game while, at certain points, the function of […]

Rorschach inkblot t-shirt

The Imaginary Foundation has just produced a new series of t-shirts including one that involves a psychedelic riff on the Rorschach inkblot test. The Rorschach inkblot test is a now almost obselete test in psychology where interviewees are asked to give their impressions of a series of ambiguously shaped inkblots. As there are few reliably […]

Science and Consciousness Review lives!

Quality online cognitive science site Science and Consciousness Review has arisen phoenix-like from the ashes after a nasty database crash. The outage removed it from the internet for several months, but it is now back in action, serving up the latest in news and views in consciousness and cognitive science research. In fact, it’s just […]

Does breastfeeding cause or correlate with benefits?

There’s an interesting piece on BBC News that has a different take on the two breastfeeding stories we ran recently that suggested that breastfeeding during the early years might aid brain development and reduce risk for mental illness. A study published this week in the British Medical Journal suggests that the advantage of breastfeeding on […]

The genetics of hair pulling and vagaries of reporting

The BBC has a news story on the genetics of a disorder called trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling) that typifies the way genetics discoveries are reported in the media. First sentence: Scientists have identified gene mutations responsible for a psychiatric disorder that causes people to compulsively pull their own hair. Way down the article: Dr Allison Ashley-Koch, […]

2006-10-06 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: ABC Radio’s All in the Mind tackles the mind-body problem in an engaging debate. Wired Magazine with an appallingly-titled article on the neuropsychology of pathopaths: ‘Psychos Need a Little Sympathy’. On the irony! US Government funded study concludes that conservatism can be explained psychologically […]

Hello Canada!

CBC listeners – you can find my article about why email is addictive here Mind Hacks readers, you can hear me talking, briefly, on CBC Radio 1 about this topic. You need to click here and then click on a city in a timezone where it is currently 2pm (i’m on at about ten passed […]

Amazing brain writing prize

Do you fancy winning ¬£250 for writing a short article about brain science? If so, this could be for you – the website ‘Your Amazing Brain’, hosted by the science exhibition centre @Bristol, together with the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, and The British Neuroscience Association, are looking for a newspaper style science article […]

Gallery Space Recall

I’ve been collaborating with artist Simon Pope over the last few months and have been working on a project that aims to investigate the interaction between memory and location, and how this relationship can become fractured and renewed in psychosis. The first event, called Gallery Space Recall, happens tomorrow in Chapter Art Gallery in Cardiff […]

NewSci on confabulation and memory distortion

There’s an interesting cover story in today’s New Scientist about the neuropsychology of confabulation – the curious condition where patients give completely false narratives of situations that they think they remember. The condition is usually associated with brain injury, often to the frontal lobes. In contrast to delusions, these false narratives are not usually fixed, […]

From sci-fi footnote to cutting-edge vision science

There’s a fascinating letter in today’s Nature about how a footnote in one of Fred Hoyle’s science fiction novels inspired a branch of research in vision science on how the brain estimates when moving objects will arrive at a certain point. The characters in the book discover an ominous black cloud that appears to be […]

Stephen Fry’s ‘Secret Life’ bittorrent available

It seems Stephen Fry’s two-part BBC documentary ‘The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive’ on the science, treatment and experience of bipolar disorder is available online as bittorrents (part 1 and part 2). We reported on the documentary previously on Mind Hacks, and there’s more about bittorrent here if you’ve not heard of it before. […]

2006 – Essential sites for students

Following on from last year’s successful ‘essential sites’ round up, Mind Hacks presents our 2006 list of essential websites for mind and brain students, just in time for the new academic year. Whether you’re a future graduate psychologist, a hardened lab-based neuroscientist or are in the midst of studying any of the cognitive sciences, we […]


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