Monthly Archives: November 2006

Commercial mind-machine interface by 2011?

There’s an interesting snippet on the Wired blog about Hitachi developing ‘home’ brain imaging technology which they hope will allow thought-based computer interaction by 2011. Hitachi’s system doesn’t invasively co-opt the nervous sytem, instead using a topographic modelling system to measure blood flow in the brain, translating the images into signals that are sent to […]

Toxic intimacy

The New York Times has a short but interesting article on people who find intimate relationships stressful and bad for their mental health. A close relationship is considered almost universally beneficial, but some people seem to find relationships difficult to deal with, even when they’re going well. Interestingly, the article describes this as a ‘schizoid’ […]

Mental processes in the human brain (taped)

Video of the Royal Society event on 16th-17th of October – ‘Mental processes in the human brain’, is now available online. I strongly recommend the first talk, by Dan Schacter, which is about the active, constructive, nature of human episodic memory and why it might be built like that (answer: because it is designed to […]

Poets, artists and unusual experiences

From the BPS Research Digest: The idea that creative geniuses might not be entirely sane isn’t exactly new. But just how much do creative types have in common with people suffering from psychosis? Well, according to Daniel Nettle at the University of Newcastle, serious poets and artists have just as many ‘unusual experiences’ as people […]

The plastinated brain

The Plastinated Brain is a website with some amazing pictures of a dissected brain preserved with a process called plastination. The website is from the Institute for Anatomy at the University of Vienna and intends to help people understand human brain anatomy. Plastination preserves the body in a state where a remarkable amount of detail […]

Test yourself for synaesthesia

Synesthete.org is a website that has a series of online tests where you can test yourself for synaesthesia – the condition where senses are crossed so, for example, you might be able to taste shapes or see colours associated with specific numbers. The site is run by the Eagleman Lab at the Baylor College of […]

Guerilla neuroscience documentaries online

Obscured TV is a website that is streaming old TV documentaries. They don’t have permission to do it, but they believe the programmes are too educational to be left gathering dust in a TV company warehouse. As they have so many classic psychology and neuroscience documentaries in their archives, I can only agree. Just a […]

Encephalon 11 hits the virtual shelves

Issue 11 of Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has arrived, hosted by the ever-capable Mouse Trap blog. If you want to know the cognitive benefits of turning down the car radio when you’re lost, how science is progressing on a possible immunization for Alzheimer’s disease, or any number of exciting updates on the fast […]

Madness as social commentary

A list of delusions taken from the psychiatric literature that don’t seem that delusional when you think about them: “The earth is doomed” – Patient with Alzheimer’s reported by Sultzer et al. (2003) “Bill Gates is destroying my files and spying on me” – 32 year old patient reported by Podoll et al. (2000) “A […]

Hijacking intelligence

Many of the big websites use the ‘wisdom of crowds’ to make meaning out of chaotic data. Now, new software technology allows the automated use of human intelligence to perform tasks which computers are unable to do. As complex data-processing becomes a commodity, biological intelligence is becoming assimilated into the network as just another software […]

81 words, mental illness and homosexuality

As an update to a previous post on John E. Fryer’s dramatic role in getting homosexuality de-listed as a mental illness in 1973, thanks to the reader who emailed to say that the radio programme This American Life has a special on the fascinating story of the people behind the wider campaign. The programme also […]

Neuroscience and philosophy of vegetative state

BBC Radio 4 science programme Frontiers just started a new series, and the first programme was an in-depth investigation of the science and tricky moral and clinical problems thrown up by patients in a persistent vegetative state or PVS. The programme talks to the researchers behind the recent study that used brain scanning to infer […]

Brain Hammer

I’ve been reading mind and brain blog Brain Hammer recently – written by philosopher and cognitive scientist Pete Mandik. Philosophers are increasingly becoming indispensable, as training in the history and practice of philosophy makes people well-suited to tackling some of difficult problems thrown up by contemporary cognitive science. If you’re not sure what philosophers do […]

Soldiers and invisible children

The British Psychological Society Research Digest blog, run by our own very own Christian Jarrett, seems to have undergone a bit of a change and is now posting in daily bite-sized chunks rather than in two week mega-servings. A couple of things I picked up from it recently include video from the recently sold-out Royal […]

2006-11-17 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The New York Times looks at the lives of students with autism and Aspergers in an article on ‘<a href="Students on the Spectrum http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/05/education/edlife/traits.html?ex=1320382800&en=ed013200a8615e5f&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss”>Students on the Spectrum‘. Two recent stories suggest that applying mild electric currents to the head can aid memory or help […]

Suicide comedy

The plot line of this upcoming movie sounds very odd (and it must be said, very original): “Heartbroken by a break-up with his girlfriend Desiree, twentysomething Zia (Almost Famous’ Patrick Fugit) kills himself – only to wake up in the afterlife: a purgatory populated exclusively by other suicides, where the jukeboxes only play Joy Division […]

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