Monthly Archives: November 2006

Two smell systems in the human brain

Today’s Nature has a special supplement on chemical sensing, including a freely accessible article on smell and the flavour system that is full of surprising facts about one of the most neglected senses. For me, one of the most surprising aspects of the article, was discovery that there are two distinct brain networks for smell. […]

A neuroscientist’s life’s work

The International Herald Tribune has a fascinating article on the work of neuroscientist Prof Sandra Witelson. Witelson is notable for collating the world’s largest ‘brain bank’ of non-diseased human brains. She is particularly interested in examining how brain structure relates to mental function, and particularly in sex differences between men and women. Her research has […]

NewSci’s half century of big questions

New Scientist turns 50 today, and to celebrate, they’ve reprinted some classic news stories from their archives and have predictions from a clutch of contemporary scientists. The only neuroscience-related story from the archive is the discovery of endorphins, natural pain-killing opioids in the brain, from way back in ’76. Cognitive scientists make more of a […]

The maze of child psychiatry

The New York Times has published the first two parts of an ongoing series on the experience and difficulties of diagnosing mental illness in children. The area of child mental illness is controversial, largely because diagnosis is so difficult. Diagnosing adults is tricky at the best of times, but mental disorder seems to appear differently […]

Lights, camera, madness – Bollywood style

Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry, seems to be showing a new, more positive interest in mental illness. As The Mouse Trap reports, one of the most popular films of the year, Lage Raho Munna Bhai (‘Carry on Munna Bhai’) depicts a local gangster, Munna, who becomes obsessed with the ideas of Mahatma Ghandi. Munna […]

Synapse 11 arrives

The latest edition of psychology and neuroscience writing carnival The Synapse has arrive online, hosted by the fantastic Developing Intelligence. This edition contains links to articles on everything from mental illness in Bollywood to million neuron 3D animations. Enjoy! Link to Issue 11 of The Synapse.

Haynes Brain Manual

Haynes, the maker of the well-known manuals on car mechanics, have released a Haynes Brain Manual (ISBN 1844253716) that gives tips and advice on keeping your mind and brain running smoothly. Covering everything from exercise and nutrition for optimal brain function, to dealing with stress, to getting help with mental or neurological health problems, the […]

Addiction science solved

According to the Spiritual Science Research Foundation, 96% of addictions are “primarily caused due to possession by either ghosts or our departed ancestors” with only 4% being due to physical and psychological factors. Well, that’s that sorted then. The full ‘research’ report is available online, and I have to say, the diagrams alone are worth […]

Neuroanatomy illustrated, 1832

America’s National Library of Medicine have put scans of beautiful old medical texts online including Jospeh Vimont’s wonderfully illustrated 1832 anatomy book entitled Trait√© de phr√©nologie humaine et compar√©e that compares the skull and brain of humans and animals. Despite the French title, it’s annotated in both English and French and contains some fantastic illustrations […]

Inside a 7-tesla brain scanner

There’s a news story and video clip on the BBC News website about a reporter’s experience of being inside the new 7-tesla fMRI scanner at Nottingham University. Tesla is a measure of magnetic field strength and the greater the field strength of an fMRI scanner, the more detailed images it is likely to produce. Most […]

The masked, gay, anonymous psychiatrist

I just read a news item in Psychiatric News on the first John E. Fryer M.D. Award, named after the man who appeared in disguise as Dr H. Anonymous at the 1972 American Psychiatric Association conference to declare he was a gay psychiatrist at a time when homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness. […]

Mirror neurons as an explanation for autism

This month’s Scientific American has a cover story on why differences in the ‘mirror neuron‘ system may explain the social difficulties in autism – and an extended preview is available online. Mirror neurons are cells in the brain that are active both when a person is performing an action, or when they see someone else […]

Adapting to one’s underpants

“Simply put, sensory adaptation is why you don’t notice your underpants.” A fantastically straightforward explanation of sensory adaptation in a short article on negative campaigning from The Frontal Cortex. There’s more on the neuroscience underlying this phenomenon in a 2001 Nature article, online as a pdf file.

2006-11-10 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Cognitive Daily has a fantastic post on how the brain synchronises sound and vision, even when they’re out of sync (including videos!). Psychology Today argues that mass-media ‘beauty’ is making people unhappy in Why I hate beauty. Web pioneers call for a new discipline […]

Who wants to be a neurillionaire?

Seed Magazine has a fantastic article written by Ogi Ogas, a doctoral student in cognitive neuroscience who applied techniques from cognitive psychology to win a cool half-million on the show ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’ Taking advantage of psychological processes such as priming and the structure of associations in memory, Ogas devised strategies to […]

Is that a hydraulic shovel in your pocket…?

There’s nothing more interesting than people. The diversity of the human race is the main reason why I find psychology and neuroscience so fascinating. The following summary of an article from the Journal of Forensic Science is an amazing demonstration of how diverse the human race can be, sadly with tragic consequences in these cases. […]


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