Monthly Archives: January 2007

Electra Brain!

If you’ve always harboured secret Dr Frankenstein fantasies (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) what better way to unleash your inner re-animator than by having a glowing brain lamp? Yes, it’s a plasma lamp in the shape of a brain, so you can dance lightening across your glass cortex with the touch of your finger. […]

A neuroanatomist’s stroke of insight

Sound Medicine has a fascinating podcast interview with Dr Jill Bolte Taylor a neuroanatomist who experienced a stroke that damaged her brain and fundamentally changed her perception of the world. A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain get interrupted, often because an artery gets blocked, it swells, or bursts. Taylor notes that […]

Developing a thought controlled wheelchair

Wired has a report and video on a research project by Spanish researchers to develop a wheelchair which can be controlled by a brain-computer interface. Brain-computer interfaces are big news at the moment, although most of the excitement is focused on the sci-fi-like interfaces that implant directly into the brain. These systems are all lab-based […]

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

There’s a fascinating case report in the medical journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica about a man who became psychotic and developed the delusional belief that his mother had transformed into a wolf. Lycanthropy is the name given to the mythical condition that causes someone to turn into a werewolf. However, it’s also the name given to […]

Motherly stress and the unborn baby

BBC News has a report on a recent conference presentation by Prof Vivette Glover suggesting that mother’s stress can affect the brain development of an unborn child. If you are pregnant, don’t panic, the effect has only been found for quite intense stresses, but these do seem to increase the chances of the child developing […]

Encephalon 15 at Sharp Brains

The 15th edition of psychology and neuroscience writing carnival Encephalon has just arrived online, this time ably hosted by brain fitness blog SharpBrains. A couple of my favourites include a wonderfully informative post from Blog Around the Clock on the biological clock and a video of Jonah Lehrer’s talk on Walt Whitman’s connection to modern […]

I won’t be complete until I lose a limb

Today’s Guardian has a fascinating first person account by someone with ‘body identity integrity disorder’ or BIID. The condition is where people are uncomfortable with their bodies, usually a particular healthy limb, and want to have it amputated. Importantly, people who have this desire are not psychotic, and it’s not a sexual fetish, they just […]

A visual record of madness in 50s France

Luminous Lint has published a collection of evocative images by photographer Jean-Philippe Charbonnier who documented French psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric patients in the 1950s. Some of the most important developments in psychiatry have happened in France. Physician Phillipe Pinel was one of the first people to advocate humane treatment for patients with mental illness and […]

Working in the future imperfect

The aesthetically and intellectually compelling PsyBlog has a great article arguing that long-term career planning is often a waste of time as research has shown that we are unlikely to be able to predict what will make us happy in the future. The research was a paper from Daniel Gilbert’s lab, that specifically studies happiness, […]

Autism, In My Language

Amanda Baggs is a young woman with autism and she’s created a powerful and articulate video that ‘translates’ from her world of environmental interaction to the neurotypical form of speech and perception. As well as a stunning view into how she experiences and makes sense of the world, it’s also a forceful philosophical argument concerning […]

What we still don’t know

The February edition of Wired magazine has a special feature on 42 of the biggest unanswered questions in science. Several of them concern the mind, brain and behaviour. How the brain creates consciousness is, perhaps, one of the most obvious ones. If you’re not familiar with sleep research, you might find the question about why […]

Follow the glamour

Biologist and reproductive scientist Prof David Clapham is interviewed in the New York Times, leading to a sublime moment halfway through the exchange: Q. Among biologists, is sperm research very respected? A. Well, in biology, all the glamour is in neuroscience. Link to NYT interview with David Clapham (via Frontal Cortex).

Call of the weird

Film-maker Louis Theroux has written an insightful article for the BBC website about society’s view of weirdness and his experience of meeting out-of-the-ordinary people. He suggests that ‘weirdness’ is in the eye of the beholder as the idea of what makes someone ‘weird’ is just the result of our transient views of what is considered […]

Kicking the habit the hard way

A study published in today’s edition of Science reports that nicotine addicted patients who acquired damage to the insula – an area just behind the temporal lobes – reported that the urge to smoke reduced after their brain damage occurred. The insula is coloured red in the diagram on the right and has been heavily […]

2007-02-26 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: NPR radio has a special on teenage sleep: how it works and sleeping better. There’s a careful analysis of differences in the structure of the left and right hemispheres of the brain over at Developing Intelligence. American Scientist has an interview with ergonomist and […]

A life in forensic psychiatry

The January edition of the Royal College of Psychiatrists podcast has an interview with Prof John Gunn about his life working in forensic psychiatry. Forensic psychiatry, the branch of medicine that deals with mentally ill offenders, is something that you rarely hear about unless there’s a (usually sensationalised) story in the newspapers about a crime […]


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