Monthly Archives: January 2007

Dancing in the waiting room

I found this on the wall of a Rehab Unit in a London hospital this morning. Dancing in the Waiting Room by Angus Macmillan All our living is in waiting. In these moments we find our myriad selves anxious, hopeful, trembling, wishful, fearful, impatient. All our dancing shadows are there flitting in the half light […]

Coding for cognition

Cognitive scientist Sacha Barber has created a three-part guide to the mechanics and mathematics of neural networks. If you’re interested in how many artificial intelligence systems work, the guide takes you through the mathematics of neural networks, to the basic of creating your own network in the C programming language. Even if you’re not a […]

Looking for fireworks

Brain Ethics has a fantastic post by neuroscientist Thomas Rams√∏y who describes the discovery of a worrying brain pathology in a volunteer who took part in one of his brain imaging studies. A 1999 study found that 18% of healthy participants have brain scans that might suggest some form of abnormality, although only a minority […]

The thingishness of things

…when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you sometimes find that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it. Winnie the Pooh struggles with the problem of communicating qualia to external […]

The Stuff of Thought

The Toronto Star has a preview of Steven Pinker’s forthcoming book ‘The Stuff of Thought’ which apparently tackles language (no surprise there) but this time examines the multiple meanings in language and how and why we use metaphor. The book isn’t slated to appear until late 2007, although it seems he’ll be doing some lectures […]

The colourful world of naming and knowing

The Economist has a short article on two recent studies which have examined the theory that our ability to perceive colours is influenced by the way a language labels different hues. The general idea that language shapes our thoughts and experience is known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. For example, some languages don’t have separate names […]

Magic in mind

The New York Times has an article on magical thinking – the mental process of making connections between unrelated or loosely-related things. Magical thinking is thought to exist on a spectrum, from hunches, creative leaps and superstitions at one end, to frank psychosis at the other – where the connections become so odd as to […]

A serious case of focal retrograde amnesia

I’ve been notified of a rare case of focal retrograde amnesia that doesn’t seem to have been reported in the medical literature. Focal retrograde amnesia is where memory for past events and personal information is lost, while the ability to remember new events is spared. The case is described in Mr Bump Loses His Memory […]

Cliff Arnall is depressing

It’s January 22nd, it must be time for another Cliff Arnall bollocks-fest. According to Arnall, his ‘formula’ predicts that today is officially the most depressing of the year. Yes, Cliff, it is, but only because we have to put up with more utter nonsense from you. Exactly the same story appeared in 2005 and 2006, […]

Sleep pattern slumber wear

Online t-shirt retailers No Demographic have created a t-shirt with EEG (‘brainwave’) traces from each stage of sleep. Sleep is divided into two main types: ‘rapid eye movement‘ or REM sleep, and non-REM sleep. The majority (but not all) dreaming happens in REM sleep. REM sleep is sometimes called ‘paradoxical sleep’ in the research literature, […]

Feeling the connection

It seems the latest edition of Time Magazine is a special on the brain, and there’s another full-length neuroscience feature article available online that discusses how the brain reorganises and ‘rewires’ itself. This is known as ‘plasticity’ and neuroscientists often talk about the brain being ‘plastic’. This doesn’t refer to the material, although does refer […]

Great Scott!

It’s just struck me that Eric Kandel looks remarkably similar to Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Is there something missing from Professor Kandel’s otherwise candid biography? I think we should be told.

Eric Kandel profiled

There’s a great introductory profile of psychiatrist and neurobiologist Eric Kandel in Columbia Magazine that outlines his life and Nobel-prize winning work. Kandel is best known for his work on how memory operates at the cellular and molecular level. For example, his research has investigated long-term potentiation, the process by which the synaptic connection between […]

The Mystery of Consciousness

This week’s Time Magazine has a wonderfully in-depth article on the science and implications of consciousness by cognitive scientist Stephen Pinker. It shouldn’t be surprising that research on consciousness is alternately exhilarating and disturbing. No other topic is like it. As Ren√© Descartes noted, our own consciousness is the most indubitable thing there is. The […]

Psychologists and the pursuit of happiness

The New York Times has a remarkably comprehensive article on ‘positive psychology’ – the research and applied field that aims to understand happiness and human growth. The article takes a critical look at the field, what the research is showing and how it’s being applied and taught. Traditionally, psychology has been more focused on mental […]

Web guide for psychology students

The BPS Research Digest commissioned PsychSplash founder Dr. Gareth Furber to produce a list of links to psychology resources on the internet. He oblidged in the form of a poem. This is one of the verses: I must admit, I have a thing for librarians Mostly the younger ones, not the octogenarians My fascination however […]

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