Monthly Archives: January 2007

2007-01-19 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The New York Times reports on effective non-drug treatments and behavioural techniques for children with mental disorder. BBC News reports that mental health drugs are over-prescribed (is this news?). BBC graphics watchers may note that the standard mental health graphic has changed from a […]

Fearing the unfamiliar

American Scientist reviews a new book that suggests an intriguing hypothesis – that the reason that the distrust of people with a different skin color, different values or a different ideology is so prevalent is because the early development of crucial brain pathways makes it hard for people to accept new and unfamiliar experiences. Wexler […]

Extra ordinary valour

Edgar Jones and Simon Wessely give one of several examples of people diagnosed with psychiatric disorder giving exemplary service during the Second World War. From p108 of their book Shell Shock to PTSD: Military Psychiatry from 1900 to the Gulf War (ISBN 1841695807): “As regards to the related question of how those diagnosed with psychiatric […]

Cognitive robotics

Memoirs of a Postgrad has an eye-opening analysis of the world of cognitive robotics – the science of developing ‘cognitive agents’. When we think of ‘intelligent robots’ we tend to think of the human-think-alike androids from science-fiction, but the article argues that we should think about it more in terms of intelligence that would manifest […]

Old age is just a record of one’s whole life

Today is Muhammad Ali’s birthday. “A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.” 65 and still fighting.

Is infantile amnesia a myth?

There’s a great post from Developing Intelligence looking at research on ‘infantile amnesia’ – the ‘amnesia’ we have for events that happened before about 3 years of age. It turns out that studies done on young babies, even babies in the womb, have shown that infants have got surprisingly good memory. As reviewed by Hayne, […]

Mind control and the modern citizen

The Washington Post has an intriguing article on people who believe they are subject to secret government ‘mind control’ technology. People who experience voices being ‘beamed’ into their heads or forces acting on their bodies, have formed communities on the internet to support each other and to lobby the government to stop what they claim […]

waking life crossword experiment

In Richard Linklater’s Waking Life (2001) two of the characters discuss the idea synchronicity. They mention an experiment where people were isolated and given daily crosswords. If the crossword puzzles were a day old, meaning that thousands of people had already completed them, then people found it easier to get the answers – because the […]

Creatively maladjusted

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” A quote from Martin Luther King, extolling the virtues of the wayward mind (via TWS).

Amnesia affects ability to imagine the future

There’s an interesting New Scientist news report on recent research suggesting that people with amnesia have difficulty imagining the future, suggesting this ability relies on our capacity to remember past experience. The study was led by Dr Eleanor Maguire and involved five participants with dense amnesia caused by damage to the hippocampus on both sides […]

Archive footage of shell shock patients

I’ve just uploaded some archive film footage to YouTube of shell shock patients from World War One, taken from a recent Channel 4 documentary on soldiers executed for cowardice. I was surprised to find that there is almost no video of this historically and clinically important condition on the internet. The clip has footage of […]

Ninety minutes blindfolded enhances your hearing

The BPS Research Digest reports on a new study that shows that 90 minutes of being blindfolded significantly improves our ability to locate sounds. Next the participants spent 90 minutes sitting quietly with the blindfold on. Crucially, when they repeated the [sound location] task after this, their accuracy was improved as they no longer underestimated […]

Encephalon 14 at Mixing Memory

The latest edition of neuroscience writing carnival Encephalon has just arrived and covers everything from the philosophy of mind to, er… a neuroscience-themed death metal band. A couple of my favourites include a post on which type of model of the mind is best for cognitive science from Memoirs of a Postgrad, and Pure Pedantry’s […]

Looking through the eyes of others

There’s a fascinating opinion piece by psychologist Michael Tomasello in The New York Times arguing that humans, unlike other apes, have evolved to have the whites of our eyes showing to make social cooperation easier. The idea is that this allows us to easily work out where other humans are looking, and this can help […]

A humanoid robot you can control with your thoughts

The University of Washington Neural Systems Lab have created a humanoid robot you can control with your thoughts. I’ll say that again – a humanoid robot you can control with your thoughts The future is here. Thank you and goodnight. The control system is a type of EEG-based non-invasive brain-computer interface and the page has […]

‘Traumatic stress disorder’ in a 5 month old baby

Sometimes I think there’s some sort of secret competition going on with American mental health professionals to see who can diagnose mental illness in the youngest child. The BPS Research Digest reports on a recently published case study of ‘traumatic stress disorder’ (supposedly an infant equivalent to PTSD) in a 5-month-old child. There’s no doubt […]


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