Monthly Archives: February 2007

Richard Dadd and the madness of an artist

Below is an excerpt from the novel Bedlam by Jennifer Higgie which gives a fictional account of the travels and madness of Victorian artist Richard Dadd. Dadd was eventually confined to Bethlem Hospital and subsequently to the then ‘Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane’ (now Broadmoor Hospital) for the murder of his father and attempted […]

Lost in space

What do you do with a psychotic astronaut? If you’re not sure, the Houston Chronicle notes that you can look it up in NASA’s manual for dealing with psychiatric emergencies in space. Despite being surrounded by billions of dollars of high technology, the procedure is pragmatic and definitely low-tech: The guidelines were developed to respond […]

Famous for amnesia and the history of memory

NPR Radio has a fantastic programme that charts the story of famous amnesic patient HM and how research into his impairments have revolutionised the way we understand human memory. HM became densely amnesic after an operation removed the hippocampus on each side of the brain to treat his otherwise untreatable epilepsy. Epilepsy can often be […]

Eyes-closed fantasies

An excerpt from the entry for the psychedelic drug 4-TASB from the book Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved (otherwise known as PiHKAL). The drug was one of many developed by chemist and psychedelics researcher Alexander Shulgin. As with hundreds of other compounds, the chemical structure and effects of this new drug are described in […]

Subliminal messages on slot machines

CBC News is reporting that Ontario’s gambling regulator has removed almost 90 slot machines from use because they appear to show subliminal jackpot displays every time the game is played. Information displayed very quickly, or within a sequence of other images (known as ‘masking’ in psychology), can be found to have a detectable effect on […]

The benefits of inheriting despair

The LA Times has an interesting article on evolutionary theories of depression that also discusses how these might lead to new and improved treatments for the condition. The fact that mental illness is both widespread and disabling is a puzzle in evolutionary terms, if you believe that a vulnerability to psychological disorder is strongly inherited. […]

Encephalon 17 ahoy

The latest edition of psychology and neuroscience writing carnival Encephalon has been been published, this time ably hosted by Pure Pedantry. A couple of my favourites from this curiously pirate-themed edition include a demonstration of an effect known as ‘boundary extension’ and an article on the sometimes paralysing effects of choice. Head on over if […]

Real life earthquake simulator to treat disaster trauma

As an intriguing follow-up to our recent story on using virtual reality to treat battle-related PTSD, BBC News is reporting on a relatively low-tech solution for earthquake-related PTSD – a house on a shaking platform. The research, led by Dr Metin Basoglu, has just been published in the journal Psychological Medicine and reports that the […]

Autism across cultures

NPR has recently broadcast a short interview with anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker who discusses how autism is understood in different cultures and across the world. Grinker has written a book called Unstrange Minds (ISBN 0465027636) which was inspired both by his daughter, who has been diagnosed with autism, and his travels across the world to […]

Diagnosing and treating childhood

Psychiatrist Edward Hume has created uploaded a spoof paper on the the ‘etiology and treatment of childhood’, satirising the growing enthusiasm for diagnosing children with psychiatric disorders. The paper was written by Jordan Smoller and published in the humorous book called Oral sadism and the vegetarian personality (ISBN 0345347005). Childhood is a syndrome which has […]

UK’s Ministry of Defence researching parapsychology

According to BBC News news story, a Ministry of Defence report shows that the UK government agency carried out tests to see if participants could demonstrate the psychic ability of ‘remote viewing‘ in 2002. The document was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and reportedly outlines experiments to test whether participants could ‘see’ information […]

The cutting edge of Parkinson’s Disease

BBC Radio 4’s medical programme Case Notes recently had a special on Parkinson’s Disease which explored the condition and the work on the latest treatments – including brain surgery and cell transplants. Parkinson’s Disease is heavily linked to the loss of dopamine neurons in the nigrostriatal pathway in the brain (there’s a good diagram here). […]

2007-02-23 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Schizophrenia could be ‘evolution of the intellect’ according to genetic study looking at how traits linked to the disorder may be beneficial in some instances. “Why do men ignore nagging wives? It’s all science”. The sexism is optional it seems. Cognitive Daily looks at […]

Hello Guardian readers (why email is addictive link)

Hello Guardian readers, the article mentioned in today’s paper about email addiction is here: ‘Why email is addictive (and what to do about it)’ Have a look around while you’re here, hope you like it!

The neurochemistry of orgasm

Below is an excerpt from a review, published in this week’s Nature, of the book The Science of Orgasm (ISBN 9780801884900). The review is by Prof Tim Spector whose work we’ve featured previously on Mind Hacks. Spector published the results of a study in 2005 on the genetics of female orgasm which generated a range […]

A fruit that affects dopamine neurons

The fruit pictured on the right is called a soursop – a reportedly delicious fruit from the French West Indies that contains very small amounts of a substance that kills dopamine neurons. Two research studies have looked at the substance – annonacin – and found it to kill off dopamine neurons in test tube trials. […]


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