Monthly Archives: February 2007

Insula reality

As a perfect follow-up to recent news that damage to an area of the brain called the insula makes it easier to kick an addiction, The New York Times has an article looking more generally at the function of this fascinating neural structure. The article is by science writer Sandra Blakeslee who has a history […]

Reflected mysteries

“As long as our brain is a mystery, the universe, the reflection of the structure of the brain, will also be a mystery.” A quote by the Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ram√≥n y Cajal who won the Nobel prize for pioneering research into the fine structure of the nervous system, particularly the structure of the synapse.

From waves to the brain

Retrospectacle has a great beginner’s guide to hearing for anyone interested in how sound waves get converted into neural impulses for the brain. The article describes the wonderful mechanics of the ear. It’s quite striking how much the physical make-up of the ear filters and ‘processes’ the sound waves before they even reach the sensory […]

Healthy relationships and the sound of success

PsyBlog has just started a series of articles investigating the psychology of relationships by examining recent research looking at how relationships may do our health as much good as a balanced diet and regular exercise. Another article discusses why music is so commonly talked about when we’re getting to know someone. Partly, it seems, because […]

Methamphetamine lollygagger

Thanks to Ian for emailing to congratulate Mind Hacks on hosting a Googlewhack – a Google search that turns up only one link. If you search for methamphetamine lollygagger on Google, the only hit is one of our pages. God knows how Ian discovered this. Great name for a band though. Of course, as soon […]

Little memory men and spirit voices

A curious footnote on p183 from Mary Roach’s wonderful book on the natural history of the dead body Stiff: The Curious Lives of the Human Cadaver (ISBN 0141007451): People have trouble believing Thomas Edison to be a loopy individual. I offer as evidence the following passage on human memory, taken from his diaries: “We do […]

London cabbie navigates with hippocampus damage

The hippocampus is thought to be essential for navigation. Surprisingly, a paper published last year reported that a London Taxi driver, who suffered hippocampus damage on both sides of the brain, could successfully navigate around much of London. London black cab drivers must pass ‘The Knowledge‘ to get a license. It involves memorising London streets […]

Prescribing ecstasy

Slate has an article on the use of MDMA (‘Ecstasy’) in the treatment of people with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Limited licenses have been granted to research the use of MDMA to assist in psychotherapy, particularly for trials in people with trauma-related stress. It will shortly be trialled to see if it can help […]

The romantic literature of recovered memories

The New York Times discusses a recent challenge laid down by psychologists skeptical of claims of recovered memories: find a single account of repressed memory, fictional or not, before the year 1800. The researchers claim that the earliest account is from the 1782 novel Dangerous Liaisons and have published their findings in the journal Psychological […]

Furious Seasons

Furious Seasons is a blog about psychiatry and mental health by a ‘long-time psych patient’. What makes this blog different is that the author is also an award-winning investigative journalist. The blog reports on the good and bad in mental health, keeping tabs on both shady commercial interests and significant treatment advances. It also looks […]

Overlooking infinity

“From my fourth-floor room overlooking infinity, in the viable intimacy of the falling evening, at the window before the emerging stars, my dreams – in rhythmic accord with the visible distance – are of journeys to unknown, imagined or simply impossible countries.” Text 421 (‘Journey in the Mind’) from The Book of Disquiet (ISBN 0141183047) […]

All shopped out?

Science and Consciousness Review has a short but interesting piece by neuroscientist Bernard Baars on recent findings on the neuroscience of buying. An fMRI brain-scanning study published earlier this year in science journal Neuron [pdf] reported that when someone was making a decision to buy something or not, the brain activity could be reliably tracked […]

2007-02-02 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Make Beautiful Brain Music. Wired covers the creation of brainwave-based music. Even better it’s touring! MSNBC visits the Newberg lab to discover how researchers are studying the neuroscience of spiritual experience. The New York Times discusses the psychology of email spam. Furious Seasons keeps […]

The promise of heroin

Andrew Tyler describes the attraction of heroin, from p275 of Street Drugs (ISBN 0340609753). The book is considered one of the best guides to the culture, markets and effects of society’s common illicit drugs and is widely read by professionals who deal with drug users. So what is this strange romance with heroin? Why, when […]

Brains in silicon

The cover story of today’s New Scientist discusses the work of Dr Kwabena Boahen who is creating microchips with neural networks designed into the hardware. Building functions into microchips mean they run fast and efficiently, despite the fact it reduces the flexibility of what the hardware can do. Artificial neural networks can require a lot […]


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