Monthly Archives: April 2007

John Holter, brain engineer

In 1955, after seven years of trying, John and Mary’s first child was born. The birth of Casey Holter turned John Holter’s life upside-down and changed the course of medical history. Agonisingly, Casey had spina bifida, a condition where the spine doesn’t fully form and may be dangerously misshapen. The condition was also causing hydrocephalus, […]


A curious term from anthropology describing the tendency for someone to come up with a counter-example from some usually obscure and remote tribe when anyone makes a general claim about human culture. Bongo-bongoism: the venerable but ultimately sterile anthropological practice of countering every generalization with an exception located somewhere at some time. Apparently, it was […]

Interfacing consciousness, action and vision

Consciousness research journal Psyche has just released a new issue that tackles the limits of vision and visual cognition. The issue starts with an article summarising the main arguments in the book Ways of Seeing by philosopher Pierre Jacob and neuroscientist Marc Jeannerod. The book tackles the interface between vision and our other psychological abililties […]

All the taste, none of the calories

Why does this leave a bad taste in my mouth? Numerous news sources are reporting that chocolate has a stronger effect on the heart and brain than kissing. Alarm bells started ringing when it became obvious that the story is a promotion for a sweet company trying to advertise a new line of chocolate bars. […]

The uncanny, fantasy and imagination in Irish art

Dublin’s National Gallery of Ireland has a free exhibition looking at how the uncanny, fantasy and imagination have been represented in Irish art. Although only three rooms, there are some wonderful pieces, many of which explicitly touch on psychological themes. This is an extract from the programme: The Fantastic has manifested itself in various ways, […]

Battery powered brain scanner

BBC News has an interesting video report on a hand-held device that uses near-infrared light to penetrate the skull and test the cortex for haematomas – a type of potentially dangerous blood clot caused by head injury. The device is called the InfraScanner and doesn’t create the sort of brain scans you might be used […]

Back to the Future Brain

It’s a timeless romantic tale. Boy meets girl. Boy accidentally puts girl into a coma in a car accident. Boy tries to revive girl in his neuroscience lab while singing an 80s pop song. The video for the 1985 song Future Brain by Italian pop artist Den Harrow is on YouTube if you want to […]

Neuroscience made simple

If you think the neuroscience of mental illness is just too complicated to understand, there’s no need to worry your pretty little head about it. Dr Bonkers has kindly collected explanations of these otherwise poorly understood disorders, simplified for you, by those ever helpful drug industry marketing departments. Why waste time following those baffling scientific […]

Central catacomb

“But when the self speaks to the self, who is speaking? ‚Äî the entombed soul, the spirit driven in, in, in to the central catacomb; the self that took the veil and left the world ‚Äî a coward perhaps, yet somehow beautiful, as it flits with its lantern restlessly up and down the dark corridors.” […]

Zimbardo on heroism

Edge has a video of Philip Zimbardo talking about what his investigations into the psychology of conformity and abuse have told him about the psychology of non-conformity in the face of evil. He starts his talk with the following: One of the questions I’ve been asking myself is, is there a counter point to Hannah […]

2007-04-13 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: More from Cardiff’s Violence and Society Research Group: Wins, not defeats make fans more aggressive. The New York Magazine has an in-depth article on research that has looked at the psychology of the boss in the workplace. Retrospectacle examines new evidence that lactate may […]

Gun ownership linked to suicide

A study just published in the Journal of Trauma found that across 50 US States, home gun ownership was linked to an increase in the risk of gun-related suicide. The man-in-the-street wisdom on suicide goes something like this: ‘If someone wants to kill themselves, they’ll always find a way to do it’. In actual fact, […]

Kurt Vonnegut has left the building

This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from. Peace. A quote from Slaughterhouse-Five, a novel by American writer Kurt Vonnegut, who died yesterday. Slaughterhouse-Five is a novel about World War II, the bombing of Dresden, alien abduction, youthful foolishness, time travel, […]

The unique construction of the blind brain

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind recently had a two programme special (part 1, part 2) on the neuroscience of blindness, focusing on how blindness affects the development of the brain and how electronic neural implants and being developed to restore lost vision. One of the most remarkable parts is the interview with psychologist […]

Sex, love and SSRIs

Psychology Today has an interesting article on anthropologist Helen Fisher’s theory that SSRI drugs (commonly used as antidepressants) interfere with love and attraction. SSRI stands for ‘Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor’ and the group includes drugs such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Seroxat (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) which all increase the availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the […]

The dramatic history of anaesthetics

BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time had a recent programme on the history of anaesthetics, covering their discovery and their application from the first pain killers to their use in modern day surgery. It starts with Humphrey Davy testing a wide selection of seemingly randomly chosen gases on himself and discovering ‘laughing gas’ or nitrous […]


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