Monthly Archives: July 2007

Remembered spaces

A poignant short essay from The New York Times on locations that only live in our memories. It has the lovely image of cities that exist only in our minds, after buildings we knew so well have since been replaced. Sort of nostalgic landscapes that we carry with us, long after the actual places have […]

Encephalon 27 dashes by

A somewhat telegraphic 27th edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has just been published on the new clean look Neurocontrarian blog. A couple of my favourites include a brief investigation into a new skin patch to deliver drugs to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and an article on punishment, morality and game theory, […]

Hand actions fire mirror neurons in handless people

Science reports that people born without hands show ‘mirror neuron’ activity when they view hand actions, but in the area of the brain that controls the feet. The ‘mirror neuron‘ system is a brain network that activates both when an action is being carried out, and when it is being observed, and has been hypothesised […]

Unconscious beauty primes positive emotions

We can correctly classify faces as attractive or unattractive, even when they appear so quickly that we’re not conscious of seeing them. This is according to a study that also found that subliminal attractive faces also prime positive emotions. Profs Ingrid Olson and Christy Marshuetz flashed up photos of faces previously rated as either extremely […]

Laugh and the world laughs with you

Discover magazine has an article that looks at the psychology of laughter and humour, noting that the two aren’t necessarily as linked as we’d normally think. It seems the social context is as powerful as the content of the humour itself in driving our response, because laughter is a communication in itself. Previous studies of […]

Brain toast t-shirt

If you’re a fan of toasting your brains, either literally or metaphorically, there’s now a t-shirt especially designed for you. Belgian t-shirt label Carbone 14 have created some rather natty versions in red and white. There’s also a skinny fit version if you like your toasted brains, well, skinny. If on the other hand, you […]

How gene therapy could cure brain diseases

Nature’s neurology journal has a freely available article on a technique that interferes with the translation of genetic information into proteins that may help prevent inherited brain diseases. DNA has two main functions. The ‘template function’ of DNA is to pass on genes through generations and allow different traits to be inherited. The ‘transcriptional function’ […]

Shifting eye therapy successfully treats trauma

A recent study has found that EMDR, a once suspect therapy that involves recalling traumatic memories while moving your eyes, is one of the most effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It’s a type of psychotherapy that, among other things, involves thinking about the traumatic event […]

Photographing delusions

Singapore art collective A Dose of Light exhibited some poignant and beautiful photographs by Wu Xiao Kang, a 26 year-old man with schizophrenia who later killed himself. The show gained international acclaim and only later was it revealed that Kang was fictional, a creation of the collective who had taken the photos themselves. The project […]

Syd Barrett in the American Journal of Psychiatry

From the ‘images in psychiatry’ column from July’s American Journal of Psychiatry, written by Dr Paolo Fusar-Poli: Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett was both the founding member of one of the most legendary rock bands and probably the most famous rock star to develop psychosis. He formed the band that would become Pink Floyd in 1965, […]

2007-07-13 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: For Certain Tasks, the Cortex Still Beats the CPU. Completely banal title obscures quite an interesting article on ‘human processing‘ in computer tasks. Research suggests the biggest influence on how responsive we feel our partners are is actually how we respond to our partners. […]

Hypnosis redux

Thanks to everyone who came along to discuss the neuropsychology of hypnosis last night. For anyone who wants to investigate further, here’s more on the psychology and neuroscience of hypnotic states. Scientific American has a fantastic article on ‘The Truth and the Hype of Hypnosis’ that tackles some of the myths and covers some of […]

Terrorism fails because we don’t see its purpose

In an article for Wired, security guru Bruce Schneier suggests that the reason terrorism fails is because it falls foul of a cognitive bias in how we understand people’s intentions from their actions. Schneier bases his conclusions on a recent paper [pdf] by Max Abrahms who applies correspondent inference theory to terrorism and the political […]

Magnetic brain stimulation not proven to fight depression

At a recent American Psychiatric Association meeting, commercial companies were showing off custom made magnetic brain stimulators as a treatment for depression. A review article in the latest Nature Reviews Neuroscience looks at the technology and finds there’s still no convincing evidence that it’s an effective treatment. The technology is based on transcranial magnetic stimulation […]

Science cafe reminder

I’m looking forward to discussing the neuropsychology of hypnosis, at the Alchemist Cafe, Dublin’s own monthly Science Cafe event. It happens tomorrow, Thursday 12th July, at The Mercantile in Dame St. We kick off at 7.45pm. See you there!

Synaesthesia in one language only

New Scientist have recently published a fascinating exchange on synaesthesia which has highlighted that some bilingual people with the condition experience the effect in one language only. A reader wrote in to suggest that the consistently found associations of certain colours with specific letters of the alphabet may be due to with the way the […]


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