Monthly Archives: August 2007

Addicted to neurobiology and politics

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind has just had a special edition on the increasingly contentious debate over whether addiction is a brain disease, and does a fine job of highlighting the politics behind the interpretation of the science. This much is agreed upon: some people inherit a greater propensity for becoming addicted to […]

Tuna can brain tattoo, awkward acronym reminder

An unknown gent has had a brain tattooed on the top of his head, revealed by a picture of a peeled back tuna can. Actually, a few visual neuroscience things have popped up this week, so I’ve collected them here. Omni Brain found a cartoon of what brain surgeons might be thinking during neurosurgery. If […]

Surprisingly absent-minded

A completely charming excerpt from the ‘People’ section of UK news magazine The Week, discussing Ben Pridmore, current British and past world memory champion: Ben Pridomore can be surprisingly absent-minded says Adam Lusher in The Sunday Telegraph. The bespectacled accountant from Derby is Britain’s “memory champion” and a world-class mental athlete. He set a new […]

2007-08-17 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: First online mental illness support group in Hong Kong launches! Cognitive Daily uncovers a lovely study that finds that conversational partners coordinate eye movements and nose-scratching. Dr Petra analyses the recent research showing a link between breast implants and suicide. The Guardian releases mp3s […]

Time Magazine on decriminalising mental illness

Time magazine has an article on attempts to train law enforcement to prevent people with mental illness from needlessly ending up in behind bars. It includes some startling information, like the fact that more Americans receive mental health care in prisons than in hospitals. “If you think health care in America is bad, you should […]

Discover 10 unsolved mysteries of the brain

Discover magazine has an article on ’10 unsolved mysteries of the brain’ which describes some of the biggest challenges in contemporary neuroscience. It’s an interesting list, not least because you’ll notice that several of the problems are conceptual rather than empirical. For example, the list includes ‘What are emotions?’, ‘What is intelligence?’ and ‘What is […]

US psychologists to rebuke CIA, ban to be debated

Salon is reporting that the American Psychological Association is likely to issue a formal condemnation of many CIA interrogation tactics at its annual convention this weekend, although there may be loopholes meaning it falls short of an outright ban. It has become clear that psychologists are playing a central role in developing and deploying CIA […]

Locked in with the bitter taste of lemon

This week’s New Scientist has a number of interesting mind and brain articles. The most striking is on locked-in syndrome, where people are completely paralysed despite having intact minds. The article is by author Laura Spinney who wrote a novel based on locked-in syndrome called The Quick (ISBN 0007240503). One of the challenges is to […]

An intimate look at couples in conflict

The New York Times has an in-depth article that tracks the course of group psychotherapy for couples with relationship problems, giving a revealing insight into what happens when couples volunteer for a group aimed at helping them understand and resolve conflict. Group psychotherapy can take various approaches to how problems are understood but it typically […]

Neuromatrix: neuroscience video game for kids

Neuromatrix is a soon to be released action-adventure video game for kids that aims to effortlessly teach them about the function of the brain. It’s aimed at 10-15 year olds and, from the impressive video trailer, it seems to have a bit of a Half-Life vibe about it – a sort of 3D science-based adventure […]

Encephalon 29 rolls into town

The 29th edition of psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has just been published on the ever erudite Memoirs of a Postgrad. A couple of my favourites include a post on an American football team using the discredited ‘Mozart effect‘ to boost performance, and a review of a paper showing that caffeine perks you up more […]

Brain scanning the dead

A study published in Forensic Science International has examined how brain scans can be of use to forensic pathologists – clinicians who perform autopsies to better understand how someone has died, often to provide evidence for a criminal investigation. Head injuries are unfortunately common. Serious head injuries are most commonly caused by traffic accidents in […]

Battles over the beginnings of language

The New York Times has a review of a new book on the evolution of language that is also a concise guide to the origin and controversies within the field. The book is The First Word (ISBN 0670034908) by Christine Kenneally and, as the the NYT review makes clear, it tackles one of the most […]

Superstition and madness

From the entry for ‘madness’ taken from the Cassel Dictionary of Superstitions (ISBN 0304365610): “It is said that the mad are chosen by God and enjoy the special favour of Heaven. Accordingly, it is thought that particularly lucky throughout Europe to live in the same house as someone who is mad and historically the mad […]

Brain’s walking patterns specific for leg and direction

An ingenious experiment using an adapted treadmill has shown that our brain seems to store patterns for the smooth movement of our legs independently for each leg, and for each direction of walking. The study, devised by neuroscientists Julia Choi and Dr Amy Bastian, used a split-belt treadmill – a normal treadmill for walking but […]

Muses, Madmen and Prophets

I’m just reading a fantastic book called Muses, Madmen and Prophets: Rethinking the History, Science, and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination (ISBN 9781594201103) – a wonderfully written book on the complex science and history of ‘hearing voices’. Annoyingly, the book is published under the name ‘Hearing Voices’ (ISBN 041377645X) in the UK. Annoying, because its the […]


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