Monthly Archives: September 2007

Radio in a coma

A new series of the whimsical comedy series Vent, about the thoughts of a man in a coma, has just begun on Radio 4. It’s darkly comic, surreal and occasionally deeply touching. It flips between the thoughts and memories of Ben, a man in a coma, and the visits of his friends and family to […]

Is the internet good for our mental health?

This week’s ABC Radio National All in the Mind discusses how the internet can affect the mind, whether we can be addicted to it, and how it’s being used to delivered effective psychological therapies for a range of mental disorders. This is the programme I was interviewed for a few weeks ago (through the magic […]

Boyden blogs on augmenting the brain

Ed Boyden, a neuroscientist who specialises in developing technology to enhance the mind and brain, has just started writing a blog on the Technology Review site. I had the pleasure of giving a joint session with Ed at the SciFoo conference on ‘clinical problems in neuroscience and practical cognitive augmentation’ where I learnt a great […]

Purple haze all in my brain

It’s not often one gets one’s bong in the scientific literature, let alone one designed to allow you to smoke weed inside an MRI scanner, but this is exactly what has been achieved in an article published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. Most studies on the neuroscience of marijuana have used pills or […]

2007-09-28 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: TechReview has an article on teaching computers to have meaningful conversations. Presumably, teaching humans is going to be the next step. Neurons avoid talking to themselves by using 19,000 forms of one gene, reports Ars Technia. How moving your eyes in a specific way […]

Ambushing brain damage

Nature Reviews Neuroscience has a fascinating article on drugs that remain dormant in the brain and only respond when damage occurs. They’ve been christened pathologically activated therapeutic (PAT) drugs and rely on the fact that brain damage triggers specific chemical changes and drugs can be designed to take advantage of these processes. For example, memantine […]

APA military mental health special

The latest edition of the American Psychological Association’s monthly magazine has a special feature on military mental health. The issue is timely, as mental illness in the US military is at an all time high and military mental health services were recently described as “woefully inadequate” by a Pentagon task force. It’s a bit of […]

Daniel Kahneman ‘masterclass’ online

Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman recently gave a two day masterclass on his work. It’s now been made available on Edge as transcripts and video clips. Kahneman has done a huge amount of work on cognitive biases – the quirks of mind that make us deviate from rationality, sometimes in quite surprising and interesting […]

The false progression of Louis Wain

The five pictures are by Victorian artist Louis Wain who painted cats through the whole of his life and continued through periods of intense psychosis. Almost every article on Wain uses them to demonstrate the progression of schizophrenia but the evidence for them being painted in chronological order is actually quite weak. The five pictures […]

Olivers Sacks on music, drugs and emotion

Wired magazine has an interview with Oliver Sacks where he talks about cases from his forthcoming book on the neurology of music, and his own drug-induced experiences of seeing non-existent colours while listening to Monteverdi. Hume wondered whether one can imagine a color that one has never encountered. One day in 1964, I constructed a […]

Who killed the NYT psychology section?

The New York Times has a record of publishing some cutting edge mind and brain journalism, most of which was collected on their ‘Mental Health and Behavior’ page. However, the page seems to have ground to a halt, removing one of the best psychology resources from the net. Actually, they’ve not stopped publishing high-quality psychology […]

Smart drugs, 1948

There’s a copy of a wonderful 1948 article magazine available online entitled ‘Pills That Increase Your Intelligence’ from Modern Mechanix . It discusses the possibilities of ‘smart drugs’ and is full of archaic language that makes it equally shocking and endearing. Can you feed your brain some special food to make it smarter? Scientists have […]

Salon’s Mind Reader

Salon have just announced the start of a regular series of neuroscience articles with the first tackling whether brain scans might enable us to communicate with people who are conscious but trapped in their paralysed bodies. The article considers a recent scientific paper [pdf] on the use of brain imaging to detect awareness in people […]

PR for the self: managing identity on social networks

The New Atlantis magazine has an intriguing article that considers the social effects of sites like MySpace and Facebook and discusses how we are increasingly using these tools to carefully manage our public image – something that was previously only a concern for celebrities and media figures. The article describes by describing the social networking […]

Encephalon 32 arrives

Edition 32 of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has just been published on Living the Scientific Life. A couple of my favourites include an article on foreign accent syndrome and another on the cerebellum as the cause of dyslexia. Head on over for plenty more scientific curiosities from the internet’s best mind and […]

The greatest may never come

Over the next two weeks the BPS Research Digest will be publishing articles by leading psychologists on the greatest psychology experiment that’s never been done. Each contributor was asked to think of a psychology study they would love to see completed, even if it would be so impractical, it would never be possible. Two will […]


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