Monthly Archives: September 2007

The most unaccountable of machinery

“My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery ‚Äî always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?” English novelist Virginia Woolf, writing in a December 28, 1932, letter. Woolf was one of the most brilliant writers of her generation and a significant influence […]

Lucid dreaming in art and science

The New York Times has a short article on the recent upsurge of interest in both the arts and sciences on lucid dreaming – a form of reflective self-awareness in which you realise you’re dreaming when it occurs. You can apparently train yourself to increase your chances of having a lucid dream, and proponents say […]

Classic video of split-brain patient online

YouTube hosts a classic video of one of the famous ‘split-brain’ patients who had his corpus callosum surgically cut to treat otherwise untreatable epilepsy, effectively separating the two hemispheres of the brain. This procedure is intended to stop seizures spreading across the brain and its effects were first studied in depth by Roger Sperry, who […]

Lucky escape from crossbow brain injury

A paper in the British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery reports on a remarkable case of a man who tried to commit suicide with a crossbow and shot an arrow through his neck into his brain. Thankfully he survived with seemingly little long-term impairment. The arrow missed all major blood vessels and did not […]

Harry Potter, migraines and the neuroscience of self

A funny article in the medical journal Headache discusses Harry Potter’s difficulties with what seems to be a recurrent migraine. This isn’t the first time that Harry has turned up in the medical literature. In fact, he’s made almost 20 appearances so far. However, this is the first to consider his neurological problems in detail: […]

Brain stem may be key to consciousness

An article in this week’s Science News discusses whether the brain stem may play a more central role in consciousness than it’s usually given credit for. It focuses on children with hydranencephaly, a where the cortex fails to develop in children and instead, the space is filled with cerebral spinal fluid. Typically, affected children survive […]

2007-09-14 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Female drug reps turn up surprisingly often as contestants on reality TV. Likely due to the fact that pharma companies make a point of hiring persuasively beautiful young women, such as cheerleaders and beauty queens. Review of Pinker’s new book slams ‘The Edifice of […]

Would you go to bed with me?

A new book on unusual experiments covers a study by psychologist Russell Clark that involved good-looking researchers approaching strangers of the opposite sex and telling them that they had seen them around and found them very attractive. Then they either asked them for a date, to come back to the researcher’s apartment, or to go […]

Moral psychology and religious mistakes

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt has written a thought-provoking essay for Edge which charts the recent revolution in the psychology and neuroscience of moral reasoning and suggests that the current critiques of religion have mischaracterised its true nature, based on these new findings. Haidt summarises the main tenants of the new science of morality as four main […]

The remarkable Princess Alice

I’ve just discovered the remarkable life of Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was Prince Philip’s mother, the current Queen’s mother-in-law. She was deaf from birth, dedicated her life to charity work and nursing, became psychotic, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent two years in a psychiatric hospital, founded an order of nuns, and was declared […]

Bart Kosko on noise and optimisation

Neural network and ‘fuzzy thinking’ researcher Bart Kosko is briefly interviewed in this month’s Wired where he argues that adding noise to a system, including the human one, may improve performance. It reminded me of part of a colourful interview he did for the 1998 book Talking Nets: An Oral History of Neural Networks – […]

PsychAntenna switches on

PsychAntenna is a database of RSS feeds from psychology and neuroscience resources from all over the internet so you can search and gather sites news to create your own custom news channel. It includes a wide selection of news websites, but also indexes podcasts, academic journals and blogs. The site has been created by Australian […]

Learn first aid for psychosis

This post tells you to how to help someone who is experiencing psychosis, based on first aid guidelines that have just been published in the medical journal Schizophrenia Bulletin Psychosis is a mental state where someone might experience hallucinations, unusual beliefs, paranoia, mixed emotions, muddled thoughts, hyper-awareness or show unusual or puzzling behaviour. The guidelines […]

The perpetual duel with external forces

To know the brain…is equivalent to ascertaining the material course of thought and will, to discovering the intimate history of life in its perpetual duel with external forces. A quote from pioneering Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal. From his autobiography Recollections of My Life.

Brain type responsible for politics, pant wetting

It’s often said that politicians need their head examined, but contrary to recent reports, you’re likely to find out more about whether they wear a hair piece than whether their brains ‘dictate’ their politics. The fact that there is a brain difference between people with left-wing and right-wing views is hardly news. Because every view […]

The awesome power of MRI safety videos

Someone’s uploaded a video which serves both as an important teaching aid for MRI brain scanner safety and a wonderfully entertaining guide to the destructive power of a magnet the size of a small car. The video itself is a a little bit old, and so has a sort of B-movie quality to it, but […]


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