Monthly Archives: October 2007

The nobler aspirations

Woody Allen gets to grips with the mind-body problem and comes up with his own unique definition: “Human beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun.” From his 1975 film, Love and Death.

Classified sex bomb

An intriguing letter in this week’s New Scientist digs out some hints on the Pentagon’s proposed ‘gay bomb‘ – an ideas to create a chemical weapon that would temporarily turn enemy troops into horny homosexual love machines. Feedback asked what happened to the US air force’s Ig Nobel-winning “gay bomb” proposal after it was put […]

Five minutes with Jonah Lehrer

Jonah Lehrer is the author of a new book that argues that arts and literature can help us understand the brain. It’s provocatively titled Proust was a Neuroscientist and it challenges us to look beyond the lab when understanding neuroscience. Lehrer himself moved from graduated from the neuroscience lab to a career in writing, and […]

Clothing the brain with time

“Among the millions of nerve cells that clothe parts of the brain there runs a thread. It is the thread of time, the thread that has run through each succeeding wakeful hour of the individual.” Neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, apparently quoted in a 1958 edition of Reader’s Digest.

Anthony Clare has left the building

Psychiatrist Prof Anthony Clare has sadly passed away. He was particularly known in the UK as the presenter of In the Psychiatrist’s Chair, where he interviewed celebrities about their lives, loves and losses, but was also known as a respected academic psychiatrist in both Britain and his native Ireland. In the Psychiatrist’s Chair saw a […]

Ramachandran journeys to the center of your mind

Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran gave a talk in March on how some startling syndromes tell us about how the normal brain works. It’s just been put online and is available as a wonderfully produced video lecture. To be perfectly honest, Ramachandran largely trots out the same stuff he talked about in his 1999 book Phantoms in […]

Decision-making special issue in Science

This week’s Science has a special selection of papers on the psychology and neuroscience of decision making. While most of the articles are closed-access, one on how game theory and neuroscience are helping us understand social decision-making is freely available. It is a great introduction to ‘neuroeconomics’, a field that attempts to work out how […]

The deadly South American arrow poison

I’ve just found a fantastic article on the history of curare, the powerful Amazonian arrow poison that causes paralysis and death. It’s from a 2005 edition of the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh and is available online as a pdf. The article tells the story of how the New World poison came […]

Faces, genetics and addiction

BBC Radio 4’s science programme Material World just had an interesting edition on the links between face structure, psychological attributes and genetics, as well as a discussion on the science of addiction. It is well known that certain genetic disorders that affect brain development can also lead to differences in facial structure (the most well-known […]

Neurology in the UK

I’ve just found this on the announcements for the Wellcome Trust’s Small Arts Awards grant scheme. It’s a proposed art / science project that combines neurology, computational modelling, robots and punk rock! “Neurotic” by Fiddian Warman Neurotic questions the neurology associated with the essential human experience of pleasure, learning, taste and aging in the context […]

My brain made me do it

Gerontologist and all-round skeptic Raymond Tallis has written an article for The Times where he laments the rise of ‘neurolaw’ where brain scan evidence is used in court in an attempt to show that the accused was not responsible for their actions. Tallis cites the example of the trial of Bobby Joe Long where his […]

All in the Mind blog launches

ABC Radio National’s ever-excellent radio programme All in the Mind has just launched a blog. It has the latest on issues arising from the programme as well as other interesting snippets from the world of psychology and neuroscience. The blog will also clue us into forthcoming editions, and there’s also a chance for you to […]

2007-10-26 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: BPS Research Digest has an article on the secret to remembering material long-term. Dennis Brain has a posse, sorry, orchestra. Mixing Memory discusses the psychology of women in maths, science, and engineering. A transcript of R.D. Laing interviewing Van Morrison in 1986. Personally, I’m […]

Who’s afraid of Kanye West?

Jonah Lehrer is a neuroscientist, blogger, editor and now author of a new book on what neuroscience can learn from art and literature. Wired has a brief Q&A with him, where he discusses Virginia Woolf, cognitive science and Kanye West. Actually, this just serves as a brief introduction to some of Lehrer’s thoughts, as he’s […]

The psychological hazards of war journalism

Harvard journalism magazine Nieman Reports has a brief 2004 article (pdf) by psychiatrist Anthony Feinstein on how war journalists respond to what they witness and why they return to cover traumatic situations. The article briefly summarises some of Feinstein’s research on war journalists, and also notes the results on an interesting study that looked at […]

Philosophy and cognitive science archive launches

Two important new cognitive science resources have just been launched: Online Papers on Consciousness is a huge database of full-text papers and articles on consciousness and the philosophy of mind, and MindPapers is a much larger index that contains entries for both open and closed access work. The impressive project has been a joint venture […]


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