Monthly Archives: November 2007

Lies, lesions and medical mysteries

Hysteria, or conversion disorder as it is now known, is when neurological symptoms such as blindness or paralysis are present but no neurological problems or brain abnormalities can be found. The issue of whether such patients are ‘faking’, whether the neurological abnormality just hasn’t been found yet, or whether the problem is best understood in […]

2007-11-30 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Washington Post has an article on the ongoing trial using MDMA (‘Ecstasy’) assisted psychotherapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Babies learn how to make social evaluations in the first few years of life, according to a new study reported by BBC News. The […]

Don’t forget your brains

Can you think of a substitute for this? Ohh no! Don’t forget your brains! I noticed this on the menu of a restaurant on Great Russell Street while strolling through London. It seems to be one of a number of curious commentaries on each of the menu items. While presumably serving as a sort of […]


I’m just reading a book called The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness which sounds like some stoned hippy opus, but is actually a wonderfully written travel book into the neuroscience of naturally occurring altered states of consciousness. It was recommended to me by Tom, who got sent a copy to review, and […]

A subconsciousness raising exercise

This week’s New Scientist has a cover story on the psychology that goes on behind the scenes, in the subconscious. Or you could call it the unconscious, or the pre-conscious. Despite the differences in terminology it’s much the same idea. Essentially, it’s the work the brain does that we’re not conscious of. Unfortunately, the article […]

The subject of the dream

We must, in the next place, investigate the subject of the dream, and first inquire to which of the faculties of the soul it presents itself, i.e. whether the affection is one which pertains to the faculty of intelligence or to that of sense-perception; for these are the only faculties within us by which we […]

Ministry of Memory Distortions

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth retouching photographs to remove people from the record of history. A recent psychology study suggests that these manipulations may change more than the historical record, they could affect our collective memories of what actually happened. In the study, led by Italian […]

Enduring error

The BBC has a curious article about author Ian McEwan that makes an interesting error about his novel Enduring Love. In fact, the truth is much more subtle. The article notes that: McEwan made up a medical condition for the stalker and wrote a spoof article from a psychiatric journal explaining the illness and included […]

Mind snacks

Exploratorium has a gallery of try-it-yourself perception experiments. There’s plenty of great material here, not least because of the the slightly bizarre photos of people with distracting 80s haircuts. There are quick projects on everything from proprioception to taste, and you can tell which are the good ones because they list ‘adult help’ as one […]

Morality tales

The science of morality is becoming a hot topic at the moment, and this week two articles, one in Time and one in Reason, have both tackled the issue. The Time article is a particularly good example. It’s wonderfully written and takes a comprehensive look at the field, taking in evolution, empathy, cognitive neuroscience and […]

Scans, brain waves and pulses: three way neuroscience

One of the reporters for Wired took part in an experiment that combines several key neuroscience technologies to pinpoint a brain area, switch it off, and measure the effects. The experiment used a combination of fMRI, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and EEG. TMS is a technique that allows parts of the brain to be safely […]

Freud widely taught, except in psychology departments

The New York Times discusses an upcoming study that has found that Freud and psychoanalysis form a key part of the teaching in the humanities, while being virtually extinct in psychology departments in the same universities. As some of the psychologists in the article suggest, many of the problems with psychoanalysis are because those who […]

Free Ramachandran talk, Wednesday in London

I just found out that V.S. Ramachandran is giving a free talk, this Wednesday, at the Royal Society in London. The talk is entitled ‘Nature and nurture in brain function: clues from synesthesia and phantom limbs’ and for those not able to make the event in person, it’s going to be webcast live. Ramchandran is […]

Yay Serotonin! T-shirt

Left-field t-shirt company ClothMoth have a fantastic t-shirt celebrating the joys of serotonin. The shirt will cost you $18 and will allow you to advertise your love for one of the key monoamine neurotransmitters in the brain. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is synthesised into serotonin. It is found in many fruits, nuts […]

The mother of all drug battles

Furious Seasons reports that the US state of Arkansas is suing drug company Johnson and Johnson over claims that they misrepresented the facts over their popular antipsychotic drug risperidone. This, in itself, is not a new occurrence, as it joins a long list of US state lawsuits against drug companies. With rumours that a similar […]

Encephalon 35 and 36 catch up

The psychology and neuroscience writing carnival Encephalon published both its 35th edition and its 36th edition in recent weeks, and I seemed to have slept through these momentous occasions, so hopefully this post will make amends. Encephalon 35 was hosted at The Primate Diaries and includes articles on, among other things, the neuropsychology of creative […]


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