Monthly Archives: November 2007

Seeing red can really affect performance

Cognitive Daily discusses the findings of two interesting studies that suggest that simply seeing the colour red makes us perform worse on tests. The articles discuss a couple of elegant studies by a research team, led by psychologist Andrew Elliot, which confirmed that seeing red makes us tend to do worse on tests. They then […]

Ten of the best in social psychology

PsyBlog has just concluded a great series of articles, each of which tackled a classic experiment in social psychology that demonstrated something counter-intuitive, curious or even shocking about ourselves. You may recognise some of them, as they’ve become various shades of legendary to notorious, even to people without a special interest in psychology. Others are […]

The absinthe minded green fairy

The New York Times has a brief but wonderfully illustrated article on the cultural history of absinthe, the highly alcoholic spirit that was adopted by numerous famous artists. Wikipedia also has a fantastic article on absinthe which looks at the history of its creation, popularity, prohibition and revival. It also exposes the myth that wormwood, […]

Election brain scan nonsense

Neuropsychologist Martha Farah has written a highly critical commentary on a recent New York Times op-ed piece where neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni and colleagues used brain scans of people who viewed videos of US presidential candidates in an attempt to reveal voter reactions “on which this election may well turn”. Farah quite rightly calls it “junk […]

Music in dreams

From a footnote on p282 of Oliver Sacks Musicophilia: There have been very few systematic studies of music in dreams, though one such [pdf], by Valeria Uga and her colleagues at the University of Florence in 2006, compared the dream logs of thirty-five professional musicians and thirty non-musicians. The researchers concluded that “musicians dreams of […]

Hypnosis as a surgical tool

The editorial of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute discusses a recent study that found that hypnosis can be successfully used in breast cancer surgery to reduce pain, nausea, painkiller use, tiredness and emotional impact of the surgical procedure. The study was a randomized controlled trial of patients who were undergoing breast surgery either […]

Antidote to TV drug ads

Consumer Reports have created a sort of video film review for a popular US television drug ad, where they update the commercial with scientific findings that aren’t mentioned. The advert is for a drug that aims to treat ‘restless legs syndrome’, and both the condition and the drug are apparently being heavily marketed in the […]

‘Marlborough Marine’ fights post-war trauma, depression

The Los Angeles Times has a moving video and photo essay about Lance Corporal James Blake Miller, made famous by the iconic photo taken during the battle of Fallujah, and his post-war struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s somewhat ironic that the photo, which has become a symbol of the stoicism of the […]

Meditation for the nation

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind just had a programme looking at both the neuroscience of meditation and its increasing use in evidence-based mental health treatments. Key aspects of meditation are increasingly become adopted into well-researched mainstream cognitive therapies. Essentially, it’s Buddhist mindfulness meditation, repackaged to make it sound more palatable to a wider […]

Dangerous minds

Malcolm Gladwell has written an excellent article for The New Yorker on the problems with the FBI’s methods of profiling serial killers and other serious offenders. The Behavioral Analysis Unit (formerly the Behavioural Science Unit) is the FBI’s psychology unit that aims to research and develop methods of understanding criminal behaviour, police tactics, negotiation, and […]

2007-11-09 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Neurocritic covers a fascinating study that modelled group interest for new web information. Full text: pdf. Call for a ban on controversial ‘Dolphin Assisted Therapy’. Controversial or just completely bizarre? Brain Waves covers the top 10 neuroscience trends of 2007. Activity is reduced […]

Alcohol abuse in the New Testament

I just found this abstract of a 1987 article from the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism that reviewed attitudes to alcohol in the Bible, and found that boozing was looked on considerably more favourably in the Old Testament than the New. Alcohol abuse in the New Testament. Seller SC. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 1987;22(1):83-90. The New Testament […]

Brain map, created by a cartographer

The October 25th edition of Neuron has a fantastic ‘brain map’ cover designed by Sam Brown, a cartographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. You really need to see the cover in the flesh to see all the wonderful detail, as unfortunately, there’s no high resolution versions of the cover online. There’s a better image currently […]

All walk and no trouser

A study shortly to be published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour reports that the menstrual cycle has an effect on women’s walking style and its attractiveness to men, but has also provoked speculation that highlights the worst in evolutionary psychology story-telling. The study found that women’s walking style differed during the menstrual cycle, but […]

Sonata in epilepsy

The August edition of medical journal Epilepsy and Behaviour has an interesting case study of a patient who found that listening to Mozart could reduce his epileptic seizures. The patient had what are known as ‘gelastic seizures’, meaning they trigger laughter when they occur. Anticonvulsive drugs didn’t seem to help, and surgery to try and […]

Neuropod on blow, brainbows and optimism

The November edition of the newly minted Nature Neuroscience podcast Neuropod has just been released with features on the ‘brainbow‘ multi-colour neuron staining, the neurobiology and regulation of cannabis, the cognitive neuroscience of optimism, and the sleep cycle. The interview on cannabis is with neuroscientist Paul Morrison and psychiatrist Robin Murray – two leading cannabis […]


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