Monthly Archives: December 2007

The philosophy of wine

Two views on wine appreciation. The first from the introduction of an academic book edited by Prof Barry Smith called Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine, a volume that collects perspectives from philosophy and cognitive science on how we understand the qualities of wine: Do we directly perceive the quality of a wine, or […]

When a Rose Is Not Red

There’s an interesting article in January’s Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience about a brain injured patient who has a curious form of simultanagnosia – the inability to perceive more than one object at once. In this case, he also seemed unable to report more than one attribute, like colour or name, at a time, while looking […]

Finding Alzheimer’s

The New York Times has a fantastic article on the neuroscience of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the human impact of the disorder on individuals and their families. The article is accompanied by two video reports that weave together personal stories with some of the latest developments in understanding the disorder. Alzheimer’s is a form […]

Sex, prodrugs and rock and roll

BBC News has a report on the increasingly popularity of gamma-Butyrolactone or GBL as a recreational drug. Actually, it’s not a drug in itself, but once ingested it is metabolised into GHB, a drug often sold under the name ‘Liquid Ecstasy’. Actually, the effects are much more like alcohol than ecstasy (the street name is […]

A War of Nerves

I’ve just started reading Ben Shephard’s stunning book A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists that tracks the history of military psychiatry through the 20th century. Even if you’re not interested in the military per se, the wars of the last 100 years have been incredibly important in shaping our whole understanding of mental breakdown, […]

Philosophy, as God intended (if he were a school girl)

It seems it’s still handbags at 40 paces as the full text of Colin McGinn’s increasingly infamous review of Honderich’s book On Conciousness has been posted to the web, so you can enjoy the academic mudslinging in all its glory. If you’re not clear on the background to this spectacular resurgence of the long-running feud, […]

Beliefs about intelligence affect mental performance

I’ve just found a fascinating five minute NPR radio report on work by psychologist Carol Dweck that has found that if a child thinks that intelligence is something that can change throughout life, they do better in school. Dweck has been doing some fascinating work on what affects children’s academic performance. We’ve reported on some […]

Pulsing visual illusion

Omni Brain has found an op-art style visual illusion that seems to pulse out from the centre. Click on the link below or on the image to get the full picture, and if you don’t see the effect straight away, just glance at the corners. The effect is a slow shimmering movement when it kicks […]

Kids’ letters to Santa as advertising psychology study

A completely charming study looking at how television advertising influences children by examining the toys they request in their letters to Santa Claus. The study was led by Prof Karen Pine and has just been published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. The Relationship Between Television Advertising, Children’s Viewing and Their Requests to […]

Not just a pretty face

The Economist has a fascinating article on the link between beauty, intelligence and success. It reviews research showing that beautiful people are actually, on average, slightly more intelligent and it’s probably a result of genetics. The first half of the article looks at the psychological research that has found that beauty, and particularly symmetry, is […]

2007-12-24 Spike activity

Quick links from (roughly) the past week in mind and brain news: BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed has discussions on myths about sex trafficking and the history of hunger. Science and Consciousness Review has a feature on whether Theory of Mind is dependent on episodic memory? Omni Brain finds a spoof video on installing a […]

Philosophical feud reignites

The Guardian has an article on a feud between philosophers Colin McGinn and Ted Honderich which has recently been reignited after McGinn wrote a review of Honderich’s new book on consciousness which the newspaper describes as “probably the most negative book review ever written”. The review was published in the July edition of academic journal […]

Christmas update

This is just a brief note to wish all our readers a very happy Christmas, Solstice, Diwali, Hanukkah, Eid ul-Adha, Yalda or non-theist winter holiday, and to say that updates might be a bit irregular over the next week as we take time off to travel and spread good cheer. Many thanks for your all […]

What a difference a friend makes

It’s a big glossy website with lots of smiling people promoting an intervention for mental illness. Surely, drug company marketing you think? Actually, it turns out to be a US Government initiative promoting the importance of friendship in mental health and recovery from mental illness. In the medical literature, friends and family are described as […]

Altered mates: drugs in science

This week’s Nature has an article about the illicit use of cognitive enhancing drugs by healthy people just wanting to push their limits, including working scientists. These are the same drugs that have caused concern about their level of use among students, chiefly modafinil (Provigil) and methylphenidate (Ritalin), although other drugs such as Alzheimer’s medication […]

Dog prozac wins dumbest moments in business prize

Fortune has just published it’s list of the year’s 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, and at number two comes drug company Eli Lilly, with dog Prozac. Seemingly, dog depression is an unrecognised epidemic / untapped market that is just crying out for some pharmacological intervention. Thank God. We’ve been so worried since Lucky dyed his […]


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