Monthly Archives: January 2008

Anvil therapy

The following passage is from p107 of the excellent but sadly out-of-print history book Mental Disorder in Earlier Britain (ISBN 0708305628) that explores mental and neurological illness in times past. As well as discussing the theories of the times, it also charts many of the treatments used to try and cure disturbances of the mind […]

Haunted by Dracula’s Teeth Syndrome

This case report from a 2001 study describes a patient with persistent headaches who experienced ‘phantom teeth’ – the sensation of non-existent vampire-like teeth in her mouth. ‘Phantoms‘ are often the result of having a limb or other appendage removed and can affect almost any part of the body (indeed, phantom penises have been reported […]

Kissing, corporate evil and a pat on the head

The new Scientific American Mind has just arrived online with its customary couple of feature articles freely available online. The issue also has a review of psychology and neuroscience blogs, which kindly features Mind Hacks. According to the review SciAmMind “offers up a hearty helping of science” whereas blogs offer “extra crumbs of brain candy”. […]

The bitchy world of online match making

The New York Times has an interesting yet ironically funny article about the curious world of online dating companies who use ‘psychological profiles’ to try and make love blossom, but who can’t get along with one another. These are sites like eHarmony, Chemistry and PerfectMatch that instead of letting you browse members’ profiles, ask you […]

The highs and lows of brain doping

Today’s edition of Nature has some commentary from scientists responding to their recent feature on ‘optimising’ the healthy brain with pharmaceutical drugs. I suspect the letters have been edited a little though, as the first, from developmental psychologist James M. Swanson and neurobiologist Nora Volkow (who is also director of the National Institute on Drug […]

False trails in the pursuit of consciousness

Seed Magazine has an excellent article by Nicholas Humphrey on understanding consciousness and why current attempts may be failing because we’re asking the wrong questions. Humphrey suggests four questions which he feels are more relevant to the problem, and, with a rhetorical flourish, suggests some answers to them. However, one of the most interesting parts […]

The significance of day dreams

From p353 of The Psychology of Day-Dreams by Dr J. Varendonck, published in 1921: Like nocturnal dreams, day dreams betray preoccupations with unsolved problems, harassing cares, or overwhelming impressions which require accommodation, only their language is not as sibylline as that of their unconscious correspondents… But they all strive towards the future; they all seem […]

My first book of hallucinogenic drugs

It’s not often a children’s book on hallucinogenic drugs gets written, but this seems to be one of those occasions. Matt Hutson has scanned in some remarkable pages from exactly such a book, published in 1991. Apparently it’s quite comprehensive, covering everything from neurons to shamans, and is also full of funky illustrations. The prose […]

Second linkenium

I’ve just discovered we’ve had our 2000th user bookmark us on del.icio.us. Users can also add notes to their bookmarks, so I thought I’d share some of the comments with you. Neuroscience weblog. Often exciting, sometimes unsettling. Or your money back. Good sight. ..excellent hearing, and all our own marbles (so far). like the design, […]

Facing down the competition in business and politics

The Economist covers an intriguing study that found the financial success of a company can be largely guessed by making a judgement based on photographs of the chief executives. Most interestingly, the people doing the guessing weren’t particularly skilled in business or finance, they were undergraduate student volunteers. And Dr Ambady and Mr Rule were […]

New super low-power brain scans

Memoirs of a Postgrad has got a great write-up of a new low-power MRI machine, the technology that does most of the structural and functional brain scans. Even the smaller MRI machines need huge electromagnets, but this new technology uses magnets thirty thousand times weaker to image the brain. In a standard MRI machine, a […]

Polanski and the Professor

It was 1970, and a white Rolls Royce was gliding through the streets of London. Inside were the obviously disturbed Roman Polanski, the film director still reeling from the murder of his wife, and Richard Gregory, the legendary cognitive psychologist. Polanski had discovered Gregory’s work on visual perception through his book Eye and Brain and […]

Out on a phantom limb

ABC Radio National’s opinion programme Ockham’s Razor has an engrossing edition on how our perception and ownership of our body can break down after brain injury – leading to disorders where we think our limbs are someone else’s, where we feel there’s a phantom body behind us, or where we think we’ve been cloned. The […]

Depression, antidepressants and the ‘low serotonin’ myth

Bad Science has a fantastic article on antidepressants and the widely-promoted but scientifically unsupported ‘low serotonin theory’ of depression. Owing to a huge advertising push by drug companies, not only the ‘man on the street’, but also a surprisingly large numbers of mental health professionals (clinical psychologists, I’m look at you) believe that depression is […]

Griefer madness

You know it’s a bad day when it starts raining penises during a media interview. Wired has an article on the ‘griefer’ subculture, sociopaths of the virtual world. Essentially, they are virtual world vandals, or online versions of those local kids on the street who love shouting abuse and messing the place up. Like most […]

2008-01-25 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The fantastic Claudia Hammond explores the curious psychology of disgust on BBC Radio 4’s science programme Frontiers. Advances in the History of Psychology notes the passing of Paul D McLean, creator the the “Triune Brain Theory“. Every time you hear the phrase ‘reptilian brain’, […]

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