Monthly Archives: February 2008

Autism reconsidered

Wired covers the beginning of a possible revolution in how we understand autism from both a humanistic and a scientific point of view. The article starts by discussing Amanda Baggs who is a non-speaking but incredibly articulate young woman with autism. We discussed her video previously on Mind Hacks which remains a remarkably inspiring challenge […]

Fragments of consciousness

Dana’s online neuroscience magazine Cerebrum has a fantastic article on trauma and dissociation – the splitting of consciousness that apparently makes some aspects of the mind inaccessible to others. Dissociation is a term that’s used rather loosely in modern psychology and psychiatry. It is sometimes used to be synonymous with derealisation or depersonalisation, describing a […]

2008-02-29 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: “Chewing gum and context-dependent memory: the independent roles of chewing gum and mint flavour”: A lovely forthcoming paper from The British Journal of Psychology. has a video debate on natural *cough*, sorry, experimental philosophy. Pure Pedantry investigates the neurological basis of the “runner’s […]

The normality of strangers

“The only normal people are the one’s you don’t know very well.” A quote from the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler. Not sure exactly where this quote comes from, but it’s widely quoted on the net. Adler was hugely influential in the early Freudian circle and coined the term ‘inferiority complex’ to describe what he thought […]

Medicated Americans

Scientific American Mind has a fantastic article on the endemic use of antidepressant drugs in the United States. It starts with some surprising statistics: 11 percent of American women and 5 percent of men are on antidepressants. Serious clinical depression is devastating, and if ever you needed convincing that mental illness should be taken as […]

Encephalon reminder

Just a reminder that we will be hosting the next edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival here, next Monday. So if you want your writing featured send a link to your article to: encephalon{dot}host{at}gmail{dot}com …and we’ll look forward to including it.

You don’t say

According to a BBC News article brain scans have revealed “a possible biological basis for cocaine addiction”. Next week: brain scans reveal ‘possible’ biological basis for thoughts, feelings, actions and neurological illness.

The metaphysics of a Jazz Thing

A fantastic study has just been released by open-access science journal PLoS One that investigated the neuroscience of jazz improvisation. Jazz musicians were put inside an fMRI brain scanner and were asked to do complete a number of different musical exercises using a specially adapted magnet-friendly keyboard. The musicians were asked to demonstrate musical scales, […]

Behavioural Obamanomics

Theories are made great by those whom they inspire. Perhaps then, it is not surprising that the fresh new face of the US presidential race has been inspired by behavioural economics, one of the fresh new faces of cognitive science. The New Republic magazine has an article on how the Obama campaign have adopted behavioural […]

Chuck Close and perceptual Science

I just discovered the wonderfully perceptive artist Chuck Close did a cover for Science magazine back in 1999. Close was renowned for doing huge super-realistic paintings of portrait photographs that seem more real than real. When you get up close you notice that he’s painted in insanely small details, like individual hairs that stretch into […]

The 7even sins of memory

PsyBlog has just finished its series on the ‘seven sins of memory’ that fade and distort what we try to remember, based on memory researcher Dan Schacter’s book on the same name. The ‘seven sins’ are: 1. Transience 2. Absent-Mindedness 3. Blocking 4. Misattribution 5. Suggestibility 6. Bias 7. Persistence And PsyBlog looks at each […]

New antidepressants all bark and no bite?

The new generation antidepressants are no better than placebo in mild-moderate depression according to a new analysis of published and unpublished trials that were submitted during the drugs’ approval. The study is published in PLoS Medicine and despite the huge headlines it has generated, is not entirely surprising. Psychologist Irving Kirsch, who led this new […]

Psychosis and the coming glutamate revolution

Dopamine has been the big player in understanding schizophrenia since antipsychotic drugs were discovered. All current antipsychotics have their main effect by blocking dopamine function in the mesolimbic pathway and there’s now significant evidence that this is the location of one of the major dysfunctions. It’s been clear for a while that this isn’t the […]

The Lobotomist documentary available online

After being put back from January, the fantastic documentary on Walter Freeman and the rise and fall of the frontal lobotomy is finally available to view online. Unfortunately, it’s been cut up into little chunks and is only available as a Quicktime or Windows Media stream, which makes it a pain to watch and completely […]

The ghost of moral madness

Only the morally weak and degenerate became mentally ill in the 18th century. At least, that’s what the popular theories of the time suggested. Madness was caused by moral failings and those who lost their mind were sinners. We like to think that we live in enlightened times and that only in the far outskirts […]

Maternal disorder

The drowning of five children by their mother, Andrea Yates, was a case that forced many to confront an issue that most would rather ignore. Yates was one of the rare cases of women with puerperal (childbirth associated) psychosis who kill their children. This week’s ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind talks to three […]


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