Monthly Archives: February 2008

2008-02-15 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Psychiatrists and the fashion for corduroy suits – Fronter Psychiatrist says don’t do it kids! Sharp Brains looks at the benefits of teaching kids mindfulness meditation in schools. Language Log has found the headline of the year. Genius! Campaigners want to put health warnings […]

Neurology podcasts – the shocking truth

The American Academy of Neurology are now doing fortnightly super-geeky podcasts that feature discussions about studies published in their journal. If you’re not familiar with the arcane language of neurology – tough luck, as they make no effort to explain anything to the uninitiated. They’re not quite as bad as the American Journal of Psychiatry […]

The operation of the skulls: a trepanation video

Neurophilosophy has found a gory but completely astonishing film of a Kisi medicine man in Tanzania performing a trepanation operation. A young lady endures the seven hour procedure that puts a hole in her skull without any anaesthetic. Mo has been doing some fantastic work on the history of trepanation and his illustrated article on […]

Love blossoms in the lab

Love is the most exalted and sublime of human emotions. It has inspired breathtaking works of art, journeys through continents and even the tragedies of war. Given its powerful hold on humanity it’s surprising that it’s been traditionally neglected by the brain sciences. In spite of this, a new dawn in romance research has begun […]

Faking a labour of love

I’ve just found an interesting page on Wikipedia that discusses the concept of ‘emotional labour‘: where employees are expected to regulate their outward emotional reactions so they are consistent with the company’s goals, regardless of their internal feelings. A classic ’emotional labour’ worker would be a shop assistant or a waitress, where the employee has […]

Will the PTSD diagnosis disappear?

Psychiatrist Gerald Rosen argues that the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be abandoned because it just re-describes emotional reactions that would otherwise be diagnosed as depression or anxiety, and is increasingly used where there was never any clear trauma in the first place. He’s made his case in an editorial for the British […]

Better living through caffeine

Developing Intelligence has a fantastic post on what pharmacology and neuropsychology has told us about getting optimally wired on caffeine. In small amounts, caffeine boosts mental function, and the article looks at scientific studies that have told us which are the optimal doses, which psychological abilities are most affected and what you can take with […]

Hats off to you sir

It’s not often you find yourself thinking ‘you know, I really need a brain hat, but I just can’t decide which one to buy’. The pictured head piece is undoubtedly for the discerning customer, revealing a large section of the upper cortex with added plastic blood. Nice. However, there’s also an alien brain hat for […]

Implicit associations

You might have prejudices you won’t admit to, or, don’t even know about. The Implicit Attribution Test claims to measure these hidden associations and it’s been one of the most important psychological developments during the last decade. Edge has a video interview with two of its creators, psychologists Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, and an […]

Orgasm and the brain: body, soul and sensory nerves

How does the brain generate orgasm? It’s one of the most under-investigated human experiences but two articles, one in the LA Times and another in The Psychologist, discuss some of the key developments of recent years. The LA Times article is a good description of some of the most interesting neuroscience studies in this developing […]

Tieing knots with booze

An excerpt from Knots, a book of poetry by the radical psychiatrist R.D. Laing, that attempted to capture some of the traps, maladaptive thinking patterns and emotional bonds that we find ourselves in, usually in relationships with others. Some of the poems describe simple but powerful vicious circles, others are complex and almost algorithmic labyrinths […]

Psychological torture: a CIA history

Advances in the History of Psychology has alerted me to a gripping video lecture on the development of CIA psychological torture techniques from the Cold War to War on Terror. It was an invited lecture at the University of California by historian Prof Alfred McCoy who has long specialised in the history of the US […]

Sealed with a reminisce

The Neuroscience for Kids website has created an online exhibition of neuroscience-themed stamps that depict everything from drugs to brain scans. They also include the wonderful Swedish set displayed on the left that include a series of impossible shapes. Unfortunately, the stamps aren’t dated. Rather surprisingly, Portugal put Egas Moniz, inventor of the frontal lobotomy, […]

Researching the sublime

Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust was a Neuroscientist, is a guest on this week’s All in the Mind, where he discusses why he thinks the arts are an essential complement to the sciences in the attempt to understand human experience. Lehrer argues that some artists aim to explore, capture or communicate aspects of our subjective […]

2008-02-08 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Is V1agra spam getting you down? Fear not, get more sex with V1tamin C! OmniBrain discovers a long lost film on ‘Frightening Diseases of the Mind’. How good is Neurofeedback for treating attention deficits? Sharp Brains has a great review of the evidence. The […]

The he-haw boys and the eye-drillers

A 61 year-old lady was admitted to a Florida hospital with florid hallucinations after suffering a stroke to her thalamus. She saw curious strangers and visitors with odd clothes, but rather unusually, the ones on the right always seemed pleasant and happy, whereas the ones on the left always seemed fearful and unsettling. The case […]


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