Monthly Archives: February 2008

Psychedelic Science online

In 1997, BBC science programme Horizon broadcast a legendary edition on the use of psychedelic drugs in medicine. Luckily, it’s been uploaded to Google Video and you can now watch the whole thing online. It came at an interesting time in psychedelic drug research – when the authorities were still touchy (they’d only raided Shulgin’s […]

Virtual insanity

“If there is a universal mind, must it be sane?” A quote often attributed to the anomalist and shrewd observer of the psychology of belief, Charles Fort. It’s typically Fortean, but despite the fact it is often attributed to the great man, rather appropriately, he may never have said it at all.

Impostors and the subtleties of self-presentation

‘Impostor Syndrome’ is where someone feels they aren’t as competent as everyone else thinks they are and fears they could be found out. I’ve heard the term used by psychologists and in everyday language to describe this situation but never realised it’s been the subject of serious psychological research. Several studies have looked at the […]

It Came From Inner Space

In light of the unusual behaviour displayed by some of NASA’s astronauts in recent times, the American space agency is aiming to use increased psychological screening for its potential space travellers. They say there is nothing new orbiting the sun and, as testament to this, the exact same issue was discussed way back in 1959, […]

Just because you’re paranoid

There is simply not enough conspiracy theory-driven paranoid funk rock in the world. By the looks of his YouTube video Ralph Buckley is hoping to redress the balance with a song that rages against psychiatry, the media, George Bush, Prozac, corporations, socialised health care, mind control, the police state, and the government. Phew! Not one […]

Neurotic AI has video game edge

Austrian AI researchers wanted to find out whether giving an ‘autonomous agent’ emotion-like reactions would make it more successful at playing a fight-to-the-death strategy game. It turns out, neurotic bots have the edge when it comes to video game war. The study was designed by the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence and was presented […]

Girl power comes of age

Clinical psychologist Dan Kindlon has been researching children and adolescents for over 20 years and argues that the psychology of American girls has radically changed in recent years owing to the effect of feminism and increased equality. Harvard Magazine has an article on what he calls ‘alpha girls’ in his new book – confident girls […]

Brain Age neuroscientist prefers lab to millionaire row

Neuroscientist Dr. Kawashima, the star and part-designer of Nintendo’s brain training game ‘Brain Age’ has turned down $22 million dollars in royalties saying that he has no need for the money because “my hobby is work”. Personally, I suspect it’s just an excuse because he knows he’d blow it all on gambling and loose women. […]

Simulating the Mafia

I’ve just found this fascinating paper that used game theory to model why a Mafia protection racket inevitably leads to violence that neither the mob nor the shopkeepers can keep a lid on. It turns out, fakers who pretend to be the Mafia to extort additional money throw a spanner in the works, as it […]

A blind man hallucinating

NPR has an brief but interesting piece on a blind man who has visual hallucinations. Stewart, the person in question, lost his sight due to hereditary sight-loss, but has developed Charles Bonnet syndrome, a curious condition where playful visual hallucinations are common. Two things about this condition are striking: firstly, the hallucinations are typically complex […]

Illegal ink: reading meaning in criminal tattoos

Until fashions changed in recent decades, a tattoo was widely considered the mark of the soldier, the sailor or the criminal. The tattoos of offenders have sparked particular interest as they can be highly symbolic coded messages that have been thought to be a glimpse into the psychology of the criminal underworld. The interest in […]


I’ve been enjoying the Neuroanthropology blog recently which discusses how the cognitive and neurosciences can help us understand culture and social diversity. For example, trance states are common in some cultures, where they may form the part of certain religious rituals or spirit possession experiences. There is now increasing interest in understanding the neuroscience of […]

An embuggerance

Author Terry Pratchett recently announced that he has early onset Alzheimer’s disease, a form of the brain disorder that strikes before the age of 65. In typical Pratchett style, he described the news as ‘an embuggerance’ but still continues to work on his comic novels. He’s just given an audio interview to the BBC where […]

Deep brain stimulation opens memory floodgates

Neurophilosophy has a great write-up of the recent finding that deep brain stimulation boosted memory function in a patient undergoing brain surgery to treat morbid obesity. I’ve only just got round to having a look at the scientific paper myself, and the summary on Neurophilosophy captures the main themes beautifully, and is some of the […]

2008-02-01 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Best Life magazine has probably one of the most sensible articles I’ve yet come across on back pain. Another good read by Jonah Lehrer, who you may know from the Frontal Cortex blog. Morons and Idiots Buy a Brain! Omni Brain finds an odd […]


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