Monthly Archives: March 2008

Predictably irrational, variably dishonest

Behavioural economist Dan Ariely was the guest on the latest edition of ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind where he discusses why we’re so bad at predicting what’s best for us, and why honesty is a shifty behaviour. As well as being a researcher, Ariely is also author of a psychology book called Predictably […]

Twisted thoughts

This wonderful knitted brain is by artist Sarah Illenberger. Presumably, we’re looking down on the brain with the two hemispheres slightly separated. She has also created other wonderful anatomically correct organs, including the heart and the intestines. It seems this one might be a possible inductee into the Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art. […]

Rock climbing hacks! (now with added speculation)

I’m going to tell you about an experience that I often have rock-climbing and then I’m going to offer you some speculation as to the cognitive neuroscience behind it. If you rock-climb I’m sure you’ll find my description familiar. If you’re also into cognitive neuroscience perhaps you can tell me if you think my speculation […]

English Surgeon link

The English Surgeon is now available on the BBC iPlayer website for 6 days. Enjoy!

English Surgeon reminder

Just a reminder for our readers that have access to the BBC TV channel, BBC Two, that the stunning documentary on neurosurgeons Henry Marsh and Igor Kurilets that we featured previously on Mind Hacks will be shown on Sunday 30th March at 10.55pm British residents will be able to watch it over the net for […]

Lancet and MNI neuroscience podcasts

I’ve just discovered a couple of great high class neuroscience podcasts. The first is the Lancet Neurology podcast and the second is series of podcasts and video from the Montreal Neurological Institute. The Lancet Neurology podcasts are all-too-brief but are really well done. In contrast to the American Academy of Neurology podcasts we featured previously, […]

Impact of digital media review hits the wires

Psychologist Dr Tanya Byron has just released a remarkably sensible review on the effect of digital media on children, commissioned by the UK government. Tanya Byron is great. She came to prominence as the resident psychologist on several UK TV parenting programmes but used evidence-based interventions, essentially demonstrating what a clinical psychologist would do if […]

2008-03-28 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: PsychCentral tackles the recent internet addiction nonsense and asks What’s That Smell? It turns out it’s Internet Addiction Disorder in The News. BBC Radio 4’s excellent history of ideas programme In Our Time has recently had editions on the philosopher Kierkegaard and early computationalist […]

Ray Kurzweil hacks body, mind, eternity

Wired has as article on the immortality-seeking inventor and transhumanist Ray ‘King Canute’ Kurzweil who is attempting to defeat death by bioengineering his body until he can upload his mind on a computer. Transhumanism is a movement that attempts to extend the limits of human existence through technology, and one of the obvious, if not […]

Brain lamp

Designer Alexander Lervik created this wonderful table lamp based on a 3D reconstruction of his own brain scan. “MYBrain. The table lamp A replica of the designer’s brain, originated from an MR scan at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The image was processed through a 3D-printer, and became this unusual lamp shade design. Yes, it […]

Lost in translation

ABC Radio National’s The Philosopher’s Zone recently broadcast a programme that tackled the philosophy of translating between languages – discussing whether particular ideas are just harder to express in certain languages, and whether it is possible ever to tie a word to a definite meaning. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m fascinated by words which don’t […]

Demanding sex differences

Language Log has a great post looking at differences in empathy between males and females, and highlights a new study showing race differences as well. The punchline is that it’s actually really hard to say whether either of these results reflect true differences because the samples tend to be unrepresentative of the population, and measures […]

Court imitates life in antipsychotic drug battle

The New York Times has an article which skilfully captures one of the central dilemmas in mental health: deciding whether the benefits of psychiatric drugs outweigh their side-effects for any individual patient. The story centres on the ongoing court case where the state of Alaska are suing drug company Eli Lilly over claims that the […]

Why do some people sleepwalk?

I just found this short-but-sweet explanation for why sleepwalking occurs by neurologist Antonio Oliviero. It appears in this month’s Scientific American Mind: People can perform a variety of activities while asleep, from simply sitting up in bed to more complex behavior such as housecleaning or driving a car. Individuals in this trancelike state are difficult […]

The Lives They Left Behind

PsychCentral has alerted me to a wonderful online exhibit based on the lives of several psychiatric patients whose belongings were found in suitcases in an old asylum attic years after they had passed away. All the individuals were patients at the Willard Asylum, some for as long as 62 years. Unfortunately, the site is a […]

Where angels no longer fear to tread

The Economist has an article which serves as an interesting summary of some of the recent work on the psychology and neuroscience of religious belief. It’s a little bit clumsy in places. For example, it summarises some of the work on the role of the temporal lobes as saying that “religious visions are the result […]


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