Monthly Archives: March 2008

Resisting temptation is energy intensive

Cognitive Daily has just published a great write-up and demonstration of a study that illustrates how self-control is an energy intensive process that puts a big drain on the body’s glucose levels. The article tackles a recent study [pdf] led by psychologist Matthew Gailliot that found that exercising self-control in either conversations or in lab […]

Decorating inner space

The New York Times has a fun article on how psychotherapists decorate their office and what this might portray about the inner life of the shrink. Psychoanalysts (Freudian psychotherapists) in particular are very careful about what sort of impression they project about themselves, preferring, at least initially, to be as insubstantial as possible so the […]

2008-03-07 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Faces in the static. An interesting study looks at brain activation associated with seeing illusory faces in visual noise. Neuroanthropology discusses recent research looking at the cognitive neuroscience of poverty. How your name influences your decisions and preferences. The Psychologist has a fascinating article […]

Just say no

Ah, the joys of South East London. The headline in the latest copy of the South London Press which doesn’t seem to have the actual article online.        

Moses on high article available online

Thanks to Debbie from the My Mind on Books blog who managed to track down the original academic article from psychologist Benny Shanon who argues that Moses’ experiences on Mount Sinai may have been due to a hallucinogenic experience. Shannon suggests that a mixture prepared from the acacia tree and the bush peganum harmala could […]

Delusional psychiatrists

Of Two Minds have found a classic video of a vintage Fry and Laurie sketch where a two people meet in a doctor’s office, both think they’re psychiatrists and the other is delusional. It’s a funny sketch but it’s also remarkably clever as much of what passes for psychobabble is actually a satire on psychology […]

We will please pill

Placebo has its effect through our beliefs and expectations. Because we get many of our assumptions through culture, changing social attitudes could alter how effective it is. Placebo is sometimes called the ‘expectancy effect’ and describes the fact that our expectations of what the dummy treatment will do can influence the outcome. We noted before […]

Moses high on more than Mount Sinai

An Israeli psychologist is asking whether Moses may have been tripping when he saw God on Mount Sinai, suggesting that many of our traditional ideas about the Abrahamic God may have been inspired by hallucinogenic drugs. Professor Benny Shannon’s apparently cites historical evidence that the religious ceremonies of the Israelites included hallucinogenic plants and further […]

5-MeO-DMT in the Pharmaecopia

Heavy metal noiseniks Mudvayne have a song called ‘Pharmaecopia‘ where they list off a load of drugs in a possibly ironic, possibly celebratory way. It’s a bit of a confused list with serotonin and “dopeamine” listed among a rather odd list of street drugs, hallucinogenic plants and commercial pharmaceuticals. Curiously though, they mention 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, a […]

Are animals autistic savants?

Animal behavourist Temple Grandin has a theory that animals are like autistic savants, they think in images and have highly specialised cognitive skills. Grandin’s theory has been influential partly owing to her expertise in animal behaviour and cognition, and partly because she has Asperger’s syndrome herself, a condition on the autism spectrum. This month’s edition […]

Laughter and the return of RadioLab

RadioLab, one of the most wonderfully produced radio shows around, has just started a new series with a fantastic edition on the psychology and neuroscience of laughter. Tuning in to RadioLab is like listening to the enthusiastic daydreams of some slightly stoned but fantastically well informed scientists. This edition looks at laughter, the behaviour that […]

Are you experienced? Does it matter?

Time magazine has an article on the counter-intuitive psychology of expertise and experience. It turns out simple experience might not add anything to our competency, it’s how we use our time in attempting to master a skill that counts. The article notes that research has typically failed to show that experience, on its own, predicts […]

Blue Brain Rising

Seed Magazine has a fantastic article on the ‘Blue Brain’ project that aims to eventually create a biologically accurate simulation of the human brain on a supercomputer. So far, they’ve only managed to simulate a cortical column but this in itself is quite impressive as many thought it could never be done. The project is […]

Encephalon 40

Welcome to the 40th edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival. This edition covers some of the best of the last fortnight’s mind and brain writing from around the net, so kick back, relax and see what fires you up.

Dr Ginger Campbell’s Brain Science Podcasts

I’ve been listening to some of Dr Ginger Campbell’s brain science podcasts recently and am thoroughly enjoying them. Campbell has been broadcasting for a fair while now (she’s just put her 31st podcast online) but these latest editions are particularly good. I caught a few of the early ones and found them a little rough […]

Maths and the numbers game in the brain

Frontal Cortex has alerted me to a wonderful article in The New Yorker about Stanislas Dehaene’s work on understanding the neuropsychology of number sense. Like written and spoken language, human numerical abilities are quite astonishing for how they are organised in the brain. After brain injury, various maths or numerical abilities can be shown to […]


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