Monthly Archives: April 2008

Encephalon 43 lands on the virtual doormat

A beautiful new edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has just been published on GNIF Brain Blogger and contains the best of last fortnight’s online mind and brain writing. A couple of my favourites include an article on how the brain encodes sound and another one on Alzheimer’s disease, and there’s plenty […]

The yin and yang of cannabis and psychosis

It is now quite widely known that cannabis use is linked to a small but significant increase in the chance of developing psychosis, but it is less widely known that one of the ingredients in cannabis actually has antipsychotic effects. Unlike THC, it’s lesser known cousin cannabidiol is not responsible for the cannabis ‘high’ but […]

Neuroweapons, war crimes and the preconscious brain

A new generation of military technology interfaces directly with the brain to target and trigger weapons before our conscious mind is fully engaged. In a new article in the Cornell International Law Journal, lawyer Stephen White asks whether the concept of a ‘war crime’ becomes irrelevant if the unconscious mind is pulling the trigger. In […]

The shifting sands of the ‘autism epidemic’

The Economist has a short but telling article on whether the so-called ‘autism epidemic’, occasionally touted in the media, may simply be a change in how developmental problems are diagnosed. It covers a new study that did something really simple – it tracked down 38 people who, years ago, had been diagnosed with a delay […]

It’s not where we’ve been, it’s where we’re at

The New York Times Freakanomics blog just had a great discussion questioning how much progress psychology and psychiatry have really made during the last century, with contributions from psychologists, psychiatrists, economists and a woman who lost her son to suicide. The responses obviously come from quite differing perspectives but are largely positive and seem mostly […]

Lacan attack!

I’ve just found this wonderful video clip of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan at his delightfully expressive and incomprehensible best. Lacan managed to combine the circular reasoning of Freudian psychoanalysis with the non-sequiturs of French post-structuralism to create, well, I’m not really sure. I doubt many other people are either. In the video he mentions love, […]

Reality trails by mobile phone

MIT’s Technology Review magazine has an interesting article on ‘reality mining’ – using mobile phone call and positioning data to build advanced models of social networks. The article is part of their 2008 emerging technology series and looks at how data gathered from the mobile phone network can tell us about human behaviour. The core […]

The psychology of magical thoughts

Psychology Today has a great article that covers the length and breadth of magical thinking – the tendency to see patterns and causality where none exists. Magical thinking is described in a number of ways. Superstition is the most common, where we assume rituals will somehow affect the future despite having no causal connection to […]

Neuroaesthetics my arse

Physician and philosopher Raymond Tallis has written a scorching article in The Times berating art critics for using poorly understood ideas from neuroscience when reviewing or interpreting literature, art or film. He particularly focuses on an article by famed novelist A.S. Byatt where she suggests that the reason John Donne’s poetry is so compelling is […]

2008-04-11 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The scientist brain doping results are in! Neuroanthropology looks at the findings from the recent Nature survey. Prospect Magazine has an excellent article on whether the recent upsurge in bipolar diagnoses is due to a better understanding of mood disorders or a new marketing […]

Turned out Nice again

The picture on the right is both a five story high sculpture and library that was opposite the 16th European Congress of Psychiatry from which I’ve just returned. It’s by the artist Sacha Sosno and apparently the books are kept in the ‘head’ of the surrealist bust. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see a great […]

A small dose of Freud

I’ve just finished listening to the unabridged audio version of the excellent Anthony Storr book Freud: A Very Short Introduction – a remarkably insightful analysis of the flawed father of psychoanalysis and his ideas. Freud had huge numbers of ideas, hypotheses and theories that he formulated, rejected and revised over a forty year period. You […]

Repressing the bricks and mortar of madness

Of Two Minds has alerted me to the fact that the famous-but-now-defunct Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York is going to be converted into a luxury hotel. It will probably join a long list of old psychiatric hospital conversions whose origin becomes lost to the public mind. Bellevue has had a number of well-known patients […]

Releasing creativity in a decaying brain

The New York Times has a fantastic article on the remarkable artistic talent seemingly released in some people with fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) – a condition where frontal and temporal lobes start deteriorating. Dementia is any condition where the brain or brain function deteriorates quicker than would be expected through normal ageing. This can occur because […]

Psychoanalyst finger puppets

What better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than recreating some of the most important moments in the history of psychoanalysis with some specially made finger puppets! Uncommon Goods make a set of puppets that allows you to assign one of your pinkies to Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Anna Freud or a couch. Personally, […]

Nice work if you can get it

Apologies if updates are a bit intermittent over the next few days, but I’m in Nice, in the lovely South of France, at the European Congress of Psychiatry. I’m here to teach a course on ‘Phenomenology, Cinema and Psychosis’ with psychiatrist Andrea Raballo and psychologist Frank Lar√∏i. You can try and work out which of […]


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