Monthly Archives: September 2008

A quick fix for the soul or slow milking of the cash cow

An article in The Guardian by psychoanalyst Darian Leader argues that new psychological therapies are driven by a capitalist approach to mental well-being and that they commoditise the soul. This article is the latest salvo aimed at bashing cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), an evidence-based psychological treatment which has inspired the ire of psychoanalysts for recently being […]

Encephalon 55, emeralds, neurons and fine whiskey

The 55th edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has just appear online, and as noted by the gracious host, Neuroscientifically Challenged, it’s reached its emerald anniversary. A couple of my favourites include two genuinely exceptional posts: one on targets for deep brain stimulation and their effects, and another on computational neuroscience that […]

The war within

The latest edition of The New Yorker has the tragic story of a US Marine who became famous after writing about his struggle with PTSD for the Marine Corps Gazette, met the President as a result, but who later killed himself owing to the intensity of his experiences. The New Yorker Article weaves the story […]

Neuroplastic fantastic

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind had a two part series on the implications of neuroplasticity – particularly the discovery that the brain can physically ‘rewire’ itself through adulthood, albeit in a more limited way in comparison to the process that occurs during childhood. I found the second part a little more satisfying than […]

Hemispheric fantasies

This is quite a remarkable study from a 1985 edition of the International Journal of Neuroscience that investigated whether the apparent greater use of mental imagery during masturbation by men than women was due to differences in hemispheric specialisation. To test whether this might be to do with brain organisation, rather than gender itself, the […]

Down on ecstasy

An unintentionally funny headline from The Telegraph: “Home Office considers downgrading ecstasy”, presumably to just a general feeling of contentment. The serious story behind the headline is the annual ritual in the UK where the government asks a panel of scientific advisors about the link between the legal classification of drugs and the scientific evidence […]

Travels, posting frequency and Medellín

Apologies if Mind Hacks posts are a little irregular over the next week or so. I’m currently in the process of leaving London and moving to the beautiful city of Medellín, Colombia, where I’ll be working with some fantastic neuropsychiatrists at the Universidad de Antioquia and the Hospital Universitario San Vicente de Paúl. I leave […]

Seeing double with Eli Lilly’s antidepressant

The Clinical Psych Blog has caught Eli Lilly publishing identical data on its new antidepressant drug in two separate scientific papers. This is a dubious practice often carried out to make a drug seem to have more supporting evidence than than has actually been collected. The study, originally published in the Jan 2008 edition of […]

2008-09-26 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Cognitive Daily covers a sobering study on sex education that found “among sexually active teens, actual condom use bears no relationship to intention to use a condom or belief that using condoms is a good idea. The only factors in their study that correlate […]

Sleepless in Victorian London – Holmes on the case

The October issue of The Psychologist has just hit the wires and two of articles, freely available online, have a fascinating take on the Victorian mind. The first looks at the 19th century understanding of insomnia, and the second on what master detective Sherlock Holmes can teach modern cognitive psychology. The game is afoot! The […]

When dementia releases artistic talents

KQED Quest has another excellent online feature where they discuss the curious effect where some patients with fronto-temporal dementia, a form of degenerative brain disease, suddenly have burst of creative talent creating some stunning and original works. The videos were taken at UCSF over the course of many hours doctors spent studying Keith and his […]

Psychiatrists still participating in banned interrogations

Using documents obtained under the freedom of information act, the New England Journal of Medicine has just published an eye-opening article on the involvement of psychiatrists on ‘war on terror’ interrogations who participate despite their professional ban. The piece is timely because American psychologists have just been banned from these interrogations after a drawn out […]

Measure of the Head

Neuroanthropology has alerted me to these wonderful ‘brain maps‘ from a 1912 book on phrenology that attempted to map how the bumps on the head related to the ‘higher faculties’. Phrenology as a science was doomed owing to the simple fact that bumps on the head can’t be reliably linked to any ‘faculties’, but it […]

Political bias in the interpretation of neuroscience

Slate has an interesting article arguing that there is a pervasive liberal bias in the interpretation of studies on political beliefs that casts right-wing voters in a bad light. You’ll have to forgive the spectacularly wrong-headed first paragraph (summary: this week the Obama campaign has been described as panicking, so why have neuroscience studies suggested […]

Harmonious analgesia

You’re in the operating theatre, about to undergo a serious surgical procedure and the anaesthetic is starting to take effect. You can hear a beautiful acapella song that seems to be a remarkably geeky composition on anaesthesiology, but you’re not sure whether it’s the consciousness altering drugs that are causing strangely harmonious hallucinations or whether […]

Autism’s False Prophets

Salon has a good discussion of a new book on the culture and pseudoscience of vaccination scares by a paediatrician who received death threats after his public debunking of the overblown dangers. The book is Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure and the paediatrician is Paul Offit, who […]


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