Monthly Archives: September 2008

PSYOP merchandise

I’ve just noticed that various US Military Psychological Operations (PSYOP) units have created their own online merchandise, so you can buy t-shirts, mugs and even teddy bears branded with unit insignia. In fact, the teddy bear picture here seems to be emblazoned with the insignia of 346th PSYOP Airborne Company. Perhaps the most impressive online […]

Drug addiction and white rabbit theories

I’ve just got round to listening to ABC Radio National’s two part Health Report special on the drug and alcohol dependence and was pleasantly surprised about how well constructed and informative it was. These sorts of programmes can be a little dry, if you’ll excuse the pun, but this two-parter in a compelling look into […]

2008-09-12 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The theories of the legendary John Hughlings-Jackson are the topic of an excellent post on The Mouse Trap. See also this fascinating paper on the philosophy of JHJ. The Boston Globe has an interesting piece on the psychological benefits of <a href="http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/09/07/the_secret_benefits_of_fandom/?page=full “>being a […]

Gay genes, environment and gin

Psychologist Jesse Bering has written a witty and informative post on the science of homophobia, evolutionary theories of homosexuality and why some hypotheses just don’t work without large quantities of strong gin. Bering notes he’s both gay and an evolutionary psychologist, and some people find it surprising that a homosexual male works in a field […]

Judges insanity decisions show same sex bias

An interesting abstract from the latest Nordic Journal of Psychiatry: when given otherwise identical case reports of murderers marked either male or female, psychiatrists and psychology students were more likely to declare women ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’. In contrast, judges showed an interesting same sex bias, in that they were more likely to […]

The amazing technicolour dream hoax?

Dream researchers in the 1950s concluded that people typically dreamed in black and white whereas modern dream research reports most people dream in colour. Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel discusses this curious finding in a 2002 article, arguing that it is unlikely dreaming has changed so radically and that this is likely evidence of how bad we […]

Reminiscence tickets competition

The lovely production team behind the London neurology and reality play Reminiscence have been kind enough to offer Mind Hacks readers the chance to win two tickets to see the piece on the date of your choice. It runs until the 20th September in Jackson’s Lane Theatre in Highgate and all you have to do […]

Taking responsibility

Cato Unbound has a thought-provoking essay arguing that we need to radically re-think our relationship to psychoactive substances of all kinds to encourage informed responsible drug use rather than relying on the impossibility of prohibition to protect society. The piece is by the founders of the Erowid drugs information and experience exchange site, who have […]

Reminiscence opening

Neuroscience and fabric of reality play Reminiscence opens tonight in London. For those not able to make it, the company have put images from the production online, which are quite beautiful in themselves. Mrs O’Connor is a woman who develops a temporal lobe epilepsy that triggers hallucinated music and memories that seem to help her […]

Intuitive number sense part of formal maths skills

The ability to intuitively estimate the number objects you can see is known as automatic number sense and has been widely studied in the scientific literature, but is usually thought to be separate from the formal and precise maths abilities we learn at school. A new study just published online in Nature suggests that these […]

Drugs for optimising morality

This month’s British Journal of Psychiatry has a fascinating essay by psychiatrist Sean Spence who argues that while most attention has been focused on ‘smart drugs’ and cognitive enhancement, medication is already been subtly used to improve ethical behaviour and we should prepare for a revolution in ‘moral pharmacology’. Spence argues that the cognitive enhancement […]

Laughing in the face of death – unintentionally

KQED’s science programme Quest has put some completely fascinating audio and video segments online on the science of emotion and how neurological disorders can lead to almost instant laughing and crying that are not always accompanied by the strong emotions we normally associate with them. The condition is called ‘pseudobulbar affect‘ by neurologists although virtually […]

On the sweltering summers of the soul

September’s New York Review of Books has an extended piece by Oliver Sacks where he reviews Hurry Down Sunshine, a memoir of a parent’s experience of seeing their daughter spiral into mania and psychosis. In typical Sacks style it is more than just a book review, as it takes us through the history of manic-depression […]

The distant sound of well-armed sociologists

If you listen carefully you can hear a distant rumble from over the horizon. It’s the sound of sociologists advancing slowly towards our online data trail, about to release the mother of all data analysis campaigns that will rain from the internet like a storm from above. Yesterday’s New York Times had a fascinating piece […]

Navigating the darkness of coma-like states

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind recently broadcast a gripping programme on patients in the coma-like persistent vegetative state (PVS) and how new brain imaging techniques might be able to identify people who are conscious but unable to communicate with the outside world. The programme talks to neuropsychologist Adrian Owen, whose work we’ve featured […]

2008-09-05 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: To the bunkers! AI system enables <a href="http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2008/september10/helicopter-091008.html “>robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly stunts by watching other helicopters – with video. The BPS Research Digest covers an interesting neuroimaging study on whether we assign mental states to robots. I get my four […]

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