Monthly Archives: October 2008

Brain scans and buyer beware

Jonah Lehrer reviews new popular neuromarketing book Buy-ology in the Washington Post and notes that the book itself is a shining example of marketing but without a good grasp of what the neuroscience studies actually show. If one of the greatest ironies of public relations is that it has an image problem, one of the […]

2008-10-31 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Mind Apples is a site that aims to share and develop ways of maintaining mental health in innovative ways. A community-based knowledge sharing community focused on mental well-being. Yay! To the bunkers! Scientific America has a piece on how one research team are trying […]

Neuropod focuses on the autistic spectrum

I’m not sure if Nature’s Neuroscience podcast Neuropod is slightly irregularly timed or I am, but either way the October edition is available online and covers cyber-monkeys, steroids, Alzheimer’s disease and autism. The stand-out feature is the piece on autism where researchers, including the well-known Temple Grandin, are interviewed. One of the most interesting bits […]

A slight return, again

I’ve just found another curious case report of complex movements in a brain dead patient, following on from our recent piece on the Lazurus Sign. These reports are fascinating and bizarre in equal measure, not least when you try and imagine what was happening in the room at the time. Uncommon reflex automatisms after brain […]

Drug addiction and factory pharming

Scientific American has a slide show of classic photos from converted prison in 1950s Kentucky which was used as a massive addiction rehabilitation and research centre. The pictures have a slightly surreal B-movie quality to them and I can’t help thinking of Philip K. Dick’s book A Scanner Darkly. If that reference makes no sense […]

In the age of paranoia, my MTV wants me

Psychotic delusions change with the times and a new study looking back over almost 120 years of hospital records has found that it’s possible to track how cultural upheavals are reflected in the themes of madness. Changes in politics, technology and psychiatry all seem to colour the preoccupations of the deluded as reported in the […]

Money on the brain

Tim Harford, who blogs as the Undercover Economist, presents a rollercoaster ride through the field of neuroeconomics, <a href=""'Money on the Brain' for Radio 4. The documentary is available via Radio 4’s Listen Again site for the next week, and reportedly via a podcast (which I unfortunately can’t find). This whistle-stop tour covers neuromarketing, behavioural […]

Online opium museum

The Opium Museum is a fascinating website by the author of a book called The Art of Opium Antiques that tracks the forgotten history of a hugely popular recreational drug of the early 1900s. It has images of some remarkably intricate opium smoking paraphenalia, but probably the most interesting part is the sections with photos […]

Encephalon 57 on Mind Hacks

Welcome to the 57th edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival, where we have the honour of hosting the best in the last fortnight’s mind and brain writing, here on Mind Hacks. We start off with two great interviews. The first is a video interview with pioneering neuroscientist Rodolfo Llin√°s, known for his […]

Synaesthesia induced by hypnosis

Wired Science has an interesting preview of an upcoming study that used hypnosis to induce colour-number synaesthesia in highly hypnotisable participants. Synaesthesia is where the senses merge, and in colour-number synaesthesia, the affected people experience colours associated with specific numbers. This new study used hypnosis to induce exactly this experience in people who didn’t have […]

I am a committee, chaired by a hedonist

Psychologist Paul Bloom has written a wonderfully eclectic article for The Atlantic magazine about the psychology of pleasure and why it suggests that we have multiple situation-specific selves. The piece is a little disjointed in places but it is packed full of information and if nothing else you get a good sense of the enthusiasm […]

Milgram’s culture shock

ABC Radio National’s Radio Eye has one of the best documentaries on Milgram’s conformity experiments that I’ve ever heard. It follows up several of the people who took part in the original experiment and weaves their stories into the audio from the original and chilling tapes of the actual sessions. You’ll have to be quick […]

Creationists unaware of past, doomed to repeat it

New Scientist has an article on a group of creationists who are attempting to argue that we have a soul based on the difficulty of reducing mental events to neurobiology. The article makes out that this is a new front on the ‘war on science’ but I wouldn’t be manning the barricades quite yet, as […]

2008-10-24 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Being altruistic makes you hot, finds new research covered by Medical News Today. Neuronarrative is a high-quality new mind and brain blog. Highly recommended. The San Franciso Chronicle has an excellent piece on the place of brain scans in the courtroom. In light of […]

Submit your entries for Encephalon, this Monday

The next edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival will be hosted here on Monday 27th October, so submit your best mind and brain writing from the last fortnight if you’d like it featured. You can email me directly via this web form or you can email your links to [at sign] […]

False advertising statistics effective, say 9 out of 10 cats

Ars Technica has a fantastic article on a recent study that found that numerical specifications in adverts have a huge effect on our choices, even when they’re meaningless. The numbers can be ratings, technical details, supposed representations of quality – it doesn’t seem to matter. In general, bigger is better and the study found that […]


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