Monthly Archives: October 2008

Pentagon requests robot packs to hunt humans

New Scientist reports on a new Pentagon request to develop a pack of robots “to search for and detect a non-cooperative human”. I am a strong believer in the fact that everyone who takes a course in artificial intelligence should be made to watch post-apocalyptic film The Terminator as a stark warning, in the same […]

Towards a neuropsychology of religion

This week’s Nature has a fascinating essay by anthropologist Pascal Boyer discussing the quirks of spiritual belief and how they may result from the evolution of our mind and brain. Boyer is best known for his book Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought where he argued that religion can be understood as where […]

Neuropsychiatry in Venezuela

Apologies for the lack of posts, but I’ve just arrived in Punto Fijo in Venezuela, as I’ve kindly been invited to be a guest of the Venezuelan Psychiatric Society at their annual conference, where I shall be talking about the cognitive neuropsychiatry of psychosis later in the week. Unfortunately it’s dark and I’ve been travelling […]

Monochrome dreaming

Watching black and white television as a child may explain why older people are less likely to dream in colour than younger people, according to new study reported in New Scientist. The study is from psychologist Ewa Murzyn, who was interested in how early experience could affect our dream life. She first asked 60 subjects […]

Colombian Congress of Psychiatry report

I recently got back from the Colombian Congress of Psychiatry and was incredibly impressed both by the high standard of scientific work and the wonderfully welcoming people I met. I have to say, I didn’t see quite as much of the conference as I normally would owing to the rather relentless pace of partying that […]

There she goes again, racing through my brain

The opening verse from The La’s 1988 indie hit There She Goes: There she goes There she goes again Racing through my brain And I just can’t contain This feeling that remains Link to The La’s playing There She Goes.

The sexual distractions of cheese crumbs

Another fantastic quote from Bonk, a book about sex research by science writer Mary Roach, this time about the effects of distraction on female sexual arousal (from p251): A thousand images can play on a woman’s mind: work, kids, problems with Ultrasuede. One nonpharmaceutical solution is to teach women to redirect their focus and pay […]

Looking for the mind in a haystack of words

The New York Times has an article on the simple but effective idea that a statistical analysis of word frequency in written text can be a guide to the psychological state of the author. It’s a technique that’s been pioneered by psychologist James Pennebaker who has conducted a considerable amount of intriguing research to back […]

Ice age

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind recently had an excellent programme on amphetamine, discussing its varying uses from its original selling point as a widely abused nasal decongestant to its modern popularity as a kiddie behavioural control agent in the age of methylphenidate (Ritalin). One of the most fascinating parts is where the guest, […]

2008-10-17 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Waves of Mu art project is reviewed by The Neurocritic. Looks as beautiful as it sounds. BBC News says internet use ‘good for the brain’? The scientific article has not yet appeared and the guy has a book out on, er, how good […]

Memory, brainwashing and the Cold War

I’ve just watched part two of Adam Curtis‘ series on the relationship between memory and the history of the 20th century where he explores the link between brain washing, the emergence of cognitive science and the politics of the cold war. Curtis is a documentary maker who is particularly interested in the link between psychology […]

The Lazarus sign: a slight return

Occasionally, brain-dead patients make movements, owing to the fact that the spinal reflexes are still intact. The most complex, and presumably the most terrifying, is called the Lazarus Sign. It is where the brain-dead patient extends their arms and crosses them over their chest – Egyptian mummy style. About 20% to 40% of brain dead […]

Myths of the sleep deprived

New Scientist has an interesting piece by sleep psychologist Jim Horne who sets about busting the myth that modern society causes large scale sleep deprivation. It’s full of fascinating facts and uses the phrase “to eke out the very last quantum of sleepiness” which is just lovely. Until recently, people living above the Arctic circle […]

Encephalon 56 springs into life

The latest edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has just hit the wires, if you interpret ‘just’ as meaning three days ago (sorry about that, I can only connect to the internet when sitting in the bathroom for reasons of signal unusualness). However, it’s being hosted by the excellent Combining Cognits and […]

Test your moral radar

Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel and psychologist Fiery Cushman have designed a ‘Moral Sense Test‘ that asks respondents for their takes on various moral dilemmas so they can compare the responses of philosophers and non-philosophers. You may recognise Schwitzgebel’s name as he writes The Splintered Mind blog that we often link to, owing to his talent for […]

Psychedelic Brittanica

Today’s Nature has an interesting review of a new book, called Albion Dreaming, on the history of LSD in the UK. The book also has a slightly ramshackle but wonderfully engrossing website which is full of fascinating information on LSD. The site has a great collection of quotes by famous Britons where they describe their […]


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