Monthly Archives: December 2008

A very rough guide to highlights of 2008

A not very thorough list of my personal 2008 highlights in mind and brain news, dredged from my memory and reproduced for your reading pleasure: Funniest (unintentional) USA Today publishing an alarmist story about ‘digital drugs’ that can, according to the article, mimic the effects of alcohol, marijuana, LSD, crack, heroin, sex, heaven and hell. […]

Understanding numbers: let me count the ways

The latest edition of The Economist has an interesting article about whether our ability to count and estimate quantity is an innate ability that we have from birth. The article covers studies on babies, people who speak languages that only have number words for “one”, “two”, “few” and “many”, people who have never developed certain […]

For the caffeine conneisseur

The Caffeine Examiner is a review site that perhaps thinks about tachycardia-inducing products a little more than is healthy. Indeed, it’s just released it’s list of best caffeine products of 2008, voted for by the readers. In fact, they have awards for 2008’s best energy drinks, best energy shots and best energy products. Just looking […]

Is this the end of the mystery of self-awareness?

Edge has an interesting essay by V.S. Ramachandran arguing that while we may not be any closer to understanding consciousness, an understanding of the neuroscience of ‘the self’ may be within our grasp as demonstrated by studies showing how our perception of self-awareness breaks down in curious ways after brain injury. There are lots of […]

The Human Terrain System, 1867

I was under the impression that the US Military’s Human Terrain System, their new band of ‘militarised’ anthropologists, was a relatively new development but I just found a fascinating article on the use of social scientists by the Russian army during their invasion and occupation of Turkestan in the 1860s. As with the modern military […]

Voodoo correlations in social brain studies

I’ve just come across a bombshell of a paper that looked at numerous headline studies on the cognitive neuroscience of social interaction and found that many contained statistically impossible or spurious correlations between behaviour and brain activity. The article is currently ‘in press’ for the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science but the preprint is available […]

‘War on terror’ social science funding announced

Wired has the list of funded projects from the Pentagon’s new $50 million ‘Minerva’ programme that supports social science research intended to have a strategic benefit for the ‘war on terror’. Named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, the project is part of the US Government’s increasing reliance on social science to fight […]

Drug corruption: a rough guide

The January edition of the New York Review of Books has an excellent article on the pharmaceutical industry and the corruption of medical ethics that summarises the recent revelations of fraud, undisclosed payments, data burying and off-label promotion that pervade the industry. The piece is by Marcia Angell, who spent 20 years as editor of […]

It’s not a supermarket, it’s a behavioural science lab

The Economist has a fascinating article on how new technology is turning supermarkets into behavioural science labs and how you are an unwitting participant in marketing experiments. The piece discusses the psychology of big store marketing, touching on three areas: store layout and environment design, ‘neuromarketing‘ and customer tracking. It’s interesting that much of the […]

The psychosis podcast

The University of Manchester have developed a pilot of an educational podcast on psychosis and they’d like your help in evaluating it. Their page has all the details and I won’t give you too much additional information on it here, except to say you just need to answer a brief questionnaire, listen to the podcast […]

The original sex machine

New Scientist has a completely charming article on ‘Elektro‘ – the world’s first celebrity robot who wowed the crowds at the 1939 New York World’s Fair with his mechanics that produced a remarkable interactive experience for the time. The article is by Noel Sharkey, an AI and robotics researcher, who recounts the robot’s amazing story […]

Do the test: change blindness versions, is the Transport for London site which brought you the urbanised inattentional blindness video. Now they’re back with a feast of change blindness-YouTube goodness, here, here, and here. The moral is the same, and evidence-based: even large things can be hard to spot if you don’t know they are there, so look out for […]

2008-12-26 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Neurocritic covers an interesting case of sandwich-induced fainting. Recession can be deadly for domestic abuse victims, reports The Boston Globe as it examines the relationship between the economy and domestic violence. The New York Times has an obituary for the recently departed and […]

A Quantum of Christmas

A not very good photo of an enjoyable Christmas afternoon spent watching James Bond movie A Quantum of Solace on the psychiatric ward of Hospital San Vincente de Pa√∫l in Medell√≠n. In the service of international understanding, I’m being taught about Colombian cuisine and salsa music, and in return I’ve taught the hospital canteen how […]

Seasonal wishes

I would just like to take this opportunity to wish Mind Hacks readers a happy seasonal festival and I hope you experience an appropriate positive emotion during your marking of the period. If you’re interested in a little seasonal psychology, Frontal Cortex has an excellent piece on the psychology of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival that […]

Vintage brain graphic art t shirt

The image is from a tshirt that combines a Victorianesque brain print with distressed material to create wonderful vintage neuroscience clothing. My only concern is that it’s a CafePress t-shirt and from what I remember they use iron-on process which give the designs a kind of plasticy feel but maybe they’ve changed that by now. […]


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