Monthly Archives: December 2008

‘Internet addiction’ built on foundations of sand

A study just published in the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior has reviewed all of the available scientific studies on internet addiction and found them to be mostly crap. And not just slightly lacking, really pretty awful. To quote from the research summary: The analysis showed that previous studies have utilized inconsistent criteria to define Internet […]

The art of the dying brain

Neurophilosophy has found a wonderful collection of historic neuropathology drawings from the 1800s that manage to be both gruesome and beautiful in equal measure. The collection is from an 1831 addition to the book Reports on Medical Cases, Selected with a View to Illustrate the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid […]

Moving sensations from missing hands

The ‘rubber hand illusion’ is where we can be fooled into feeling a sensation in a fake hand. A group of researchers have used this same technique with arm amputees and found that they can induce sensations that seem to be located in the rubber hand even in people who have had their real hand […]

Neuroscience Boot Camp

The University of Pennsylvania have announced a Neuroscience Boot Camp. Over 10 days in August 2009, through “a combination of lectures, break-out groups, panel discussions and laboratory visits”, the Boot Camp promises to cover all the neuroscience you need to know to be an informed consumer of neuroscience research. The Boot Camp is aimed at […]

The fire within

The Beautiful Mind is an online gallery of stunning neuroscience photographs, aiming to demonstrate the beauty within. Although it’s currently an online exhibition, it will be touring Europe in 2009 and aims to promote art-science integration. If you can suffer the shrink wrapped Flash interface, it has some wonderful images. The one featured in this […]

Human brain tissue found after two thousand years

CNN has an interesting piece on how an archaeological dig in the North of England has dug up intact human brain tissue, preserved for 2,000 years. Rachel Cubitt, who was taking part in the dig, described how she felt something move inside the cranium as she cleaned the soil-covered skull’s outer surface. Peering through the […]

2008-12-12 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Bad Science unclothes the latest in the line of bogus formula-based adverts – this time for the naughtiness of Britney’s breasts. Hello Google porn surfers. Enjoy the neuroscience! Interesting memory manipulation study reported by New Scientist who include a spurious reference to the brain […]

Medical jargon alters our understanding of disease

A new study just published in PLoS One reports that simply using technical-sounding labels for newly popularised medical conditions changes our understanding of the condition itself, leading us to think it is more serious and more less common. The study is interesting as it speaks to the debate about disease mongering – the over-medicalising of […]

Encephalon 60 makes an entrance

The 60th edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has just been published on Living the Scientific Life, as GrrlScientist takes us through the best of the last fortnight’s online mind and brain writing. A couple of my favourites include an interesting write-up on the role of context in the perception of beauty […]

Hazy paving

The photograph is of some visual illusion paving stones found in Bogot√°’s Zona T this morning. They give the impression of an uneven surface despite being completely flat. I was in Bogot√° to give a talk to the Asociaci√≥n Colombiana de Psiquiatr√≠a Biol√≥gica who kindly invited me to their Christmas meeting. Many thanks to them, […]

New Scientist neuroscience top 10 available online

New Scientist have recently made a years’ worth of articles freely available online and have compiled a list of 2008’s top 10 neuroscience articles. There are some fantastic articles in there, my favourite being a piece on Karl Friston’s ‘unified theory of the brain’ which argues that it’s essentially a hierarchy of Bayesian probability functions. […]

Death of a psychologist

This time last week Marjorie Kisner Mira was leaving home to make one of her regular community visits. She never returned, and after several days of frantic searching her barely recognisable body was found in a deserted area of Medell√≠n, Colombia’s second city. A recently qualified clinical psychologist, Kisner worked for the city’s Peace and […]

The Psychologist on men, gossip and Kahneman

The editor of the The Psychologist magazine has just made the full issue of the January 2009 edition available online for free. It’s been uploaded to a service called issuu, so you can see every page as it appears in print, something that is usually only available to subscribers. The Psychologist is the monthly magazine […]

Does going to Mecca make Muslims more moderate?

As the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage comes to an end, I’m reminded of this interesting Slate article from earlier this year which reported on research that looked at whether going to Mecca makes Muslims more moderate. Although Islam has been associated with extremism in recent years, one of the key parts of the Hajj is […]

The big tease

The New York Times has an interesting article arguing that the recent public trend for outlawing ‘teasing’ as a form of bullying is a step too far, owing to psychological research showing that it’s part of normal social interaction and can actually enhance relationships. The piece is by psychologist Dacher Keltner, and looks at teasing […]

Mainstreaming cognitive enhancement

Nature has just published an article arguing that the use cognition enhancing drugs by healthy individuals should be by accepted by society and appropriately regulated. The authors are an interesting mix. They consist of several cognitive neuroscientists, a lawyer, an ethicist and the Nature editor-in-chief. The piece follows a survey and discussion pieces published earlier […]


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