Monthly Archives: December 2008

Immaculate perception

It had to happen really. After years of religious images seeming to appear in windows, cement, trees and even toast, someone’s ‘identified’ an image of the Virgin Mary in a brain scan. And from the look of the scan, the Holy Virgin has decided to make a divine appearance in the upper tip of the […]

Two cases of compulsive swearing – in sign language

The medical journal Movement Disorders reported two case studies of people who were deaf from birth and had the tic disorder Tourettes, leading them to compulsively swear in sign language. Tourettes is often associated with compulsive swearing, although this only happens in a minority of cases. It is more commonly associated with compulsive actions, that […]

Freud – The Prog Rock Musical

If psychoanalysis were a type of music, it would obviously be prog rock, as despite the fact it is largely a triumph of style over substance there are still a few gems hidden among all the self-indulgent widdling. So why hasn’t anyone made a Freudian prog rock concept album you ask? The answer is that […]

Bullets, beauty queens and Gordon Holmes

I’ve just found this fascinating article on how legendary neurologist Gordon Holmes discovered how the visual cortex represents visual space after studying World War One soldiers who had experienced bullet or shrapnel wounds to the brain. World War One taught us a great deal about neuropsychology largely due to developments in weapons technology. The German […]

2008-12-05 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Neurophilosophy discusses a newly discovered form of synaesthesia – touch-emotion synaesthesia. Psychological highlights from the most recent Society for Neuroscience conference are collected by the BPS Research Digest. Discover Magazine has a punchy bio of Noam Chomsky. Antidepressants that leak into the water supply […]

Happiness ripples through social networks

This week’s British Medical Journal has a wonderful social network study that examined how happiness moved through social networks. It found that even when friends of friends become happy, the effect can ripple through and boost your own contentment. It’s a wonderfully conceived study that looks at how people in social networks change over time, […]

Roll out the barrel

This week’s British Medical Journal has an excellent short article on ‘Diogenes syndrome’, an unofficial name for the situation where an older person is living in squalor without seeming to have mental or neurological impairments that might explain it, but without seeming to mind either. The syndrome is named after the Ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes […]

Is shaken baby syndrome a myth?

Discover magazine has a thought-provoking article on the question of whether ‘shaken baby syndrome’, claimed to be a specific type of brain damage that occurs to young children if shaken, actually exists as a useful syndrome. If it doesn’t, it might not only be a medical miscategorisation but also a legal disaster that may have […]

Technology to see through other people’s eyes

Neurotech analyst Zack Lynch has an interesting post on his Brain Waves blog about trying out the EyeSeeCam, a wearable camera that tracks eye movements so it can film exactly where the person is looking, allowing others to literally see the world through somebody else’s eyes. Lynch wore the device while at the recent Society […]

The oscillations of Rudolfo Llin√°s

The New York Times has an excellent profile of free-thinking neuroscientist Rudolfo Llin√°s who is renowned for his theories on the importance of brain oscillations and his unique take on consciousness. Now based in New York, Llin√°s is a native of Colombia and is considered one of the most important living neuroscientists. He views the […]

Thanks for the memories HM

The densely amnesic Patient HM, one of the most famous and important patients in the history of neuroscience, has passed away. HM, now revealed as Henry G. Molaison, suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy that was not helped by existing drugs and so was referred to neurosurgeon William Scoville in 1953. Scoville attempted a new type […]

The dead stay with us

Scientific American Mind Matter’s blog has just published an article I wrote on grief hallucinations, the remarkably common experience of seeing, hearing, touching or sensing our loved ones after they’ve passed away. Grief hallucinations are a normal reaction to having someone close to you die and are a common part of the mourning process, but […]

SciAmMind on brain injury, stimulation and diversity

The new Scientific American Mind has just arrived and has a number of fantastic freely available features articles online. One of the most interesting articles is about post-accident brain treatments, used in the hours and minutes following severe injury, to protect the brain and minimize the chances of long-term cognitive problems. The best hope for […]

Cheer up you waster

The Dummies series of books have been hugely successful guides to everything from fixing computers to learning languages although they’ve recently started to publish self-help books on psychological themes. Unfortunately, they don’t fit quite as well into the general theme and hilariously, one of the titles is called Building Self-Confidence for Dummies. UPDATE: Some great […]


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