Monthly Archives: February 2009

2009-02-20 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: I’ve just discovered the excellent Psychology of Beauty blog. 3QuarksDaily has an interview with cognitive science philosopher Shaun Gallagher on psychotic delusions and multiple realities. Missed this a few weeks ago: an interesting article from The New York Times on using social information on […]

Weird Science in MIT’s AI Lab, 1966

I just found this photo in the Life magazine archive. It’s from 1966 and entitled ‘MIT student using a MAC computer for project study of artificial intelligence’. Is it me, or does the young student bear an uncanny resemblance to Anthony Michael Hall in the 80s film Weird Science where two computer geeks use an […]

Encephalon 64 powers up

The 64th edition of the Encephalon psychology and writing carnival has just appeared on The Neurocritic and is waiting for your rapt attention. It’s a wonderfully put-together edition and a couple of my favourites include an article on the surprising fact that the doctor whose name lives on in ‘Tourette’s Syndrome’ was shot in the […]

The Psychologist on stigma, statistics and S&M

The British Psychological Society’s monthly magazine The Psychologist is continuing to dip its toes into the world of open-access and has made the entire March edition freely available online. A couple of articles stand out. The first is on stigma that discusses studies on how we internally structure information and notes that even here, the […]

Facebook causes marble loss

You know that awkward feeling you get when you stop laughing because you realise the person you’re talking to isn’t actually joking? I’ve just had it after reading the news reports that tell us ‘Facebook raises cancer risk’, ruining what I thought was a very funny parody. They’re based on an appalling article by psychologist […]

Sleep and psychopathology

New Scientist has a fascinating article on sleep and mental illness. While it’s long been known that mental illness can disrupt sleep the article discusses the much less explored connection where loss of sleep might trigger symptoms of mental illness in some. Until recently, however, the assumption that poor sleep was a symptom rather than […]

Why smokers blunt their caffeine hit

I was just reading an interesting paper on the interaction between antipsychotic drugs, caffeine and smoking and I found this interesting snippet on how smokers need to take in three to four times more caffeine than non-smokers to get the same effect, owing to the fact that by products of increases enzymes in the liver […]

It was planted on me

I have discovered that there is small but budding group of cognitive scientists who study the psychological impact of indoor plants. For example, here is a study on the effects of an indoor plant on creativity and mood from the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. Effects of an indoor plant on creative task performance and mood. […]

A cognitive science of spiritual healing?

Time magazine has an interesting article on the neuroscience of spiritual experience and why religious belief has been linked to better health. It’s not the most gripping article in the world and starts with some annoying experience = brain area phrenology but it does gives a good overview of some of the main research areas. […]

Dungeons & Discourse

For all your role-playing-cum-philosophy of mind needs, please consult the excellent Dresden Codak. Join an intrepid band of adventurers in the Kingdom of Qualia as they explore Plato’s Cave and battle P-Zombies in a desperate hunt for Occam’s Razor (also available in original vanilla flavour). Link to Dresdon Codak’s cartoon.

The scientific legacy of HM’s missing memories

The latest edition of Neuron has a fantastic tribute to the recently departed amnesic Patient HM, “probably the best known single patient in the history of neuroscience”, covering the scientific work he participated in and what it has told us about the structure of memory. The piece is by respected memory researcher Larry Squire and […]

You change your diagnosis like a girl changes clothes

A recently published study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that clinicians are less likely to suggest a diagnosis of bipolar disorder if the patient is described as having recently fallen in love, even if they are reported to have all the necessary symptoms. I notice that Katy Perry addressed exactly this issue in […]

Killing the veneration of unbending concentration

A few days ago I wrote a piece criticising the arguments of author Maggie Jackson on the effects of digital technology and concentration. The piece garnered some fantastic reader comments, including a thoughtful response from Jackson herself, which I’ve reproduced below: In my interview with Wired and my book Distracted, I don’t argue that we […]

A pharmacopeia of t-shirts

T-shirts with molecules on the front are now available from a multitude of online shops, but I’ve just found one internet t-shirt shop which has over 40 drug molecules you can choose from – from LSD to Prozac. As well as the usual suspects from the street drug molecules, Molecule Wear also has a surprisingly […]

Love and immortality

We have a burning instinct for life and yet we know, ultimately, that we will die. We fear the one thing we cannot escape. The question ‘why live?’ has preoccupied thinkers from the alpha to the omega of human history, but only relatively recently have we considered the question of ‘how’ – how do we […]

Christina the Astonishing and the saints of epilepsy

I’ve just read a fascinating article on the wonderfully named Christina the Astonishing, a 12th century saint who died during an epileptic seizure, rose from the ‘dead’, and according to some accounts, levitated to the roof of the church. The paper, published in the medical journal Neurology, discusses her case because while various people have […]


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