Monthly Archives: February 2009

2009-02-13 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: An interview with a psychologist Meg Barker, who studies polyamorous relationships, is published by Dr Petra. Neurophilosophy has an excellent piece on the neuroscience of dinosaurs! What Makes You Uniquely ‘You’? Discover magazine discusses the self and consciousness with Nobel prize-winning biologist Gerald Edelman. […]

Distress targeted Twitter spam

An interesting if dubious Twitter phenomenon: a $200 an hour online therapist website is spamming people who express distress in their twitter bulletins with a reply advertising their service. The service is called AskAnAlly and the Twitter spam has really pissed a number people off. Like many of the other people, I can’t help reading […]

Leadership can be based on quantity not quality

Time magazine reports on an intriguing new study finding that groups select natural leaders on the basis of how much each person contributes to group discussions, even when their contributions have no relation to their actual competence. Psychologists Cameron Anderson and Gavin Kilduff, asked several groups to complete tasks for a $400 dollar prize. They […]

Happy birthday Charles Dickens

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and Nature has a podcast celebrating his work including some of his research on psychological development and emotion. For those of you not familiar with Darwin’s work, he’s most famous for his theory of revolutions that he discovered when he went on a voyage […]

The myth of the concentration oasis

Wired has an interview with author Maggie Jackson who’s recently written a book called ‘Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age’ in which she argues modern life and digital technology constantly demand our attention and are consequently damaging our ability to concentrate and be creative. The trouble is, I just don’t buy […]

Bionic arm technology reroutes nervous system

Damn this is cool. The New York Times has an article on an innovative technology that allows people to naturally use mechanical prosthetic arms. While most of the media attention has been focused on implanting electrodes directly into the brain as a form of ‘neuroprosthetics’, this technology takes a novel and remarkably ingenious approach with […]

Pioneers of psychology, in their own words

The Wellcome History of Medicine Centre has interviewed some of the UK’s cognitive science elders about the early days of neuropsychology and psychiatry research and have put all the video clips online. The interviews are a wonderful insight into the earliest days of cognitive science research which are only hampered by their annoying presentation, so […]

Buck Rogers is not a blueprint

A quote from a recent Wired article that discusses a project to create a computer architecture based on the neurobiology of the brain. It sounds suspiciously like it’s based on Dr Theopolis from 70s TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: In what could be one of the most ambitious computing projects ever, neuroscientists, […]

Formerly schizophrenia

The February edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry has a thought-provoking editorial by psychiatrist Jim van Os, arguing that we should reject the diagnosis of schizophrenia owing to its lack of validity and replace it with a concept of a ‘salience dysregulation syndrome’. If you’re not familiar with the use of the term salience, […]

Music to my mind

I’ve just realised that a new series of ABC Radio National’s excellent All in the Mind just kicked off the other week with a fantastic programme on the therapeutic potential of music. The programme is both wonderful to listen to because music is threaded woven throughout the interviews, but it’s also a critical and well-balanced […]

The light controlled brain and other tales

Stanford University have put a series of engaging TED style 10 minute lectures up on YouTube where some of their leading researchers discuss cutting-edge cognitive science research – curing blindness with neural implants, brain computer interfaces, neural pathway mapping, creating brain inspired computer hardware, visualising desire and controlling neurons with light. Getting lab scientists to […]

Weaving a history of psychiatry from states of mind

BBC Radio 4 have just concluded a fantastic five part radio series called States of Mind on the history of psychiatry in the UK since the 1950s, covering the death of the asylum, to the age of Prozac, to visions of the future. It’s produced and presented by the fantastic Claudia Hammond and weaves together […]

Encephalon 63 hits the jackpot

The 63rd edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has just been published online and has the latest from the last fortnight’s mind and brain hot topics. A couple of my favourites include Ouroboros on the link between pessimism and premature ageing, and an article on the commonly discussed relationship between phases of […]

If It’s Difficult to Pronounce, It Must Be Risky

I’ve just found a short-but-sweet study recently published in Psychological Science that shows that we tend to rate things with difficult to pronounce names as more risky than those with names that we can say more fluently. Psychologists Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz created names of notional food additives and asked the participants to rate […]

2009-02-06 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Furious Seasons has the curious news that FDA has linked anti-depressants to the development of neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Curious as NMS is traditionally linked to dopamine inhibitors, and serotonin syndrome has several similar symptoms but is already known. Readers build vivid mental simulations of […]

Never mind the quality, look at the width

The New York Times has a fascinating snippet on how cooperation with others to get a monetary reward is not influenced by the value of the reward, but by the numbers that describe it. In the study, when the reward was described as rising from 3 cents to 300 cents cooperation increased – but when […]


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