Monthly Archives: March 2009

I would have got away with it…

James Brewer suffered a stroke and, thinking he was dying, confessed to a murder he had committed thirty years earlier in his hospital bed. Like the majority of people who suffer stroke, he recovered and has now been charged with murder. From BBC News: A US man who thought he was dying and confessed to […]

Medellín, mi corazón

I leave Medell√≠n and the beautiful country of Colombia today after six fantastic months working at the Universidad de Antioquia and the Hospital Universitario San Vicente de Pa√∫l. My thanks to the everyone I worked with here for the fantastically warm welcome, the careful tuition in scientific Spanish and the fascinating conversations. Colombia is a […]

2009-03-20 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Wired reports that Japanese ‘detergent suicide‘ technique creeps into U.S. To the bunkers! BBC News has a video of a creepy but strangely seductive <a href="Female robot”>fembot from a Japanese tech firm. Kraepelin¬¥s Grandchildren is an interesting new Spanish-language brain blog. Daniel Dennett […]

Get me a mentally ill celebrity

The New Statesman has an interesting article by a press officer from one of the UK’s biggest mental health charities describing how press stories are put together and why it’s almost impossible to get any media interest without a ‘mentally ill celebrity’. But there‚Äôs the rub. Shouldn‚Äôt we want to hear about these issues anyway? […]

Permanently altering brain function, outside the skull

A surgical team from Italy have just reported that they’ve altered human brain function through neurosurgery conducted from outside the skull, by using beams of radiation. The technique is known as radiosurgery and, in itself, isn’t novel. The team used the Cyberknife system, specifically designed to do this sort of operation. However, the technique is […]

Psychotherapy with the Amish

NPR has a fascinating segment on psychotherapist Jim Cates, who works with Amish youth who are experiencing the turbulent time of ‘Rumspringa‘ – a period when they get to experience non-Amish life so they can decide whether they want to commit to their parents’ culture and traditions. The Amish are a community based around Anabaptist […]

Dan Ariely on the psychology of cheating

Behavioural economist Dan Ariely gives a fantastic 15 minute TED lecture on the psychology of cheating that explores numerous fascinating and counter-intuitive influences on how we bend the truth for personal benefit. Ariely discusses some curious social influences, including the fact that seeing someone else cheat may actually decrease the general cheating of the group, […]

Sweet anaesthesia and the mystery of consciousness

Discover Magazine has an excellent article on the science of anaesthesia and why doctors need to struggle with the problem of consciousness to make someone comfortably numb. If you’re not familiar some of the mysteries of anaesthesia, you may be surprised to know that we don’t actually know how most anaesthetics work and we have […]

Stunning photo collection of abandoned hospital

Flickr user Isaac E has posted a stunning photo collection of images taken inside the now abandoned Bradgate Park Nursing Home and Beacon Lodge psychiatric unit. The photos have been fantastically composed and are processed with high dynamic ranging imaging meaning they are incredibly striking. Link to photo collection.

Dominant chemicals

Anthropologist Helen Fisher has done some fascinating work on the neuroscience of love and romantic relationships, but she hooked up with the dating site a few years back and seems to have lost the plot a bit, or at the very least, is being taken for a ride by their PR department.’s press […]

Wiring and plumbing in the brain

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has a great two page article that nicely summarises the thinking about how blood flow measured by brain scans relates to the workings of the neurons. No one with common sense would believe that in a house, water movements in pipes could tell you how many lamps are on and how […]

Freud association

So what is it with all the Freud impersonators on Twitter? I’ve found six so far: Sigmund Freud. Austrian psychiatrist. Sigmund Freud. I am the father of psychoanalysis. sigmund freud. Sigmund Freud. How does that make you feel? sigmund_freud. [In French]. sigmund. [In Russian]. If you’d rather another style of analysis, there are also Jacques […]

The PTSD Trap

Scientific American has a knock-out article that questions whether the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is a coherent psychological concept or whether it is actually making the situation worse for soldiers with post-combat mental health problems. As we’ve noted before, PTSD is a controversial diagnosis for two major reasons. The first is that it is […]

Cigarette smoking lady cops to read minds

The International Herald Tribune has an unintentionally funny opinion piece where a rather poorly informed journalist publicly wets his pants about ‘thought-decoding brain-scan technology’ which, apparently, the police could be carrying in the future so they’ll know if you’re thinking rude things about them. When the police stopped me for running a red light recently, […]

JAMA editors pressure antidepressant whistle blower

This is both odd and slightly disturbing. The Wall Street Journal reports that a medical researcher has been publicly insulted and allegedly threatened by the editors of the medical heavyweight Journal of the American Medical Association for calling out an antidepressant study for undisclosed conflicts of interest. Jonathan Leo, a professor of neuroanatomy at Lincoln […]

Is psychiatry a religion?

The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine just published a recent, and, presumably, slightly tongue in cheek article, drawing parallels between psychiatry, clinical psychology and traditional religious practices. In reality, it’s not really attempting to address the question of whether psychiatry is a form of religion. Instead, it’s really asking whether psychiatry is now […]


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