Monthly Archives: March 2009

2009-03-13 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Psychologist has a free bonus edition that collects some of its most popular articles. A newly released report from the UN argues we should legalise illicit drugs to tackle organised crime. The New York Times reports ‘Religious Thoughts and Feelings Not Limited to […]

When I get that feeling, I have sexual sneezing

A few months ago, a surgeon and a psychiatrist wrote an article for the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine on cases of sneezing triggered by sexual thoughts and orgasm. The subsequent media coverage meant that the authors were contacted by members of the public who experienced similarly unusual sneezing triggers. The researchers have […]

Projected at high speed for an unknown reason

I like this sentence in the summary from a recent paper on an unusual penetrating head injury: We present a unique instance of a severe, high-energy, penetrating orbitocranial injury caused by a solid metallic rod that corresponded to the spray valve lever handle of a kitchen sink pre-rinse spray tap, which was fractured and projected […]

Seven tactile illusions

New Scientist has got a nice feature online where they explain seven touch illusions you can try yourself, with the explanations for how they’re tricking your brain. My favourite is probably the most simple, the ‘Aristotle illusion': One of the oldest tactile illusions is the Aristotle illusion. It is easy to perform. Cross your fingers, […]

Far from the madding crowd

The Economist has an excellent piece on crowd psychology and why group behaviour is essential in calming down street confrontations before they turn violent. Crowds are often associated with senseless aggression, and perhaps the most widely quoted, and most colourful example, is from Gustave Le Bon’s 1895 book The Crowd. He wrote that crowds showed […]

Delusions of pregnancy

There is a small but fascinating medical literature on delusional pregnancy that reports cases of people who, in the context of psychotic mental illness, come to believe they are expecting a child. Interestingly, the cases are not solely women of child bearing age – delusional pregnancy has also been reported in men and the elderly. […]

Perfectionism and the impossibility of a perfect world

The Boston Herald has an interesting article on perfectionism – a pathological pursuit of usually unobtainable high standards that is strongly linked to anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Perfectionism is variously described as a personality trait or a type of dysfunctional assumption where people feel their self-worth is dependent on 100% or perfect success. It […]

A.C. Grayling on regulating armed robots

Philosopher A.C. Grayling has a just-released opinion piece on the New Scientist site arguing that we should regulate armed military robots before they are responsible for, presumably, what would otherwise be classified as war crimes. As we reported in 2007, a military robot has already malfunctioned and ended up killing nine people with gunfire. Grayling […]

Delusions of a second jaw

There’s a brief but interesting case study in the General Hospital Psychiatry journal of a patient who is described as having ‘extremely grotesque somatic delusions’. The case was a 54-year-old man. He had no past history or family history of psychiatric disorders. His social and occupational histories were quite normal. In August of 2005, he […]

A brief history of aspirin

Wired has a brief article on the history of aspirin, which contains the surprising fact that the same pharmacist who first synthesised the popular headache pill also first synthesised heroin. 1899: Felix Hoffmann, a young pharmacist working for the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, patents a new pain reliever. The trademark name is aspirin. Hoffmann, who […]

The best of psychology and neuroscience on Twitter

Many thanks for sending or posting all your suggestions for psychology and neuroscience Twitter feeds to follow. After watching the streams for a few days, here are my suggestions for some of the best: @mocost Probably the single best mind and brain Twitter feed I’ve yet found. By the author of the excellent Neurophilosophy blog. […]

Brain stimulation – the next interrogation aid?

An article just published online for the Behavioural Science and Law journal discusses whether magnetic brain stimulation could be used in lie detection and interrogation. It is based on the premise that as cognitive neuroscience works out the brain circuits for lying, a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) could be used during an interview […]

Psychological characteristics of vicious dog owners

An article on the psychological characteristic of vicious dog owners has just appeared online in the compelling academic publication, The Journal of Forensic Sciences, finding that those who who own dangerous dogs are more likely to endorse antisocial and psychopathic character traits and more likely to report criminal behaviour. The study was led by psychologist […]

“My story is about not giving up hope”

We’ve reported before on brain imaging research that shows brain activity in those in a ‘persistent vegetative state’. What I didn’t know until today was that one subject in this research, Kate, has since woken up. This YouTube video tells Kate’s story: Kate suffered from what was probably brain stem encephalitis at the age of […]

2009-03-06 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Economist discusses whether the famous Dunbar number, the maximum limit of human relationships, holds on Facebook. A person who experienced the identity loss memory disorder dissociative fugue is interviewed in The New York Times. BBC News reports that Malaysia is attempting to curb […]

Encephalon 65 faces the facts

The 65th edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience carnival has just appeared online, this time hosted at Podcat Black and illustrated with some emerging unbidden from the world. A couple of favourites include a fantastic post on the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus which outlines some Ancient Egyptian brain surgery and a series of posts […]

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