Monthly Archives: April 2009

Lithium levels in drinking water linked to fewer suicides

Higher levels of naturally occurring lithium in the water supply are associated with fewer suicides in the local population, reports a study just published in The British Journal of Psychiatry. Lithium is one of the fundamental elements, but is also used by psychiatrists as one the most effective drug treatment for mood disorders, in the […]

Extreme altitude climbs and the Sherpa brain

It’s now well known that high altitude mountain climbing damages the brain and causes a marked reduction in mental functioning. I naively assumed this was true for everyone but I just found an intriguing 1996 study that compared brain function of lowland mountain climbers and Nepalese Sherpas after ascent to high altitude, which found that […]

NeuroPod oscilates 100 year-old autistic robots

The latest edition of Nature’s excellent neuroscience podcast NeuroPod has just the wires and discusses using light to control the brain, a quite remarkable breakthrough in the genetics of autism, emotional robots and neurologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, the first Nobel prizewinner to turn 100. The highlight is probably the section about Rita Levi-Montalcini who jointly won […]

Blast from the past

New Scientist covers the debate on the causes of the non-specific emotional and cognitive symptoms that are appearing at an alarming rate in US soldiers who have been caught up in blasts while on service. The controversy centres on whether the symptoms of ‘post concussional syndrome’ (which can include depression, irritability, concentration difficulties, headaches and […]

Voodoo II: this time it isn’t personal

More analysis problems with brain scanning research have come to light in a new study just released in Nature Neuroscience and expertly covered by the BPS Research Digest. It demonstrates that the common practice of using the same data set to identify an area of interest and then home in on this area to test […]

Stylish psychotherapy magazine launches

Contemporary Psychotherapy is a new magazine dedicated to the practice of psychological treatment of all types and the current debates in this sometimes hotly contested field. The first issue contains articles on the future of psychotherapy, CBT in North America, how psychiatrists deal with somatic or psychogenic symptoms and the challenges in conducting psychotherapy with […]

Encephalon 68, 69 and my memory is like a sieve

The 69th edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience carnival has just appeared on Brain Stimulant and… dear God, I just realise I missed the 68th edition on the excellent Ouroboros as well, so here are both for your reading pleasure. A couple of my favourites include a fantastic post on Neuroanthropology post entitled “Who […]

A Trance of Pleasure

A 2003 study in Epilepsy and Behavior has some descriptions of the ecstatic seizures experienced by some patients with epilepsy. They include intense erotic and spiritual experiences, feelings of become close to and blending with other people, and some sensations that couldn’t be fully captured in words. I’ve put some of the descriptions below because […]

Beautiful butterfly brain

This is a beautiful butterfly brain greetings card, created by graphic designer TweeK. I’d never would have imagined that an MRI scan and butterflies would go together so effortlessly, and the effect is quite stunning. You can buy copies of the card online, so you can impress the hardest-to-impress of your brain-inclined friends, or you […]

Dodging the border agency of the brain

I just noticed that neurotechnology analyst Zack Lynch has a forthcoming article in Epilepsy and Behavior on the latest developments in the commercial brain science field. Avid neuroscience fans may be familiar with most of it but the section on new technologies to cross the blood-brain barrier was eye-opening. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a […]

Turn left at the surge of excitement

We covered Christian Nold’s brilliant project to create emotion maps of cities before, and I had the pleasure of going to the launch of his new book on Emotional Cartography on Friday. It’s awesome for lots of reasons, but one of the best ones is that you can download it free from the project website. […]

The beautiful baby brain

Jonah Lehrer has an excellent piece in today’s Boston Globe about how babies’ brains develop and what psychologists are starting to understand about the infant mind. It’s largely riffing on the work of Alison Gopnik, one of the world’s leading developmental psychologists, who has long argued that babies might be more conscious than adults and […]

Should we be trying to stop dream violence?

The Onion has a video of a funny spoof news report on “Should We Be Doing More To Reduce The Graphic Violence In Our Dreams?” It gets a little bit gory towards the end, so if that’s not your thing, you may prefer another one of their recent reports on the news that “70 percent […]

CIA psychology through the declassified memos

I’ve been reading the recently released CIA memos on the interrogation of ‘war on terror’ detainees. The memos make clear that the psychological impact of the process is the most important aim of interrogation, from the moment the detainee is captured through the various phases of interrogation. Although disturbing, they’re interesting for what they reveal […]

The suicidal attraction of the Golden Gate Bridge

I’ve just found this morbidly fascinating article from a 2003 edition of The New Yorker that discusses the attraction of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to people who are suicidal. It’s full of interesting snippets, like the fact that suicidal people tend to ignore the nearby and equally fatal Bay Bridge in favour of its […]

2009-04-24 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The first Neuroanthropology Conference kicks off in October and looks awesome. Twitter causes immorality nonsense deftly dispatched by bloggers. Most mainstream press lost the plot although Time did a good job and Wired Science were keeping it real. The Guardian review neurophysiologist Kathleen Taylor’s […]


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