Monthly Archives: April 2009

The myth of sex addiction

Finally, a sceptical take on sex addiction. The Times just published an excellent article examining the problem with the concept of being ‘addicted to sex’, something that has almost entirely been an invention of private treatment clinics and the media. There is virtually no published research on ‘sex addiction’ and it isn’t an officially recognised […]

Hemispheres of influence

Discover Magazine has an interesting Carl Zimmer article on one of the most intriguing questions in neuroscience – why do we have two cortical hemispheres? And why are they not quite the same? It turns out that the ‘brain of two halves’ is incredibly common in the animal kingdom and that many creatures also show […]

Microchip-in-a-pill drug monitoring

Furious Seasons covers a new microchip-in-a-pill that monitors the stomach and detects what drugs the patient is taking, reporting back to the doctor in real time. The blurb from the company is even more astounding: Proteus ingestible event markers (IEMs) are tiny, digestible sensors made from food ingredients, which are activated by stomach fluids after […]

Sixty miniature heads used in phrenology

This is a wonderful image of a 1831 set of sixty miniature heads used to demonstrate the principles of phrenology from the Science Museum in London. The science museum has a page dedicated to the set, which comes in a wonderful wooden display case, that also includes some other images and information about the exhibit. […]

The mind of the condemned

How do you cope on death row? In 1962 two psychiatrists were puzzled by the fact that inmates condemned to death in New York’s notorious Sing Sing prison were not overwhelmed by depression or anxiety. They wrote an article for the American Journal of Psychiatry attempting to explain how 13 prisoners managed the fear of […]

Easter psychology research

I’ve just found an entry for a delightful looking study on PubMed entitled ‘Size of Easter egg drawings before and after Easter’. Unfortunately, the paper isn’t available electronically so we’ll never know whether the Easter egg drawings grew, shrunk and stayed the same over the Easter holiday. However, we do know from a 1993 study […]

The chaos of R.D. Laing

Counter-culture psychiatrist R.D. Laing is the patron saint of lovable rogues, although, according to an article in The Sunday Times, he was a hard man to love. “Being the son of RD Laing was neither amazing nor enlightening,” wrote his son in a biography of his father, “for most of the time it was a […]

The future of targeted memory manipulation

Wired Science has an interesting interview with Oxford neuroethicist Anders Sandberg about the future of drugs that can reduce the emotional impact of traumatic memories. The interview uses the term ‘memory editing’ which is not a great label for these drugs, such as beta-blocker propranolol, which largely work by reducing the emotional ‘kick’ stored with […]

Old skool lie detectors

OObject has a fantastic online gallery of vintage analog ‘lie detectors’ – exactly the type of kit you used to see in old detective films where the police questions would lead to frantic activity on the polygraph as a bead of sweat would run down the perp’s face. It has everything from a tiny 1920s […]

Involuntary masturbation in alien hand syndrome

I’ve just found this fascinating case study in American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation about a man who lost conscious control over one of his hands after brain injury and suffered involuntary public masturbation episodes as a result. Involuntary masturbation as a manifestation of stroke-related alien hand syndrome Ong Hai BG, Odderson Am J […]

2009-04-10 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Tom has a fantastic post and brief radio segment on the psychology of coffee. Savant and synaesthete Daniel Tammet gives an interesting interview on the neuroscience of exceptional abilities on the Quirks and Quarks radio show. The New Republic has an extended review of […]

Brains ads, via telepathy

Brain Ads is a web business where you can pay for your product promotion to be telepathically sent to anyone, and indeed, everyone, on the planet. I’ve yet to work out whether the guy is joking or serious. It has been a long journey to discover that people were reading my mind, and although I […]

What are we celebrating?

I’ve just re-read the fantastic Social Issues Research Centre article on social and cultural aspects of drinking and it has an amusing section illustrating the difference between British and French drinking cultures which helps to explain why the British have a reputation for drunkenness when they visit the continent. The article discusses the link between […]

The unclear boundary between human and robot

I am pleased to see a letter in this week’s Nature that shows that I’m not the only neuroscientist concerned about the coming robot war. Brain researchers Olaf Blanke and Jane Aspell wrote in to warn about the use of brain-machine interfaces, not to control machines with thoughts, but to control thoughts with machines. Imagine […]

Laugh, I almost died

I’ve just discovered some important psychological research on cartoons, which, I think, has an important social message for us all. A 1983 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that cartoon violence is hilarious, no matter whether you’re adult or child, native or foreign, rich or poor, cat or mouse. More […]

Follow your pride

The New York Times has an interesting article on the psychology of pride and how it has an impact on ourselves and others. The piece starts with the predictable ‘credit crunch’ hook, but goes on to discuss some of the few studies that have investigated the effects of pride. Considering that it’s supposedly one of […]


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