Monthly Archives: May 2009

2009-05-22 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Neuroanthropology has a great article on identity formation and internet booze show-offs. A neat bit of online anthropology. Psychopathic traits in children associated with severe deficits in emotional empathy across all ages for males, but not females, finds new study published in Journal of […]

Hits from the throng

BBC News has one of those not-very-good ‘brain area for x’ news stories on its site, but it had this quote from Simon Baron-Cohen which made me chuckle For some people, socializing is an intrinsic reward, just like chocolate or cannabis. I wondered why I get glazed looks at parties, and now I know.

On a wing and a prayer

NPR has an interesting audio series on brain function, spiritual experience and the growing field of neurotheology. It’s takes a fairly broad brush approach and has audio, video, an interactive thingy, and plenty of supporting material. You might get slightly annoyed at some of the section titles (‘The God Chemical’, ‘The God Spot’) but there […]

Bolt from the blue triggers bizzare hallucinations

I just found this amazing case study of a female mountaineer who was struck by lighting while climbing the Latemar Peak in the Alps and subsequently experienced a series of unusual symptoms. She was taken off the mountain by helicopter and was so agitated in hospital she had to be put under for three days. […]

Tall people have slower nerves, sensory lag

Frontal Cortex has alerted me to an interesting NPR radio segment on the fact that taller people have longer nerves and so will have slight sensory lag in comparison to shorter people. It prompted me to look up some of the research in the area and I found an eye-opening study looking at a range […]

I think I’m losing my walnuts

This page on herbal treatments for amnesia made me laugh out loud: Amnesia is usually caused by some traumatic event, like an accident or a blow to the head. It may also be caused by taking certain sedatives. Some cases are caused by disease like Alzheimer’s, which directly affects the brain, or because of poor […]

Send a signal to table three please

There’s a brief but interesting article in The New York Times about how we use consumer goods to ‘send signals’ to other people. It illustrates this with a fantastic example and then misses the point. Luckily another recent study on unconscious influences on doctors hits the punchline. The idea that each product has a meaning […]

Medical fetish lacks passion

Dr Petra has alerted me to an excellent article in The Boston Globe about a new campaign to get the ‘doctor out of the bedroom’ and de-medicalise sex and sexual problems. The piece is particularly focused on how sex is being increasingly portrayed in terms of physiology, bodily mechanics and disorders while ignoring the role […]

Numbers up for dopamine myth

I’ve just read an elegant study on the neuroscience of gambling that wonderfully illustrates why the dopamine equals pleasure myth, so often thrown around by the media, is too tired to be useful. I have seen countless news reports that claim that some activity or other causes dopamine to be released; that dopamine is the […]

The psychology of being scammed

I’m just reading a fascinating report on the psychology of why people fall for scams, commissioned by the UK government’s Office of Fair Trading and created by Exeter University’s psychology department. It’s a 260 page monster, so is not exactly bed time reading, but was drawn from in-depth interviews from scam victims, examination of scam […]

Grand Theft Neuro

I like Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist and director of science education charity the Royal Institution, but recently she’s lost the plot. Bad Science picks up on her recent crusade to warn everyone about the potentially ‘brain damaging’ effects of computer games and the internet in the face of absent or contradictory evidence. And when I […]

2009-05-15 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The BPS Research Digest covers a study finding that people judged as likeable in the flesh also make good first impressions online. A short but sweet Jonah Lehrer article on the neuroscience of creativity is published in Seed Magazine. Dr Petra has more on […]

Walk on the wild side

Frontier Psychiatrist has discovered an account of a curious incident where The Velvet Undergound played to the New York society for clinical psychiatry who had convened a high class dinner to discuss creativity. But the 70s art rockers had the last laugh when they blasted the audience with distorted noise and bizarre questions, apparently as […]

US military pours millions into ‘EEG telepathy’

I get the feeling that DARPA, the American military research agency, only ever select their research projects from sci-fi comics. Wired reports that their latest multi-million dollar project is to create an EEG-based ‘telepathy’ communication system for the battlefield solder: Forget the battlefield radios, the combat PDAs or even infantry hand signals. When the soldiers […]

Visual Illusion Contest 2009 winners

The results of the annual visual illusion contest have just been announced and the 2009 winner is a doozy. Like all the best visual illusions it’s conceptually simple but perceptually striking. In this case a falling ball seems to drop vertically when you look straight at it but seems to glide away at an angle […]

The Dark End of the Street

I’ve just found Steven Okazaki’s 1999 documentary Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street on YouTube that follows the chaotic lives of heroin addicts in Southern California. It’s not polemic and tries as much as possible to simply document, but it’s a dark journey into the void with many of the people involved […]


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