Monthly Archives: July 2009

A kava panorama

ABC Radio National’s Bush Telegraph has a special programme on a psychoactive plant called kava that has been used ceremonially by Pacific Islanders for generations and has recently been researched as a treatment for depression and anxiety. The effects of kava are usually compared to alcohol as it has a sedating and relaxing effect, although […]

Countering the fixated threat

I’ve just found this interesting 2007 article on the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre, a combined unit of the British Police and health service that attempts to divert disturbed and potentially dangerous stalkers to mental health services before they attempt violence. [Psychiatrist] David James – whose research helped to found the centre, and who now co-directs […]

Ghost in the machine

Electronic brain implants are becoming increasingly common in both research and medicine but little attention has been paid to the digital security of these grey matter gateways. A new article in Neurosurgical Focus discusses their potential back doors and security weaknesses. While there’s a small literature on hardware problems in implantable deep brain stimulators, little […]

Brutal untruths

Today’s Bad Science covers a particularly offensive bit of poor science reporting where preliminary results were misreported as suggesting that “women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped”. The study has not yet been published and more worryingly showed none of the things claimed in the article […]

80% genetic, 20% polyester

Over the last couple of days, there’s been a great deal of coverage of three new studies on the genetics of schizophrenia. While the coverage has actually been pretty good, almost all the news stories make the same error when talking about the ‘genetic risk’ for the condition. Twenty years ago, geneticists were searching for […]

2009-07-03 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The ‘men agree on female attractiveness, women don’t on male attractiveness’ story has been a little exaggerated. There was consensus in both groups, just more in men than women. The British Journal of Psychiatry has started putting fantastic art on its covers with a […]

Eight way distortion

Petra’s written up her barnstorming talk she gave last night at the Troublemaker’s Fringe where she discussed ‘eight problems with science/health journalism and what we can do about it’ from her perspective as a social psychologist specialising in sex and relationships. It’s a fantastic guide to how health stories get badly spun and why sexual […]

A touch from a phantom third arm

A 64 year old woman developed a phantom third arm after a stroke, but unusually, the patient was able to see and feel the illusory limb. A study just published online in the journal Annals of Neurology used brain scans to examine the patient. They established that the phantom sensations were accompanied by similar sorts […]

Sign O’ The Neuro Times

The Neuro Times is a fantastic new blog about the history of neurology written by a historian with a passion for the development of brain science. The author is Stephen T Casper, whose own work has focused on how the US-UK collaborations and rivalries during the 20th century shaped our understanding of the brain. Although […]

Fringe benefits

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Troublemaker’s Fringe last night and I hope you all enjoyed the evening as much as I did. The slides for my talk “Don’t touch that dial! Technology Scares and the Media” are online as a PowerPoint file and everything was captured as audio recordings so you should […]


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