Monthly Archives: August 2009

The automated phrenologist

I’ve just discovered the excellent This Week in the History of Psychology podcast series which has a particularly good episode on the ‘psycograph’, an automated phrenology device created in 1905. The idea is that it would ‘read’ the bumps on your head by the use of mechanical plungers and it would then print a profile […]

To the scent side

The New York Times covers an interesting study finding that if you smell different odours in each nostril the brain doesn’t blend the scents, instead, your experience of smell alternates between the two. This nostril rivalry, as the researchers describe it in a paper in Current Biology, is similar to what happens when the eyes […]

I’ll give you a piece of my printed mind

We occasionally thrown down a few mind and brain t-shirts for you here at Mind Hacks but I’ve recently discovered a whole t-shirt label dedicated to the stuff between your ears. The Printed Mind has a number of fantastic big graphic t-shirts dedicated to the mind and brain, and because they look so great, I […]

2009-09-04 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Neuroskeptic reports on a study finding that antidepressant use in the USA has doubled in the last decade. Interestingly, peak use is in 50-64 year-olds. There’s some organic robot art inspired by Rorschach inkblots over an Seed Magazine. The New York Times has an […]

The not so grateful dead

If you suddenly find your web filter is blocking Mind Hacks, it’s because this post is about necrophilia. A paper just published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine has proposed the first classification of sexual attraction to death and the dead. I maintain an amateur interest in the forensic psychology literature because there […]


I was told of this funny bit of medical jargon yesterday by a psychiatrist friend of mine, which, apparently, is occasionally used by physicians when they want a medical sounding way of saying that the patient’s symptoms exist only in their imagination. Luckily I found a great definition on Urban Dictionary: Supratentorial A word used […]

Zombie brain cupcakes

xsomnis is a Flickr user with a passion for the patisserie who has made these wonderful brain cupcakes for the next time you have some distinguished zombies round for afternoon tea. She’s even created a Flickr set that explains how to make the sweet brain toppings. They almost look too good to eat. Unless you’re […]

Placebo has strength in numbers

Wired has an excellent article on how the placebo effect is increasing in drug trials and how drug companies are trying to understand why. It’s an intriguing article but it conflates two distinct concepts of ‘placebo’ that need to be separated to fully understand the effect. The term ‘placebo effect’ is used to refer to […]

The sexual transformation delusion

Medical journal Epilepsy and Behavior has a curious case study of a female patient who had the experience of changing sex when she had a seizure. The patient in question had a small tumour near the right amygdala and showed abnormal right temporal lobe activity on an EEG. Interestingly, when she had the experience of […]

Ten year high

Originally an academic project to study the science of happiness, positive psychology has spawned a hippy fringe of life coaching and self-help. In a thoughtful review of the field, The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at the state of the elation after its first decade in existence. Positive psychology maintains a core of rigorous empirical […]

Brain fibres

concertinapieces is a psychology student who makes wonderful crochet neurons that you can buy over the interwebs, although she warns that “your neuron may vary slightly in dendritic branches as no two are alike :)” Her online shop has motor, bipolar and hippocampal pyramidal neurons that you can use to begin creating your reanimated textile […]

Multi media, we don’t need it do we?

People who spend lots of time monitoring multiple sources of information are worse at switching between tasks and are less able to focus exclusively on single sources according to a new study published in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences. It’s a well designed, rigorous study of the type that we are sorely […]

Learning reality in the first few months of life

RadioLab has just released an excellent brief podcast on how babies’ experience of the world is quite different during the first months of life due to some startling differences in brain function that they rapidly lose. It’s a discussion with developmental psychologist Charles Fernyhough who has pieced together the perceptual world of young children from […]

You see us as you want to see us

The LA Times has a reflective piece on the late teen movie director John Hughes‘ vision of adolescence in light of today’s fashion for medicating teenagers: “If the brooding, solitary Andie played by Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink” were in high school in 2009, it’s hard to imagine she wouldn’t be a candidate for anti-depression […]

Weight affects our perceptions of importance

We often use weight as a metaphor for importance, describing something as a ‘weighty issue’ or dismissing an argument as ‘not holding much weight’ but a new study suggests that this is not just a figure of speech. A research team found that they could alter people’s judgement of importance just by getting them to […]

2009-08-21 Spike activity

A slightly belated list of quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Secrets of Hypnosis is a cheap-ass website hawking dodgy-looking hypnosis CDs that has completely ripped off Mind Hacks without attribution. A four thousand year old violent attack is uncovered through the analysis of a neolithic grave reported in Science […]


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