Monthly Archives: September 2009

Neural jewellery

Morphologica is a neuroscientist in the final stages of her PhD who also makes wonderful brain-inspired jewellery. The piece in the picture is the lovely pyramidal neuron necklace, although there are also earrings and necklaces inspired by the double helix, the contours of the cortical surface and cell proliferation. And if you’re a jewellery wearer […]

London walk / crossing the line

This Saturday, I’m going to walk between the two poles of London’s psyche, the Maudsley Hospital and the Tavistock Clinic, whose rivalries have shaped our understanding of the mind in both the UK and around the world. If you’d like to join me, you’d be more than welcome. Both were galvanised by the experience of […]

The fake pharmacopeia

Psychiatric drugs are an essential tool in the treatment of mental illness but the pharmaceutical industry is still one of the most ethically dubious enterprises on the planet. That’s why I use spoof drug ads, because sometimes only the best will do. If you want to be part of the health care revolution, here’s a […]

Splintered sexuality as a window on the brain

Carl Zimmer has an interesting article in Discover Magazine on brain function and sex, one of the most neglected areas in contemporary neuroscience. We know scandalously little about the neuroscience of sex. For example, we know more about the what the brain does during hiccups than during orgasm and yet very little sex research is […]

2009-09-11 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: <img align="left" src="; width="102" height="120" Neuroanthropology has some great coverage of a well deserved fail on some dismal attempts to research the slash fiction community. The best bit – the two neuroscientists are written into a erotic slash story as poetic justice. There’s an […]

Not your first choice of painkiller

I’ve just found this alarming case study [pdf] from the Singapore Medical Journal about a patient who had a nail banged into their head by a local healer in an attempt to treat persistent headaches. Craniocerebral penetrating wounds caused by nails are rare and reported as curious experiences. A 45-year-old female patient presented with a […]

First among equals in the mind of a child

Science News has a fascinating article on research suggesting that the desire for autonomy is a universal feature of human psychology that can be seen in children around the world and is not something solely prominent in Western children. The stereotype is that Western society is individualistic and Eastern is collectivist, but as we’ve discussed […]

Been there, done that, gone back in time, got the tshirt

Last Exit to Nowhere are an online retailer who do fantastic tshirts of logos from fictional companies. This t-shirt is for Skynet, the corporation from the Terminator movies who create the artificially intelligent military network that becomes sentient and starts a war on humans. In fact, there’s loads of cognitive science themed t-shirts, including companies […]

Laughing into unconsciousness

I just found a curious article from the Journal of the American Medical Association about a case of ‘laugh syncope’ – a condition where the patient passes out when they crack up with laughter. Syncope is the medical term for when someone feints and it is caused by a reduction of oxygen to the brain. […]

Fragging rights

The Economist covers an interesting twist on the Turing test for artificial intelligence. Instead of software attempting to fool human judges into thinking they’re chatting to another person, it needs to fool gamers into thinking their playing against a human opponent. In Turing’s original proposal, human judges would have a text-based conversation with a human […]

Just my librium and me

I’ve just discovered that David Bowie’s song All the Madmen is about his half brother and his time as a patient at the recently closed Cane Hill psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of South London. In fact, the hospital is pictured on one of the original versions of the cover to his classic album The […]

Brain scanning unborn babies

I’ve just had pick my jaw up from the floor after reading an article on the brain scanning of unborn babies. I was idly wondering whether anyone had attempted to do an MRI scan of the fetal brain only to find that researchers are so advanced that they can do almost any sort of adult […]

Stunning brain scans of 500-year-old mummies

The Llullaillaco mummies are the spectacularly preserved bodies of three sacrificial children from a 500-year-old Inca civilisation found at more than 6,500m above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. I’ve just found a study that brain scanned the mummies and the results are nothing short of stunning. I’ve tried to link each scan to the […]

Latah and the rules of rule breaking

Latah is a curious mental state seemingly localised to Malaysia and Indonesia where a person gets wound-up to such a degree that they show an exaggerated startle response, are highly suggestible, and may produce unintentional tic-like behaviour sequences when prompted by others. It has been discussed as rare exotica in the medical literature but owing […]

A flight simulator for brain surgery

Gizmodo has picked up on an interesting new neurosurgery simulator that not only provides virtual reality skills training but also allows doctors to use data from MRI scans to practice on the brain of a specific patient. The system also gives tactile feedback through the instruments, so you can feel the resistance in the brain […]

Instant reflex may reveal brain injury after knock out

I’ve just found a fascinating video clip reporting on newly discovered reflex action that occurs after a knockout blow. The researchers scoured YouTube for videos of nasty bangs the head and found many examples of the reflex appearing in people as they hit the deck. The news clip is a a bit American (Americans, if […]


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