Monthly Archives: September 2009

2009-09-04 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: <img align="left" src="; width="102" height="120" The New York Times has an article on ‘speed shrinking‘ – like speed dating but with psychologists. Doesn’t mention whether it includes any drunken snogging in the bar afterwards. Drug company Pfizer busted with $2.3 billion fine for illegal […]

Scapegoats cause disease

The New York Times has a fascinating piece on the historical tendency for societies to find scapegoats for outbreaks of disease. The article gives examples from modern epidemics of how specific groups have been singled out as responsible for a disease as a simple explanation for complex situations. One of the most interesting parts is […]

Hallucinating sanity in the middle ages

I’m just reading a thought-provoking book called Hallucinations and Their Impact on Art. Unfortunately, it’s a little dry so isn’t the most gripping of reads but it has this fascinating bit about how hallucinations weren’t considered to be part of madness in the middle ages. While it is widely accepted in modern times that you […]

Why you’ll never see hypnosis on TV, hopefully

A TV watchdog has ticked off Australian company Channel Nine for breaching the broadcasters code of conduct and showing a hypnosis session. You may not be aware, but in many countries any broadcast of a hypnosis session is banned. Here is the relevant rule from the regulations [pdf] from the British TV watchdog Ofcom: Rule […]

Profile of quiet revolutionary Aaron Beck

Aaron Beck is the creator of one of the world’s most widely used and influential psychological treatments, cognitive behavioural therapy, and he’s profiled in an excellent article for The American Scholar. While Beck is most associated with CBT, the article really nails why he is important in the development of psychological treatment, and its not […]

A kick in the guts for Parkinson’s disease

Your gut has its own neural network. Called the enteric nervous system, it controls digestion and has as many neurons as the spinal cord. Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that has been long associated with stomach upsets. These were often explained away as due to poor diet or stress, but it seems increasingly likely […]

Seeing the results of surgery improves outcome

A newly published study has demonstrated the remarkable influence of beliefs on our experience of illness by showing that patients undergoing surgery to correct painful spinal tears report greater improvement if they’ve been shown the fragments of the removed disc. The researchers, a surgical team from St George’s Hospital in London, were aware that anxiety […]

NeuroPod on updating ye olde brain map

The latest edition of Nature’s NeuroPod podcast has just hit the wires and has some great items on updating the Brodmann brain map, a challenge to the ‘use it or lose it’ theory of synapse formation, genetic copy and pasting in neurons and face perception in the monkey. The first part is about a project […]

Drug smuggling innovations bulletin

I’ve just discovered the joys of the Microgram Bulletin, the newsletter of the US Drug Enforcement Administration that explains interesting new drug finds and novel methods for smuggling illicit substances. It’s a curious mirror of the illicit drug trade and contains numerous mysterious finds, such as playground marbles systematically placed in cocaine bricks for an […]


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