Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Michigan Wildcat

The Providentia psychology blog has an excellent post about old-time champion boxer ‘The Michigan Wildcat’ Wolgast who fought on despite clear neurological damage and eventually suffered boxer’s dementia. He could apparently be found shadow boxing invisible opponents in the sanatorium. Wolgast won the world lightweight title in 1912 but sustained continuous damage throughout his career […]

Psychosurgery: new cutting edge or short sharp shock

The New York Times has an excellent article on how the development of new and more focused brain surgery techniques for the treatment of mental illness are leading to a tight-rope situation where doctors are trying to balance enthusiasm for a potential new treatment while avoiding its inappropriate use and bad publicity. The use of […]

Five today

Mind Hacks is five years old today. The first post announced the arrival of the Mind Hacks book and the two posts the next day are still some of the best articles on the site. I make this the 3,453rd post so I hope some of them have been of interest to you.

Reflected glory

PsyBlog covers a study that explored the phenomenon of ‘reflected glory’ where sports fans will psychologically associate themselves with their team more closely if they are successful, but will distance themselves if the team loses. The post discusses a classic 1976 study that looked at the ‘basking in reflected glory’ effect: In the first of […]

The art of CT

New Scientist has a gallery of wonderful images from radiologist Kai-hung Fung who makes awesomely beautiful pictures from CT scans. The brain image (pictured) is particularly beautiful, it is labelled: This image looks directly down through the top of the patient’s head. The complex network of arteries and veins in the brain can be seen […]

Encephalon 78 saunters in

The 78th edition of the Encephalon psychology and neuroscience writing carnival has recently appeared on the Providentia blog with the latest in mind and brain writing from the blogosphere. A couple of my favourites include a piece on The Mousetrap about the self in the eyes of the founding father of cognitive psychology – Ulrich […]

2009-11-27 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: <img align="left" src="; width="102" height="120" There’s an excellent analysis of the Blue Brain / IBM rumpus about ‘cat brain’ simulations and PR hype over at IEEE Spectrums. Wired covers doubts about the ‘awake during 23 years in diagnosed coma’ case. NewSci has an subsequent […]

The consequences of faking it

I’ve just caught a short video by the brilliant behavioural economist Dan Ariely who explains the surprising effect of wearing fake goods on the likelihood of us cheating and for on much we suspect that others are being dishonest. Ariely is riffing on one of his recent studies that was led by psychologist Francesca Gino. […]

Project HM

Patient HM became famous for having a dense surgically-induced amnesia and taking part in numerous neuropsychology studies that told us a great deal about the structure of memory. He died last year but left his brain to science and Project HM has been set up to co-ordinate the scientific analysis of his brain. According to […]

Quack Psychologists, 1927

I’ve just found this interesting 1927 news item from Science magazine lambasting the rise of ‘quack psychologists’ that were apparently troubling the American public at the time. It’s interesting because it has a dig a two very specific groups of unorthodox psychological groups: PSEUDO-PSYCHOLOGISTS, who promise, like fairy godmothers, to turn every-day human beings into […]

NeuroPod covers the best of SfN

Don’t miss a special edition of the Nature NeuroPod podcast which is dedicated to highlights from the recent Society for Neuroscience annual gathering of the tribes which took place in Chicago in October. The discussion looks at the big themes in this year’s conference, including optogenetics – the use of light stimulation to alter gene […]

Think hard

Online poster shop Ork Posters! have this fantastic brain poster which is not only brilliantly designed but anatomically correct as well. They do a Tan and Black version, which is pictured here and an identical one in Burgundy, which turns out to be a little more expensive. So if you want some retro-typeface neuroscience fusion […]

Going underground

Slate has a great article discussing how psychologists have used the subway as a natural laboratory to study the social psychology of humans forced to interact in strange and unusual ways during their travels across the city. I never knew before, but it turns out there’s been quite a bit of research on the subways, […]

Harlow’s Pit of Despair

ABC Radio National’s Artworks programme interviews two creators of a new play about the mind and motivations of psychologist and serial monkey abuser Harry Harlow. Harlow was a fascinating and troubled fellow who completed some of the most notorious studies in psychology where he raised monkeys apart from their mothers, most famously with ‘wire cage’ […]

Autism, desperation and untested treatments

The Chicago Tribune has just published two important articles on how untested and potentially dangerous medical treatments are being used on autistic children by US parents desperate for a cure. Many of these treatments are based on flimsy or non-existent evidence and they are being promoted by a subculture of parents of autistic children, who […]

British ‘brain washing’ during WWII interrogations

BBC Radio 4 has an excellent documentary on how ‘brain washing’ techniques and psychological coercion were used by the British military for interrogations during the Second World War. Newly uncovered documents implicate psychiatrist Alexander Kennedy in the use of sensory deprivation, disorientation and mind-altering drugs on prisoners during secret service interrogations on foreign soil. The […]


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