Monthly Archives: November 2009

2009-11-13 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: <img align="left" src="; width="102" height="120" Wasting your corporate money on neuromarketing? That’s so last season. You should be wasting your money on genomarketing instead. The Neurocritic looks at the birth of an interesting new field which will undoubtedly get inappropriately commercialised any time now. […]

EEG leads to murder conviction

Wired UK has a fantastic investigative article concerning a recent case in India, where, for the first time, an ‘EEG lie detector’ was used to convict a 23-year-old woman of murder. Aditi Sharma was described as being in a love triangle and her ex-boyfriend died through arsenic poisoning. She maintained it was suicide but the […]

Taking the neurotrash out

Neuroscientist Raymond Tallis has a barn-storming and somewhat bad tempered article in The New Humanist where he rails against the increasing tendency to explain everything from beauty to crime in terms of brain function. He begins by criticising how neuroscience is now appearing as a handy ‘neuro-‘ prefix to more and more areas of human […]

All tied up

If you’re attending one of those high class neuroscience events, you probably need a stylish neuron tie to set off your lounge jacket and flannel slacks. I’m assuming, of course, that you get invited to high class neuroscience events. I tend not to get many invitations these days on account of that unfortunate Rocky Horror […]

The Madame Butterfly Effect

I’ve just found a curious study on whether opera fans are more accepting of suicide in the case of dishonor to one’s family in real life, in light of the fact that this is a common theme in several well known stage masterpieces. It turns out that they are, and the researchers label the phenomenon […]

Terrorism, society and psychology

The latest edition of Monitor on Psychology has an excellent article on the psychology of terrorism, looking at both what motivates people to join terrorist organisations and what influences attitudes to terrorist groups. Being an article in the publication of the American Psychological Association, it’s a round-up of American research on terrorism, however, there are […]

The wall in the heads

Looking back on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Somatosphere discusses how the wall became incorporated into German psychological theories as a diagnosis, a metaphor and a social force. Apparently, an East German psychiatrist even went as far as suggesting a specific diagnosis of ‘the wall disorder’: “…the book Die Berliner […]

Orchids, dandelions and cognitive genetics

The Atlantic has an excellent article on how our assumptions about genetic vulnerability to mental illness may be misplaced, as many studies have missed out how the same genetic factors may cause people to thrive but only in quite specific circumstances. One of the difficulties with psychiatry research is that it often has a sample […]

Emulating the brain on a chip

Discover Magazine has an article on an innovative project to create silicon chips which work like neurons. If you’re thinking these are standard digital chips that run neural network software you’d be wrong, they’re part-analogue devices that are specifically built to emulate the physical operation of brain cells. The article riffs on the work of […]

Like a hole in the head: a very medical tribute

Harvey Cushing was not only a pioneering neurosurgeon but a fantastic artist, as can be seen from his amazing scientific illustrations. It turns out, he gave a few below-the-radar tributes in his drawings, as he based several illustrations of brain surgery ‘patients’ on portraits of his colleagues. On the left is a drawing from Cushing’s […]

Alien hands in fiction

Alien or anarchic hand syndrome is where you lose conscious control of one of your hands after brain damage, to the point where it seems to have a ‘will of its own’. There’s a great short article in this month’s Cortex examining how this curious phenomenon has appeared in fiction. Famously, something similar appears in […]

Straight outta Bedlam

I’ve just found an odd study on whether rap and heavy rock music encourages ‘inappropriate behaviour’ in psychiatric patients when compared to easy listening and country tunes. It sounds like it could be something from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest but as I don’t have access to the full text, I’m still not sure […]

Psychiatric tales

Darryl Cunningham draws amazing comics about psychiatry and mental illness, drawn from his time working as a student nurse on psychiatric wards. His comic strip Psychiatric Tales has been regularly appearing online and he’s just posted the amazing and heartfelt last chapter along with an announcement that the series is to be published as a […]

2009-11-06 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: <img align="left" src="; width="102" height="120" What should count as an illness in the DSM-V? Asks Psychiatric Times with a brief discussion on the concepts of mental disorder. Addiction Inbox is a fantastic blog about drug abuse and addiction. There’s an excellent article on the […]

Psychologist says

I’ve discovered that if you search for “says psychologist” on Google, you get a giant avalanche of wtf. I encourage you to try it for yourself, but here are a few of the highlights, all taken from headlines of news stories. Twitter makes you dumb, says psychologist Boys have it worse, says psychologist Faith schools […]

The mind and brain in 2010

The latest issue of Wired UK has a cover feature on breaking ideas for 2010. Mind and brain innovations feature strongly and several are freely available online. I might immodestly recommend the piece on ‘neurosecurity‘ and how researchers are having harden neural implants against hackers, as it was written by me. Regular readers will know […]


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