Monthly Archives: January 2010

A Brilliant Madness online

I’ve just discovered that the excellent PBS documentary A Brilliant Madness that looks at the life of Nobel-prize winning mathematician, John Nash, is available online either as streamed video or as a torrent. Nash was famously the subject of the Oscar-winning film, A Beautiful Mind, although the while the main plot elements are true – […]

Cognitive Daily has left the bulding

Cognitive Daily, one of the most established and respected psychology blogs on the internet, has just announced it has come to an end on the five year anniversary of its first post. We’ve been fans of CD since, well, since they started as they kicked off only a few months after we did. However, all […]

Lost in frustration

New Scientist has a piece on culture and psychological distress by Ethan Watters, the same chap who wrote the recent and widely discussed New York Times article on the ‘globalisation of mental illness’. This new article looks at similar territory but also pulls out some examples of where concepts and symptoms don’t translate well between […]

Leave my soul alone

I’m re-reading the excellent book Into the Silent Land by neuropsychologist Paul Broks and was reminded of a part where he recounts an eerie poem about a 1938 operation to remove a brain tumour. The poem is by Welsh poet and doctor Dannie Abse and, looking it up on the internet, I discovered that the […]

The dream life of children

While we may have an elaborate dream life as adults, it seems we develop the ability to have rich and vivid dreams as we grow – children start off having relatively simple dreams that become more complex throughout childhood. Below is an excerpt from a scientific review article on ‘dreaming and the brain’, shortly to […]

Hard as nails

Tom alerted me to this fantastic brief case published in the British Medical Journal where a builder is admitted to hospital in great pain after a nail penetrated all the way through his boot. But it turned out that the pain was entirely psychological, as the nail had missed his foot by sliding between his […]

You’ve got mail…

A curious case of a woman who believed she was receiving email directly into her body near to where a diamond teddy bear was residing, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: We report the case of an elderly lady with no experience of using a personal computer or internet technology, whose delusional experiences […]

Chasing the digital dragon

Wired has an excellent report on abuses in China’s ‘internet addiction’ boot camps in the wake of the death of a young man from a beating only hours after he was admitted to one of the facilities. As we reported last August, after years of promoting the ‘psychiatric dangers’ of the internet, the Chinese government […]

Patients with no skull are a window on brain activity

I’ve just clocked a stunning experiment, shortly to be published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, that recorded brain activity from patients who had part of their skull surgically removed for several months and had only flaps of skin between their brain and the outside world. The operation is called a hemicraniectomy and is often […]

2010-01-15 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Herbert Spiegel, legendary pioneer of hypnosis research, has left the building. The New York Times has an obituary. Corpus Callosum covers a possible new non-addictive anti-anxiety drug. We have a long history of new ‘non-addictive’ anti-anxiety drugs turning out to be addictive. Fingers crossed […]

Beyond crossed senses in synaesthesia

Cognitive Daily covers a super-elegant study that helps us understand whether synaesthesia is really just a case of ‘crossed senses’ or whether the perceptual blending effect requires the person to have processed some of the meaning of the triggering experience. The traditional explanation of most types of synaesthesia is that the brain’s sensory areas are […]

The museum of narcoculture

The Washington Post has an absolutely astounding gallery that looks inside Mexico’s ‘Museum of Drugs’ that is only open to government and army officials and chronicles the ongoing narcowar. It’s not only a museum of drugs samples and smuggling methods, it also captures some of the culture of the narcotraffickers – including captured diamond encrusted […]

The ominous power of confession

I’ve just read a remarkable article [pdf] on 125 proven cases of wrongful conviction in the US justice system where the accused made a false confession. While we tend to think that no-one would confess to a crime they’ve never committed the phenomenon is a lot more common than we assume. The article cites studies […]

Coming down like a ton of clicks

BoingBoing has found a brilliant spoof video report on ‘Does the Internet make you dumber?’ which finishes on a surprisingly profound note. It’s a hugely entertaining riff on some of the recent ‘is the internet affecting the brain?’ hang-wringing from the tech savvy chaps from the popular Search Engine podcast. Link to brilliant ‘Does the […]

The Rough Guide to Brain Training (Moore & Stafford, 2010)

The Rough Guide to Brain Training is a puzzle book which incluces essays and vignettes by myself. The book has 100 days of puzzles which will challenge your mental imagery, verbal fluency, numeracy, working memory and reasoning skills. There are puzzles that will look familiar like suduko, and some new ones I’ve never seen before. […]

Bragging for beginners

The BPS Research Digest covers an interesting study on the perception of boasting, looking at whether there are specific contexts in which bragging actually leads people to think more highly of you and whether there are those where people end up thinking you’re a bit of an arse. It turns out, there are. Participants were […]


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