Monthly Archives: February 2010

On a literary trip

The Guardian books blog has a fantastic short piece on fictional mind-bending drugs from literature, stretching from the nightmare-inducing hallucinogens of William Burroughs to Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. The most famous invented drug is probably soma in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It was an integral part of the […]

A varied diet

A 1964 article from the Archives of Surgery discusses how to treat psychotic patients who may have ingested inedible objects. It reports on one remarkable case where the following list of objects was found in one patient’s stomach. They also helpfully provided a photo of all the objects laid out on a table. Nickels (173), […]

Brain skulls on the front, splatters on the back

You wait ages for a neuroscience-themed dress to appear (and believe me, I have) and then two come along at once. After my discovery of neuro streetwear for the female fashonista last week, comes a brain themed tutu dress for the riotgrrl neuroscientist. The description is actually quite poetic: Brain skulls on the front, splatters […]

One Hundred Years of Memory Loss

Neurology journal Brain has a fantastic article on the close parallels between the effects of semantic dementia, a degenerative brain disease that causes the loss of memory for the meaning of words and objects, and the novel A Hundred years of Solitude where a magical disease affects villagers’ memory for ‘the name and notion of […]

Nine Legendary Hypochondriacs

ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live has a fascinating discussion with the author of a new book on nine famous hypochondriacs: James Boswell, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Alice James, Daniel Paul Schreber, Marcel Proust, Glenn Gould and Andy Warhol. I’m not sure Daniel Paul Schreber is necessarily the best example of someone with […]

Bonuses generate more heat than light

The engaging behavioural economist Dan Ariely has just become a columnist for Wired UK and in his first article he describes how the promise of performance-related pay often backfires leading people to do more but perform worse. To see the effect of bonuses on performance, Nina Mazar (assistant professor of marketing, Toronto University), Uri Gneezy […]

2010-02-05 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Sex addiction is a feminist victory, according to an article in Slate, apparently because it allows man shaming. Malevolence-based medicine rears its ugly head. The BPS Research Digest covers research finding CBT-based self-help books might do more harm than good for people who worry […]

Eureka brain special and more fighting

The Times has just released its monthly science magazine, Eureka, with a special issue on the brain and all the articles freely available online. There doesn’t seem to be a way to link to a whole issue, but inside you’ll find an excellent piece on the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to temporarily switch […]

Time to think

Bioemphemera has found some wonderfully left-field brain illustrations by Dutch graphic designer Rhonald Blommestijn. The image on the left is a brain made out of clocks. Blommestijn’s blog is full of strikingly surreal eye-candy that manages both to inspire a feeling of wide-eyed wonder and illustrate scientific themes. They’re certainly very original takes on the […]

On communicating through the coma-like state

A study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports on how a subset of patients diagnosed as being in a coma-like state can be trained to show specific brain activity to answer yes / no questions despite seeming to be unconscious and unresponsive. Many news reports seem to suggest that researchers have […]

Neuro street wear

Herb is a hip Berlin fashion label who have a fantastic collection of women’s clothing with a subtle brain scan motif. The label is the work of designer Angela Herb and there are actually two collections inspired by the MRI scan. It’s definitely a street wear collection but the clothes have a wonderfully understated futuristic […]

Death of a gladiator

Roman gladiators took part in one of the most brutal sports in history, many dying by traumatic brain injury during their matches. A medical study published in Forensic Science International examined the skulls of deceased fighters, discovered in a gladiator graveyard from Turkey, and reveals exactly how they died and even what weapons delivered the […]

The internet, depression and drinking a glass of water

A new study has made headlines around the world that claim that internet use is linked to depression despite better evidence from previous studies that there is no substantial link. The study itself is a fairly straightforward online survey with the key finding that out of 1,319 people who completed the questionnaires, 18 were identified […]

Blue Brain Year One

Film-maker Noah Hutton has just released an excellent 15-minute documentary on the Blue Brain project that captures the team as they work and explains the goals of the ambitious attempt to simulate animal, and eventually, human scale neural networks on computer. It’s an interesting look both inside the scientific mission and inside the mind of […]

Fight club debate on computers and kids’ brains

On Thursday, I shall be taking part in a live debate hosted by The Times Online entitled ‘Is screen culture damaging our children’s brains?’ where I will be debating psychologist Tracey Alloway who recently made headlines by suggesting Facebook ‘enhances intelligence’ but Twitter ‘diminishes it’. It one of those online chat things but you are […]

Injecting heroin with a doctor

Slate has two articles on an innovative but controversial service in Vancouver, Canada, that provides injecting drug users with a place to safely inject drugs with clean equipment and medical staff on hand. The project, ‘Insite’, is based on a ‘harm reduction‘ approach which is driven by the idea that users should be encouraged to […]


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