Monthly Archives: March 2010

Down the pan

This is, I assume, the first neuropsychological test to appear on a bog roll. The ‘Mind Trainer Toilet Roll‘ has a different puzzle on each sheet and it includes the Stroop test, one of the most studied tests in cognitive science. This means you’ll never be without the opportunity to measure attentional inhibition of automatic […]

Rodent brain in sex claim shocker

Those tenacious chaps over at Language Log have followed up Louann Brizendine’s claims that men have a ‘defend your turf area’ by chasing up the references in her ominous new book The Male Brain which is showing all the signs of being as scientifically shaky as the last one. Like a couple of people who […]

One Night in Birdland

I’ve just re-read an interesting biographical study from last year on the ‘Neurological problems of jazz legends’ and noticed a interesting snippet about Charlie Parker: As a result of a car accident as a teenager, Parker became addicted to morphine and, in turn, heroin. Contemporary musicians took similar drugs, hoping to emulate his playing. Through […]

Debugging the free will relationship

In 1987, British TV station Channel 4 had a series called Voices that included four programmes on psychoanalysis. One of the guests was psychologist Sherry Turkle, years before she became well-known for her groundbreaking work on the internet and identity, and she makes some strikingly prophetic comments about free will and technology that ring true […]

The FBI Evil Minds Research Museum

The FBI has an appointment-only display called the Evil Minds Research Museum that displays the letters, art and artefacts of serial killers in an attempt to understand their psychology. There’s not much about it online but it is discussed in the second part of the two part FBI podcast about their behavioural science programme. This […]

Missing the mind’s eye view

Discover magazine has a fantastic Carl Zimmer piece about a man who lost the ability to see things in his mind’s eye after a minor neurological procedure. Zimmer covers a recently published study on patient MX who lost his conscious visual imagery but could still do tests, like mental rotation, that were assumed to need […]

2010-03-26 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: New Scientist has an excellent article on the ‘global workspace’ theory of consciousness. Fast food logos unconsciously speed up our behaviour, according to new research covered by the old Not Exactly Rocket Science. Not Exactly Rocket Science, just moved to Discover Blogs, asks ‘when […]

Easy tiger

Psychologist Jesse Bering has written one of the most remarkable popular science articles I have read in a very long time that discusses, believe it or not, zoophilia or the sexual attraction to animals. The piece for Scientific American is surprising, unnerving, hilarious, frightening and thought-provoking, all in equal measure. The article considers to what […]

Opening the mind to moral persuasion

This week’s Nature has an article arguing that the recently popular field of moral psychology has neglected the role of public debate and personal reflection in the development of our morality. The piece is by psychologist Paul Bloom, well known for his work on how we solve ethical problems – something which has become a […]

For Kitty Jay

This is the final resting place of Kitty Jay. The site, known as Jay’s Grave lies on the edge of Dartmoor, in England’s West Country. No one really knows the full story of her life, as the details have been lost in time, but the tragic tale usually goes something like this. Kitty Jay was […]

Emergency response psychology in Madrid

Madrid is one of the very few places in the world that has emergency response psychologists that attend the scene of accidents and disasters alongside the police, paramedics and fire crews. I recently interviewed Teresa Pacheco, one of the founders and current members of the Madrid team, about her work for the latest issue of […]

Brizendine, true to stereotype

Louann Brizendine is a neuropsychiatrist who seems intent on bolstering sex stereotypes with poor science. Presumably in the service of promoting a new book, she has an article on CNN which attempts to explain ‘why men obsess over sex’ but which has lots of odd errors and strange unsubstantiated claims. The thing that immediately struck […]

Doing it for the country

This study should cause all sorts of public policy head scratching and hair pulling but will undoubtedly be ignored. It suggests that motherhood, not marriage, reduces the chances of disadvantaged young women getting involved in drug use and delinquency. A special award to the first politician to argue that young women should be getting up […]

The ‘pseudocommando’ mass murderer

Murder sprees by grudge-bearing, gun-toting killers have become a tragic feature of modern society although owing to the thankfully rare occurrence of the incidents, little is known about the sort of person who decides to embark upon this sort of deadly rampage. An article just published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry […]

The determined self-accuser

While we tend to think that the recognition of false confessions is a relatively new development but The Lancet discussed the phenomenon of ‘auto-accusation’ as far back as 1902. The article discusses the types of people falsely confessing to notorious crimes in early 1900s Paris. “Auto-accusation” is a curious phenomenon which possesses both medical and […]

Do animals commit suicide?

Time magazine has a short article on the history of ideas about whether animals can commit suicide. It starts somewhat awkwardly by discussing the recent Oscar winning documentary on dolphins but is in fact based on an academic paper on ‘animal suicide’. Changes in how humans have interpreted animal suicide reflect shifting values about animals […]


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