Monthly Archives: March 2010

Dear Lad, there’s no such thing

Spike Milligan was one of the best loved, most influential and least predictable of British comedians, not least because he experienced the highs and lows of manic depression which, on several occasions, led to his hospitalisation. As a prolific writer Milligan often wrote about mental health and the book, The Essential Spike Milligan, has several […]

An interview on Death and Dying

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind has an archive interview from 1978 with Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth K√ºbler-Ross who pioneered the consideration and treatment of the last stages of life as patients were dying of terminal illnesses. K√ºbler-Ross is best known for her stage model of death and grieving that famously includes denial, anger, bargaining, […]

2010-03-19 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: New Scientist has an interesting piece on several conditions somewhat clumsily cobbled together as disorders of ‘extreme empathy’ although it’s still a good read. Ace t-shirt blogger Coty Gonzales turns out the be a cognitive neuroscientist in an interview for Hide Your Arms. The […]

Scanning for murder raps

Nature has a freely available feature article that discusses recent debates about how functional brain scans should be used in court cases concerning people charged with murder and classified as psychopaths. Brain scans that show an estimate of brain activity, such as fMRI, are widely used in forensic and medical research to understand whether offenders […]

Lords, ladies and video games

I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Scientific Research in Learning and Education yesterday to discuss “What is the potential impact of technology, such as computer gaming, on the brain?” alongside Baronness Susan Greenfield and we were pleased to be able to present to a packed committee room. I’ve never met Greenfield before, who was […]

Is this the boss level?

I’m just about to go to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Scientific Research in Learning and Education to discuss “What is the potential impact of technology, such as computer gaming, on the brain?”. It turns out Baroness Susan Greenfield will be talking first, followed by me, followed by a discussion with all in attendance. After […]

A very historical madness

H-Madness is a fantastic new blog on the history of madness written by professional historians with a clear passion for their work. Although aimed at “university and college faculty, students, and independent researchers” it is written in a striaghtforward style and includes original articles, book and film reviews, as well as news about academic publications, […]

Roald Dahl’s Marvelous Medicine

Author Roald Dahl was particularly well known for darkly humorous children’s books that form a riotous part of almost every childhood in Britain. Less well known is that he also made some significant contributions to neurology, as detailed in a brief article for Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation. The article is available online as […]

Falling in love with epilepsy and St Valentine

I was surprised to find out that as well as being the patron saint of love, St Valentine is also the patron saint of epilepsy. I’ve just found a study that analysed six centuries of artistic depictions of the holy figure where he is often accompanied by people having seizures. The paper has a good […]

An introduction to cognition and culture

The Culture and Cognition blog covers the territory where culture and psychology meet, and they’ve just released their ‘reader‘ which has a list of essential books and papers to cover the interface between anthropology and the cognitive sciences. Many of the articles are available in full online and the list is a fantastic guide to […]

2010-03-12 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The University of California has an interview with space psychiatrist Nick Kanas There’s a thoughtful consideration of the recent New York Times article on whether depression has evolutionary benefits over at Neuron Culture. Time magazine discusses research finding that deaths from cocaine overdoses rise […]

Back to blightly

Apologies if updates are a little irregular, as I’m currently on my way back to the UK for a three week visit. This is largely because I’ve been asked to speak to the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group on Scientific Research in Learning and Education’ about the evidence for whether computer games are damaging kids’ brains. I […]

In the Exploratorium’s distorted room

The San Francisco Exploratorium is the Mind Hacks of science museums – every exhibit is hands on, giving you the chance to experiment with and experience for yourself scientific principles. Obviously, one of my favourite exhibits was a psychology demonstration, one based on a classic visual illusion known as the “Ames’ Room”. We’ve a small […]

How cannabis makes thoughts tumble

Cannabis smokers often report that when stoned, their thoughts have a free-wheeling quality and concepts seem connected in unusual and playful ways. A study just published online in Psychiatry Research suggests that this effect may be due to the drug causing ‘fast and loose’ patterns of spreading activity in memory, something known as ‘hyper-priming’. Priming […]

Tracking the unborn brain into childhood

A brain scanning technology called MEG is being used to track the function of unborn babies’ brains as they grow inside the womb until after they’ve been born. The full name for MEG is magnetoencephalography and it works by reading the magnetic fields created by the electrical signalling in the brain. One of the advantages […]

A man with virtually no serotonin or dopamine

Neuroskeptic covers a fascinating case of a man born with a genetic mutation meaning he had a severe lifelong deficiency of both serotonin and dopamine. The case report concerns a gentleman with sepiapterin reductase deficiency, a genetic condition which prevents the production of the enzyme sepiapterin reductase which is essential in the synthesis of both […]


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