Monthly Archives: April 2010

No dark sarcasm in the classroom

The Frontal Cortex reports on an interesting study that found that the personality characteristics teachers define as creative are the same ones that make their pupils least likeable in the classroom. Eric Barker recently referred me to this interesting study, which looked at how elementary school teachers perceived creativity in their students. While the teachers […]

Heart breaker

It seems you’re more likely to die from a heart attack when having sex while having an affair, than during sex with your regular partner, although this seems largely to apply to men. A case report in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine reports on the death of a woman who had a heart […]

On the outer limits

The latest edition of RadioLab discusses the limits of endurance, human memory and artificial intelligence in a particularly good programme from the top tier science show. The section on human endurance looks at the competitors in the Race Across America, an 800km bicyle race where the cyclists sleep on an hour or two a night […]

Psychosis podcast and the Mind Hacks recursion

About a year ago, we posted about a study at the University of Manchester who were evaluating the impact of podcast about psychosis on attitudes towards unusual mental states. Mind Hacks readers formed a large bulk of the participants and the paper has just been published in the journal Psychosis. So, in possibly one of […]

But I just think I’m free

From the track Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal, who turns out to be a remarkably insightful lyricist when he’s not rapping about working it with the ladies: I wake up, every day is a daydream Everything in my life isn’t what it seems I wake up just to go back to sleep I act real shallow […]

The superstar black hole

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article on the ‘superstar effect’ where competition against someone who is perceived as far superior actually makes the other competitors perform worse due to a sort of ‘implicit intimidation’. The piece, by science writer Jonah Lehrer, riffs on a study [pdf] by economist Jennifer Brown who looked at […]

Not exactly rocket surgery

There’s a great comedy sketch from British duo Mitchell and Webb about an egotistical brain surgeon on YouTube. It’s sarcastic, cutting and you can see the punchline coming a mile off, but still good for laugh as it satirises the effect of the ego on typical British small talk. The only similar joke I’ve ever […]

2010-04-09 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: New Scientist has an excellent piece on theories of how deep brain stimulation treats mental illness. Ignore the stupid title. A study found by Barking Up the Wrong Tree finds higher intelligence is a “protective factor” against teenage sexual activity. Geek you say? Slate […]

Wonky Kong

There’s a bizarre case report in the latest edition of Psychological Medicine where some Australian psychiatrists who specialise in disorders of old age got called out to a zoo to assess an elderly gorilla who was behaving strangely. Unfortunately, the case report is full of medical jargon although it becomes quite charming when you realise […]

Rumour has it

As a follow-on from our recent post on the psychology of urban legends, I’ve just found a video interview with psychologist Nicholas DiFonzo, author of the book Rumor Psychology that we mentioned previously. DiFonzo discusses some of the main conclusions of the research, including the major motivations for why people pass on hearsay, the most […]

A hitchhiker’s guide to the inherited mind

New Scientist has a fantastic article on making sense of cognitive genetics studies, the science that links certain versions of genes to behaviour, by taking the use and abuse of the MAOA gene as an example. If the name doesn’t ring a bell you may remember it being dubbed ‘warrior gene’, which as well as […]

Cultural differences in childhood amnesia

Childhood amnesia is the phenomenon where we are generally unable to remember the earliest years of childhood. This is often assumed to be purely because the brain is too underdeveloped to successfully store and organise memories but an interesting study from 2000 reported that the extent of childhood amnesia differs between cultures and sexes. Cross-cultural […]

In the eye of the storm

Wired magazine’s Haiti Rewired blog has an excellent piece on the ‘psychological typhoon eye’ phenomenon, discovered after studies of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, where those closest to the centre of the devastation actually reported less concern about their safety and health. The effect was initially reported shortly after the disaster and was found […]

Towards an aesthetics of urban legends

The Point of Inquiry podcast has a great discussion with psychologist Scott Lilienfeld about his new book ’50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology’ and why scientific-sounding mental fairy tales persist, despite them having no good evidence to support them. The most interesting bit is where Lilienfeld tackles why such myths have their psychological power, which […]

At the yawn of time

The journal Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience has an paper that looks at how rates of yawning change throughout our life. It has a slightly surreal feel to it, and I can’t help imaging yawn scientists carefully tracking the behaviour across the globe with overly complicated machines, like something out of a Roald Dahl book. […]

The personality of the Messiah

What is Jesus’ Myers-Briggs personality profile? Rather to my surprise, it turns out that lots of people have tried to answer this question. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire was created as a systematic approach to classifying people’s personality based on categories originally proposed by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. The Mormon Matters website has a […]


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