Monthly Archives: May 2010

A brief and incomplete history of telepathy science

The Fortean Times has a wonderful article that discusses the long and winding quest to find scientific evidence for telepathy, extra-sensory perception and other mysterious psychic powers. The opening paragraph both made me laugh out loud and sets the scene for the rest of the article: There are two truths universally acknowledged about extra-sensory perception […]

Psychopath researcher threatens to sue critics

Robert Hare is a psychologist who studies psychopaths and is best known for developing the ‘Hare Psychopathy Checklist’ or PCL-R, a standard diagnostic tool for assessing offenders. He is currently threatening to sue two psychologists who wrote an article critical of the theory underlying the checklist, as well as the academic journal, Psychologist Assessment, that […]

French government begins ‘neuropolicy’

ABC Radio National’s Life Matters covers the surprising news that France has created a brain and behavioural research unit specifically to form public policy. The public policy in question is not just to do with the mind and brain and the director of the unit describes a ‘neuromarketing’ approach where the programme seems set to […]

Mouse ache

Nature Neuroscience are about to publish a study that attempts to explain the biological basis of mouse acupuncture. If you’re checking in case you have accidentally slipped between universes, don’t worry, you haven’t. It’s just that this one has gone a bit strange. The full paper is not out until later today and will eventually […]

A scientific foil to your accidental brain injury

Inkling Magazine has a fantastic article detailing unusual objects which have accidentally ended up in the brain and have subsequently made the pages of medical journals as surprising case reports. It covers everything from fairly lights to stiletto heels to human teeth and is cheekily titled ‘Not Right in the Head’. The article also mentions […]

An explosion of visual hysteria

I’ve written an article for the magazine fotografya about how photography was initially used by doctors to document ‘hysteria’ in the 19th century but quickly became a vector through which the condition was spread. The most influential photos came from the Salp√™tri√®re Hospital in Paris, where, under the direction of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, hysteria was […]

2010-05-28 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Decorative illustrations of women scientists improves girls’ test scores on a chemistry test, according to research covered by Big Think. The Philosopher’s Zone from ABC Radio National had a great discussion of Nietzsche and his idea of the ‘will to power’. fMRI in 1000 […]

Airport psych security: snake oil on a plane?

Nature has an extensive article on the ‘deception detection training’ that’s been widely rolled out for airport security staff and anti-terrorism police despite that fact that is has barely been publicly tested. As we reported in 2007, a great deal of this training seems to be based on psychologist Paul Ekman’s various methods for focusing […]

Welcome to PsyOps Air

Wired’s Danger Room blog took a trip on Commando Solo, the US Air Force plane that’s been specially modified for the Psychological Operations or PsyOps division to create instant radio and television stations to broadcast persuasive messages to the people below. As you might expect, the article doesn’t reveal a huge amount and there’s lots […]

Three Christs

In the 1950s, three delusional Messiahs were gathered to live together in the same mental hospital. This is one of the most remarkable experiments in the history of psychology and I’ve written about it in an article for Slate. I’ve had this tale told to me many times, but in a hazy way almost like […]

Singing in the rain

There’s a common belief that the weather affects our mood, that we tend to become more depressed in the winter and that summer brings an emotional lift. This has been researched before in small studies that have found inconsistent results but a new study published in Psychiatry Research tested the idea on almost 14,500 people […]

The Inca DSM

A 1999 article about ‘Mental disorder among the Incas in ancient Peru’ in the History of Psychiatry journal has a listing of mental illness recognised by the Inca empire. The name on the left is in Ancient Quechua, the language of the Incas, and the translation is on the right. Chayapu oncuy – Frenzy, madness […]

From subliminal ads to Joanna the Mad

The Providentia psychology blog has been a consistently good read for as long as I can remember and if you’ve never checked it out a host of great articles have been posted online recently. Just in May along there have been pieces on how a barking woman was declared unfit for trial, how the panic […]

Time compression and the causal connection

When we think two events are causally related we perceive the time between them to be shorter. Although this is news to me, it turns out the ‘time compression’ effect has been well researched. Several of the studies have found that when we view two events but believe the first causes the second, time between […]

Crack baby blues

I’ve just noticed a smattering of articles that have tackled the idea of the ‘crack baby’ which became popular during the worrying emergence of crack cocaine during the late 80s. It turns out that babies exposed to crack in the womb weren’t necessarily massively brain damaged tragedies as the stereotype had it, but the concept […]

Hallucinating the void

Rhode Island Medical News recently published an April fools article where the author joked about negative hallucinations, where someone didn‚Äôt see things that were really there, seemingly unaware that such hallucinations are in fact possible. The article, which you can read online as a pdf, has various humorous references to jumping traffics lights or ignoring […]


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