Monthly Archives: May 2010

A belief in flexible intelligence

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent piece about psychologist Carol Dweck’s work which has highlighted how what you believe about intelligence has an effect on how you perform. Dwecks’ work has garnered a great deal of attention and her main findings have suggested that children praised for their ‘hard work’ do significantly better […]

Disappearing trick

Koro is the unfounded fear that the genitals are retracting into the body or have disappeared. It is usually classified by Western psychiatry as a ‘culture bound syndrome‘ as it typically appears Asian or African cultures in various forms but an article in the Journal of Sexual Medicine notes that it has shown up in […]

2010-05-21 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: BBC Radio 4’s excellent In Our Time had a discussion on William James’ landmark book ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience’ The Neurocritic examines a curious study on the cognitive science of gaydar. The brilliant behavioural economist Dan Ariely writes for Wired UK on habits […]

From madhouse to medication

I just watched a thought-provoking BBC documentary called Mental: A History of the Madhouse which follows the history of British psychiatric treatment in the 20th century from the monolithic mental hospitals inherited from the 1800s to the development of ‘care in the community’ at the end of the century. If you’re based in the UK […]

Rough terrain for social scientists in Aghan war

An anonymous ex-member of the Human Terrain System, the team of social scientists deployed with the US Military, is now writing on the Wired Danger Room blog about role of the service in the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first article notes how in several recent operations the HTS has been notable by […]

The eyes are a window on the dream world

During REM sleep, where most dreaming takes place, your eyes move around but it’s never been clear exactly why. A new study just published online by neuroscience journal Brain suggests that they are looking at the ever-changing dream world. The first question you might ask is how the researchers knew what the dreamers were looking […]

The rehabilitation of Phineas Gage

Medical journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation has a fascinating article on Phineas Gage’s years after his dramatic injury, updating previous accounts and suggesting he made a remarkable recovery after his initial change in character. The piece is co-authored by Malcolm Macmillan, author of the definitive Gage book An Odd Kind of Fame and can contains many important […]

Neurology daze

The latest Neuropod podcast tackles deep brain stimulation, blast injuries in soldiers, fibre-tracking brain scans and a group of hungover neurologists on an early morning run, in coverage from the recent American Academy of Neurology conference. In fact, it’s one of the best Nature Neuroscience podcasts I’ve heard in ages. There’s also a fascinating bit […]

Richard Gregory has left the building

The legendary perception researcher Richard Gregory has passed away and science is certainly the worse off for his departure. As a student he worked with the great Frederic Bartlett and later became one of the most influential researchers in perception. He was key in demonstrating that expectations and prior experience have a ‘top down’ influence […]

Brain scan lie detection knocks on the court doors

Wired Science interviews a professional observer in the most important legal hearing for the use fMRI brain scan ‘lie detection’ technology yet to come to court. The observer was Owen Jones, a professor of law and biological sciences at Vanderbilt University, and the hearing was over the scientific status of ‘lie detection’ scans done by […]

Ancient Egyptian neuroscience

The Edwin Smith papyrus is one of the oldest medical texts in the world and is an Ancient Egyptian treatise on surgery, particularly after head injuries. In contains perhaps the first ever recognition that a part of the brain can be linked to a specific function as it describes how someone can be left ‘speechless’ […]

The difficulty of profiling killers

The Guardian has a compelling yet disturbing article on criminal profilers and how the practice is attempting to recover from the early days of profiler ‘experts’ who based their predictions on little more than guesswork, sometimes with disastrous results. It’s written by journalist Jon Ronson who takes an incisive look into the history of criminal […]

2010-05-14 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Pentagon jumps on the brain implants for everything bandwagon but suggesting they could be a treatment for trauma, according to a piece in Wired. Shorter tours of duty like other coalition forces apparently not an option. The Neurocritic has CASES OF INJURY OF […]

Built for sin

There’s a fascinating short article in The New York Times about physical attributes and the chance of ending up becoming a criminal or ending up in the clink. Linking physical traits to criminality may sound like a throwback to the biological determinism advocated by 19th-century social Darwinists who believed that there was a genetic predisposition […]

Pereira morning

I’m in the beautifully green city of Pereira as I’ve been kindly asked to speak at the National Psychiatry Residents Conference here in Colombia. I shall try and at least make sure Spike activity appears but otherwise the next few days might be a bit quiet, not least as I admire the spectacular surroundings and […]

Square eyes are a window to the soul

A video streaming site called Documentary Heaven has, among other things, a stack load of high quality psychology documentaries for your viewing pleasure. There drawn from TV so they’re a bit of a mixed bunch from the lamentable BBC series ‘The Human Mind’, to the excellent biography of mathematician and subject of ‘A Beautiful Mind’ […]


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