Monthly Archives: June 2010

Fag hags and fairy queens

Jesse Bering’s brilliant Scientific American column ‘Bering in Mind’ has a fantastic discussion of the cultural concept of the ‘fag hag’ – a woman who supposedly hangs around with gay men due to her own inadequacies. I always assumed that ‘fag hag’ was nothing more than a particularly snide homophobic insult from the English language […]

Dendritic coasting

Morphologica is the online Etsy shop of a neuroscience postgrad who makes laser cut jewellery and ornaments from the images she sees during her time in the lab. We’ve mentioned her neuron earrings before but her drinks coaster in the shape of a dendritic tree is just fantastic. And if your drink of choice is […]

Sketch of the imagination

Psychologist Paul Bloom considers why imaginary characters and fictional plots can have such a powerful emotional effect in a fantastic article for the The Chronicle of Higher Education. Bloom argues that we have a form of ‘dual representation’ for fictional reveries where we engage our emotions with the characters, plot or situation as if they […]

The future isn’t what it used to be

I’ve just found a very odd news clip about an Australian project to create a disembodied virtual head that reminds people with dementia to take their medication. The clip is from 2009 and is a little strange not least because the project is actually much more ambitious than described. ‘The Thinking Head Project’ (warning: rubbish […]

The tree of drunkeness

The flowers in the picture are from one of the most notorious plants in South America. Brugmansia is widespread across the continent and is strongly psychoactive causing disorientation, hallucinations and memory loss. This is due to the fact that it contains high levels of the drug scopolamine and, as a result, it has been used […]

2010-06-04 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Brain scan ‘lie detection’ not admissible in a landmark case which has been considered a test for the legal acceptability of the technology, reports Wired Science. The Frontal Cortex argues that the BP engineers should take a break from tying to solve the oil […]

Concerned from Tunbridge Wells

The Guardian has been running a fun evolutionary psychology agony aunt column that’s been tackling questions such as ‘why do I fancy blonde women?’, ‘why do nice girls fall for bad boys?’ and ‘what can I do to stop my best friend marrying this idiot?’. Despite it’s potential, evolutionary psychology has a tendancy to be […]

An unwanted key to a devastating condition

The New York Times has a gripping article and video report about how a family in Colombia may be the key to unlocking the neuroscience of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most devastating forms of degenerative brain disease that can strike as early as the 30s or 40s. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of […]

Tripping in a PET scanner

The History of the Human Sciences journal covers the problem of psychedelic drug research and subjective experience. The article argues that the mind-bending nature of the drugs demand that scientists deal with the clash between the objective world view of science and the subjective experience of the participant that is often swept under the carpet […]

Pointing the finger

A brief yet intriguing description of a talk on pointing, by the ever versatile neuroscientist and philosopher Ray Tallis at the recent Hay Literary Festival. A spellbinding hour with philosopher and self-confessed “many-layered anorak” Raymond Tallis on the subject of pointing. Yes, sticking your finger in the air and directing it at an object. It […]

The memory manipulators

Slate has just finished an awesome eight-part special on how memory can be manipulated, shaped and reshaped even when we’re completely unaware of it. The series is really a retrospective on the life and work of Elizabeth Loftus, one of the most important and influential researchers in the area of false and flexible memories. The […]

Disease rankings

There is a hierarchy of prestige in medicine. Numerous studies have found that surgery and internal medicine are thought of most highly by doctors while while psychiatry, geriatric and child medicine come near the bottom. A study published in Social Science & Medicine took this idea one step further and looked at which diseases have […]

On the edge of a nervous breakdown

The New York Times has an excellent article on the history of the ‘nervous breakdown’ – an inexact term that has never been officially recognised but which has been popular for over a century. The article suggests that the phrase is common precisely because it sounds medical and, hence, significant, but remains vague enough to […]

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