Monthly Archives: December 2010

Road kill for hot lady drivers

In 1960, the American Journal of Psychiatry reported on “an unusual perversion”, in a case of a man with “the desire to be injured by an automobile operated by a woman.” The patient, a man in his late twenties, reported a periodic desire to be injured by a woman operating an automobile. This wish, present […]

Poetic sensitivities

Perceptual psychologists have long been interested in limen – the threshold at which a stimulus becomes detectable. The following limen for the different senses, expressed in everyday terms rather than in terms of physical quantities, have a certain poetry to them. I got this information via email as a scan of an (unknown to me) […]

The dynamic embrace

I’ve just found an enjoyable BBC World Service radio documentary on the relationship between tango and psychoanalysis in the Argentinian city of Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango and, as we’ve discussed before, has the highest ratio of psychologists to population of any place on earth. The city has traditionally been one […]

The psychology of shoulder-to-shoulder

The consistently sublime RadioLab has a wonderful programme on the psychology of altruism which manages to capture the psychology of supporting others in gripping stories of human interaction. The standard view of evolution is that living things are shaped by cold-hearted competition. And there is no doubt that today’s plants and animals carry the genetic […]

2010-12-24 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Brain scans as art. The Neurocritic covers a charming paper where a bunch of Serbian radiologists review the history of neuroradiology in famous artworks and then contribute some of their own creative efforts! Scientific American looks at the evolutionary pressures on religious belief in […]

The battleground of remembering

I’ve just discovered a engrossing two-part BBC World Service documentary on ‘oral history’ and how the process of getting everyday folk to relay their memories of important event often challenges the authorised memories of official history. The programme makes an interesting distinction between public memory, the authorised version of events; individual memory, that we each […]

Treating the madness of the hippies

In 1972, Colombian psychiatrist Miguel Echeverry published a book arguing that hippies were not a youth subculture but the expression of a distinct mental illness that should be treated aggressively lest it spread through the population like a contagion. I found the book, called Psicopatologia y Existencia del Hippie (Psychopathology and Existence of the Hippy), […]

Mind and brain science: an instant overview

A new online tool called brainSCANr visually summarises the psychology and neuroscience literature to give you a network overview of which are the terms most connected to the target concept in scientific publications. You can see the example for ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’, otherwise known as PTSD, below. Click here to see it full size on […]

Post-coma nail trauma

Being in coma could play havoc with your nail care routine. A 1997 report from the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry notes how discoloured fingernails may be a secondary effect of coma owing to the side-effects of a common medical assessment for consciousness. The test is nothing more high-tech than giving the finger a […]

An informal chat about hard data

Scientific American has an excellent article on the sociology of communicating new discoveries and how the relationship between science and journalism has changed over the years. It’s a remarkably comprehensive analysis that looks not only at science publication but how it relates to our regular patterns of social communication. This informal style of communication has […]

The plant of human puppets

I’ve made a radio programme with ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind about burundanga, a mysterious street drug used in South America which is widely believed to remove free will. The name ‘burundanga’ is a popular term and doesn’t refer to a single thing, but its most commonly associated with the brugmansia plants. They […]

Mind and brain bloggers: wanted for your data

If you are a mind and brain blogger, Dr Alice Bell wants to research you. Alice is at the Science Communication Group at Imperial College, London, and is asking us to complete a survey as part of an investigation into the psychology and neuroscience blogosphere. Are you wondering whether this is you? Here’s who the […]

The brain scanner’s prayer

The brilliant Neuroskeptic has created a version of The Lord’s Prayer for the fMRI generation. It is at once spiritually uplifting, scientifically edifying and very, very funny. Our scanner, which art from Siemens, Hallowed be thy coils. Thy data come; Thy scans be done; In grey matter as it is in white matter. Give us […]

2010-12-17 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Guardian asks whether the internet encourages insidious and bullying behaviour? Well, does it, punk? We typically don’t remember our early years but it turns out this amnesia develops over time, as a brilliant piece on ‘The shifting boundary of childhood amnesia‘ at Psychology […]

Cannibal cuisine

Cannibalism is a lot more common in human history than you’d guess and an intriguing article in Slate looks at the how a change in living situation might have made the temptations of the flesh all the more appealing. The piece is by psychologist Jesse Berring who gets his teeth into the scientific debate about […]

Ecstasy may bring the love by filtering the fear

Ecstasy users often describe the high as feeling ‘loved up’ and MDMA is frequently described as an ’empathogen’ but until now, little was known about how it genuinely affects the recognition of emotions in other people. A new study just published in Biological Psychiatry has tested the supposed ’empathy boosting’ effects of MDMA and found […]


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