Monthly Archives: January 2011

How meow meow got its name

New stimulant street drug mephedrone has been nicknamed ‘meow meow’ to the point where the name is appearing in scientific articles on the compound. What is less known, is that the ‘street name’ was largely an invention of journalists. The drug was originally legal in the UK before it was quickly outlawed after it hit […]

Putting Psychology To Work

And Lo! Unto the always excellent BPS Research Digest, a child is born! The BPS Occupational Digest. is new blog which will cover news, reviews and reports on how psychology matters in the workplace. It will be curated by friend of (and contributor to the Mind Hacks book) Alex Fradera. Blogging hasn’t started yet […]

Clouding over the moon

The mythical connection between phases of the moon, madness and epilepsy are discussed in an engrossing but sadly locked article from the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences. However, it does have this wonderful section where some of the more whimsical portrayals of ‘lunacy’ are discussed: In the epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto, “Orlando […]

2011-01-21 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Music, expectancy and pleasure in the brain. The Frontal Cortex has an excellent piece on the neuroscience of error prediction and the music appreciating brain. Science News reports on how a substantial minority of third to sixth graders think they’re best friends with a […]

A culture shock in brain ethics

Dana has an eye-opening article on the challenges of doing brain research in cultures that don’t share the same assumptions about science and human nature. There are several sections of the article which turn our research assumptions on their head, owing to the fact that some common principles of ethical research turn out to be […]

Painful relief for a guilty act

The idea that physical pain can alleviate guilt has a long heritage but a new study just published in Psychological Science has produced evidence that helps confirm this long-held belief. The experiment, led by psychologist Brock Bastian, asked people to recall a time when they had behaved unacceptably and then rate their current level of […]

A wave of neuroscience

The Royal Society has just released a fantastic collection of articles aimed to introduce both the cutting edge of neuroscience and the sometimes fierce debates sparked by its implications. The collection covers everything from neural interfaces to neuroethics and the articles are written by some of the leading lights in brain research. This publication is […]

The urban formula

I’ve just caught up with a wonderful New York Times article on the underlying social structure of cities and how seemingly simple mathematical formulas can describe the complexities of urban living. Geoffrey West is an ex-particle physicist who decided to ‘solve’ cities and set about looking for mathematical laws in the seething mass of statistics […]

A slice of the pusher man

New York Magazine has an in-depth article on a low-level drug dealer in the Big Apple who is trying, somewhat half-heartedly, to get out of the game. It is neither glamorisation nor condemnation, but is a carefully observed slice of life from a business minded, spreadsheet obsessed, upper middle class cocaine dealer. Lenny sighs, rubs […]

See Think Mash

Online scallywags The Daily Mash have a funny piece satirising the way neuroscience studies get reported in the media. To be honest, I think I might keep the first paragraph and use it to improve any dodgy science stories that come my way from now on. Scientists at the Institute for Studies have finally established […]

And I’m telling you you’re dead

Two delusional patients who believed that friends and relatives had died, despite them being around to prove otherwise, are described in an amazing 2005 journal article from the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Although the Cotard delusion is well studied in psychiatry, where patients believe themselves to be dead, the report names the novel belief […]

2011-01-14 Spike activity

A somewhat belated collection of quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: All in the Mind host Natasha Mitchell has an insightful article on the perils of treating psychological distress after disasters in light of the devastation from the Australian floods. Bullshit Blue Monday came and went – and this year […]

The psychophysics of policy positions

In which I suggest applying the methods of experimental psychology to a longstanding question in political science. Many people feel that there is no “real difference” between political parties (for example, Labour vs Conservatives in the UK). Politians are all the same, right? At least superficially, mainsteam parties will all echo commitments to values such […]

The real real thing

The can on the left is an energy drink that gets its kick from real coca leaves. It’s called Coca Sek and was created by the indigenous Páez people of Colombia, partly in protest at the association between their traditional plant and the cocaine trade, which makes the illicit drug by processing the leaves. The […]

A violent reaction to sad news

I’ve written article for Slate about the Arizona shooting and why many are too quick to use “mental illness” as a catch-all explanation for violence. I suspect we’re going to hear a great deal more about the issue in the coming weeks, and not all of it positive or well-informed. This article looks at some […]

2011-01-07 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Seed Magazine has a fascinating article on whether fonts affect learning that also tackles the psychology of comic sans. Antidepressants still don’t work in mild depression. The mighty Neuroskeptic covers a study confirming what the makers of Prozac forgot to remember. Slate has a […]


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