Monthly Archives: August 2011

Crushed snails as neurology treatment

From a curious paper just published in the The Neuroscientist entitled “Plastering the Head with Crushed Snails to Treat Pediatric Hydrocephalus: An Ancient Therapy with a Pharmacological Basis.” In the Middle Ages, medical therapy for pediatric hydrocephalus [a condition caused by the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid inside the brain that can lead to enlargement of […]

Casting out the epilepsy ignorance demons

The New York Times has a surprising article about stigma surrounding epilepsy in Sierra Leone that describes some quite astounding beliefs about the condition. Stigma here is based on two myths: that epilepsy is contagious and that it is caused by demonic possession. Dr. Lisk is quick to point out that beliefs about possession traverse […]

Year two documentary on the Blue Brain project

The year two film of director Noah Hutton’s 10-year documentary-in-the-making on the progress of the ambitious Blue Brain Project is now online and well-worth watching. The Blue Brain Project is often touted as aiming to ‘simulate the human brain’ but a more accurate description would probably be that it aims to create a simulation of […]

Bad riot neuroscience: cite the power

The Guardian Notes and Theories blog has a fantastic article on media science distortion by brain researchers whose study got falsely reported as showing a link between rioting and ‘low levels of a brain chemical’. The actual study, which you can read online as a pdf, did not mention rioting and did not investigate it, […]

The Psychologist on Milgram and the shock of the old

The August issue of The Psychologist is an open-access special edition on Stanley Milgram and his obedience studies that continue to cast a dark shadow over our understanding of human nature. The issue has articles that look back on the legacy of his obedience studies, his treatment by historians and a personal view written by […]

Zombie brain-eating sex kitten

Bogotá comes up with a smackdown in the Colombia brain graffiti stakes with a zombie brain-eating sex kitten found on a car park wall near Avenida Calle 63 con Carrera 17 this morning.     Medellín, represent! UPDATE: A bit of Google Fu turns up the blog of the graffiti artist Saint Cat with some […]

Strong piano at high fruitiness

A wonderful graph which shows how strongly the sounds of the piano, strings, woodwind and brass instruments are associated with fruity smells, across smells of low, medium and high fruitiness. From a recent study entitled ‘A Fruity Note: Crossmodal associations between odors and musical notes’. The study also tests how strongly these instruments are associated […]

Out of Mind online

Paul Broks is a British neuropsychologist who wrote a brilliant and insightful column on the brain and its disorders for Prospect magazine in the early 2000s, all of which are now freely available online. The ‘Out of Mind’ column ran for the best part of five years. Alternately whimsical, profound and poetic, it recounted ephemeral […]


Some amazing brain graffiti found this morning, on the side of a derelict factory, on Bogotá’s Carrera 30, near to the Transmilenio station CAD. This is the second example of brain graffiti I’ve seen after finding the ‘Bogotá Neuronaut’ while I’ve only found one in Medellín so far.

Human pheromones: wishful thinking

Slate has a fantastic article about the science of scents and why ‘attraction-boosting’ human pheromone products are selling nothing but myths. The article takes a curious look at the history of misapplied pheromone research and how it’s been used to sell everything from aftershave to soap. “The whole pheromone thing got picked up by the […]

A response to the Baroness

The Independent have just published a letter I wrote to them in response to their recent opinion piece by Susan Greenfield. She claims that computers are at risk of causing ‘mind change’ while scientists are ignoring the issue. Needless to say, I was not impressed. I was interested to read Professor Susan Greenfield’s opinion piece […]

Ecstasy for war trauma: a flashback to earlier treatments

Mother Board has a completely fascinating article on the current ongoing trial testing whether MDMA or ‘ecstasy’ could be useful in treatment combat trauma. The piece is interesting as much for what it doesn’t say, as for what it does, and for how it ties into the history of psychological treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder […]

A dark chapter in the history of combat trauma

Neurology has an article that looks back at the dark history of ‘treating’ war trauma with torture during World War I. During the conflict, ‘war neurosis‘ became a serious problem as thousands of troops where disabled by psychological trauma that often expressed itself as extreme anxiety and seemingly neurological symptoms – something called ‘shell shock’ […]

Auditory brain trip

If you’ve got 15 minutes to spare, you could do far worse than spending it listening to an excellent edition of the Guardian Science Podcast on the neuropsychology of hearing and language. Perceptual and linguistic neuroscience has a tendency to bit a little technical and difficult to engage with but the programme is both wonderfully […]

Reaching for the high notes

Science writer Emily Anthes has a fascinating interview with a speech therapist who works with male-to-female transsexuals to help make their voice sound more feminine. It gives both an insight into a little known area of speech therapy as well as highlighting some of the often overlooked differences between male and female voices. EA: So, […]

A culture of sacrifice to the body beautiful

The New York Times has a excellent piece on the culture of plastic surgery in Brazil by anthropologist Alexander Edmonds. Edmonds notes that surgery is not considered to be a correction or salve against the sagging of the years but a beauty treatment in its own right that is justified by a folk psychology of […]


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