Monthly Archives: October 2011

The father of Randle P. McMurphy

An article in the Journal of Medical Humanities has a fascinating look at one of playwright Samuel Beckett’s early novels – an exploration of madness and mental health care that foreshadowed One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest. Beckett is best known for Waiting for Godot, but his novel Murphy was previously one of the best […]

Preferences of the lady wooers

A study on female breast size attractiveness just published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour highlights the remarkable gap between academic discourse and everyday language. Female Breast Size Attractiveness for Men as a Function of Sociosexual Orientation (Restricted vs. Unrestricted) Arch Sex Behav. 2011 Oct 6. Zelazniewicz AM, Pawlowski B. Mate preferences are context-dependent and […]

Bookended by amnesia and neurofeedback

A new edition of RadioLab has just hit the wires which riffs on the concept of loops and is bookended by an initial piece on transient global amnesia and a closing piece on the use of neurofeedback to control pain. The programme is a sublime, lucid trip into a series of cycles, from the effects […]

Entertainingly mislead me

A beautifully recursive study has shown that viewing an episode of the psychology of deception TV series Lie To Me makes people worse at distinguishing truth from lies. The TV series is loosely based on the work of psychologist Paul Ekman who pioneered the study of emotions and developed the Facial Action Coding System or […]

A history of the mid-life crisis

Scientific American’s Bering in Mind has a fantastic article on how the concept of the mid-life crisis was invented and whether it has any evidence behind it beyond the occasional inadvisable pair of cycling shorts and sudden interest in cheesy sports cars. It turns out that the idea of the ‘mid-life crisis’ is surprisingly new […]

Epilepsy as a door between worlds

There’s a wonderful anthropology study on beliefs about epilepsy among the Guaraní people in Bolivia in the latest Epilepsy and Behavior. The Guaraní believe that people with recurrent seizures are a gateway between the worlds of life and death. Among the Guaraní, epilepsy is called mano-mano, which literally means “die-die” and refers to the concept […]

A profession with “no” at its core

I’ve just finished Randy Olson’s “Don’t be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an age of style” (after loving his article in New Scientist, “Top five tips for communicating science “). Olson is a marine biologist turned filmmaker, so knows the world of science from the inside, and from the outside perspective. This book is […]

The death of atypical antipsychotics

The British Journal of Psychiatry has just published the latest in a long line of studies to find that the newer ‘atypical’ or ‘second generation’ antipsychotic drugs are barely better than the old style medications and has a stinging editorial that accompanies the piece calling out years of drug company marketing spun as an illusory […]

The New York Times wees itself in public

The New York Times has just pissed its neuroscientific pants in public and is now running round the streets announcing the fact in an op-ed that could as easily been titled ‘Smell my wee!’ The piece is written by Martin Lindström, famous for writing the ‘neuromarketing’ best-seller Buyology, but infamous for not making any of […]


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