Monthly Archives: December 2011

Control your dreams (ebook)

Anyone can learn to have lucid dreams, and this ebook tells you how. Lucid dreams are those dreams where you become aware you are dreaming, and can even begin to control the reality of the dream. Adventure, problem-solving and consequence-free indulgence await! And for those interested in the mind, lucid dreams are a great place […]

Clinical test copyright bullying legally dubious

James Grimmelmann, Associate Professor at New York Law School, has written on the takedown of an open-access cognitive screening test by the copyright holders of the Mini Mental State test. He says “any copyright claim here is legally weak and morally indefensible”. His piece is worth reading in full not only because he sets out […]

Diagnostic test takedown by copyright bullies

The New England Journal of Medicine report on how the authors of key screening test, the Mini–mental state examination, have initiated a take-down of an open, validated and freely-available equivalent due to it also asking test-takers to recall three words, a string of numbers and some basic questions about the date and location. The Mini–mental […]

The mysterious nodding syndrome

New Scientist reports that Uganda has been hit by a new outbreak of the mysterious ‘nodding syndrome’ or ‘nodding disease’ that seems to be an unknown neurological condition that only affects children. There is not much known about it but it seems to be a genuine neurological condition (and not an outbreak of ‘mass hysteria‘) […]

Unlikely causes of dementia

An article on the history of dementia lists the somewhat odd causes for the degenerative brain condition as given by the pioneering French psychiatrist Jean Etienne Esquirol in 1838: Menstrual disorders, Sequelae [consequences] of delivery, Head injuries, Progression of age, Ataxic fever, Hemorrhoids surgery, Mania and monomania, Paralysis, Apoplexy, Syphilis, Mercury abuse, Dietary excesses, Wine […]

Diagnosing Tolstoy with non-existent madness

A new article on the founder of criminology, Cesare Lombroso, recounts the curious tale of how he met War and Peace author Leo Tolstoy to confirm his theory on how genius and madness were linked. Among other things, Lombroso was convinced that mental ‘degeneration’ was reflected in the face and so could be seen externally. […]

Ethics of the drone war

The Atlantic has a long but engrossing piece on the impact of military and intelligence robotics on the ethics of combat. To be fair, it goes way beyond just robots and also discusses implants, digital enhancements and cybernetics. And if it sounds a bit science-fiction, it’s looking at already available or just-over-the-horizon technology and sticks […]

The crowd dynamics of the city safari

The Economist has a fascinating article about the weird way that pedestrians behave as they walk through cities and how this knowledge is being applied to make city-living easier and safer. IMAGINE that you are French. You are walking along a busy pavement in Paris and another pedestrian is approaching from the opposite direction. A […]

Transplanted corneas are a window to the soul

A fascinating note on the social meaning of eyes and why people are much more reluctant to donate the cornea after death than other bodily organs. From a recent article in the journal Transplanatation: At the time that a patient is diagnosed as brain dead, a substantial proportion of families who give consent to heart […]

An unborn brain flowering connections

We’ve mentioned some amazing advances in brain scanning unborn babies before on Mind Hacks and this image is another step in that remarkable science. The coloured fibres in the image are still-developing white matter circuits in the brain of an unborn baby at 36 weeks, picked out by a diffusion MRI scan. The scan is […]

Explore your blind spot (free ebook)

I’ve written an ebook called ‘Explore your blind spot’. It’s about, er, exploring your blind spot! In the best tradition of Mind Hacks I take you from the raw experience to the cutting edge of scientific theory. The blind spot is a simple phenomenon of our visual processing, but one we don’t notice day to […]

Mixing up a decade of All in the Mind

The amazing ABC Radio National programme All in the Mind is ten years old and is celebrating by mixing up some specially themed editions from its extensive archives. First up is the psychology and neuroscience of sex that tackles everything from gender myths to the neuroscience of female orgasm. The following edition, to hit the […]

An untranslatable mind

We tend to think of translation as a problem of grammar but a brilliant post on Notes from Two Scientific Psychologists demonstrates how even concepts about what the mind is can vary across languages. In Korean, the concept “maum” replaces the concept “mind”. “Maum” has no English counterpart, but is sometimes translated as “heart”. Apparently, […]

Counting every phantom found

I’ve just found a sublime track by singer songwriter William Fitzsimmons riffing on the antiquated diagnosis of psychasthenia and its treatment with brain surgery. Unexpectedly, it’s quite beautiful. The song is called Psychasthenia, a reference to old-fashioned diagnosis of the same name that was the first description of what we would now call OCD. I […]

‘Legal marijuana’ and a ban on brain function

The United States Congress has just passed a bill to ban ‘legal marijuana’ incense products and ‘bath salts’ stimulants – a legal move which, possibly for the first time, prohibits substances based on their action in the brain and not solely their chemical structure. The bill is an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act which […]

Body rock

Nature has a fantastic article about how our sense of being located in our bodies is being temporarily warped and distorted in the lab of neuroscientist Henrik Ehrsson. We’ve covered some of Ehrsson’s striking studies before as he has managed, with surprisingly simple equipment, to induce out-of-body experiences, the sense of having a third arm […]


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