Monthly Archives: February 2012

At least it’s not Twitter

Susan Greenfield, the neuroscientist who seems to have given up on science but constantly appears in the media telling people that ‘the internet can damage your brain,’ now has a website and a YouTube channel. A sense of irony, however, seems still to be on pre-order from Amazon.   Link to but DON’T RISK […]

Dinner table neuropsychology

Common sense or ‘folk psychology‘ is what your average person in the street uses to make sense of human behaviour. It says people have affairs because their relationship is unsatisfying, that people steal because they want money and that people give to charity because they want to help people. Scientists tend to say ‘well, it’s […]

Neurohacks column at BBC Future

The quite lovely BBC Future has launched (‘the home of new trends in the worlds of Science, Technology, Environment and Health’) and yours truly has a column there: Neurohacks (‘Neuroscience and the psychology of the everyday’). You can find it in the ‘Brain‘ section. At this point any UK-based surfers who have followed the above […]

Filming the rabbit hole

I’ve just managed to watch a few editions of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, an online documentary series about mind altering drugs, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the programmes. If you think hearing about other people’s drug experiences is about as interesting as watching someone staring at the wallpaper, you’ll be pleased to hear that […]

Ulric Neisser, psychology’s repentant revolutionary

The New York Times has an obituary for the founder of cognitive psychology, Ulric Neisser. As with most of his obituaries it glosses over the fact that Neisser later rejected cognitive psychology as a means to fully understand the human mind. Ulric Neisser is widely regarded as having founded the field with his 1967 book […]

The mind is a guess

My recent Beyond Boundaries column for the latest issue of The Psychologist explores how the idea of the ‘mind’ as a single distinct concept is an assumption that many cultures don’t share. I’d like to talk about people who don’t have minds. This isn’t going to be one of those ingenious philosophy arguments where I […]

Moments of the self

A study just published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences gives a wonderful example of the little recognised complexity of epileptic seizures. The article describes three cases of people who take their clothes off during seizures and discusses the potential legal consequences of engaging in such behaviour when it was caused by epilepsy. However ‘Case […]

A journey through schizophrenia science

BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific recently profiled psychiatrist, schizophrenia researcher and stand-up chap, Robin Murray, who talks about how his understanding of the condition has drastically changed over the years. It’s a fascinating journey through how our theories about the mental illness, most associated with having delusions and hallucinations, has evolved through time – […]

The hot Gosling effect

A bizarre and funny tumblr called Neuroscientist Ryan Gosling that has nothing but pictures of Ryan Gosling making hot neuroscience innuendos. It was bound to happen eventually.

Of both lovers and epilepsy

Saint Valentine is the patron saint of both lovers and epilepsy – sadly, a little known fact. There is one wonderful example of this divine coupling, however, where the passionate saint appears alongside EEG traces on 1998 postage stamp from Italy. This description is from a brief 2003 article from the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery […]

Violence and delusional pets

I’ve just read a striking article recounting cases of violence associated with delusions about household pets. Although the academic paper is locked, a copy is available online as a pdf. The curious study was published in a 1987 edition of Behavioral Sciences and the Law and includes three extended case studies of defendants charged with […]

Individual ecstasies: the revelatory experience conference

On March 23rd London will host a unique conference on the neuroscience, psychiatry and interpretation of revelatory visionary experiences. It’s been put together by Quinton Deeley from our research group at the Institute of Psychiatry and brings together cognitive neuroscientists, anthropologists, religious studies scholars, psychologists and psychiatrists to discuss different ways of understanding ‘revelatory experiences’. […]

A culture shock for universal emotion

The Boston Globe looks at the increasing evidence against the idea that there are some universally expressed facial emotions. The idea that some basic emotions are expressed universally and have an evolutionary basis was suggested by Darwin in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. The concept was further explored by […]

Group sync

The New Yorker has a fantastic article on how creativity and innovation spring from group structure and social interaction. The piece is framed as tackling the ‘brainstorming myth’ – as the well-known idea generation method has been comprehensively but unknowingly debunked many times – but the article is really much wider and explores what sort […]

Before you hit the ground there’s a moment of bliss

I’ve just found this amazing bluesy hip hop track by George Watsky and the GetBand about having an epileptic seizure in front of a girl you’re trying to impress. As well as being an astute observation of the experience of seizure it’s defiant, fast and funny and Watsky just rolls through the rhymes. You don’t […]

Online teen drama

The New Yorker nicely summarises a recent study on how teenage girls make sense of online bullying and harassment in a way that is more acceptable to their peer group. The article is on the tragic story of a gay teen who committed suicide after being surreptitiously filmed with a lover, captured through a webcam […]


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