Monthly Archives: March 2012

On the challenges of studying suicide

Nature has an important article on why virtually no-one is trying to develop treatments to prevent suicide because research with such high-risk patients is almost impossible to get approved. Most psychiatric drug trials today—the majority of which are industry sponsored—exclude anyone expressing thoughts of suicide. This is for ethical as well as practical reasons: physicians […]

Inside The Ailing Brain

The Ailing Brain is a fantastic documentary series on the brain and its disorders that’s freely available online. It has been produced in Spanish but the first part is now on YouTube with English subtitles. The series is among the best neuroscience documentary series I have even seen (along with Susan Greenfield’s Brain Story – […]

A bipolar expedition

In 2008, The Lancet published an amazing article on the ‘psychological effects of polar expeditions’ that contains a potted history of artic madness. Unfortunately, the paper is locked, or shall we say, frozen, behind a paywall, although this snippet on the history of mental health problems on artic expeditions makes for quite surprising reading. Accounts […]

Bring the love

The world of art, neuroscience and, er… competitive affection, collide in a delightful film about a love competition held in an fMRI scanner. The piece is by film-maker Brent Hoff who seems to be making a series of films based on the idea of emotion competitions. In this film, competitors are asked to ‘love someone […]

The seers and oracles

An evocative passage from the 1976 book Hallucinogens and Shamanism about the use of the hallucinogenic Psilocybe mexicana mushroom by the Mazatec people of Mexico. The Mazatecs say that the mushrooms speak. If you ask a shaman where his imagery comes from, he is likely to reply: I didn’t say it, the mushrooms did. The […]

The hidden history of lobotomy’s non-inventor

A fascinating snippet on the notorious supposed inventor of the frontal lobotomy, Egas Moniz, from an article in the Polish Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery: Egas Moniz: a genius, unlucky looser or a Nobel Committee error? Neurol Neurochir Pol. 2012;46(1):96-103. Lass P, Sławek J, Sitek E. Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz is one of the […]

Wishful resilience

The New York Times has an extended article that uncritically dicusses a $125 million US Military programme currently designed to increase resilience against mental illness. If you’re interested in the effects and treatment of psychological trauma, it’s always worth keeping tabs on what the military are doing. The concept of trauma has largely been driven […]

Goodbye Colombia, for now

A few days ago I moved back to the UK after spending three years working in beautiful Colombia. I had the pleasure of learning from some fantastic colleagues and managed to find myself working across the country from the Amazon to the Andes. As a small and inevitably inadequate token of my appreciation I’d like […]

Neurotoxic e-waste recycling

The Lancet has an extensive news piece on how the recycling of old electronics in developing countries may be a serious neurological risk owing to the high levels of neurotoxic chemicals in modern electronics. “The recycling of e-waste is big business in developing countries”, explains Javier Carod-Artal (Virgen de la Luz Hospital, Cuenca, Spain). “But […]

Buried words

I’ve just found a fantastic video that explains the speech-impairing disorder aphasia to children of all ages. Its called ‘The Treasure Hunt’ and was created by speech pathologist Shiree Heath and it went on to win first place in the Society for Neuroscience’s video competition. The video combines a cartoon treasure hunt with recordings of […]

A thread of hope from a shooting

No-one knows why Steven Kazmierczak snapped. When he kicked his way into a packed lecture hall in Northern Illinois University, shooting dead five students and injuring 21 more, those who knew him expressed surprise that he was capable of such brutal violence. He killed himself at the end of the spree, meaning his motives remain […]

Post-sex psychology

Slate has an article covering the growing research on post-sex behaviour – what we do after we’ve got it on and what it might mean. To be honest, I had no idea that anyone was studying what people do after sex but it sounds like the science is well underway. Counter to popular opinion, a […]

A mental space filled with flowers

An entire psychiatric hospital has been filled with flowers before demolition as part of a beautiful art installation to remember a place “rich with a history of both hope and sadness.” Art website Colossal has amazing pictures of the sublime artwork. In 2003 a building housing the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC) was slated for […]

Reminder: revelatory experiences conference

A final reminder about the revelatory experience conference where the psychology, neuroscience and anthropology of visionary experiences will be discussed in London on March 23rd. Rather than debating whether such experiences are ‘true’ or not, it’s more aimed at discussing how well our current tools of science, medicine and interpretation help us make sense of […]

Attractive people less shallow

I’ve just found a disappointing study from the European Journal of Psychology that found that physically attractive people are more likely to be psychologically balanced and accepting than the rest of us. The study asked 119 participants to complete the Personal Orientation Inventory, a measure of psychological characteristics such as self-acceptance, spontaneity and self-actualisation, while […]

Catching the krokodil

Over the last few months somewhat sensational media reports have appeared discussing a cheap Russian heroin-like drug nicknamed ‘krokodil’ due to it causing scaly lesions at the site of injection. It has been variously headlined as a ‘designer drug’ or ‘the drug that eats junkies’ but until now it has not been discussed in the […]


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