Monthly Archives: February 2013

Your future self already exists in the cloud

The Economist has a short but fascinating piece on the work of physicist Chaoming Song who creates mathematical models to predict your future location based on your mobile phone and online activity. His accuracy rarely drops below 80%. Song Chaoming, for instance, is a researcher at Northeastern University in Boston. He is a physicist, but […]

The Perfect Woman

The heaving busts and melodrama of a Latin American soap opera, a television industry desperate for a ratings hit, and the writer makes a woman with Asperger’s syndrome the love interest for the dashing plastic surgeon in the latest telenovela. It sounds like a recipe for disaster but it turned out to be a triumph. […]

What will the billion dollar brain projects do?

Two neuroscience projects have been earmarked for billion dollar funding by Europe and the US government but little has been said about what the projects will achieve. Here’s what we know. The European Commision has just awarded half a billion euros to the Human Brain Project – a development of Henry Markram’s Blue Brain project […]

2013-02-22 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Lancet asks how we can help children cope with trauma? The unfortunate answer is we don’t really know. “If you don’t share my beliefs, it’s because your brain isn’t working properly”. Excellent piece on the ‘defective brain’ fallacy from the Cultural Cognition Project […]

The Master and His Emissary

I’ve been struggling to understand Iain McGilchrist’s argument about the two hemispheres of the brain, as presented in his book “The Master and His Emissary” [1]. It’s an argument that takes you from neuroanatomy, through behavioural science to cultural studies [2]. The book is crammed with fascinating evidential trees, but I left it without a […]

The blossoms are beautiful on their own

Listen. I totally respect your new neuroscience discovery. Really, my balls are jazzed. But quit with the ‘may lead to a cure for epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia’ thing you always put in your press releases. Your new neuroscience discovery is genuinely cool, but, let’s face it, no more likely to lead to a cure for […]

Point me to a brain area

I’ve just found an incredibly use brain anatomy atlas that when you point at any part of an MRI scan it tells you which part of the brain you’re looking at in all three planes. It seems to be part of a very useful website called HeadNeckBrainSpine that is full of handy neuroanatomy tools, tutorials […]

BBC Column: Why cyclists enrage car drivers

Here is my latest BBC Future column. The original is here. This one proved to be more than usually controversial, not least because of some poorly chosen phrasing from yours truly. This is an updated version which makes what I’m trying to say clearer. If you think that I hate cyclists, or my argument relies […]

Khat out of the bag

Finding myself at a loose end yesterday I decided I’d try and track down one of London’s mafrishes – a type of cafe where people from the capital’s Ethiopian, Somali and Yemeni community chew the psychoactive plant khat. I’d heard about a Somali cafe on Lewisham Way and thought that was as good a place […]

2013-02-14 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: “Ever since I learnt about confirmation bias I’ve started seeing it everywhere”. Genius line from a Jon Ronson blog post. The Dana Foundation research showing the genetic risk for psychiatric conditions can be seen early in development. The fantastic Neuroskeptic blog has moved to […]

An online sickness

The first academic review article on ‘Munchausen by Internet‘ – where people fake the identity of an ill person online – has just been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Munchausen syndrome is a common name for facticious disorder where people consciously fake illnesses for their own gain. This is distinguished from malingering […]

Synthetic highs are mutating

A new study on the chemicals in the latest batch of legally sold ‘synthetic highs’ has found what looks like an unintended hybrid drug. As regular Mind Hacks readers will know, I’m a keen watcher of the murky ‘legal high’ market. We seem to be in the unprecedented position where sophisticated grey-market pharmacologists are rapidly […]

Hallucinations of the inner body

One of the least understood symptoms in psychosis are hallucinations called cenesthesias. These are ‘inner body’ feelings that often don’t correspond to any known or even possible bodily experiences. A team from Japan has just published a study of patients who experience cenesthesias in the mouth. Here are a selection of the hallucinations: “Feels like […]

Unpretentiousil: stops douchebaggery at its root

A revolutionary new medication for Hyper Involuntary Panic Stress Tension Elevation Response (HIPSTER Disorder) has become available. Now available from all good lo-fi dubstep jazz lounges (via BoingBoing)

2013-02-08 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The New York Times covers the recent upsurge of robots-taking-over-the-world anxiety. To the bunkers! The dodgy practice of psychologists trying to patent therapeutic techniques is covered by Neuroskeptic. The Humanist discusses the explosion of the unhelpful concept of sex addition. Forensic psychology nerds: In […]

A memory of shifting sands

The New York Review of Books has a reflective piece by Oliver Sacks on the swirling mists of memory and how false recall has affected authors and artists throughout history. [Science] is startling to realize that some of our most cherished memories may never have happened—or may have happened to someone else. I suspect that […]


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