Monthly Archives: October 2013

A buried artefact

Sometimes there is an accidental beauty in the most macabre of events. Having a bullet lodged in your brain can produce beautiful CT scans due to the scanner’s difficulty with imaging metal objects. The scan is from an 8-year-old girl who was hit by a bullet that was fired into the air in celebration. She […]

Does studying economics make you more selfish?

When economics students learn about what makes fellow humans tick it affects the way they treat others. Not necessarily in a good way, as Tom Stafford explains. Studying human behaviour can be like a dog trying to catch its own tail. As we learn more about ourselves, our new beliefs change how we behave. Research […]

A universal difference

The author of Crazy Like Us, Ethan Watters, has written an excellent article on whether there’s such a thing as ‘human nature’ for the latest edition of Adbusters. The piece tackles how scientific assumptions about the ‘universals’ of the human mind are having to be revised and discusses research which has shown how people from […]

Lou Reed has left the building

Chronicler of the wild side, Lou Reed, has died. Reed was particularly notable for students of human nature for his descriptions of drugs, madness and his own experience of psychiatry. We’ve touched on his outrageous performance to the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry before and his songs about or featuring drug use are legendary. […]

The grass is always greener

If you’re a neuroscience fan, Marketing magazine has a somewhat depressing report of a Susan Greenfield speech to the travel industry at the ABTA conference in Croatia. It’s sad for two reasons. Firstly The Baroness is still pursuing the same bizarre and evidence-free line that the internet causes all sorts of brain curdling problems and […]

2013-10-25 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Excellent Nature article on the real impressive science behind the ‘fMRI mind reading’ studies that hit the headlines in unhelpful ways. The I Have a Therapist campaign aims to destigmatise seeing a therapist. IEEE Spectrum magazine has a piece on the next world’s strongest […]

A man called Dad

An eye-opening 2005 paper estimated the number of children who are not the biological offspring of their presumed father. Looking at studies from around the world, it concluded that the median number of kids who are not the children of the person they call ‘dad’ is 3.7% with studies typically finding a rate of between […]

The death of the chaotic positivity ratio

A new online publication called Narratively has an excellent story about how a part-time student blew apart a long-standing theory in positive psychology. The article is the geeky yet compelling tale of how weekend student Nick Brown found something fishy about the ‘critical positivity ratio’ theory that says people flourish when they have between 2.9013 […]

Seeing synaesthetic stars during sex

A study in Frontiers in Psychology asked people who have emotional synaesthesia – they see colours when they have certain emotions – about what they experience during sex. There is a particularly lovely table that illustrates these experiences through the different stages of the sexual response cycle: Appentance phase “This phase has an orange character” […]

2013-10-18 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Is America Less Mentally Healthy Than A Chilean Jail? asks Neuroskeptic. BPS Research Digest had a special series of articles on people with exceptional abilities such as super calculators, super recognisers and super agers. Social psychologists say war is not inevitable – according to […]

Scraping the bottom of the biscuit barrel

As a wonderful demonstration how media outlets will report the ridiculous as long as ‘neuroscience’ is mentioned, I present the ‘Oreos May Be As Addictive As Cocaine’ nonsense. According to Google News, it has so far been reported by 209 media outlets, including some of the world’s biggest publications. That’s not bad for some non-peer […]

US Military PsyOps video appears online

A US Military PsyOps video has found its way onto the YouTubes and gives a interesting but clunky guide to ’90s psychological operations. It’s called The Invisible Sword and it’s a bit like watching a cable TV infomercial for psychological warfare complete with cheesy easy listening background music and stilted dialogue. “It all gets put […]

A radiant light and an aura of activity

Nature Medicine has a fascinating article about attempts to research the neuroscience of migraine and its aura – the perceptual changes that precede the onset of the splitting headache. It turns out to be trickier than it seems. The idea is to trigger a migraine in people who seem to have clear conditions that start […]

2013-10-11 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: New series of BBC Radio 4′s excellent internet and society programme The Digital Human started this week. Scientific American cover surprising sex differences in migraine which seem to be almost ‘different diseases’ in men and women. Post-traumatic stress reactions in survivors of the 2011 […]

Drugs for the circuit-based human

In a recent article for The Observer I noted that almost all the major drug companies had closed down their neuroscience divisions as evidence for a move away from a ‘chemical-based’ to a ‘circuit-based’ approach to treatments. So to my surprise, a new Nature News article has just appeared discussing the re-launch of pharmaceutical giant […]

A tour through isolation

The BBC World Service just broadcast an amazing radio documentary on the experience of isolation – talking to people who have experienced intense remoteness from other humans including polar base residents, astronauts, prisoners and people who completed the Mars-500 simulated mission. Firstly, it’s just beautiful. If there’s such a thing as an ambient documentary, this […]

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