Monthly Archives: December 2013

A multitude of phantoms

A fascinating paper in the neuroscience journal Brain looks at artistic depictions of phantom limbs – the feeling of the physical presence of a limb after it has been damaged or removed – and gives a wonderful insight how the brain perceives non-functioning or non-existent body parts. In fact, most people who have a limb […]

The most accurate psychopaths in cinema

The most accurately depicted psychopaths in cinema have been identified by a study that has just been published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. The study specifically excluded films that weren’t intended to be realistic (involving magical powers, fantasy settings and so on) but still examined 126 characters from 20th and 21st century movies. It’s […]

2013-12-27 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Mother Jones reports on a new study finding that political beliefs interfere with logical reasoning. Space in the brain: how the hippocampal formation supports spatial cognition. Excellent video introduction to Royal Society special edition. The New York Times discusses the science of depression and […]

The mysterious nodding syndrome – a crack of light

Two years ago we discussed a puzzling, sometimes fatal, ‘nodding syndrome‘ that has been affecting children in Uganda and South Sudan. We now know a little more, with epilepsy being confirmed as part of the disorder, although the cause still remains a mystery. The condition affects children between 5 and 15 years old, who have […]

Why Christmas rituals make tasty food

All of us carry out rituals in our daily lives, whether it is shaking hands or clinking glasses before we drink. At this time of year, the performance of customs and traditions is widespread – from sharing crackers, to pulling the wishbone on the turkey and lighting the Christmas pudding. These rituals might seem like […]

Whatever happened to Hans Eysenck?

Psychologist Hans Eysenck was once one of the most cited and controversial scientists on the planet and a major force in the development of psychology but he now barely merits a mention. Whatever happened to Hans Eysenck? To start off, it’s probably worth noting that Eysenck did a lot to ensure his legacy would be […]

A sticking plaster for a shattered world

The last paragraph of this article from the American Journal of Psychiatry on people displaced by the Syrian conflict essentially sums up the entire practice of conflict-related mental health. Looking at this endless list of horrible stories from a psychiatrist’s perspective, I see only patients suffering from what my profession calls posttraumatic stress disorder. It […]

2013-12-20 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The New York Times reports that information overlords Google acquire creature-inspired military robot outfit Boston Dynamics. Honestly. It’s like humanity is attached to a big angry dog and someone keeps yanking the chain. There’s an excellent and extensive MIT Tech Review piece on the […]

Year Four of the Blue Brain documentary

Film-maker Noah Hutton has just released the ‘Year Four’ film of the decade-long series of films about Henry Markram’s massive Blue Brain neuroscience project. It’s been an interesting year for Markram’s project with additional billion euro funding won to extend and expand on earlier efforts and the USA’s BRAIN Initiative having also made it’s well-funded […]

Is school performance less heritable in the USA?

A recent twin study looked at educational achievement in the UK and found that genetic factors contribute more than half to the difference in how students perform in their age 16 exams. But this may not apply to other countries. Twin studies look at the balance between environmental and genetic factors for a given population […]

The best graphic and gratuitious displays

Forget your end of year run-downs and best of 2013 photo specials, it doesn’t get much better than this: ‘The 15 Best Behavioural Science Graphs of 2010-13′ from the Stirling Behavioural Science Blog. As to be expected, some are a little better than others (well, Rolling Stone chose a Miley Cyrus video as one of […]

A disorder of marketing

The New York Times has an important article on how Attention Deficit Disorder, often known as ADHD, has been ‘marketed’ alongside sales of stimulant medication to the point where leading ADHD researchers are becoming alarmed at the scale of diagnosis and drug treatment. It’s worth noting that although the article focuses on ADHD, it is […]

2013-12-13 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Beware the enthusiasm for ‘neuroeducation’ says Steven Rose in Times Higher Education. Lots of studies use oxytocin nasal sprays. You can buy it from websites. Neuroskeptic asks does it even reach the brain? Time magazine finds a fascinating AI telemarketer bot that denies it’s […]

How sleep makes your mind more creative

It’s a tried and tested technique used by writers and poets, but can psychology explain why first moments after waking can be among our most imaginative? It is 6.06am and I’m typing this in my pyjamas. I awoke at 6.04am, walked from the bedroom to the study, switched on my computer and got to work […]

Where data meets the people

Ben Goldacre might be quite surprised to hear he’s written a sociology book, but for the second in our series on books about how the science of mind, brain and mental health meet society, Bad Pharma is an exemplary example. The book could essentially be read as a compelling textbook on clinical trial methodology with […]

2013-12-06 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: C-List celebrity is photographed with a psychology book in her hand and New York Magazine is all over it like Glenn Greenwald with an encrypted harddrive. The New York Times covers a Dutch scheme to get alcoholics working by paying them in beer. Scheme […]

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