Author Archives: vaughanbell

More on the enigma of blindness and psychosis

A long-standing enigma in psychiatry has been why no-one has been able to find someone who has both congenital blindness and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The newest and most comprehensive archive study to date has just been published on exactly this issue although it raises more questions than it answers. Evelina Leivada and Cedric Boeckx […]

Spike activity 14-11-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent piece arguing for more focus on developing good theories of the brain amid the cascade of cash for neuroscience methods. Moving Beyond Left Brain, Right Brain, Neuroskeptic goes in-depth with Michael Corballis. More neuronerd goodness from […]

Trifles make the sum of life

I’ve just found a curious scientific paper that looks at whether computational models of neural function are of relevance to clinical psychiatry. Oddly, it is written as a debate between two Charles Dickens characters. The paper was published in the journal Neural Networks and is entitled “Are computational models of any use to psychiatry?”. It […]

Hearing WiFi

New Scientist has a fascinating article on Frank Swain who has hacked his hearing aid to allow him to hear WiFi. It’s a great idea and riffs on various attempts to ‘extend’ perception into the realm of being able to sense the usually unnoticed electromagnetic environment. I am walking through my north London neighbourhood on […]

Spike activity 07-11-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The odd beauty of 60-Year-old preserved brains from the Texas State Mental Hospital. Photo series from the Washington Post. The Concourse has an interesting piece by an ex-con who discusses violence as a social currency in the US prison system. Interesting contrast between forensic […]

Beautiful online neuroscience learning

The Fundamentals of Neuroscience is a free online course from Harvard and it looks wonderful – thanks to them employing animators, digital artists and scientists to lift the course above the usual read and repeat learning. The course is already underway but you can register and start learning until mid-December and you can watch any […]

Hallucinogenic bullets

An article in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology discusses the history of ‘modern toxic antipersonnel projectiles’ and it has a short history of ammunition designed to introduce incapacitating hallucinogenic substances into the body. As you might expect for such an unpleasant idea (chemical weapon hand guns!) they were wielded by some fairly […]

Mind Hacks – Live!

At the end of November, we’ll be celebrating 10 years of Mind Hacks, and we’re putting on a live event in London to celebrate. You are cordially invited. Mind Hacks – Live! will be like the blog, but live, and with less scrolling. Some of the details are still under construction, but here’s what we […]

Spike activity 31-10-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Nautilus has an interesting piece on how artificial intelligence systems are getting better at strategy. Two neuroscientists explain why zombies have so much trouble walking in Slate Vice magazine talks to a psychologist working in the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. Neuroscientists manage to get […]

Social psychology has lost its balance

The New Yorker has an interesting article about a lack of political diversity in social psychology and how that may be leading to a climate of bias against conservative researchers, ideas and the evidence that might support them. Some of the evidence for a bias against conservative thinking in social psychology goes back some years, […]

Quasi-stability

Yesterday, before I got here, my dad was trying to fix an invisible machine. By all accounts, he began working on the phantom device quite intently, but as his repairs began to involve the hospice bed and the tubes attached to his body, he was gently sedated, and he had to leave it, unresolved. This […]

Spike activity 24-10-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: A Victorian lunatic asylum begins to reveal its secrets. The Wellcome Library now has the first of many digitised asylum records online. Narratively has an excellent piece on legendary San Francisco eccentric Emperor Norton. The marketers latest fad – make it seem it’s a […]

A Rush of Blood to the Brain

An article from Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry that discusses the concept of ‘moral disability’ and brain trauma in Victorian times includes a fascinating section on what was presumably thought to be the science of ‘knocking some sense into the brain’. The piece is by medical historian Brandy Shillace who researches Victorian scientific ideas and how […]

Hallucinating astronauts

I’ve got a piece in The Observer about the stresses, strains and mind-bending effects of space flight. NASA considers behavioural and psychiatric conditions to be one of the most significant risks to the integrity of astronaut functioning and there is a surprisingly long history of these difficulties adversely affecting missions. Perhaps more seriously, hallucinations have […]

Spike activity 05-10-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Dropping science: neuroscientists throw down epic / excruciating rap battle on Twitter. Bring the line noise. The New Yorker has an interesting piece on the neuroscientific legacy of the Vietnam War. In neuroscience terms, it was America’s World War One. The latest edition of […]

A review of Susan Greenfield’s “Mind Change”

I was asked to write a review of Susan Greenfield’s new book “Mind Change” for the October edition of Literary Review magazine which has just been published. You can read the review in the print edition and I did have the full text posted here but the good folks at the magazine have also put […]

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