Author Archives: vaughanbell

Excellent NPR Invisibilia finally hits the wires

A sublime new radio show on mind, brain and behaviour has launched today. It’s called Invisibilia and is both profound and brilliant. It’s produced by ex-Radiolab alumni Lulu Miller and radio journalist Alix Spiegel – responsible for some of the best mind and brain material on the radio in the last decade. The first episode […]

Bringing us closer to the blueprints of the brain

I’ve got a piece in today’s Observer about the amazing science of doing functional brain imaging and behavioural studies with babies while they are still in the womb to see the earliest stages of neurocognitive development. Brain development during pregnancy is key for future health, which is why it gets checked so thoroughly during prenatal […]

A new year with an old friend

I’ve just found a curious article in the scientific journal Clinical Anatomy which reprints a Victorian story called ‘Celebrating new year in Bart’s dissecting room’ where the corpses come to life. It finishes with some interesting observations about the psychological impact of dissecting a dead body as a rite of passage for medical students. The […]

Spike activity 19-12-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: MIT Tech Review has an interesting piece about ‘troll hunters’ – a new wave of internet abuse vigilantes. ABC All in the Mind has a good edition asking whether mirror neurons have been oversold. Spoiler alert: yes, they have. The New York Magazine’s Science […]

Economics against sexual violence

PBS has an article on ‘How economic theory can help stop sexual assault’ which despite its unappealing title is actually a genuinely thought-provoking piece on how game theory and social norms marketing could help prosecute and prevent sexual violence. Both approaches look at how people’s behaviour is shaped by their perception of other people’s beliefs […]

The celebrity analysis that killed celebrity analysis

Most ‘psy’ professionals are banned by their codes of conduct from conducting ‘celebrity analysis’ and commenting on the mental state of specific individuals in the media. This is a sensible guideline but I didn’t realise it was triggered by a specific event. Publicly commenting on a celebrity’s psychological state is bad form. If you’ve worked […]

Towards a nuanced view of mental distress

In the latest edition of The Psychologist I’m involved in a debate with John Cromby about whether our understanding of mental illness is mired in the past. He thinks it is, I think it isn’t, and we kick off from there. The article is readable online with a free registration but I’ve put the unrestricted […]

Spike activity 12-12-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The new trailer for upcoming Pixar movie Inside Out is very funny and has a remarkably accurate depiction of brain function. Neurocritic covers hipster neuroscience. Is the ‘bilingual advantage’ in cognitive performance a result of publication bias? Maybe, suggests the Science of Us. The […]

Snake oil salesmen selling torture

The US Government has just released its report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, aptly branded the “torture report”, which is available online as a pdf. It makes for appalling reading but sheds light on the role of two psychologists in the creation and running of what turned out to be genuinely counter-productive ‘enhanced […]

You won’t find the data in my pants

The journal contexts has an excellent article on the long history of exploring the sex lives of sex researchers as a veiled attempt to discredit their work. …these stories suggest a troubling pattern: they tend to focus on researchers’ alleged sexual proclivities, spinning them as deviant motivations which compromise the research. For example, James Miller’s […]

Madness, murder and mental healing

London’s innovative biomedical centre, the Wellcome Collection, have created a fascinating interactive story on how ‘mesmerism’ and hypnosis played an important role in the history of mind and madness. It’s written by the fantastic Mike Jay, who has penned many excellent books on the high-strangeness of the early science of the mind in the 1800s, […]

Spike activity 05-12-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: There’s a picture gallery from the abandoned Talgarth and Denbigh asylums at Wales Online. The Guardian has a piece on psychologist William Marston, polyamory, feminism and the genesis of Wonder Woman. Doesn’t mention he also invented the polygraph. The saga of the lost, maybe […]

3652 days

Mind Hacks is exactly 10 years old today. Here’s the first post where Matt announced that the book had started shipping. This is the 4950th post and Mind Hacks has been going for 3652 days which means we’ve published an average of 1.4 posts a day, every day, for the last 10 years. Apart from […]

Spike activity 28-11-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Pentagon publishes their plan for future war and they seem to have ripped off the plot from 1980s Rogue Trooper story lines. The Scientist has a basic guide to imaging white matter with diffusion MRI. Next week in The Scientist: Collar up or […]

Wankers and prankers on the suicide hotline

The New York Magazine‘s new Science of Us section has an interesting review of a new documentary on hotlines – whether they be for suicide support or phone sex. I was initially annoyed at the fact that the documentary puts both of these in the same category but it’s based on the interesting premise that […]

Spike activity 21-11-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Wall Street Journal on The Future of AI: An Ubiquitous, Invisible, Smart Utility. A list of the 100 most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter compiled by the BPS Research Digest. And a mixed bag it is too. Student Science has a fantastic how-to […]

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