Author Archives: vaughanbell

Never mind the neuromarketing

I’ve got an article in The Observer about the state of neuromarketing – where companies pay millions of wasted dollars to apply brain science to marketing. The piece looks at the three forms of neuromarketing – advertising fluff, serious research, and applied neuroscience. The first is clearly bollocks, the second a solid but currently abstract […]

Spike activity 26-06-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Picture This? Some Just Can’t. The New York Times covers a new study on people without visual imagery – that science writer Carl Zimmer helped discover. New Republic on how the Romans understood hallucinations. “They did not have a single concept of ‘hallucination’ until […]

Hold infinity in the palms of your hand

A rare documentary about three people who have had hallucinatory and profound revelatory experiences is now available online. Those Who Are Jesus examines the borders between revelation and psychosis and hears people recount their intense experiences while looking at how they can be understood in terms of sociology, neuropsychiatry, religion and radical mental health. Julian […]

Compulsory well-being: An interview with Will Davies

The UK government’s use of psychology has suddenly become controversial. They have promised to put psychologists into job centres “to provide integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions” but with the potential threat of having assistance removed if people do not attend treatment. It has been criticised as ‘treating […]

Wanted: political diversity in social psychology

A fascinating article on why social psychology needs more political diversity is due to be published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Sadly the full article is locked behind a paywall but the abstract gives an excellent summary of the article and the wider problem itself. Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science. Duarte JL, Crawford […]

Spike activity 12-06-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The New York Times has a fascinating piece about the three waves of ancient peoples who arrived in Europe to found the modern population. I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that the UK Government are deliberately side-lining their own scientific advisors to implement […]

Context Is the New Black

The New Yorker has one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the Stanford prison experiment – the notorious and mythologised study that probably doesn’t tell us that we ‘all have the potential to be monsters’. It’s a study that’s often taught as one of the cornerstones of psychology and like many foundational stories, […]

Hallucinating children

I’ve got an article in The Observer about childhood hallucinations which are much more common than we previously imagined. You tend to get one of two reactions when you discuss children hallucination: that’s obvious – children live in a fantasy world, or that’s horrendous – there must be something very wrong with them. The answer […]

Spike activity 05-06-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Fusion has an oddly fascinating piece on the AI of dick pic detection which turns out to be a surprisingly hard problem (matron). Uber poaches 40 people from Carnegie Mellon’s robotics researcher community wanting to boost their autonomous car technology according to the Market […]

The thin white line of future drug control

The UK Government have announced they want to change the drugs law and ban “[any] substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect”. It’s a fairly clumsy attempt to tackle the wave of ‘legal highs’ but there’s a little psychopharmacological gem, hidden away, in the Home Secretary’s letter that accompanies the proposed changes. There’s […]

Another angle on the Human Brain Project

An important interview with the neuroscience laboratory manager from the Human Brain Project revealing some previously unknown details about the running of this important scientific endeavour. via @jpeelle

Spike activity 29-05-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Psychologist has a great piece by leading neurosurgeon Henry Marsh on mistakes, mystery and the mind. When Does Consciousness Begin and End? Interesting piece from PBS. The Lancet Psychiatry has a great piece on a unique suicide crisis resolution house in London. Who […]

An alternative history of the human mind

Nautilus has an excellent article on a theory of consciousness that is very likely wrong but so startlingly original it is widely admired: Julian Jaynes’ theory of the bicameral mind. Based on the fact that there is virtually no description of mental states in the Ancient Greek classic The Iliad, where the protagonists are largely […]

John Nash has left the building

So goodbye John Nash, brilliant mathematician and beautiful mind, who has sadly just passed away after being involved in a taxi crash with his wife. Nash was famous for many things, but was probably most well-known for being the subject of the biopic A Beautiful Mind – an Oscar-winning production that sugar-coated the details although […]

Spike activity 12-05-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: No, there is no evidence for a link between video games and Alzheimer’s disease, reports HeadQuarters after recent media bungles. We’re still waiting to hear on SimCity and Parkinson’s disease though. The American Psychiatric Association has a new corporate video that looks like a […]

In the mind of a drone

Longreads has an excellent article on the psychology of drone warfare that looks at this particularly modern form of air-to-ground combat from many, thought-provoking angles. These include the effect of humanless warfare, how suicide bombers are being dronified, how reducing the risk to soldiers might make civilians a more inviting target, whether remote-drone-pilot PTSD is […]

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