Author Archives: vaughanbell

Spike activity 27-06-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Slate has a piece on developmental psychology’s WEIRD problem. Most kids in child psychology studies are from very restricted social groups – rich, educated families. Facebook manipulated stories in users’ newsfeeds to conduct experiments on emotional contagion. Don’t remember signing the consent form for […]

A spook’s guide to the psychology of deception

Last February, a file from the Edward Snowden leaks was released from a 2012 GCHQ presentation called ‘The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations’. It describes the ‘Online Covert Action Accreditation’ course which draws heavily on the psychology of influence and persuasion. This post will look at how they’re piecing together the science […]

The normality trap

I remember taking a bus to London Bridge when, after a few stops, a woman got on who seemed to move with a subtle but twitchy disregard for her surroundings. She found herself a seat among the Saturday shoppers and divided her time between looking out the window and responding to invisible companions, occasionally shouting […]

Spike activity 20-06-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: OK Go’s new music video is like standing naked under a waterfall of optical illusions while wearing hipster spectacles. The mighty Neurocritic looks at advances in physical brain tweaking and the possible rebirth of paradise engineering. The Dana Foundation has an excellent piece on […]

A peek inside The Skeleton Cupboard

You’ll get more out of The Skeleton Cupboard, Tanyan Byron’s account of her training as a clinical psychologist, if you read the epilogue first. It tells you that the patients described in the book are fictional, to preserve confidentiality, but indicates that the stories were representative of real situations. This is a common device in […]

Spike activity 06-06-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Psychedelic chemist, godfather of Ecstasy, and lover of phenethylamines, Alexander Shulgin, has left the building. PhysOrg has an obituary. New Republic looks back at 50 years of the landmark account of psychosis ‘I Never Promised You a Rose Garden’. The US Secret Service wants […]

A festival of anxious art

If you’re in London during June, the Anxiety Arts Festival is surprisingly diverse and interesting series of events that looks at anxiety through film, theatre and visual arts. The festival is being curated by the Mental Health Foundation who have put together a genuinely exciting programme that avoids the curse of constant niceness and goes […]

Spike activity 30-05-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: If you’ve not been keeping up with the internet, there’s been a replication crisis hoedown and everyone’s had a go on the violin. Political Science Replication had a good summary. Schnall’s reply, the rise of ‘negative psychology’ and a pointed response. Military Plans To […]

The day video games ate my school child

The BBC is reporting that a UK teachers union “is calling for urgent action over the impact of modern technology on children’s ability to learn” and that “some pupils were unable to concentrate or socialise properly” due to what they perceive as ‘over-use’ of digital technology. Due to evidence reviewed by neuroscientist Kathryn Mills in […]

Important peculiarities of memory

A slide from what looks like a fascinating talk by memory researcher Robert Bjork is doing the rounds on Twitter. The talk has just happened at the Association for Psychological Science 2014 conference and it describes some ‘Important peculiarities of memory’. You can click the link above if you want to see if the image, […]

Spike activity 16-05-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Motherboard on a legal rights framework for biohacking the brain. Caveat hax0r no? There Is a Doppelganger Inside All Our Heads. Interesting piece in Nautilus. Discover Magazine covers the latest study on using electrical stimulation to increase the chance of lucid dreaming. The seductive […]

Unsure memories of murder

The BBC News site has a special multimedia feature on a case of false confession to murder that has been been troubling Iceland from the 1970s and has recently erupted again. The Beeb have clearly gone a bit ‘Scandinavian detective drama’ on the whole thing but it is a gripping story, not least because it […]

The genetics of intelligent radio

BBC Radio 4 has just concluded an excellent three-part series on the controversies over the genetics of intelligence and it’s one of the best and most nuanced discussions you’ll hear about the topic for many years. The series is called Intelligence: Born Smart, Born Equal, Born Different and it’s carefully put together, wide in scope […]

A forest of porous dreaming

A fascinating section of the book How Forests Think by anthropologist Eduardo Kohn where he describes how dreaming is much more porous among the Runa people of Ecuador. This is both because of how they understand dreams, but also because of the way sleep happens in their culture – it being a more social and […]

Spike activity 09-05-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Slate has an in-depth piece on the ‘real story’ of Phineas Gage. Perhaps not such a revelation to some but beautifully told nonetheless. There’s an extensive piece on the latest developments with neuromorphic chips in MIT Tech Review. Foreign Policy magazine has ‘The Case […]

The poly themes of psychosis

The latest London Review of Books has an amazing first-person account of psychosis that illustrates the complex interlocking webs of ideas and perceptions that can occur in the more intense versions of the experience. As a description of the lived-experience of psychosis, it is actually quite rare, because most are written about relatively (and I […]

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