Author Archives: vaughanbell

An earlier death

Journalism site The Toast has what I believe is the only first-person account of Cotard’s delusion – the belief that you’re dead – which can occur in psychosis. The article is by writer Esmé Weijun Wang who describes her own episode of psychosis and how she came to believe, and later unbelieve, that she was […]

Spike activity 12-09-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: New Scientist reports that sleeping brains can process and respond to words. Forward directly to boss. “Cyranoids” – Stanley Milgram’s Creepiest Experiment. Neuroskeptic covers the science behind a little known Milgram experiment and a curiously common TV trope. The Neurocritic reports on a case […]

Mental health debates without the stress

If you work in mental health, you could do much worse than reading the editorial in today’s Lancet Psychiatry about unpleasant debates and how to avoid them. Unfortunately, debates in mental health tend to get nasty quite quickly – but I’ve seen no part of the debate spectrum which has a monopoly on bigotry or […]

Agents, social encounters and hallucinated voices

I’ve written a piece for the new PLOS Neuro Community about how the social aspects of hallucinated voices tend to be ignored and how we might go about making it more central in psychology and neuroscience. It came about because the PLOS Neuro Community have asked authors of popular papers to write a more gentle […]

Psychoactive plants in season at Kew Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, or London’s Kew Gardens if you’re not from the 1800s, has a fantastic season of events on the science of psychoactive plants that starts on 20th September. It covers everything from coffee to opium to magic mushrooms and discuss the pharmacology, public policy and ethnobotany of intoxicating plants. There […]

Freaky brain tongue graffiti

You wait all year for neuroscience themed graffiti and then two come along in a week. This was found on Carrera 31 in Medellín yesterday morning. It turns out that over the years I’ve managed to collect a fair amount of brain-themed graffiti for Mind Hacks, which you can browse at your pleasure here. And […]

Taste illusions

I’ve just found a 2008 review article on the multisensory perception of flavour that is full of fascinating examples of taste illusions and demonstrates the surprisingly complexity of the gustatory system. The following is one of my favourites. The article first makes the interesting observation that the majority of odour names refer to objects and […]

Brain digger in Medellín

A digger scooping the brain of a blue man, found earlier this week in Medellín, on Calle 67, just by the metro station Hospital. The text translates as ‘changing forests for cement’ but has been scratched on after the original artwork, presumably by someone who isn’t familiar with the industrial brain digger industry and its […]

A torrent of accidental poems

Neurology journal Neurocase has an interesting study of a women who started compulsively writing poetry after having brief epileptic amnesia treated with the anti-seizure drug lamotrigine. A 76-year-old woman reported having a poor memory and short periods of disorientation and was eventually diagnosed with transient epileptic amnesia – brief recurrent seizures that lead to short […]

Round trip ticket to the science of psychedelics

The latest edition of The Psychologist is a special open-access issue on the science and social impact of hallucinogenic drugs. There’s an article by me on culture and hallucinogens that discusses the role of hallucinogenic drugs in diverse cultures and which also covers how cultural expectations shape the hallucinogenic experience – from traditional Kitanemuk society […]

Disco biscuits

This is a video of Professor Stephen Stahl, author of Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology, doing a DSM-5 themed version of Stayin’ Alive by the BeeGees.   After working out that, no, no-one has dropped acid in your morning Red Bull, you may notice that the professor busts some pretty respectable moves.   Link to video on […]

Brain scanning the deceased

I’ve got an article in The Observer about how, a little surprisingly, the dead are becoming an increasing focus for brain scanning studies. I first discussed this curious corner of neuroscience back in 2007 but a recent Neuroskeptic post reminded me of the area and I decided to check in on how it’s progressing. It […]

Spike activity 15-08-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: An important editorial in Nature describes the pressing problem of how research is not being turned into practice for treating children with mental health problems caused by armed conflict. Not Exactly Rocket Science covers a swarm of self-organising autonomous robots that have the potential […]

One death too many

One of the first things I do in the morning is check the front pages of the daily papers and on the day following Robin Williams’ death, rarely have I been so disappointed in the British press. Over the years, we have gathered a lot of evidence from reliable studies that show that how suicide […]

Drugs in space and sleepless in the shuttle

A fascinating study published in today’s Lancet Neurology reports on sleep deprivation in astronauts but also describes the drugs shuttle crew members use to keep themselves awake and help them fall asleep. The study looked at sleep data from 64 astronauts on 80 space shuttle missions along with 21 astronauts on 13 International Space Station […]

Hallucinating in the deep waters of consciousness

On Saturday I curated a series of short films about other inner worlds, altered states and the extremes of mental health at London’s Shuffle Festival. I discovered one of the films literally a couple of days before the event, and it completely blew me away. Narcose is a French documentary about a dive by world […]

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