Author Archives: vaughanbell

A museum of many minds

I spent a very long time in the old Bethlem museum, owing to the fact that there’s little else to do when you live at one of the world’s oldest psychiatric hospitals. The Bethlem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam as it’s been known in centuries past, has moved many times over its lifetime, but it’s now […]

Spike activity 18-09-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: GlaxoSmithKline straight-up lied about teen suicide attempts in a trial that was used to convince regulators that Paxil was safe for kids. In-depth from the BMJ. Good summary from The Atlantic. The New York Times on basically the same shit from Johnson & Johnson […]

Your ears emit sounds

There’s a fascinating article on the evolution of hearing in The Scientist that also contains an interesting gem – your ears produce sounds as well as perceiving them. In addition to amplifying hair-cell activity, these active mechanisms manifest as spontaneous movements of the hearing organ, oscillating even in the absence of sound stimuli. Such spontaneous […]

Spike activity 11-09-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Mental illness throughout the animal kingdom. Interesting piece from BBC Earth. The Guardian has an excellent in-depth article on scorpion venom as a way of identifying brain tumours during neurosurgery. There’s an excellent piece on the history of using deception in psychology studies over […]

Twelve minutes of consciousness

The Economist has an excellent video on consciousness, what it is, why and how it evolved. The science section of The Economist has long had some of the best science reporting in the mainstream press and this video is a fantastic introduction to the science of consciousness. It’s 12 minutes long and it’s worth every […]

Spike activity 04-09-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Go get your gramophonic digital podcast player and listen to this amazing BBC Radio 4 programme on how the social discussion of dreams has changed through history. The Atlantic on what Google’s trippy neural network-generated images tell us about the human mind. Ignore the […]

Oliver Sacks has left the building

Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has died at the age of 82. It’s hard to fully comprehend the enormous impact of Oliver Sacks on the public’s understanding of the brain, its disorders and our diversity as humans. Sacks wrote what he called ‘romantic science’. Not romantic in the sense of romantic love, but romantic in […]

Spike activity 28-08-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Vice has an excellent documentary about how skater Paul Alexander was affected by mental illness as he was turning pro. The US Navy is working on AI that can predict a pirate attacks reports Science News. Apparently it uses Arrrrgh-tificial intelligence. I’m here all […]

Don’t call it a comeback

The Reproducibility Project, the giant study to re-run experiments reported in three top psychology journals, has just published its results and it’s either a disaster, a triumph or both for psychology. You can’t do better than the coverage in The Atlantic, not least as it’s written by Ed Yong, the science journalist who has been […]

A Million Core Silicon Brain

For those of you who like to get your geek on (and rumour has it, they can be found reading this blog) the Computerphile channel just had a video interview with Steve Furber of the Human Brain Project who talks about the custom hardware that’s going to run their neural net simulations. Furber is better […]

Spike activity 21-08-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Be wary of studies that link mental illness with creativity or high IQ. Good piece in The Guardian. Nautilus has a piece on the lost dream journal of neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal. Video games are tackling mental health with mixed results. Great piece […]

Psychological science in intelligence service operations

I’ve got an article in today’s Observer about how British intelligence services are applying psychological science in their deception and infiltration operations. Unfortunately, the online version has been given a headline which is both frivolous and wrong (“Britain’s ‘Twitter troops’ have ways of making you think…”). The ‘Twitter troops’ name was given to the UK […]

Spike activity 14-07-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Trends and fashions in the science of neurotransmitters. Neuroskeptic looks at this seasons hottest brain chemicals. MIT Tech Reviews has an interesting piece on the new wave of normal hearing enhancement hearing aids. Sorry Paleo diet aficionados, carbs were probably essentially to our evolving […]

Digital tech, the BMJ, and The Baroness

The British Medical Journal just published an editorial by me, Dorothy Bishop and Andrew Przybylski about the debate over digital technology and young people that focuses on Susan Greenfield’s mostly, it has to be said, unhelpful contributions. Through appearances, interviews, and a recent book Susan Greenfield, a senior research fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, has […]

Fifty psychological terms to just, well, be aware of

Frontiers in Psychology has just published an article on ‘Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid’. These sorts of “here’s how to talk about” articles are popular but themselves can often be misleading, and the same applies to this one. The article supposedly contains 50 “inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases”. […]

Spike activity 24-07-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Why does the concept of ‘schizophrenia’ still persist? Great post from Psychodiagnosticator. Nature reviews two new movies on notorious psychology experiments: the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s conformity experiments. Can the thought of money make people more conservative? Another social priming effect bites the […]


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