Author Archives: vaughanbell

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 […]

Spike activity 15-05-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: What does fMRI measure? Excellent fMRI primer on the Brain Box blog. The Wall Street Journal has an excellent profile of neuroscientist Sophie Scott and her research understanding laughter. Time has a piece on how rappers are de-stigmatising mental illness. A brilliant review of […]

A less hysterical reaction

There’s a fascinating article in The Guardian about one of the least understood aspects of human nature: experiences like blindness, paralysis and seizures that seem to mimic gross damage to the nervous system but aren’t explained by it. People can experience profound blindness, for example, but have no detectable damage to their visual system. These […]

The most unaccountable of machinery

The latest edition of intriguing podcast Love and Radio is on a lesbian who passed as a man to report on masculinity, writing a amphetamine-fuelled stream-of-consciousness biography of Virginia Woolf, and finding hope in suicide. It’s an interview with writer Norah Vincent and it makes for compelling listening. Love and Radio is an interesting project […]

Philip Zimbardo has a theory

“Boys risk becoming addicted to porn, video games and Ritalin” says psychologist Philip Zimbardo, which simply isn’t true, because some weekends I read. Yes, Zimbardo has a theory which says that masculinity is being damaged by computer games, the internet, and pornography without an adequate plot line. A key solution: dancing. He’s done a cracking […]

Spike activity 08-05-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: An autonomous truck has been cleared to drive on US roads for the first time according to New Scientist. Robot mudflap girl still being designed. Backchannel covers the recent Facebook filter bubble study. Rare helpful write-up. Surge in US ‘brain-reading‘ patents reports BBC News. […]

A brief and unlikely scenario

The Independent have been running a series called ‘If I were Prime Minister’ where they’ve asked a diverse range of people what they would do if they were PM. I written a brief piece for them where I talk about why we need to make hospital care for people with psychosis much less distressing. It’s […]

Five minutes with Carolyn Mair

I’ve often seen people on the web who advertise themselves as ‘fashion psychologists’ who say they can ‘match clothes to your personality’. I’ve always rolled my eyes and moved on. So I was fascinated to meet Carolyn Mair, a cognitive scientist who did her PhD in perceptual cognition, who now leads a psychology programme at […]


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