Author Archives: vaughanbell

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 […]

The CIA’s inner circle of white elephant specialists

The New York Times recently covered a report by long-term critics of psychologists’ involvement in the CIA torture programme. It includes a series of leaked emails which suggests something beyond what is widely noted – that the US security agencies have been handing out key contracts to high profile psychologists on the basis of shared […]

Spike activity 01-05-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: IT News reports on a serious proposal to have Australian kids exams marked by artificial intelligence. First results from psychology’s largest reproducibility project according to Nature. Maybe bad news, maybe not-so-bad news – read the full piece for the devil and the detail. The […]

Vice on mental health

Somewhat unexpectedly, Vice magazine has just launched a series of articles, videos and interviews on mental health, and it’s really very good. The VICE Guide to Mental Health covers the science of mental illness, what it’s like being sectioned, recovering from suicide or being severely anxious, and the social issues in getting mental health care, […]

Cognitive lives scientific

The BBC Radio 4 series The Life Scientific has recently profiled three four, count’em, three four, cognitive scientists. Because the BBC find the internet confusing I’m just going to link straight to the mp3s to save you scrabbling about on their site. The most recent profile you can grab as an mp3 was artificial intelligence […]

Spike activity 24-04-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Prospect Magazine has a good article on early psychosis and young people who hear voices. The cost of fame. The Message discusses the nefarious social effects of fame. Neuroskeptic asks Where Are The Big Ideas in Neuroscience? Emotional Intelligence Doesn’t Translate Across Borders. Essential […]

A visual history of madness

The Paris Review has an extended and richly illustrated piece by historian Andrew Scull who tracks how madness has been visually depicted through the ages. Scull is probably the most thorough and readable historian of madness since the death of the late, great Roy Porter, and this article is no exception. Modern psychiatry seems determined […]

Spike activity 17-04-2015

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The latest instalment of ‘the seductive allure of neuroscience’ has been released (aka the force awakens) – a solid study suggest spurious neuroscience adds weight to explanations. Great coverage from the BPS Research Digest. Aeon asks an interesting question: throughout evolutionary history, we never […]

Long corridors of the mind

I’ve just read Barbara Taylor‘s brilliant book The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times which blends her own experiences as a patient in one of the last remaining asylums with an incisive look at the changing face of mental health care since the Victorian era. Taylor is a renowned historian but the […]

She’s giving me hallucinations

Last year I did a talk in London on auditory hallucinations, The Beach Boys and the psychology and neuroscience of hallucinated voices, and I’ve just discovered the audio is available online. It was part of the Pint of Science festival where they got scientists to talk about their area of research in the pub, which […]

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