Author Archives: vaughanbell

Detecting inner consciousness

Mosaic has an excellent in-depth article on researchers who are trying to detect signs of consciousness in patients who have fallen into coma-like states. The piece meshes the work of neuroscientists Adrian Owen, Nicholas Schiff and Steven Laureys who are independently looking at how to detect signs of consciousness in unresponsive brain-injured patients. It’s an […]

Spike activity 18-04-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Wired has a fascinating interview with psychopath researcher Kent Kiehl. He of the mobile brain scanner. Scanning brain energy could help predict who will wake from vegetative state. Interesting piece on preliminary research covered by The Conversation Contrary to news stories, a recent study […]

Indie reports on surprising structure of artists’ brains

Artists brains are ‘structurally different’ according to The Independent, who report on a small, thought-provoking but as yet quite preliminary study. The image used to illustrate the article (the one on the right) is described as showing “more grey and white matter in artists’ brains connected to visual imagination and fine motor control”. This could […]

It’s your own time you’re wasting

British teachers have voted to receive training in neuroscience ‘to improve classroom practice’ according to a report in the Times Educational Supplement and the debate sounded like a full-on serial head-desker. The idea of asking for neuroscience training at all sounds a little curious but the intro seemed like it could be quite reasonable: Members […]

The biases of pop psychology

I just found this great piece at Scientific American that makes a fascinating point about how pop psychology books that inform us about our biases tend not to inform us about our most important bias – the effect of making things into stories – despite the fact that they rely on it to get their […]

Spike activity 11-04-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Things I’ve learned since being sectioned. Good piece on the appropriately named Sectioned blog. The New York Times covers the latest in rising fads in proposed psychiatric diagnoses: sluggish cognitive tempo. Don’t Throw Out The Baby With The Dead Salmon. Neuroskeptic discusses critiques of […]

Coma alarm dreams

Intensive Care Medicine has published a wonderfully written and vivid account from a teenager who spent time brain injured and hallucinating in an intensive care unit. The writer describes how he was admitted to intensive care at the age of 15 after suffering a head injury and had intense and bizarre hallucinations which are, as […]

Circumstances of the life and brain

Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh has written a philosophical, incisive and exasperated book about brain surgery called Do No Harm. It’s a hugely entertaining read as Marsh takes us through the practical and emotional process of operating, or not operating, on patients with neurological disorders. He does a lot of moaning – about hospital management, computerisation, administration […]

This is how stigma works

Sussex Police issue a statement about ‘Concern for missing Chichester man’, ITN News report it as ‘Police warn public over missing mental health patient’. Sussex police: Police are appealing for information about missing 43-year old Jason Merriman, who left The Oaklands Centre for Acute Care in Chichester on unescorted leave at 12.45pm on Friday 11 […]

Is there creative accounting in behavioural economics?

The Financial Times has an excellent article on the future of behavioural economics. Despite the fact that it is an incisive piece on a form of applied psychology that won Daniel Kahneman the Nobel Prize and has revolutionised political thinking, the FT has entitled the article ‘Behavioural economics and public policy’, to ensure it doesn’t […]

Spike activity 28-03-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Can charisma and leadership be taught? Matter looks at the history of ‘charm consultants’. Mental health stigma: where’s my cheesecake? A piece on the Brain Flapping discusses how people react when you’re depressed. Science News has an odd story about how 1 in 68 […]

Bomb disposal for the brain

New Statesman has an excellent profile of the wise, funny and acerbic neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. Marsh was the subject of the fantastic 2007 documentary The English Surgeon but he’s now one year away from retirement and has clearly decided that diplomatic responses are no longer a tactical necessity. The piece also gives a vivid insight […]

The genes are to blame game

The media love ‘your genes are to blame’ stories despite the fact that genetics is, in most cases, just one, often small, influence on a behaviour or trait. Here’s a few lowlights: Glass always half-empty? Your genes may be to blame Lazy? Your Genes May Be to Blame Have math anxiety? Your genes may be […]

A balanced look at brain scanning

Bioethics think tank The Hastings Center have published an excellent open-access report on ‘Interpreting Neuroimages: The Technology and its Limits’ that takes a critical but balanced look at the use of brain scans for understanding the mind. They’ve commissioned leading cognitive neuroscientists to write chapters including Geoffrey Aguirre, Martha Farah and Helen Mayberg, as well […]

Spike activity 21-03-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The thrill of cutting into a human brain says The Spectator, who have clearly never tried to operate on themselves after reading a HOWTO on the internet. The Loom has collected some brain visualisation fly-throughs and give the low-down and what they’re about. It […]

A modern psychiatry

If you want to know how your average reasonable mainstream medical psychiatrist thinks about mental illness, Aeon magazine has a good piece that captures where many are coming from. Now before you (yes you) Dr average reasonable mainstream medical psychiatrist, says that you don’t agree with all of it, I’m not suggesting it’s a manifesto, […]

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