Author Archives: vaughanbell

The mysterious nodding syndrome – a crack of light

Two years ago we discussed a puzzling, sometimes fatal, ‘nodding syndrome‘ that has been affecting children in Uganda and South Sudan. We now know a little more, with epilepsy being confirmed as part of the disorder, although the cause still remains a mystery. The condition affects children between 5 and 15 years old, who have […]

Whatever happened to Hans Eysenck?

Psychologist Hans Eysenck was once one of the most cited and controversial scientists on the planet and a major force in the development of psychology but he now barely merits a mention. Whatever happened to Hans Eysenck? To start off, it’s probably worth noting that Eysenck did a lot to ensure his legacy would be […]

A sticking plaster for a shattered world

The last paragraph of this article from the American Journal of Psychiatry on people displaced by the Syrian conflict essentially sums up the entire practice of conflict-related mental health. Looking at this endless list of horrible stories from a psychiatrist’s perspective, I see only patients suffering from what my profession calls posttraumatic stress disorder. It […]

2013-12-20 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The New York Times reports that information overlords Google acquire creature-inspired military robot outfit Boston Dynamics. Honestly. It’s like humanity is attached to a big angry dog and someone keeps yanking the chain. There’s an excellent and extensive MIT Tech Review piece on the […]

Year Four of the Blue Brain documentary

Film-maker Noah Hutton has just released the ‘Year Four’ film of the decade-long series of films about Henry Markram’s massive Blue Brain neuroscience project. It’s been an interesting year for Markram’s project with additional billion euro funding won to extend and expand on earlier efforts and the USA’s BRAIN Initiative having also made it’s well-funded […]

Is school performance less heritable in the USA?

A recent twin study looked at educational achievement in the UK and found that genetic factors contribute more than half to the difference in how students perform in their age 16 exams. But this may not apply to other countries. Twin studies look at the balance between environmental and genetic factors for a given population […]

The best graphic and gratuitious displays

Forget your end of year run-downs and best of 2013 photo specials, it doesn’t get much better than this: ‘The 15 Best Behavioural Science Graphs of 2010-13′ from the Stirling Behavioural Science Blog. As to be expected, some are a little better than others (well, Rolling Stone chose a Miley Cyrus video as one of […]

A disorder of marketing

The New York Times has an important article on how Attention Deficit Disorder, often known as ADHD, has been ‘marketed’ alongside sales of stimulant medication to the point where leading ADHD researchers are becoming alarmed at the scale of diagnosis and drug treatment. It’s worth noting that although the article focuses on ADHD, it is […]

2013-12-13 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Beware the enthusiasm for ‘neuroeducation’ says Steven Rose in Times Higher Education. Lots of studies use oxytocin nasal sprays. You can buy it from websites. Neuroskeptic asks does it even reach the brain? Time magazine finds a fascinating AI telemarketer bot that denies it’s […]

Where data meets the people

Ben Goldacre might be quite surprised to hear he’s written a sociology book, but for the second in our series on books about how the science of mind, brain and mental health meet society, Bad Pharma is an exemplary example. The book could essentially be read as a compelling textbook on clinical trial methodology with […]

2013-12-06 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: C-List celebrity is photographed with a psychology book in her hand and New York Magazine is all over it like Glenn Greenwald with an encrypted harddrive. The New York Times covers a Dutch scheme to get alcoholics working by paying them in beer. Scheme […]

Hallucinated voices and the community inside us

I’ve long been fascinated by the experience of ‘hearing voices’ and long been baffled by the typical scientific approach to the experience. As a result, I’ve just had a paper published in PLOS Biology that focus on one of the most striking but ignored aspects of hallucinated voices. Here’s how I describe the central paradox […]

London’s Shuffle Festival is back

London’s film, food and science festival in an abandoned psychiatric hospital is back as the Shuffle Festival kicks off its Winter run. Hosted in the old buildings of St Clement’s Hospital the festival has an impressive programme including everything from Jarvis Cocker to Brian Cox. There are also regular talks from working scientists including a […]

A life in the day of a medical morphine addict

AddictionBlog has an amazing article by a doctor and recovering morphine addict that describes the experience of injection, rush and withdrawal. It’s wonderfully written to the point of being painful and if you’re not good with needles, you’ll probably feel a bit queasy when reading it. Heroin, by the way, is just the prodrug of […]

A quarter century of All in the Mind

A new series of BBC Radio 4′s All in the Mind has just kicked off and to celebrate 25 years of broadcasting they’ve just had three great episodes looking back on the last quarter century of psychology, neuroscience and mental health. Each make for a interesting discussion of how science and attitudes have changed. As […]

Neuroscience and its place in the social world

This is the first of three posts that will cover three important books about how the science of mind, brain and mental health, interfaces with society at large. First off, I want to discuss an excellent book called Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind published this year by sociologists of […]

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