Category Archives: Inside the Brain

Frozen nightmares

The Devil in the Room is a fantastic short film about the experience of hallucinatory sleep paralysis – a common experience that has been widely mythologised around the world. Sleep paralysis is the experience of being unable to move during the process of waking – when you have regained consciousness but you’re brain has not […]

Loving you is easy because you’re beautiful

Neuroscape Lab, we salute your next generation of brain visualisation, that looks like something out of a sci-fi film where the director is a bit obsessed with correctly representing the anatomy of the brain. They describe the visualisation like this: This is an anatomically-realistic 3D brain visualization depicting real-time source-localized activity (power and “effective” connectivity) […]

The Society of Mutual Autopsy

The Society of Mutual Autopsy was an organisation formed in the late 1800s to advance neuroscience by examining dead members’ brains and to promote atheism by breaking sacred taboos. It included some of the great French intellectuals and radicals of the time and became remarkably fashionable – publishing the results in journals and showing plaster-casts […]

A reality of dreams

The journal Sleep has an interesting study on how people with narcolepsy can experience sometimes striking confusions between what they’ve dreamed and what’s actually happened. Narcolepsy is a disorder of the immune system where it inappropriately attacks parts of the brain involved in sleep regulation. The result is that affected people are not able to […]

Heroin, addiction and free will

The death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman has sparked some strong and seemingly contradictory responses. What these reactions show is that many people find it hard to think of addiction as being anything except either a choice or a loss of free will. The fact that addiction could involve an active choice to take drugs but […]

The cutting edge of brain science technologies

National Geographic has an excellent article that gives a tour of some of the latest technologies of neuroscience that are likely to be leading the way in understanding the brain over the next decade. You can read the full article online but you need to complete a free registration first. A typical publication ploy but, […]

The pull for lobotomy

The Psychologist has a fascinating article by historian Mical Raz on what patients and families thought about the effects of lobotomy. Raz looks at the letters sent between arch-lobotomist Walter Freeman and the many families he affected through his use of the procedure. Contrary to the image of the ‘evil surgeon who didn’t care about […]

A multitude of phantoms

A fascinating paper in the neuroscience journal Brain looks at artistic depictions of phantom limbs – the feeling of the physical presence of a limb after it has been damaged or removed – and gives a wonderful insight how the brain perceives non-functioning or non-existent body parts. In fact, most people who have a limb […]

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 […]

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 […]

Are men better wired to read maps or is it a tired cliché?

By Tom Stafford The headlines The Guardian: Male and female brains wired differently, scans reveal The Atlantic: Male and female brains really are built differently The Independent: The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are ‘better at map reading The Story An analysis of 949 brain scans shows significant sex […]

My punitive superego is lighting up my brain

This sentence actually appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry: Carhart-Harris et al’s finding of activation of Cg25 region of the cingulate gyrus in profound depression is consistent with the idea of an interpersonally isolated and punitive superego desperately trying to prevent overwhelming Pankseppian modalities impulses of panic and rage from reaching consciousness. Find that […]

A buried artefact

Sometimes there is an accidental beauty in the most macabre of events. Having a bullet lodged in your brain can produce beautiful CT scans due to the scanner’s difficulty with imaging metal objects. The scan is from an 8-year-old girl who was hit by a bullet that was fired into the air in celebration. She […]

Seeing synaesthetic stars during sex

A study in Frontiers in Psychology asked people who have emotional synaesthesia – they see colours when they have certain emotions – about what they experience during sex. There is a particularly lovely table that illustrates these experiences through the different stages of the sexual response cycle: Appentance phase “This phase has an orange character” […]

A radiant light and an aura of activity

Nature Medicine has a fascinating article about attempts to research the neuroscience of migraine and its aura – the perceptual changes that precede the onset of the splitting headache. It turns out to be trickier than it seems. The idea is to trigger a migraine in people who seem to have clear conditions that start […]

Drugs for the circuit-based human

In a recent article for The Observer I noted that almost all the major drug companies had closed down their neuroscience divisions as evidence for a move away from a ‘chemical-based’ to a ‘circuit-based’ approach to treatments. So to my surprise, a new Nature News article has just appeared discussing the re-launch of pharmaceutical giant […]

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