Category Archives: Inside the Brain

More than just bumps

Phrenology was the practice of reading someone’s personality from the bumps on their head based on the idea that the shape of the brain affected the shape of the skull. Contemporary neuroscience lectures often have a part where the professor puts up an image of a phrenology head and says “although this was a rediculous […]

Fragments of identity

The Atlantic has a sublime article on identity, memory and amnesia – written as a reflection on meeting a friend who has lost much of his memory due to an advancing brain tumour. The author is neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin who is better known for his work on the cognitive science of music, but here he […]

Rita Levi-Montalcini has left the building

Nobel-prize winning neuroscientist Rita Levi-Montalcini has passed away at the age of 103, just a few months after publishing her last scientific study. She won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of nerve growth factor along with her colleague Stanley Cohen and continued worked well past the time when most people would have retired. Her […]

In other news: behind the video game scare

The research on the psychological impact of video games tells quite a different story from the stories we get from interest groups and the media. I look at what we know in an article for The Observer. Perhaps the two biggest concerns are that video games are ‘damaging the brain’ and that violent video games […]

The stem cell scammers

Ukraine has become a world centre for untested stem cell treatments where patients can fly in and have embryonic stem cells implanted in their brain to supposedly treat everything from Alzheimer’s disease to autism. These treatments are entirely unproven and are illegal in most of the world but are available for anyone wanting to pay […]

Fashions fade, style is eternal

A fascinating study has just mapped which brain areas are most popular among scientists and which are most likely to get you published in the highest impact journals. The image below looks like the result of an fMRI scan but instead of showing brain activity from a single experiment, it shows the average brain activity […]

A devil of a headache

A man suffering from headache in the form of devils. A coloured etching by noted Victorian cartoonist George Cruikshank, 1835. An image from the Wellcome Collection catalogue. via @ChirurgeonsAppr

The relative consuming disease

The Global Mail has an amazing story about how the last treks to find cases of kuru – a cannabalism-related brain disease – have been completed. Kuru was passed on by eating the brains of dead relatives – a long finished tradition of the Fore people in Papua New Guinea – and it infected new […]

The brain in numbers, colours and wow

An amazing picture by Dwayne Godwin and Jorge Cham from PhD Comics. Click for the full size image just published at the Scientific American site. Definitely worth seeing in its hi-res glory.   Link to full size image (via @CeliaHodent)

A brief reheating of the refrigerator mother

The Telegraph has a well-intentioned but confused article about how child neglect affects the brain and what can be done about it. What’s the difference between these two brains? asks The Telegraph. “The primary cause of the extraordinary difference between the brains of these two three-year-old children,” says the journalist, “is the way they were […]

The neuroscience of sexual attractions

A recent edition of radio programme KERA Think has a fantastic discussion on development and the neuroscience of sexual attraction in its many forms. The programme is a discussion with Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist who raised a lot of eyebrows by finding differences in the brain structure of gay and straight men in a 1991 […]

A history of ideas about the brain

Being Human has an excellent article on how ideas about the function of the brain have evolved over the centuries. The piece is by respected science writer Carl Zimmer who wrote a fantastic book on the dawn of modern neuroscience called Soul Made Flesh. This new article is a whistle stop tour of how our […]

Hallucinations on the radio

BBC Radio 4 has just broadcast a documentary entitled ‘Hallucination – Through the Doors of Perception’ that charts the various ways in which we can experience freewheeling and autonomous perceptions. You can hear it streamed online here or you can download it as a podcast but only for 7 more days, as like French cheese, […]

The great rock n’ roll brain scramble

It’s not often you see someone licking a brain in a rock n’ roll video and get to think to yourself “well, there’s a funny story behind that”, but this is one of those occasions. The video for singer Candice Gordon’s new single Cannibal Love starts out as a TV cooking programme and ends in […]

The Lancet, [temporarily] seized by irony

The Lancet has just a launched a special collection on how epilepsy is a global health problem particularly in lower-income countries. According to several of the articles, one of the key problems that drives the medical neglect of people with epilepsy is a lack of accurate information about the condition for health professionals and the […]

Schizophrenia beyond the brain

The Wilson Quarterly has an excellent article about the rebirth of interest in how social experiences affect the development of schizophrenia. It’s written by the brilliant anthropologist Tanya Marie Luhrmann, who tracks how the enthusiasm for a completely neurobiological explanation for the disorder has now begun to wane. It’s worth saying that this extreme neurobiological […]

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