Category Archives: Inside the Brain

An in-brain stimulation grid

Implanted electrode grids are used to record brain activity in people who need neurosurgery – a technique known as electrocorticography. But rather than just ‘reading’ from the brain, neuroscientists are starting to use them to ‘write’ to the brain, to the point of being able to temporarily simulate specific brain disorders for experimental studies. This […]

The neurology of Psalm 137

I’ve just found a short but interesting study on Psalm 137 and how it likely has one of the first descriptions of brain damage after stroke. The Psalm is still widely sung but it has some particular lines which made the researchers take notice. Here they are in modern English from the New International Version […]

A guided tour of bad neuroscience

Oxford neuropsychologist Dorothy Bishop has given a fantastic video lecture about how neuroscience can be misinterpreted and how it can be misleading. If you check out nothing else, do read the summary on the Neurobonkers blog, which highlights Bishop’s four main criticisms of how neuroscience is misused. But if you have the time, sit back […]

Animals conscious say leading neuroscientists

A group of leading neuroscientists has used a conference at Cambridge University to make an official declaration recognising consciousness in animals. The declaration was made at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference and signed by some of the leading lights in consciousness research, including Christof Koch and David Edelman. You can read the full text as […]

Hacking the brain for fun and profit

A study presented at the recent Usenix conference demonstrated how it is possible to get private information from the brains of people who use commercial brain-computer interfaces – like NeuroSky and Emotiv. These headsets are designed for gamers and are cheaper, less accurate versions of EEG devices – used by scientists to read the electrical […]

The science and politics of mind-altering drugs

The Guardian Science Podcast has an interview with neuroscientist David Nutt on the science and politics of mind-altering substances and it’s possibly one of the most sensible discussions of drugs and drug harms you are likely to hear in a long time. Prof Nutt is quite well known in the UK – largely due to […]

Neurowords and the burden of responsibility

The New York Times has an excellent article about the fallacy of assuming that a brain-based explanation of behaviour automatically implies that the person is less responsible for their actions. The piece is by two psychologists, John Monterosso and Barry Schwartz, who discuss their research on how attributions of blame can be altered simply by […]

All time high

The latest issue of The Psychologist has a fascinating article on why time can seem distorted after taking drugs. The piece is by psychologists Ruth Ogden and Cathy Montgomery who both research the effects of drugs, legal and illegal, on the mind and brain. The consumption of drugs and alcohol has long been known to […]

The rebirth of hypnosis

I’ve got an article in today’s Observer about the re-emergence of hypnosis into the scientific mainstream despite the fact that the technique is still associated with stereotypes. The piece has been oddly titled ‘hypnosis is no laughing matter’, which kind of misses the point, because no-one laughs at it, but many scientists do find it […]

Ghost image in my mind

Offbeat indie singer Charlotte Gainsbourg released a 2009 song about being fMRI brain scanned that even incoporated sounds from an actual scanner. The track is called IRM, presumably because Gainsbourg is a French speaker and ‘magnetic resonance imaging’ in French is imagerie par résonance magnétique – which, by the way, is also the sound of […]

An animated neuroscience of headache pills

TED have a fantastic animation that explains how pain works and how it is relieved by two common analgesics – aspirin and ibuprofen. Of course, pain relievers work in many different ways – the opioids, for example, are vastly different – but the four-minute video is a wonderful guide to the neuroscience of two common […]

A procession of dementia

The June issue of the neuroscience journal Brain has an amazing cover showing “increasingly bizarre and menacing caricatures by an artist with frontotemporal lobar degeneration during the course of his illness”. The caption reads: From left, the first picture drawn many years before his illness; the middle pair in the first 2 years of dementia; […]

A shot to the head

A couple of online articles have discussed whether you would be conscious of being shot in the head with the general conclusion that it is unlikely because the damage happens faster than the brain can register a conscious sensation. While this may be true in some instances it ignores that fact that there are many […]

A bridge over troubled waters for fMRI?

Yesterday’s ‘troubles with fMRI’ article has caused lots of debate so I thought I’d post the original answers given to me by neuroimagers Russ Poldrack and Tal Yarkoni from which I quoted. Poldrack and Yarkoni have been at the forefront of finding, fixing and fine-tuning fMRI and its difficulties. I asked them about current challenges […]

The trouble with fMRI

I’ve written a piece for The Observer about ‘the trouble with brain scans’ that discusses how past fMRI studies may have been based on problematic assumptions. For years the media has misrepresented brain scan studies (“Brain centre for liking cheese discovered!”) but we are now at an interesting point where neuroscientists are starting to seriously […]

Neuro images

So how did I not know about the amazing neuroimages blog? It has plenty of beautiful pieces like this taken from neuroimaging to historical neuroscience to, er, edible brain sandwiches.

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