Category Archives: Integrating

A non hysterical view of ‘cheerleader hysteria’

I’ve written an article for the Discover Magazine blog The Crux about mass hysteria and conversion disorder in light of the not-very-good-coverage given to the issue after a group of cheerleaders with unexplained neurological symptoms made the headlines. The New York Times described the situation as a ‘nutty story’ and said hysteria is ‘not supposed […]

A journey through schizophrenia science

BBC Radio 4′s The Life Scientific recently profiled psychiatrist, schizophrenia researcher and stand-up chap, Robin Murray, who talks about how his understanding of the condition has drastically changed over the years. It’s a fascinating journey through how our theories about the mental illness, most associated with having delusions and hallucinations, has evolved through time – […]

Advertising through avatar-manipulation

The Psychologist has an article on the surprising effect of seeing a digital avatar of yourself – as if looking at your body from the outside. The piece covers a range of effects found in psychology studies, from increasing healthy behaviour to encouraging false memories, but the bit on deliberate avatar-manipulation for advertising caught my […]

Body rock

Nature has a fantastic article about how our sense of being located in our bodies is being temporarily warped and distorted in the lab of neuroscientist Henrik Ehrsson. We’ve covered some of Ehrsson’s striking studies before as he has managed, with surprisingly simple equipment, to induce out-of-body experiences, the sense of having a third arm […]

The dreams and hallucinations of cloistered monks

French sleep scientists have studied a group of monks who have virtually no contact with the outside world and have taken a vow of silence. The monks are of scientific interest owing to the tradition of having two sleep periods per night interrupted by a 2-3 hour prayer and psalm reading session. The research group […]

The Crux of PTSD under threat of terrorism

I’ve got a piece over at Discover Magazine’s new group blog, The Crux, which looks at whether post-traumatic stress disorder makes sense if it’s applied to people who remain at high risk of terrorist attack. The Crux is a blog written by a crowd of science folks that aims to taker a deeper look at […]

The free will rebellion

A popular mantra of modern neuroscience tells us that free will is an illusion. An article in the New York Times makes a lucid challenge to the ‘death of free will’ idea and a prominent neuroscientist has come out to fight the same corner. Neuroscientists began making preparations for the funeral of free will shortly […]

The appliance of psychological science

The BPS Research Digest is celebrating its 200th issue with a series of articles from well-known psychologists that describe how psychology has helped them out in everyday life. There’s a whole stack of people involved who have written on everything from love to scientific thinking to child rearing. Both myself and Tom have contributed pieces […]

The hot hand smacks back

The idea of the ‘hot hand’, where a player who makes several successful shots has a higher chance of making some more, is popular with sports fans and team coaches, but has long been considered a classic example of a cognitive fallacy – an illusion of a ‘streak’ caused by our misinterpretation of naturally varying […]

The cutting edge of the easy high

Perhaps the most complete scientific review of what we know about synthetic cannabis or ‘spice’ products has just appeared in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. These ‘legal highs’ are typically sold as nudge-nudge wink-wink ‘incense’ but contain synthetic cannabinoids which have a similar effect to smoking dope but are legal in many countries. We covered the […]

The father of Randle P. McMurphy

An article in the Journal of Medical Humanities has a fascinating look at one of playwright Samuel Beckett’s early novels – an exploration of madness and mental health care that foreshadowed One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest. Beckett is best known for Waiting for Godot, but his novel Murphy was previously one of the best […]

Entertainingly mislead me

A beautifully recursive study has shown that viewing an episode of the psychology of deception TV series Lie To Me makes people worse at distinguishing truth from lies. The TV series is loosely based on the work of psychologist Paul Ekman who pioneered the study of emotions and developed the Facial Action Coding System or […]

The death of atypical antipsychotics

The British Journal of Psychiatry has just published the latest in a long line of studies to find that the newer ‘atypical’ or ‘second generation’ antipsychotic drugs are barely better than the old style medications and has a stinging editorial that accompanies the piece calling out years of drug company marketing spun as an illusory […]

The New York Times wees itself in public

The New York Times has just pissed its neuroscientific pants in public and is now running round the streets announcing the fact in an op-ed that could as easily been titled ‘Smell my wee!’ The piece is written by Martin Lindström, famous for writing the ‘neuromarketing’ best-seller Buyology, but infamous for not making any of […]

Swimming in the tides of war

My recent Beyond Boundaries column for The Psychologist explores how the micro-culture of Colombian paramilitary organisations may have shaped the expression of post-traumatic stress disorder in demobilised fighters. Dr Ricardo de la Espriella’s office is surprisingly quiet. Buried deep within San Ignacio University Hospital, the growl of the chaotic Bogotá traffic is perceptibly absent. Despite […]

Game not over

The Guardian covers a new study on how video games can persist in our perception as fleeting hallucinations in an effect labelled ‘game transfer phenomena’. Unfortunately, the study has been published in an obscure journal which means I’ve not been able to read it in full, although the write-up quotes the lead researcher, Mark Griffiths: […]

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