Category Archives: Integrating

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: […]

The birth of ‘synthetic marijuana’

Addiction Inbox has an interview with pharmacologist David Kroll where he discusses the origin of the countless synthetic cannabinoids that have recently flooded the market as ‘legal highs’ and ‘incense’. You may know Kroll better as the author of the long-running top-notch pharmacology blog Terra Sigillata where he has been tracking the ‘synthetic marijuana’ story […]

Teenage kicks

National Geographic has an excellent article on teenage risk-taking and adolescent brain development. It goes some way to explaining both the dangerous mistakes that typically peak in the late teens and, I like to think, the bad fashion sense which seems to follow a similar pattern. Importantly, the piece goes beyond the usually ‘well the […]

Outside the criminal mind

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind recently had a fascinating programme on the science behind offender profiling and whether it lives up to its ‘inside the criminal mind’ image. If you’re not familiar with the debates about criminal profiling you may be surprised to hear that a fair few forensic psychologists think it’s a […]

A whiff of madness

For a short time, the scientific community was excited about the smell of schizophrenia. In 1960, a curious article appeared in the Archives of General Psychiatry suggesting not only that people with schizophrenia had a distinctive smell, but that the odour could be experimentally verified. The paper by psychiatrists Kathleen Smith and Jacob Sines noted […]

God, death, cannabis

An amazing picture that takes pride of place on the cover of this month’s British Journal of Psychiatry by artist George Harding. The piece has the wonderful name of Everything is Real Except God and Death. From the description in the BJP: The artist writes: `I used to get art lessons when I was a […]

Strong piano at high fruitiness

A wonderful graph which shows how strongly the sounds of the piano, strings, woodwind and brass instruments are associated with fruity smells, across smells of low, medium and high fruitiness. From a recent study entitled ‘A Fruity Note: Crossmodal associations between odors and musical notes’. The study also tests how strongly these instruments are associated […]

Witch on a hallucinogenic flying broomstick

I’ve just found this fascinating discussion on the psychopharmacology of ‘witches ointments’, that supposedly allowed 16th century witches to ‘fly’. It’s from a fantastic 1998 Anesthesiology article about atropine containing plants, like belladona, deadly nightshade and hemlock, and their effects. De Laguna was not the sole commentator about the relationship of mind‐altering drugs and witchcraft […]

Inner visions of seven dimensional space

I’ve just found an amazing 2002 article [pdf] from the American Mathematical Society about blind mathematicians. I was surprised to learn that the majority work in geometry, supposedly the most ‘visual’ discipline, and fascinated to learn that they generally believe the experience of sight puts people at a disadvantage because it locks us into a […]

The scent of the past

The Boston Globe has a fascinating piece on the growing movement to incorporate smells into the historical record and the technology that is allowing us to ‘record’ scents. To put smells in a historical context is to add a whole dimension to how we understand the world. Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, has at different […]

The psychology of expert predictions

This week’s edition of BBC Radio 4 All in the Mind has a fantastic section on the psychology of knowledgeable predictions that bursts lots of bubbles about the power of experts but also discusses how to make more accurate predictions. You can listen to the whole programme online but it seems the crucial section has […]

Psychometric schooling snark

A sarcastic comment on the horrors of school, unexpectedly hidden away in the 1986 book A handbook of test construction: introduction to psychometric design by Paul Kline. A test is said to be face valid if it appears to measure what it purports to measure, especially to subjects. Face validity bears no relation to true […]

Alice through the crooked glass

Not Exactly Rocket Science covers a fascinating study where participants felt they were the size of a doll or had expanded to giant proportions simply by using a headset, a camera and a bit of foot stroking. In a typical experiment, a volunteer is being stroked while wearing a virtual reality headset. She’s lyng down […]

Human nature is a moving target

I just caught up with a fascinating discussion on ABC Radio’s Future Tense on what artificial intelligence showdowns like the Turing Test tell us about the evolution of human nature. It sounds like a bit of clichéd subject but the interview with author Brian Christian is full of novel, thoughtful insights into how human nature […]

Is free will spent by a knock-out drug?

I’ve got a brief article in Wired UK about whether the knock-out drug burundanga could help us understand the neuroscience of free will. The drug is actually an extract of plants from the brugmansia family with the active ingredient being scopolamine. The urban legend goes that when you’ve been spiked with the drug you do […]

Diamond in the rough

We’ve covered a few cases of people swallowing unusual things before, although this is probably one of the strangest cases we’ve yet come across in the medical literature. A diamond thief was caught by a security guard during a burglary and needed a free hand to fight him off, so he swallowed the precious stone. […]

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