Category Archives: Integrating

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. […]

Total information war

Perhaps one of the most important articles yet published on military infowar, propaganda, media influence and PSYOPs has appeared online. Called ‘Military Social Influence in the Global Information Environment: A Civilian Primer’ – the piece is written by psychologist Sarah King who outlines the theory and practice of US information warfare as it stands today. […]

The death of the mind

Business Week has an important article on how internet companies are using the massive data sets collected from the minutia of users’ behaviour to influence customer choices. The article is a useful insight into how tech companies are basing their entire profit model on the ability to model and manipulate human behaviour but the implication […]

Time flies when you’re having fun

The New Yorker has a fantastic profile of neuroscientist David Eagleman that captures both his playful approach to science and his intriguing work on how we perceive time. Eagleman is one of the most engaging thinkers in neuroscience – equally at home tackling fascinating areas of cognitive science and writing playful books about the afterlife. […]

Arresting suicide by cop

‘Suicide by cop‘ is a fairly recent concept that has come to light after cases of people who seemingly provoked police shootings in an attempt to end their own lives. Miller-McCune magazine has an excellent article on how the police are increasingly recognising this as a problem and are working towards diverting these situations to […]

How to jail the innocent

The Innocence Project has used DNA technology to overturn hundreds of wrongful convictions. Slate has an excellent two part series on the two main reasons why these people were falsely jailed: eyewitness misidentifications and false confessions. The series is by law professor Brandon Garrett who has analysed the first overturned 250 cases to examine the […]

Hearing the voices of colours

A spectacular case of psychosis, rather oddly described as ‘Methamphetamine Induced Synesthesia’, in a case report just published in The American Journal on Addictions. The report concerns a 30-year-old gentleman from the Iranian city of Shiraz with a long-standing history of drug use who recently started smoking crystal: Six months PTA [prior to admission] (October […]

Not in your wildest dreams

Scientific American has just started a new series where scientists describe questions which fascinate them but which they don’t think can be answered by science. The first article is by sleep and dream neuroscientist Robert Stickgold who wonders whether we could ever understand the significance of dreams. The idea: Dreams often feel profoundly meaningful, bizarre […]

Hungry judges less likely to grant parole

Not Exactly Rocket Science covers a study that is in equal parts delightful and terrifying: it found that judges are much less likely to grant parole when they’re hungry. It’s the work of Shai Denzeger from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and summarises the results of 1,112 parole board hearings in Israeli prisons, over […]

The Oscar for best neuroscience research goes to…

Both of this year’s lead Oscar winners have published scientific papers on neuroscience. We’ve covered Natalie Portman’s work on frontal lobe development in children before, but it turns out Colin Firth has also just co-authored a study on structural brain differences in people with differing political views. An excellent post on The Neurocritic tells the […]

Reflecting on a psychopath

A psychologist’s personality may affect whether someone is diagnosed as a psychopath or not. Forensic psychology blog In the News covers a preliminary study on how evaluators with different personality traits systematically differed in their ratings when using the ‘industry standard’ Hare Psychopathy Checklist. The checklist is often referred to by the abbreviation PCL-R. It […]

Kids on speed and the birth of misbehaviour

Dr Charles Bradley first reported the effects of amphetamine on children with behavioural problems in 1937. An article in The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine takes a look at how this early study opened the door to treating ADHD with Ritalin and how it tied in with changing ideas about child misbehaviour. Bradley was […]

Slumber therapy

A delightful moment from a New York Magazine article where a guy who had four psychoanalysts in a row fall asleep on him goes back to each to find out why: I ask him about falling asleep, and he says, cheerfully, “I have no memory of that whatsoever.” This is surprising, considering he passed out […]

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