Category Archives: News

The rise of the circuit-based human

I’ve got a piece in The Observer about how we’re moving towards viewing the brain as a series of modifiable brain circuits each responsible for distinct aspects of experience and behaviour. The ‘brain circuit’ aspect is not new but the fact that neuroscience and medicine, on the billion-dollar global level, are reorienting themselves to focus […]

A comic repeat with video games and violence

An article in the Guardian Headquarters blog discusses the not very clear evidence for the link between computer games and violence and makes a comparison to the panic over ‘horror comics’ in the 1950s. The Fifties campaign against comics was driven by a psychiatrist called Fredric Wertham and his book The Seduction of the Innocent. […]

A coming revolution walks a fine line

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent in-depth article on the most likely candidate for a revolution in mental health research: the National Institute of Mental Health’s RDoC or Research Domain Criteria project. The article is probably the best description of the project this side of the scientific literature and considering that the RDoC […]

Peter Huttenlocher has left the building

The New York Times has an obituary for child neurologist Peter Huttenlocher, who surprised everyone by finding that the human brain loses connections as part of growing into adulthood. Huttenlocher counted synapses – the connections between neurons – and as a paediatric neurologist was particularly interested in how the number of synapses changed as we […]

Super-recogniser officers policing Europe’s biggest party

The Guardian are reporting that the London Metropolitan Police have deployed ‘super recogniser’ officers to Notting Hill Carnival to pick out known criminals from the crowd. This is curious because this is a verified ability that has only recently been reported in the scientific literature. It has been long known that some people have severe […]

#DearMentalHealthProfessionals

Just a quick post to say that the #DearMentalHealthProfessionals hashtag on Twitter is one of the most interesting and helpful things I’ve read online in a long time. It contains heartfelt feedback, gratitude, anger, and useful insights and makes for essential reading. If you don’t use Twitter you can read it live here and some […]

A half hour of hallucinations

I’m on the latest PLOS Mind the Brain podcast discussing the science of hallucinations with the inimitable Ruchir Shah. We cover everything from the experience of ‘hearing voices’ and its relation to mental illness to how chemists are pioneering new variations of psychoactive substances to get around drugs laws. In this podcast, we discuss one […]

A concise, solid grounding in neuroscience

I often get asked ‘how can I avoid common misunderstandings in neuroscience’ which I always think is a bit of an odd question because the answer is ‘learn a lot about neuroscience’. This is easier than it sounds, of course, but if you want a solid introduction, a book by Mo Costandi called 50 Human […]

Shuffle Festival

A festival of music, film and neuroscience is about to kick off in an abandoned psychiatric hospital in East London. Called Shuffle Festival, it runs from the 8th – 18th August. It is happening in the old St Clement’s Hospital on Mile End Road and is being curated by Oscar winning film director Danny Boyle. […]

Life of a Neuro Pope

The late Pope John Paul II is to be made a saint by the Catholic church after having two miracles confirmed – both of which allegedly involved curing neurological disorders. As Popes go, John Paul was particularly interested in neuroscience and seems to have continued his interest in the, er, afterlife. His post-mortem miracles have […]

The Connected Brain: Edinburgh

I’m giving at talk at the Edinburgh festival on August 9th, called The Connected Brain. It will be at Summerhall (Fringe Venue 26 during the festival), cost £3, and here is the blurb: Headlines often ask if facebook is making us shallow, or google eroding our memories. In this talk we will look “under the […]

Is social psychology really in crisis?

My latest ‘behind the headlines’ column for The Conversation. Probably all old news for you wised-up mindhacks.com readers, but here you go: The headlines Disputed results a fresh blow for social psychology Replication studies: Bad copy The story Controversy is simmering in the world of psychology research over claims that many famous effects reported in […]

An unrecognised revolution in street drug design

I’ve got an article in The Observer about the ongoing but little recognised revolution in street drug design being pushed forward by the ‘legal high’ market. Since 2008 we’ve seen the first genuine wave of ‘designer drugs’ that are being produced by science-savvy professional labs that are deliberately producing substances to avoid drug laws. New […]

A radio guide to global mental health

The BBC World Service is in the midst of an excellent series on global mental health – called The Truth About Mental Health. It is currently half-way through and is remarkably well done, looking at everything from the war in Syria, to the effects of solitary confinement, to treatment in developing countries. The programme also […]

National Institute of Mental Health abandoning the DSM

In a potentially seismic move, the National Institute of Mental Health – the world’s biggest mental health research funder, has announced only two weeks before the launch of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual that it will be “re-orienting its research away from DSM categories”. In the announcement, NIMH Director Thomas Insel says the DSM lacks validity […]

A cuckoo’s nest museum

The New York Times reports that the psychiatric hospital used as the backdrop for the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has been turned into a museum of mental health. In real life the institution was Oregon State Hospital and the article is accompanied by a slide show of images from the hospital […]

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