Category Archives: Other People

Richard Gregory has left the building

The legendary perception researcher Richard Gregory has passed away and science is certainly the worse off for his departure. As a student he worked with the great Frederic Bartlett and later became one of the most influential researchers in perception. He was key in demonstrating that expectations and prior experience have a ‘top down’ influence […]

But I just think I’m free

From the track Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal, who turns out to be a remarkably insightful lyricist when he’s not rapping about working it with the ladies: I wake up, every day is a daydream Everything in my life isn’t what it seems I wake up just to go back to sleep I act real shallow […]

One Night in Birdland

I’ve just re-read an interesting biographical study from last year on the ‘Neurological problems of jazz legends’ and noticed a interesting snippet about Charlie Parker: As a result of a car accident as a teenager, Parker became addicted to morphine and, in turn, heroin. Contemporary musicians took similar drugs, hoping to emulate his playing. Through […]

Debugging the free will relationship

In 1987, British TV station Channel 4 had a series called Voices that included four programmes on psychoanalysis. One of the guests was psychologist Sherry Turkle, years before she became well-known for her groundbreaking work on the internet and identity, and she makes some strikingly prophetic comments about free will and technology that ring true […]

On riding the mistake wave

I’ve just read a funny and insightful interview with neuroscientist Vincent Walsh from last November’s Current Biology that’s full of over-caffeinated anecdotes and understated wisdom. It’s really worth reading in full but, unfortunately, the whole thing is locked behind a paywall (a bargain at only $31.50), but I’ve reproduced part of the piece below: What’s […]

Mindful of Langer

The Boston Globe has an excellent profile of psychologist Ellen Langer, responsible for some of the most influential studies in psychology and a champion of ‘mindfulness’ as an approach to a happier life. Needless to say, she’s become a doyenne of the positive psychology movement, and, as the article notes, occasionally comes across as slightly […]

Kay Redfield Jamison on love and loss

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind has an engaging interview with psychologist and author Kay Redfield Jamison who discusses her new book which is both a memoir of losing her husband and a consideration of the psychology of grief. Towards the end of the interview she tackles the distinction between grief and depression, which […]

On a literary trip

The Guardian books blog has a fantastic short piece on fictional mind-bending drugs from literature, stretching from the nightmare-inducing hallucinogens of William Burroughs to Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. The most famous invented drug is probably soma in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It was an integral part of the […]

Nine Legendary Hypochondriacs

ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live has a fascinating discussion with the author of a new book on nine famous hypochondriacs: James Boswell, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Alice James, Daniel Paul Schreber, Marcel Proust, Glenn Gould and Andy Warhol. I’m not sure Daniel Paul Schreber is necessarily the best example of someone with […]

Time to think

Bioemphemera has found some wonderfully left-field brain illustrations by Dutch graphic designer Rhonald Blommestijn. The image on the left is a brain made out of clocks. Blommestijn’s blog is full of strikingly surreal eye-candy that manages both to inspire a feeling of wide-eyed wonder and illustrate scientific themes. They’re certainly very original takes on the […]

To Bedlam and Part Way Back

BBC Radio 4 has a fantastic documentary on one of then 20th century’s great poets, Anne Sexton, who struggled with mental illness throughout her adult life and eventually committed suicide at the age of 46. Uniquely, tapes of Sexton’s psychotherapy sessions with psychiatrist Martin Orne were found after her death giving an alternative insight into […]

A Brilliant Madness online

I’ve just discovered that the excellent PBS documentary A Brilliant Madness that looks at the life of Nobel-prize winning mathematician, John Nash, is available online either as streamed video or as a torrent. Nash was famously the subject of the Oscar-winning film, A Beautiful Mind, although the while the main plot elements are true – […]

Leave my soul alone

I’m re-reading the excellent book Into the Silent Land by neuropsychologist Paul Broks and was reminded of a part where he recounts an eerie poem about a 1938 operation to remove a brain tumour. The poem is by Welsh poet and doctor Dannie Abse and, looking it up on the internet, I discovered that the […]

Tough on trauma, tough on the causes of trauma

Clinical psychologist and US Congressman Tim Murphy has volunteered to treat soldiers traumatised by the war he voted for. From January’s APA Monitor magazine: Clinical child psychologist Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) has consistently voted to continue America’s military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan while appreciating the deepening psychological toll the repeated deployments and combat experiences […]

By king or cobbler

A thoughtful reflection on the psychology of the New Year, published in 1895 by the acclaimed essayist Charles Lamb in his collection The Essays of Elia. Every man has two birth-days: two days at least, in every year, which set him upon revolving the lapse of time, as it affects his mortal duration. The one […]

John Nash, A Beautiful Mind, interviewed

There’s a video interview with Nobel prize winning mathematician John Nash, the subject of the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, over at 3QuarksDaily where he talks about his life, work and mental illness. The film is a quite heavily fictionalised account of Nash’s life and he clearly has some disagreements with Sylvia Nasar’s award winning […]

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