Category Archives: Seeing

How muggers size up your walk

The way people move can influence the likelihood of an attack by a stranger. The good news, though, is that altering this can reduce the chances of being targeted. How you move gives a lot away. Maybe too much, if the wrong person is watching. We think, for instance, that the way people walk can […]

A taxonomy of ayahuasca hallucinations

A wonderful list categorising hallucinations experienced by the Cashinahua people of Peru after drinking the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca. 1. Brightly colored, large snakes 2. Jaguars and ocelots 3. Spirits, both of ayahuasca and others 4. Large trees, often falling trees 5. Lakes, frequently filled with anacondas and alligators 6. Cashinahua villages and those of other […]

Photographing hallucinations

BMJ Case Reports has a paper that describes two patients with Parkinson’s disease who experienced hallucinations that transferred onto photos they took to try and prove they were real. This is ‘Patient 1′ from the case report: Patient 1 was first evaluated at age 66, having been diagnosed with PD [Parkinson's Disease] at age 58… […]

Hallucinating sheet music

Oliver Sacks has just published an article on ‘Hallucinations of musical notation’ in the neurology journal Brain that recounts eight cases of illusory sheet music escaping into the world. The article makes the interesting point that the hallucinated musical notation is almost always nonsensical – either unreadable or not describing any listenable music – as […]

A retrospective editing of consciousness

A new study has found that conscious experience can be altered retrospectively, so that experience of visual information can be changed almost half a second later by manipulating where our attention is drawn. The research, led by cognitive scientist Claire Sergent, involved asking people to stare at a centre point of a screen with two […]

Hallucinations caused by lightning

A 23-year-old mountain climber was hit by a lightning bolt and awoke in hospital to find herself experiencing bizarre hallucinations. The case, reported in BMJ Case Reports, describes how the healthy young woman was mountaineering with her climbing partner when they heard heard cracking thunder and were thrown to the ground by a massive shockwave. […]

Deaf police to monitor security cameras in Mexico

Deaf police officers have been recruited to monitor security cameras in the Mexican city of Oaxaca because of their ‘heightened visual abilities’. There’s a brief and somewhat clunky English-language news article from the local paper that describes the project: Ignacio Villalobos Carranza, Deputy Secretary for the Ministry of Public Security of Oaxaca, said most of […]

Hallucinating body flowers

A curious and kaleidoscopic case of hallucinations reported in the latest journal Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria: A 95-year-old woman, with four years of schooling, had a seven-year history of DI [delusional infestation]. In the beginning, there were itching and prickling sensations on arms and head. Subsequently, she felt small worms, with different shapes and colors, crawling […]

Neuro images

So how did I not know about the amazing neuroimages blog? It has plenty of beautiful pieces like this taken from neuroimaging to historical neuroscience to, er, edible brain sandwiches.

Snakes on a brain

The latest Journal of Neuroscience features a study on the neuroscience behind Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s famouse Rotating Snakes illusion and to celebrate they’re made a ‘Rotating Brain’ illusion for the front cover. This type of illusion, often called a peripheral drift illusion, was thought to occur due to slow drifting eye movements but this new study […]

Transplanted corneas are a window to the soul

A fascinating note on the social meaning of eyes and why people are much more reluctant to donate the cornea after death than other bodily organs. From a recent article in the journal Transplanatation: At the time that a patient is diagnosed as brain dead, a substantial proportion of families who give consent to heart […]

Food for thought

  Life-sized edible brain sculptures from a series called ‘What have you got in your head?’ by artist Sara Asnaghi.   Link to full sculpture series (via BoingBoing).

Elvis in potato chip neuroscience

A new study just published in Cerebral Cortex on the neuroscience on how we see meaningful information in unpatterned visual scenes, seems a little fixated on Elvis. The study concludes: Future studies of the neural processing relevant to pareidolia and to meaning more generally may provide novel insights into how the organization of conceptual processing […]

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 […]

A history of the mid-life crisis

Scientific American’s Bering in Mind has a fantastic article on how the concept of the mid-life crisis was invented and whether it has any evidence behind it beyond the occasional inadvisable pair of cycling shorts and sudden interest in cheesy sports cars. It turns out that the idea of the ‘mid-life crisis’ is surprisingly new […]

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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