Category Archives: Uncategorized

Quasi-stability

Yesterday, before I got here, my dad was trying to fix an invisible machine. By all accounts, he began working on the phantom device quite intently, but as his repairs began to involve the hospice bed and the tubes attached to his body, he was gently sedated, and he had to leave it, unresolved. This […]

Hallucinating astronauts

I’ve got a piece in The Observer about the stresses, strains and mind-bending effects of space flight. NASA considers behavioural and psychiatric conditions to be one of the most significant risks to the integrity of astronaut functioning and there is a surprisingly long history of these difficulties adversely affecting missions. Perhaps more seriously, hallucinations have […]

Why do we bite our nails?

It can ruin the appearance of your hands, could be unhygienic and can hurt if you take it too far. So why do people do it? Biter Tom Stafford investigates What do ex-British prime minster Gordon Brown, Jackie Onassis, Britney Spears and I all have in common? We all are (or were) nail biters. It’s […]

It’s your own time you’re wasting

British teachers have voted to receive training in neuroscience ‘to improve classroom practice’ according to a report in the Times Educational Supplement and the debate sounded like a full-on serial head-desker. The idea of asking for neuroscience training at all sounds a little curious but the intro seemed like it could be quite reasonable: Members […]

Does the unconscious know when you’re being lied to?

The headlines BBC: Truth or lie – trust your instinct, says research British Psychological Society: Our subconscious mind may detect liars Daily Mail: Why you SHOULD go with your gut: Instinct is better at detecting lies than our conscious mind The Story Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown that we have the […]

Ghost psychiatry

The Australian Journal of Parapsychology has an article about post-traumatic stress disorder in people who have been murdered. I suspect diagnosing mental disorder in those who have passed onto another plane of existence isn’t the easiest form of mental health assessment but it seems this gentleman is determined to give it a go. Psychological phenomena […]

Do violent video games make teens ‘eat and cheat’ more?

By Tom Stafford, University of Sheffield The Headlines Business Standard: Violent video games make teens eat more, cheat more Scienceblog.com: Teens ‘Eat more, cheat more’ after playing violent video games The Times of India: Violent video games make teens cheat more The story Playing the violent video game Grand Theft Auto made teenagers more aggressive, […]

Are classical music competitions judged on looks?

Looking at the evidence behind a recent news story The headlines The Los Angeles Times: People trust eyes – not ears – when judging musicians Classic FM: Classical singers judged by actions not voice Nature: Musicians’ appearances matter more than their sound The story If you wanted to pick out the musician who won a […]

What makes the ouija board move

The mystery isn’t a connection to the spirit world, but why we can make movements and yet not realise that we’re making them. Ouija board cups and dowsing wands – just two examples of mystical items that seem to move of their own accord, when they are really being moved by the people holding them. […]

The curious relationship between truth and madness

I’ve got an article in The Observer on the misunderstood relationship between truth and madness. The definition of a ‘delusion’ has just been changed so it no longer has to be considered a ‘false belief’. It turns out that this issue turns up regularly in world events, owing to the sad tendency for whistle-blowers to […]

The uncertain dance of the spoken word

Stanford Magazine has a wonderful article by a writer who relies on lip-reading and experiences speech through this subtle movement-based language. Rachel Kolb skilfully describes how this works, and more importantly, feels. The part where she describes how she experiences accents is just amazing: Accents are a visible tang on people’s lips. Witnessing someone with […]

The rise of everyday neuroscience

I’ve got a feature article in The Observer about how our culture has become saturated with ‘neuroscience talk’ and how this has led to unhelpful simplifications of the brain to make the same old arguments. This is often framed as a problem with ‘the media’ but this is just the most obvious aspect of the […]

2013-01-25 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The interesting concept of a ‘possession trance disorder’ diagnosis is discussed by Neurocritic. BBC News video reports on how Brazil is considering a law to forcibly remove crack addicts from the street into rehab. Goodbye PDD-NOS, hello Social Communication Disorder. A sneaked-out DSM-5 change […]

BBC Column: when you want what you don’t like

My BBC Future column from Tuesday. The original is here. It’s a Christmas theme folks, but hopefully I cover an interesting research area too: Berridge, Robinson and colleagues’ work on the wanting/liking distinction. As the holiday season approaches, Tom Stafford looks at festive overindulgence, and explains how our minds tell us we want something even […]

Where is your mind?

My BBC Future column from a few days ago. The original is here. I’m donating the fee from this article to Wikipedia. Read the column and it should be obvious why. Perhaps you should too: donate.wikimedia.org.   We like to think our intelligence is self-made; it happens inside our heads, the product of our inner […]

Human Touch

A curious article has just appeared in the latest edition of the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. The opening line of the summary is oddly delightful: The group, with its intensity, interaction, roles and dynamics, is an important unit of experience in everyday life, in psychotherapy groups, and in Bruce Springsteen’s music. The author, psychotherapist […]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 23,572 other followers