Category Archives: Uncategorized

BBC Column: What makes us laugh?

This is my BBC Future column from a couple of weeks ago. You can find the original here   A simple question with a surprisingly complex answer – understanding laughter means understanding fundamental issues of human nature. Why do we laugh? Well it’s funny you should ask, but this question was suggested by reader Andrew […]

The seers and oracles

An evocative passage from the 1976 book Hallucinogens and Shamanism about the use of the hallucinogenic Psilocybe mexicana mushroom by the Mazatec people of Mexico. The Mazatecs say that the mushrooms speak. If you ask a shaman where his imagery comes from, he is likely to reply: I didn’t say it, the mushrooms did. The […]

Dressing psychologists as wizards in court

From overlawyered.com we hear that in 1995, New Mexico state senator Duncan Scott introduced a legislative ammendment providing that When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant’s competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted […]

Gimme Shelter

The Rolling Stones launched their career in a social therapeutic club, designed to help troubled youth with communication skills. The club became legendary in rock ‘n roll history but its therapeutic roots have almost been forgotten. Eel Pie Island is a small patch on the River Thames famous for the underground club that earned a […]

Bookended by amnesia and neurofeedback

A new edition of RadioLab has just hit the wires which riffs on the concept of loops and is bookended by an initial piece on transient global amnesia and a closing piece on the use of neurofeedback to control pain. The programme is a sublime, lucid trip into a series of cycles, from the effects […]

Relax, it’s just a reversible drug-induced coma

The New York Times has a fantastic interview with Emery Neal Brown, a neuroscientist and doctor who is trying to understand how anaesthesia works to better understand the brain and to build better drugs. It’s a great interview because he address several of the common beliefs and myths about anaesthesia as well as the challenge […]

Quito bound

Due to the complexities of the Colombian visa system, I am off to the beautiful city of Quito, Ecuador, for a week to organise the paperwork. I’m not sure how internet access will work out, so apologies if updates are a little less frequent than usual. If anyone knows any good mind and brain things […]

The Maudsley cat

The not very good photo is of Coco, the Maudsley Hospital cat and one in a long line of felines who reside in psychiatric hospitals. Not all psychiatric hospitals have cats, but they’re not uncommon and exist as a sort of informal tradition of live-in feline therapy. They’re very popular with both staff and patients, […]

the forbidden experiment

Rebecca Saxe, a psychologist from MIT, reviews Encounters with Wild Children by Adriana S. Benzaqu√©n, a history of the fascination that scientists have had with children who grow-up isolated from human contact. To raise a child without the influence of culture is the ‘forbidden experiment’, the test theorised by philosophers of human nature to reveal […]

Brain-Computer Interfaces

In this week’s edition of the journal Nature my colleagues and I at Brown and Cyberkinetics present more results from the first human implanted with a multi-electrode array-based direct-brain-computer interface, and also my colleagues at Stanford present a report on experiments exploring the maximum bit rate possible with such direct interfaces. Nature has provided a […]

Week 4, book draw winners

Sunday night means entry to this week’s Mind Performance Hacks book draw is now closed. A drumroll, please, while I pick this week’s winners (as before, with an added sort to make the uniq command work properly)… and our two winners are John Doppke and Jose Antonio Ortega. Congratulations! I’ll be in touch to get […]

Last chance to win Mind Performance Hacks

If you’ve caught my posts the last few Mondays, you’ll know that I read and commented on Mind Performance Hacks, a new book from Ron Hale-Evans and O’Reilly (with some of the regulars of this blog contributing a hack or two) some weeks ago and we’ve been running free draws since. If you want to […]

Week 3, book draw winners

Hello folks, it’s time to pick out the 2 winners for this week’s Mind Performance Hacks free book draw (I’ll do it the same way as a couple of weeks ago)… Congratulations to Mark Atwood and Monique Milgrom! Well done, and I’ll email you soon to get your postal addresses. Everyone else, bad luck but […]

Week 3 book draw

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some thoughts on Mind Performance Hacks, a new book from Ron Hale-Evans and O’Reilly (there are sample hacks online and you can browse the support site for it). When I made that post, we got hold of some copies from the publisher, and we’ve been having a weekly […]

Week 2, book draw winners

Entry to the second Mind Performance Hacks free book draw from last Monday is now closed. All that’s left to do is randomly select the 2 winners. Here we go (I’ll do it in the same way as the first draw)… And congratulations Jacob Krall and Chris Berry–well done! I’ll be in touch shortly to […]

Week 2 book draw

If you missed it last week, I posted some thoughts on Mind Performance Hacks, a new book from Ron Hale-Evans and O’Reilly (you can read sample hacks and browse the support site for it). We managed to get some copies from the publisher, as they also published Mind Hacks, the book this blog spun out […]

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