Reduplicative paramnesia

Reduplicative paramnesia is the delusional belief that a place or location has been duplicated, existing in two or more places simultaneously, or that it has been ‘relocated’ to another site. It is one of the delusional misidentification syndromes and, although rare, is most commonly associated with acquired brain injury, particularly simultaneous damage to the right cerebral hemisphere and to both frontal lobes.

From a Wikipedia article on reduplicative paramnesia I’ve just created. Enjoy (and excuse the typos!).

Women’s psychology magazine to launch in UK

psychologies_fr_jan.jpgA new glossy women’s magazine is due to launch in the UK that covers philosophy and psychology, as well as celebrity interviews and lifestyle stories.

Psychologies already exists in France, where the French version (pictured on the right) sells over 300,000 copies a month. It is hoped that UK women will be similarly intrigued by stories that discuss “what we’re like, not just what we look like”.

A write-up in The Independent claims that the magazine will be “academically rigorous”, presumably basing advice and analysis on established research.

It is clear that the magazine is not straying too far from the tried-and-tested format of women’s glossies, however, as beauty advice and celebrity interviews (Meg Ryan will be issue one’s cover girl) will still feature strongly.

Link to story from The Independent ‘Psychologies magazine: Not just a pretty face’.
Link to website of French Psychologies

Fortean Times on Koestler Parapsychology Unit

ft_sept_2005.jpgSeptember’s edition of the Fortean Times has a lead article on Edinburgh University’s Koestler Parapsychology Unit and the state of parapsychology research today.

The research centre is supported by money left in the will of controversial author Arthur Koestler, who had a long-standing interest, and some personal experience, with paranormal phenomena.

In contrast to much of the frankly dodgy science that the area attracts, the Koestler Unit conducts well-controlled scientific studies into potential psi abilities.

The article notes some interesting findings. For example, there seems to be a statistically significant effect, albeit very small in magnitude, when the results of the scientific studies on psi abilities are collated.

It also includes some insights from current and ex-parapsychological researchers on the future of the field, and whether the findings reflect genuine psi, or perhaps just some uncontrolled ‘noise’ in experimental design.

The article is only available in the print edition at the moment, but the Fortean Times put their lead articles online after a month or two, so look out for it on their website for those without copies on your local newstands.

Link to Fortean Times website.
Link to Koestler Parapsychology Unit website.

On hair and leadership

For at least half a century Americans have shown a marked aversion to electing bald men to their nation’s highest office. Excluding Gerald Ford (1974-77) who was bald but not elected, the last bald president was Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61). Europeans have been more sympathetic to the bare-headed politico (Churchill, Papandreou, Simitis, Giscard d’Estaing, Mitterand, Chirac, Craxi, Mussolini), but even they have lagged behind the Soviets, who inexplicably installed, if not exactly elected, bald and hirsute leaders in strict alternation: Lenin (bald), Stalin (hairy), Khrushchev (bald), Brezhnev (hairy), Andropov (bald), Chernenko (hairy), Gorbachev (bald) – a tradition that has been maintained in the Russian Republic with Yeltsin (hairy) and Putin (comb-over).

From p281 of Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body by Armand Marie Leroi.

Death to common sense

deepthought.jpgOnline science think-tank Edge has a discussion about the role of common sense theories in explaining physics and cognitive science.

Science writer John Horgan bemoanes the fact that scientific theories have become so complex and fantastical that common sense has gone out of the window.

He cites various examples in the physical and ‘mind sciences’ which, he claims, demonstrates that theories are becoming useless and untestable.

In reply, Horgan’s comments are met with a robust response, with psychologist Daniel Gilbert going as far as saying “such a silly trifle that it doesn’t dignify serious response”!

Link to ‘In Defense of Common Sense’.

2005-08-26 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news:


Manchester University initiates a survey on out-of-body experiences – which you can participate in here.

Workaholics are better in bed claims questionable recent study.

The placebo effect causes real-life opioids to flood the brain.

Change blindness is particularly associated with a small area of the parietal lobe, finds magnetic brain stimulation study (via BoingBoing).

In the UK, suicide is most likely to occur on Mondays, possibly due to a “sense of unease over starting something new”.

Men score consistently higher on IQ tests than women, claims controversial new study.

Hack #103: See more with your eyes closed

A reader writes (thanks nick!)

Not gonna impress any girls with this one, but… I was looking at my mother’s ceiling fan the other day trying to determine how many blades it had. It was on its highest setting so it was nearly impossible to do. Until I blinked. If you blink rapidly, it disrupts the brains attempts at connecting frames of sight into continuous motion. Thus a whirling blur becomes a clear frame of sight, easily analyzed. Not sure where else this little trick could pay off. A nice illustration of the characteristics of our visual systems though.

Cool. Freed from the constraint having to make sense of continous input, your visual system can to make sense of the single ‘frame’ of input it does have. An example of less is more? I noticed something similar when riding my bike. When I glance down at the front wheel, it appears blurred. But when I look back at the road, my visual system delivers me a snapshot of the wheel, unblurred. What is happening – I’m guessing – is that as I move from looking at the wheel to the road ahead there is a moment of saccadic suppression [Hack #17] when visual input is cut off. Into this gap the ‘frame’ of the wheel is resolved. Also lending a hand may be a neural mechanism which turns off saccadic suppression if the velocity of the eyes matches that of a moving object (with your eyes stationary a moving object is blurred, with your eyes moving a stationary object is blurred, but if your eyes move at the same speed as an object you can get a clear image). For this to work the object needs to be nicely textured, so your low-level visual apparatus can gauge its velocity. Which explains why i get the effect on my mountain bike, which has big treads on the tyres, but not on a road bike, which has smooth tyres.