Ajatus (Finnish Mind Hacks)


The translations come thick and fast! Ajatus (which means “Thought”, I understand) has now been released by publishers readme.fi in Finland, in hardback no less. Many thanks to Chris Heathcote for picking a copy up for me in Helsinki. He took a photo of the book too, if you’d like to see.

Grab Ajatus at readme’s website if you fancy it, and I’ve put the blurb (in Finnish) below the fold.

I’ll stop with the hard sell now, sorry! I just get excited about these things.

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start the week with neuroscience

radio.jpgToday’s ‘Start the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 features Steve Rose discussing advances in neuroscience, in drug treatments (for illnesses or mind-enhancement) and the ethical issues that the public will have to increasingly deal with.

Andrew Marr, the presenter, uses this lovely metaphor for brain scanning. It is like, he said (i paraphrase), looking at the outside of a darkened house at night, a house which contains someone moving from room to room turning on and off lights as they do. So when we look at an fMRI scan we might know which neural and/or mental ‘room’ they are in, but we’ve no idea what they’re doing there. Steve Rose agreed: “I don’t believe we’ll ever be able to tell what a person is thinking from a brain scan” (although he added that some of his colleagues would disagree with him).

If you’d like to hear the show, you can listen again here

Art and cognition

venus_de_milo.jpgInterdisciplines is an organisation that aims to link the humanities with the cognitive sciences and their latest online conference focuses on art and cognition.

New and original papers are regularly published on their website and are opened for commentary. The latest in the Art and Cognition workshop and is by philosopher John Hyman who examines the ongoing work on art and neuroscience.

This is a topic which has become increasingly popular in the last decade owing to a number of high profile scientists pondering the issue (with mixed success, it has to be said).

Hyman’s paper is notable as it criticises the current trend of suggesting that adequate theories of aesthetics must, in essence, be neurologically based.

Link to ‘ Art and Neuroscience’ by John Hyman.
Link to Interdisciplines Art and Cognition Workshop.

Wired report on LSD conference

blue_colour_swirl.jpgA conference on the science and culture of LSD was recently held to honour the 100th birthday of discoverer Albert Hoffman (as reported previously on Mind Hacks). Wired magazine sent one of their reporters to the gathering and have published a story discussing the event and its impact.

The article particularly focuses on the number of technologists who have claimed that the drug is beneficial to their creative thought, and the increasing research focus on the use of psychedelics in therapy for psychological trauma.

Link to article ‘LSD: The Geek’s Wonder Drug?’

Japanese-language Mind Hacks

mindhacks_jp.gif Mind Hacks has been available in Japanese since December 2005, and according to the reviews on Google’s translation of the Amazon.co.jp page, the book’s been exceptionally well translated. (Also, very well received which is gratifying!) I believe this is the translator’s blog and, if so, thanks very much and well done.

Looking at a few more translated pages, including that blog again and the O’Reilly Japan news page, it seems that Mind Hacks sold out at the end of 2005 and has now been reprinted. That’s testament to what must be a great job in translating and re-working the book–and, since I now have the finished object in my hand, some beautiful book design. The binding and production is really good. Congratulations folks! It really is exciting to see Mind Hacks do this well… and very odd to see photos of Tom and me and all other others in the book floating off around the world.

Any Japanese readers out there who’d like to buy the book: Please see the links here and the O’Reilly Japan book page for some sample hacks. Also please do report back!

I’ve tucked a couple of photos below the fold…

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heart.gifFebruary the 14th is fast approaching, St. Valentines day. What can the considerate neuroscientist get his or her loved one?

I think I’ve just had a brilliant idea, and it shouldn’t be too hard to sort out. All you need is a few well-connected neuroimaging buddies and probably four or five hundred pounds to afford the scanning time. Sit yourself in the scanner looking at picures of your beloved, or maybe listening to the song that was playing when you first met. Some quick image analysis later, and a trip to the printers, and – viola! – you have a customised Valentines Day card showing your brain and the activity of your brain as you contemplate the love of your life. The inscription? “Thinking of you” should do it!