Research companion competition

red_book_white_bg.jpgPetra also tells me that there’s a competition to promote participation in the free discussion forum for psychology and social science research.

£100 worth of books will be awarded to the most active and helpful member of this site between 5th of May and the 7th of July.

The forum is for anyone undertaking psychology or social science research to discuss their work and exchange ideas, with input from professional researchers and Petra herself.

Link to competition details.
Link to message board front page.

Dana and the science of sex

orange_passion.jpgThe London-based Dana Centre will be hosting a number of events on the science of sex over the coming month for those interested in gender, reproduction and passion.

Tuesday 6th of June sees a debate asking can pharmaceuticals improve your love life? and considers the increasing targetting of sexual behaviour by drug companies.

On the following day, there’s a discussion about the problems with defining gender and how gender is influenced by social and biological development.

And on Wednesday 14th June the Dana Centre tackles myths and misconceptions about sex and sexual behaviour in a panel discussion.

Psychologist, sex researcher and blogger Petra Boyton will be part of the discussion for the two debates on sex, and will be joined by professionals from the pharmaceutical industry and medical world.

ABC All in the Mind on mother’s little helper

just_a_pill.jpgThe excellent ABC Radio National All in the Mind has a special this week on the social impact of psychiatric drugs.

During the 20th century, there was a revolution in the development of mind-altering drugs to the point where useful and viable medicines for mental distress became available.

The widespread prescription of such drugs meant that they became used for more than serious mental illness – they often became self-administered fixes for the stresses and strains of daily life.

All in the Mind discusses the history of the these drugs and how they have affected our ideas of cultural and personal distress.

mp3 or realaudio of programme.
Link to transcript.

Square eyes, altered states

televisions.jpgThe Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments blog has a thoughtful piece on the increasing trend for people with serious mental health concerns being chosen as participants in reality television shows.

Recently, several mental health charities have criticised the UK Big Brother after a contestant threatened to kill themselves on air, and left the show shortly after.

Participants with mental health difficulties have also featured on mainstream US shows, and the article argues that producers are more concerned with having dramatic ‘characters’ in their show than they are about the mental health of participants.

The article is an incisive analysis of mental illness on reality TV at a time when such concerns have become widely debated.

Link to article ‘Reality Corrupted’.

Mind-brain link questioned

bloody_iv.jpgThe idea that the mind is the result of the function of the brain is so widely accepted within neuroscience as to almost be its defining statement. It’s suprising then when you find someone who’s arguing against this idea in a coherent and thoughtful manner.

The blog Science is a Method not a Position keeps tabs on the world of the cognitive and neurosciences and puts forward alternative interpretations that suggest there may be more to the mind than the firing of neurons.

Even if you don’t buy the main argument, the blog highlights how our simple assumptions aren’t always as watertight as we believe them to be.

Link to Science is a Method not a Position.

2006-06-02 Spike activity

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


BBC radio programme uses computational lingustics on to uncover new patterns in spoken and written english use.

Parapsychology study uses email to test for psychic ability.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy… Intriguing website from Cambridge University about widely circulated internet meme.

New Scientist report on a robot hand controlled by thought alone (and some electronics).

Such a clich√©, it’s hardly news anymore: Drug company funded studies tend to support the effectiveness of their drugs.

BBC Radio 4 to launch The Memory Experience season this summer.

Tests for ‘face-blindness’ (prosopagnosia) reveals disorder may not be so rare after all.

Are we addicted to internet porn? No, is the short answer, not that you’d believe it from the newspaper headlines.

“Sexual desire traced to genetics”: clumsy headline obscures interesting study showing that a gene coding for a dopamine receptor can account for 5% of reported sexual desire.

Coma and video deficit in the new Research Digest

Christian’s too modest to mention them, but I notice a new batch of posts on the BPS Research Digest has just appeared.

I was particularly interested to see the post on recent research that has looked at how coma is represented in Hollywood movies – seemingly as a semi-angelic form of restful unconsciousness from which people awake as if they’d never been gone.

On the impact of heroin addiction

poppy_field.jpgThe Wall Street Journal has recently published an article on heroin addicition by the pseudonymous Theodore Dalrymple, who argues that heroin is not as life-gripping as it is claimed, and that many addicts simply lack the will to stop using the drug.

Theodore Dalrymple is the pen name of retired psychiatrist Anthony Daniels who has long opposed liberal approaches to mental illness and its treatment.

Conservative writers tend to dismiss mental illness off-hand as some sort of moral failing without ever engaging the topic, while Daniels is one of the few who actually gives the issue some consideration.

Even if you don’t agree with his views, Daniels is a thought-provoking writer who tackles a difficult area that others often ignore.

Link to ‘Poppycock’ by Theodore Dalrymple.