2010-02-26 Spike activity

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

Slate has a little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.

An important study on how video games can hamper reading and writing skills in young boys by displacing other activities is covered by Not Exactly Rocket Science.

The New Yorker has a long but shallow article on the scientific status of psychiatry. Draws almost entirely on popular books for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.

If you want to hear me discussing the recent ‘technology scares’ article on the radio show On the Media you can find the audio here. The transcript features my misspelt clone self ‘Vaughn’ Bell.

The Wall Street Journal journal has a great piece on scientific creativity and how science funding is increasingly going to older researchers.

The process of brain development is concisely captured in an award-winning PhD Comics infographic which you can find on Neurophilosophy.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent piece on attention and classroom multi-tasking.

A hilariously bad fMRI neuromarketing ‘study’ on Facebook pages is covered by The Neurocritic.

The Guardian reports on a talk where universities are told to consider dope tests as student use of ‘smart drugs’ soars. Although doesn’t mention bonus marks for handcapping oneself with illicit drugs.

A blog of Vintage and Anchor book hosts a discussion between neuroscientist David Eagleman and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein about how to marry the limitations of science with literary imagination.

The Globe and Mail discuss the proposed changes to the DSM-V that would make being too interested in sex a mental illness.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal on Dutch patients with chronic fatigue syndrome found no evidence of infection with the XMRV virus. If you’re not sure why this is an important piece of a controversial puzzle, read an earlier Mind Hacks post.

Neuroworld reports on a intriguing study finding that the happiness boost from a holiday starts the day you start planning it. As I’m still planning a weekend in Butlins with Shakira, this is welcome news.

As the 60’s generation ages, marijuana use is becoming more common in older folks. Don’t bogart that joint old friend.

Scientific American discusses how the enteric nervous system, the one in your gut, influences mood and well-being.

A dodgy survey to see how common the made up diagnosis ‘Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder’ is in women is discussed by Dr Petra. Dodgy survey coincidentally from a drug company trying to promote their 0.7 more satisfying sexual events per month drug. That’s 0.023 more satisfying sexual events per day ladies. Spine tingling, I know.

Alison Gopnick’s new book ‘The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life’ gets an extended review in The New York Review of Books.

Science News covers and interesting study finding that white matter tearing and stretching may cause its most serious damage by breaking microtubules.

Interesting new blog Nonessential Reading covers a study finding that students who were made to think about ideas related to disorder and randomness in the world were more inclined than their peers to believe in God or a similar nonhuman entity. Therefore, ghosts are cleary leaving my flat in a mess.

XKCD has a fantastic comic strip about free will and mind reading.

Mathematicians offer tip-offs to LAPD, reports New Scientist. It could have been a lovely story about geeks helping the cops investigate the Riemann hypothesis (imagine an infinite series of donuts…) but turns out to be about mathematical modelling of crime hot spots.

Frontier Psychiatrist has a piece in the BMJ about assessing suicide risk in a gentleman who’s experienced a series of unfortunate events.

Singing ‘rewires’ damaged brain, reports BBC News. Before, everything washed the brain. Now, everything rewires the brain. So who’s giving it a lick of paint? Answer me that pointdexter.

The New York Times reports that afternoon naps can increase the ability to learn. Useful to know for when you get fired for sleeping on the job. I don’t think I was cut-out for lap dancing anyway.

The keep fit effectiveness of video-game exercise bikes is discussed by The BPS Research Digest.

Scientific American covers an important new meta-analysis on the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy, although seems to think this is an amazing innovation, when a similar study was published in 2008.

Good vibrations aid mind-controlled steering. Sounds dirty, isn’t. A piece on brain-computer interfaces from New Scientist.

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