Spike activity 18-12-2015

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

12% of women have eyes with four colour-detecting cone cells instead of three. Why don’t they all have superhuman colour vision? Fascinating piece from great new blog Neurosphere.

The BMJ has a genuine but wonderfully sarcastic fMRI study on a Christmas spirit network in the brain. “Further research is necessary to understand this and other potential holiday circuits in the brain”

In a mass of tissue as densely packed and hard-working as the brain, even the holes among the structural elements have jobs to do. Good piece from American Scientist.

The Maudsley Psychedelic Society launched this week with an inaugural lecture by Professor David Nutt. Visuals are suitably blurry in places but great talk.

Trying to simulate the human brain is a waste of time and energy. Critical piece in Aeon.

The Atlantic has an excellent piece on the emotional impact of working with traumatised patients if you’re a therapist. Ignore the daft headline on ‘PTSD being contagious’.

Good piece in MIT Tech Review. Can This Man Make AI More Human? One cognitive scientist thinks the leading approach to machine learning can be improved by ideas gleaned from studying children.

The Lancet has an excellent piece on hallucinated voices, identity, and meaning-making.

A Brief History of New York City’s Heroin Scene. Excellent Vice article from someone who was there.

Neurocritic covers ‘This Week in Neuroblunders: fMRI Edition’.

Why human sleep is an evolutionary anomaly. Fascinating piece in The New York Times.

Spike activity 04-12-2015

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

Sleep Paralysis’ Demons: Influenced by Culture and Fed by Our Fears. Interesting piece at Brain Decoder.

The Telegraph has an excellent piece on artist Alice Evans, her work and her experience of schizophrenia.

What we can learn about the latest epidemic of opioid drug abuse from the opium wave of 100 years ago. Good piece in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Aeon has a good piece on the possibilities of stem cell therapy for fixing neurodegeneration in dementia.

Beard-envy, Freud and the gentleman’s excuse-me. Amusing look at facial furniture by neuroscientist Sophie Scott in Standard Issue.

Neuroskeptic has a fascinating piece on whether bilingual people have a cognitive advantage.

Felton et al. ranked the relative hotness quotients of professors in 36 different fields. The Monkey Cage has the data.

The New Yorker has a typically brilliant piece from Rachel Aviv on war, refugees and mental health. One of the best writers on mental health anywhere.

Was the counterculture’s favourite psychiatrist a dangerous renegade or a true visionary? The Independent has an extended piece on R.D. Laing.

TechCrunch has an excellent piece on decision science – an increasingly important area in cognitive science.

Spike activity 20-11-2015

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

Wired has a good brief piece on the history of biodigital brain implants.

Why are conspiracy theories so attractive? Good discussion on the Science Weekly podcast.

The Wilson Quarterly has a piece on the mystery behind Japan’s high child suicide rate.

The Dream Life of Driverless Cars. Wonderful piece in The New York Times. Don’t miss the video.

The New Yorker has an extended profile on the people who run the legendary Erowid website on psychedelic drugs.

Allen Institute scientists identify human brain’s most common genetic patterns. Story in Geekwire.

BoingBoing covers a fascinating game where you play a blind girl and the game world is dynamically constructed through other senses and memory and shifts with new sensory information.

Excellent article on the real science behind the hype of neuroplasticity in Mosaic Science. Not to be missed.

Spike activity 13-11-2015

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

The Weak Science Behind the Wrongly Named Moral Molecule. The Atlantic has some home truths about oxytocin.

Neurophilosophy reports on some half a billion year old brains found preserved in fool’s gold.

An Illuminated, 5,000-Pound Neuron Sculpture Is Coming to Boston. Boston magazine has some pictures.

Guardian Science Weekly podcast has neuroscientist David Eagleman discussing his new book.

A neurologist frustrated by the obstacles to his work on brain-machine interfaces paid a surgeon in Central America $25,000 to implant electrodes into his brain. MIT Tech Review reports.

Business Insider reports on Google’s troubled robotics division. It’s called Replicant, so I’m guessing incept dates may be a point of contention.

Spike activity 06-11-2015

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

If you only read one thing this week, make it the excellent critical piece on the concept of an ‘autism spectrum’ in The Atlantic.

Nature reports that the controversial big bucks Human Brain Project has secured another three years’ funding. Giant all-knowing neurotron brain simulation coming “any day now”.

The psychological power of narrative. Good piece in Nautilus.

There’s an excellent in-depth piece on London’s BabyLab – a research centre for baby cognitive neuroscience – in Nature.

New Scientist has a fascinating piece on how a leading theory of consciousness has been rocked by oddball study.

Human language may be shaped by climate and terrain. Fascinating study covered in the newsy bit of Science.

Brain Flapping has a great piece on Robin Williams and Lewy-body dementia.

When it comes to the brain, blood also seems to be more than a travelling storyteller. In some cases, the blood may be writing the script. Interesting piece in Science News.

The Atlantic has a wonderful piece on why most languages have so few words for smells but why do these two hunter-gatherer groups have lots.

What is you mind doing during resting state fMRI scans? Interesting study covered by Neuroskeptic.

Spike activity 23-10-2015

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

MP tricked into condemning a fake drug called ‘Cake’ on Brass Eye has been put in charge of scrutinising drugs policy in the UK Parliament, reports The Independent. What starts as satire is so often reborn as policy.

Narratively takes a look at the human stories behind the alarming rates of prescription opioid addiction in Appalachia.

Mental health research makes good economic sense, argues The Economist.

American Civil Liberties Union are suing the psychologists who developed the CIA torture programme.

Before 6 months, babies don’t relate touch to an event outside of themselves. We’re calling this “tactile solipsism”. Interesting Brain Decoder piece.

Mashable reports that Sesame Street debuts its first autistic Muppet. And try watching that What My Family Wants You to Know About Autism video without welling up.

‘Mental patient’ Halloween costumes: a scientific guide to dressing accurately. Important evidence-based Halloween advice on Brain Flapping.

The Scientist looks back at Camillo Golgi’s first drawings of neurons from the 1870s.

Spike activity 09-10-2015

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

How much can you really learn while you’re asleep? Interesting piece that looks at what the research genuinely tells us in The Guardian.

Comedian John Oliver takes on mental health in America with a segment which is both funny and sharp.

Neuroecology has an excellent post looking at the latest mega-paper from the Blue Brain Project.

There’s a good piece on how cognitive biases affect the practice of doing scientific research in Nature. Thankfully, my training has made me immune to these effects, unlike my colleagues.

Braindecoder has some striking artistic renditions of neuroanatomy from artist Greg Dunn.

Is a Liberal Bias Hurting Social Psychology? Excellent piece in Pacific Standard.

BBC News has a good piece on the evidence behind the school shooting ‘contagion’ effect.

“A tumor stole every memory I had. This is what happened when it all came back.” Great piece in Quartz. Don’t get distracted by the inaccurate use of the term dementia. Recommended.