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Discussing news, views and chews on Neuroscience.

Neural Outlaw
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  • February 27, 2013
  • 10:30 AM
  • 376 views

Raising An Issue in Indian Psychology

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

A recent literature search threw up an interesting-looking paper; a randomised controlled trial (RCT) on the effect of yoga on gunas (personality) in healthy volunteers (free to read). I was surprised as I rarely come across academic papers on yoga, that too with explicit reference to 'gunas' in the title. . I couldn’t help noticing at the outset that the study appeared to have been carried out at the Department of Yoga Research, Swami Vivekananda Anusandhana Samsthana, a deemed-to-be yoga uni........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2013
  • 02:45 PM
  • 356 views

Terminator Vision: I Can Haz It?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

You've all seen The Terminator film and it's sequels and, admit it, you loved them. Not just because of the creepily futurealistic storyline but because of the stunts, the camerawork, the casting, and the sheer action of it all. And, of course, the special effects. As an example of the best sci-fi films out there, the Terminator films franchise has grossed nearly $1.5 billion worldwide.Some of the iconic scenes in the movies related directly to the Terminator itself, that ice-cold star........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2013
  • 02:38 PM
  • 423 views

Terminator Vision: I Can Haz It?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface


You've all seen The Terminator film and it's sequels and, admit it, you loved them. Not just because of the creepily futurealistic storyline but because of the stunts, the camerawork, the casting, and the sheer action of it all. And, of course, the special effects. As an example of the best sci-fi films out there, the Terminator films franchise has grossed nearly $1.5 billion worldwide.Some of the iconic scenes in the movies related directly to the Terminator itself, that ice-cold stare as a mi........ Read more »

  • March 17, 2010
  • 06:25 AM
  • 780 views

700-year-old Brain Found Preserved!

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Evolutionary psychology tends to receive harsh criticism, and often rightly so. One of the main reasons for this is the severe lack of evidence for many of it's proposals given that the paucity of fossilised brains fails to bolster many a case. And it isn't even anyone's fault. That's just the way it goes sometimes, that the brain is a jelly-like substance that is subject to decay after death, and there's no way we can objectively analyse or verify any differences in brains of long ago with brai........ Read more »

  • March 16, 2010
  • 10:03 AM
  • 742 views

What is "Self Transcendence"?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

A recent study by Italian researchers uncovered the fact that neurosurgery involving certain brain structures can effect personality changes that make one feel more "spiritual". 88 patients underwent pre- and post-surgical personality assessments while treated for tumours, and the results were combined with lesion mapping procedures (to precisely locate lesions) after surgery to measure changes in a personality construct called Self-Transcendence (ST). It was found that patients with p........ Read more »

Cloninger CR, Svrakic DM, & Przybeck TR. (1993) A psychobiological model of temperament and character. Archives of General Psychiatry, 50(12), 975-90. PMID: 8250684  

  • March 5, 2010
  • 01:17 PM
  • 702 views

Mr. Crowley's Suicide Solution

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Wine is fine,
But whiskey's quicker.
Suicide is slow with liquor.
Take a bottle, drown your sorrows,
THEN IT FLOODS AWAY TOMMORROW!!

So goes the first verse of 'Suicide Solution', an infamous song of Ozzy Osbourne's that deals with the dangers of alcohol abuse, and which was the central feature in two legal cases against him where he was charged with inciting the suicides of heavy metal fans after they listened to the song. In fact, controversy has dogged Osbourne sinc........ Read more »

Recours, R., Aussaguel, F., & Trujillo, N. (2009) Metal Music and Mental Health in France. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 33(3), 473-488. DOI: 10.1007/s11013-009-9138-2  

  • September 14, 2009
  • 02:14 PM
  • 803 views

Thugs left man with half a head

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Horrified Steve Gator had to have the front of his skull removed by stunned surgeons after his head was smashed against a pavement in the sickening attack. And now the 26-year-old has been told that the teen attackers who disfigured him will escape justice after his case was dropped.

Steve, of Romford, Essex, was attacked after confronting one of the yobs who had been taunting him about his cousin. Another of the violent louts hit him so hard that he was sent flying and struck his head on the........ Read more »

  • September 8, 2009
  • 11:17 AM
  • 697 views

Ain't Taking This Lying Down..!

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

An interesting report in New Scientist magazine suggests that insults are handled better when lying down rather than sitting or standing up. According to the article, University students who were insulted while seated exhibited neural activity consonant with "approach motivation", which describes to desire to approach and explore. This activity appeared absent in a control group insulted while lying down. Eddie Harmon-Jones, a cognitive scientist at Texas A&M University, interprets this as sugge........ Read more »

  • July 22, 2009
  • 08:28 PM
  • 977 views

If You Had Half a Brain..

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

A great story made its way onto the interwebz lately. The Daily Mail reports:"A 10-year-old girl born with half a brain has both fields of vision in one eye, scientists said today. The youngster, from Germany, has the power of both a right and left eye in the single organ in the only known case of its kind in the world."University of Glasgow researchers used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to reveal how the girl’s brain had rewired itself in order to process information from the r........ Read more »

Muckli, L., Naumer, M., & Singer, W. (2009) Bilateral visual field maps in a patient with only one hemisphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0809688106  

  • May 27, 2009
  • 07:02 AM
  • 1,105 views

Gonna (Evolve To) Sing You My Love Song

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Why do we like to sing soppy love songs to our loved one? What is it about them that evokes a mood of affinity and bonding? Why do tears spring to our eyes when we hear a lyric that reminds us of a friendship, relationship or other close bond?The composition and interpretation of music through song, dance, and playing a musical instrument, are complex and high-level tasks of the creative brain. Indeed, the 'creative' aspects of personality are thought to constitute a particular division of intel........ Read more »

Ukkola, L., Onkamo, P., Raijas, P., Karma, K., & Järvelä, I. (2009) Musical Aptitude Is Associated with AVPR1A-Haplotypes. PLoS ONE, 4(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005534  

  • March 27, 2009
  • 03:28 PM
  • 1,141 views

So Gay, So Very Gay

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

It's unbelievable what's uncovered sometimes. A recent survey of British psychologists and psychiatrists has uncovered that a sizeable amount have attempted to "convert" homosexual patients or clients to heterosexual orientations!

It's a well-known axiom that (biological) homosexuality is an orientation that cannot be changed, what to speak of the scientific consensus on the matter, and what do you think might happen if any such changes are encouraged? Psychological h........ Read more »

  • March 23, 2009
  • 06:50 PM
  • 1,189 views

The "Cancer Faith" Study

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

An interesting study released earlier this week attracted the attention of many bloggers and commentators. It's basic premise is that religious patients with advanced cancer are more likely to opt for aggressive end-of-life treatment. In other words, the more religious they are, the more likely it is that they will place less faith in God and more faith in medical treatment and technology. Let's analyse:

Andrea Phelps and colleagues acknowledge that religion and beliefs account for ........ Read more »

Phelps, A., Maciejewski, P., Nilsson, M., Balboni, T., Wright, A., Paulk, M., Trice, E., Schrag, D., Peteet, J., Block, S.... (2009) Religious Coping and Use of Intensive Life-Prolonging Care Near Death in Patients With Advanced Cancer. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 301(11), 1140-1147. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2009.341  

  • March 17, 2009
  • 12:36 AM
  • 931 views

Further Thoughts On 'No More God Spot?'

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Regarding my previous blog of a few days ago, discussing the recent research by Kapogiannis et al. (2009) on the psychological and neuroanatomical framework of religious belief they've provided, I had some further thoughts on the study that I'd like to delineate. But first, just a quick note. Some may wonder whether my treatment of the issues reveal a sympathy in me for affairs religious and/or that I might be a - shock horror! - a Creationist (ID) infiltrator. I'm putting that to........ Read more »

Kapogiannis, D., Barbey, A., Su, M., Zamboni, G., Krueger, F., & Grafman, J. (2009) Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811717106  

  • March 15, 2009
  • 06:12 AM
  • 1,073 views

No More God Spot?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Back in 2005 when I was an enthusiastic undergraduate, I was amazed at the scientific knowledge that proliferated on theories of religion. After reading Ramachandran's impressive Phantoms In The Brain and gaining an acquaintance with the neurobiological structures that underly religious experience, I became aware of scientific research that was suggesting the existence of a "God Module" in the brain, a system of specialised neural circuitry that appeared to be the central mediator of religious e........ Read more »

Kapogiannis, D., Barbey, A., Su, M., Zamboni, G., Krueger, F., & Grafman, J. (2009) Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811717106  

  • March 10, 2009
  • 12:00 AM
  • 1,180 views

Believer Brains Different from Non-Believer Brains?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

As mentioned in an earlier blog about my research interests, my general (research) focus relates to issues of mental health (schizophrenic symptoms in particular) and I hope to build my career in that area. A side-interest of mine relates to neuropsychological and neurophysiological effects of religion. I am by no means any kind of expert on the matter nor am I intimately familiar with the breadth of literature that already exists on the subject. I like to briefly explore this issue for my own u........ Read more »

Michael Inzlicht, Ian McGregor, Jacob B. Hirsh, & Kyle Nash. (2009) Neural Markers of Religious Conviction. Psychological Science, 20(3), 385-392. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02305.x  

  • August 30, 2008
  • 10:10 PM
  • 1,753 views

Hot Chicks Make Men Nervous

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Yes, really, they do. It's a scientific fact.As someone who has to read a lot of academic science papers, I occasionally come across studies that really should have been funded by the Ministry of the Bleeding Obvious. I mean, really, it makes you wonder what some researchers are thinking when they carry out these sorts of studies, and whether they actually get grants to do this stuff?Here, let me explain. An item in the latest BPS Research Digest let me know of an "eye-catching study that didn't........ Read more »

  • August 28, 2008
  • 01:00 PM
  • 1,093 views

Thoughts on Thatcher's Dementia

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

Mo wrote a post over at Neurophilosophy regarding a report Baroness Thatcher's declining mental health. Here's the comment I made there while responding to a previous commenter's remark:"Polomint38's comment is especially poignant in light of a new article on ScienceDaily today: Even Without Dementia, Mental Skills Decline Years Before Death."It isn't very surprising that senior citizens generally experience decline anyway, it is interesting how this new longitudinal study shows how some skills ........ Read more »

  • August 21, 2008
  • 11:46 PM
  • 1,354 views

How Representative are Volunteers?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

As if by magic, another item at the BPS Research Digest which is also relevant to my recent forays discusses the question of whether participants in psychology studies are "representative" of the total sample under review. It seems like the majority of those who take part in psychology studies are generally more "stable and outgoing", which begs questions about whether said studies are reliable in their testing of depression measures, for example.To give some background, the popular five-factor ........ Read more »

Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, Sampo Paunonen, Markku Verkasalo, Sointu Leikas, Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, & Jouko Lönnqvist. (2007) Personality characteristics of research volunteers. European Journal of Personality, 21(8), 1017-1030. DOI: 10.1002/per.655  

  • August 20, 2008
  • 11:11 PM
  • 1,502 views

How Clinical is Non-Clinical?

by Neural Outlaw in Neural Interface

So far in my budding career I've been involved in three psychology studies, all of which required the recruitment of non-clinical participants. Even before that, my psych undergraduate final-year project on schizophrenia was carried out by surveying non-clinical participants. For the benefit of lay readers, non-clinical participants refers to "normal" people who are recruited to take part in the study and are different to results gleaned from sufferers of psychosis, anxiety or oth........ Read more »

Idia B. Thurston, Jessica Curley, Sherecce Fields, Dimitra Kamboukos, Ariz Rojas, & Vicky Phares. (2008) How nonclinical are community samples?. Journal of Community Psychology, 36(4), 411-420. DOI: 10.1002/jcop.20223  

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