Here is fearfully and wonderfully complex for yer

We have just stumbled across a paper that is very intriguing if you are not up with this tricky little evolutionary twist. Tim Bruckner and colleagues at University of California Irvine and Berkeley, have reported that the odds of a male fetus dying - called the 'fetal death sex ratio' - were increased above the expected odds during September 2001. … [Read more...]

Up close and personal with movement – a review from the experts

Here is a review that, if you are interested in how the brain controls muscles, and you are prepared to put in some hard yards, you should read. Simon Gandevia works down the corridor from me, so do Janet Taylor and Jane Butler. Nicholas Peterson doesn't but I once had a cup of tea from the same pot. So, I am, everyday, in the presence of … [Read more...]

Searching for Rene Descartes or just ‘knowing’ he is there

Thanks to Daniel Hawes at twenty2five.blogspot, we were alerted to a recent paper in Psychological Science that investigated how easily people correct their beliefs[1]. Now, you have to know that the angle you are about to hear is speculative, although not outrageous.  The researchers argued that people make two kinds of mistakes on a phrase memory … [Read more...]

Don’t Drink in the Dark

Kakadu Yellow Waters Sunset by Mike Jones

Mosquitoes, or mozzies as we would call them here in Australia, come out at night. I know this in part because I have witnessed the massacre of my good friend Donaldo Becoccini on a fateful evening in Yellow Waters Kakadu -truly one of the planet's special places (we found this photo on the web - it is by Mike Jones and he has some excellent … [Read more...]

Now the expert talks about SMOUNDS

The five senses are usually studied in isolation and there is no doubt that this ‘divide and conquer’ method has given us very valuable insight into the way the brain processes sensory information. However, in our daily life, we combine inputs from all sensory channels to make sure we know what’s happening around us. If there is a fire in your … [Read more...]

Chronic back pain – when research comes out of the blue

Something potentially amazing just happened. I’m not being flippant, a randomised controlled trial (RCT: still the only research method that can genuinely tell whether a treatment works) from China has just produced results in chronic back pain that can only be described as amazing. The temptation is to say “unbelievable”. This trial published in … [Read more...]

More on the complex interaction between us and our environment….

pain1_brain_2008

There is a very clever Belgian psychologist called Stefaan Van Damme.  He has done some excellent work on attentional mechanisms involved in pain.  More importantly, however, is that he is a jolly nice fellow.  Anyway, he came to Oxford and did a great little experiment (actually, we did a couple but the other one is not ready for the real world … [Read more...]