Neurophilosophy

Mo

A dead ant infected with a parasitic Cordyceps fungus (David P. Hughes). A team of entomologists working in the Brazilian rain forest has discovered four new species of parasitic Cordyceps fungi, which infect insects and manipulate the behaviour of their hosts in order to disperse their spores as widely as possible. The modus operandi of…

LOOK at the photograph on the right. Does it show the face of a man or a woman? There’s no right answer – the photo has been manipulated to look sexually ambiguous and can be perceived as either. But according to a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, the sense of touch can…

The woman who knows no fear

A 44-year-old woman with a rare form of brain damage can literally feel no fear, according to a case study published yesterday in the journal Current Biology. Referred to as SM, she suffers from a genetic condition called Urbach-Wiethe Disease. The condition is extremely rare, with fewer than 300 reported cases since it was first…

An interview with Suzanne Corkin

SUZANNE Corkin is a professor of behavioural neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who worked with the famous amnesic patient H.M. for more than 45 years. I interviewed her at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego last month, for this article I wrote for The Dana Foundation. We talked…

Neurocriminology in prohibition-era New York

NEW York City in the 1920s and ’30s was a hotbed of criminal activity. Prohibition laws banning the production, sale and distribution of alcohol had been introduced, but instead of reducing crime, they had the opposite effect. Gangsters organized themselves and seized control of the alcohol distribution racket, smuggling first cheap rum from the Caribbean,…

My Guardian column and other news

THANKS to those of you who’ve been in touch asking why I haven’t been blogging lately. Rest assured that I’m still very much alive and kicking – I put the blog on ice temporarily to work on several other projects, and will start updating it regularly in the near future. I’ve written something special to…

The secret history of psychedelic psychiatry

This post is part of a Nature Blog Focus on hallucinogenic drugs in medicine and mental health, inspired by a recent Nature Reviews Neuroscience paper, The neurobiology of psychedelic drugs: implications for the treatment of mood disorders, by Franz Vollenweider & Michael Kometer. This article will be freely available, with registration, until September 23.  See…

DO you think that you perceive your body and the world around you as they really are? If your answer to that question is “yes”, then think again. Our perceptions are little more than the brain’s best guess of the nature of reality, constructed from fragments of information it receives through the senses. This is…

Motor imagery enhances object recognition

THOUGHTS and actions are intimately linked, and the mere thought of an action is much like actually performing it. The brain prepares for an action by generating a motor simulation of it, praticising its execution of the movements by going through the motions invisibly. Seeing a manipulable object such as a tool, for example, automatically…

DEPRESSION has long been associated with vision – and to colour perception in particular – and the link between them is evident in everyday language. Depression is, of course, often referred to as “feeling blue”, and those who suffer from it are sometimes told to “lighten up”. The link can be found in art, too…