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The Idiosyncratic Side of Diagnosis by Brain Scan and Machine Learning

R2D3 R2D3 recently had a fantastic Visual Introduction to Machine Learning, using the classification of homes in San Francisco vs. New York as their example. As they explain quite simply: In machine learning, computers apply statistical learning techniques to automatically identify patterns in data. Show More Summary

GMOs and Making Up Your Own Science

Dedicated anti-science groups engage in a number of methods to maintain their propaganda upstream against the scientific evidence. It’s actually not difficult- people are generally very good at motivated reasoning. We can demonize or lionize anything. Show More Summary

Laughter as a window on the infant mind

What makes a baby laugh? The answer might reveal a lot about the making of our minds, says Tom Stafford. What makes babies laugh? It sounds like one of the most fun questions a researcher could investigate, but there’s a serious scientific reason why Caspar Addyman wants to find out. He’s not the first to […]

Social Priming: Time for A Definitive Test?

The scientific controversy over social priming - the (claimed) ability of incidental exposure to stimuli to 'prime' or evoke complex behaviors - has been rumbling for the past few years. Will it ever end? In this post I'll propose one way in which I think it could be resolved. 'Social priming' is a fascinating concept. Show More Summary

Big Data and Personalized Medicine

Jun Wang, a famous Chinese geneticists, announced that he is going to shift his career into developing an AI (artificial intelligence) system that correlates genetics, behavior, and environmental factors with personal health. The goal is to provide individual recommendations about health and lifestyle based upon those factors. In this case AI does not refer necessarily [...]

Despite Headlines, the EM Drive Is Still Bullshit

Headlines declare, “To the Moon in Four Hours,” and “Star Trek Impulse Drive,” even from mainstream outlets like the Telegraph. This is an old story that will likely rear its head for years to come. It’s the free energy of space travel. The allure is simply too great for the cranks to ignore. At issue [...]

Novel Breakthroughs in Parkinson’s Disease Treatment

Around 7 million people around the world are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year. This is a progressively degenerative disease that has no cure. There have been, however, a number of very encouraging findings published in the last few weeks, some of which are briefly reviewed in this article. Drugs to manage the symptoms of […]

Barney Carroll on domesticating psychosis

Although posted only a couple of days ago, my presentation from Royal Edinburgh Infirmary, Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh is now passing the benchmark of over 1000 views. You can also find an interesting Storify of my lecture by … Continue reading »

"Right Wing Brain Surgeons" And The NFL

This week (via Retraction Watch) we learned about the case of Joseph Maroon. Earlier this year Maroon and colleagues published a paper arguing that the much-discussed issue of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) may not be a widespread...Show More Summary

Anecdotes and Cannabis Oil

An article making the rounds has this claim in the headline: This Man Was Given 18 Months To Live. Here’s How He Illegally Cured His Cancer. The article further explains that he “cured” his cancer with cannabis oil. This is highly misleading for multiple reasons. This and other articles tell the story of David Hibbit, [...]

Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

We all know that telling lies is wrong. But, we still do it. Now, some researchers think that lying may not be all bad. New reports claim that children who tell lies have better memory than those who don’t. In an experiment designed to tempt kids to cheat, researchers invited 114 children to a lab […]

Artificially Selected Organisms

A new petition to Whitehouse.gov demands mandatory labeling for all “artificially selected organisms.” The petition says: ASO plants or animals have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. Artificial selection (or selective breeding) involves the selection of traits that are beneficial to humans, not what helps the organism survive [...]

"Is Your Brain Really Necessary?", Revisited

According to British biochemist Donald R. Forsdyke in a new paper in Biological Theory, the existence of people who seem to be missing most of their brain tissue calls into question some of the "cherished assumptions" of neuroscience. I'm not so sure. Forsdyke discusses the disease called hydrocephalus ('water on the brain'). Show More Summary

Practice Being Grateful and Reap the Benefits

The benefits of gratitude are many and profound. Being grateful is shown to improve both physical and mental health, psychological wellbeing and attitude, and our relationships with others. Practicing gratitude has even been shown to rewire our brains for the better—it is a truly powerful life-changing tool. Reducing physiological stress and improving sleep Just this […]

Spike activity 24-07-2015

A slightly belated Spike Activity to capture some of the responses to the APA report plus quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Why does the concept of ‘schizophrenia’ still persist? Great post from Psychodiagnosticator. Nature reviews two new movies on notorious psychology experiments: the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s conformity […]

Our Mental Abilities Are Not Entirely Exceptional

We rightfully consider ourselves the smartest species on Earth. Our smartness, however, is not entirely unique. Our mental abilities have not suddenly appeared from nowhere – they must have gradually evolved. So it does not come as a really big surprise to find out that many animals possess certain mental abilities that we traditionally considered […]

Fittening App

It is well established that regulations in the weight loss industry are slack enough to allow potential harm to consumers, and many advocate for the government to strengthen existing laws. The vested interests in the market are a serious concern, with the weight loss industry in the US alone generating around $60.5 billion in revenue […]

Another Study that Doesn’t Show How Acupuncture Works

The pattern is now quite familiar – a study looking at some physiological outcome while rats or mice are being jabbed with needles is breathlessly presented as, “finally we know how acupuncture works.” As is always the case, a closer look reveals that the study shows nothing of the sort. The current study making the [...]

Are online experiment participants paying attention?

Online testing is sure to play a large part in the future of Psychology. Using Mechanical Turk or other crowdsourcing sites for research, psychologists can quickly and easily gather data for any study where the responses can be provided online. One concern, however, is that online samples may be less motivated to pay attention to […]

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