Post Of The Week – Thursday 4th July

1) Peter Attia On The Obesity Crisis

For A2 Eating Behaviour, we look at explanations for the success and failure of dieting. We all think we know why people put on weight. They eat too much. Diets are about forcing yourself to eat less. If you can’t eat less, it’s your fault. Attia takes as his starting point the case of a woman with Type 2 diabetes whom he met as a casualty doctor. He considers the possibility that weight gain is not a problem in itself but the symptom of some much deeper problems in how insulin works inside the body.  The failure of diets is therefore not about lack of will power but is rather the consequence of biological processes which are powerful but as yet imperfectly understood. In our course, we also look at explanations of the success of diets based on diet drugs. Attia and his colleagues suggest that if we can understand these systems and in particular understand more about the role played by refined carbohydrates, we will have a much more powerful way of helping people lose weight than giving them drugs which are only marginally effective and whose mode of action is not well understood. If you want to know more about Peter Attia’s work, go to http://nusi.org. Attia has worked extensively with the American science writer Gary Taubes. Here’s an article by Taubes in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/01/opinion/sunday/what-really-makes-us-fat.html?_r=2&

2) Using Brain Scans To Decide On Treatments For Depression

http://directorsblog.nih.gov/personalizing-depression-treatment-with-brain-scans/#more-1548

For A2 Depression, we look at both biological and psychological therapies. To evaluate, we look at the problem of understanding what these treatments do inside the brain. Without this understanding, it is hard to give people targeted treatment. The study discussed in this article suggests that it may be possible to choose the right treatment for people suffering from depression by doing a brain scan. It’s still early days for this research. See what you think and follow some of the links at the bottom.

3) Dopamine: the pleasure chemical?

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/07/what_is_dopamine_love_lust_sex_addiction_gambling_motivation_reward.html

When we study Addictive Behaviour in A2, we look at the idea that people get addicted because dopamine is overactive in the reward pathways inside the brain. We evaluate this by questioning what we really know about dopamine. Researchers now recognise that it is more than just “pleasure juice”. Read the article to see where the research in this area is going.

4) The Limits Of Mapping The Brain

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jun/30/brain-mind-behaviour-neuroscience-neuroimaging

There’s huge optimism on the part of many people in the Psychology community that we’re on the verge of new discoveries about the brain which will transform our lives and the way we think about ourselves. The new display in Room 16 is part of this trend. This article sounds a note of caution: sometimes we claim to know more than we really know. Read the article and follow some of the links at the bottom.

5) Don’t Call Me Crazy

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01b86w5

I don’t want to show this in class. Some of it is distressing and is the sort of thing you should only watch if you want to and feel up to it. Even if you don’t watch the programmes, have a look at the website and read some of the stories. This is about challenging stigma by giving everyone involved a voice.

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