Post Of The Week – Thursday 11th July

1) Gender And Attitudes To Mental Illness

The best research I have seen this week has been in-house, not online. We’ve seen significant results from two of three groups investigating gender and attitudes to mental illness, with the third group posting marginally insignificant results. There is good evidence that boys have a less positive attitude.  This happened to coincide with the episode of “Don’t Call Me Crazy” on BBC3 which dealt with the cases of two male patients. It was stated that boys tend to arrive in this particular care setting later in the illness cycle than girls and tend to present more difficult behaviour. Our surveys would seem to explain this process: boys do not want to talk or think about mental illness and do not want to seek help.

Have a look at this website here.

This organisation is working specifically to address the mental health issues of young men.

If you’re feeling up to it, this programme focuses on suicide amongst footballers. I haven’t watched it yet but reviews seem to have been very positive.

2) Stress And Exercise

When we study stress, we consider how Benzodiazepines work by entering the brain and boosting the action of GABA. This study suggests that exercise can have similar effects on the action of GABA.

It goes some way to explaining in biological terms something that we might think we know intuitively: exercise makes you feel less stressed.

3) Biomarkers For Mental Disorders

Last week’s post refers to some work being done on deciding treatments for depression by doing a brain scan in order to identify which areas of the brain are not functioning properly. This   news story from NPR takes a broader look at this issue.

It suggests that whilst we can deal with other illnesses by early diagnosis, doing so for mental disorders is still difficult. Listen to the audio and read the article. You might want to refer back to the TED Lecture by Thomas Insel we watched in class a couple of months ago.

4) The Neuroscience Of Social Influence

When I put up the new wall display about brain science last week, I could find something neuroscience related for every topic on the course, except for social influence. Perhaps rather annoyingly, this piece of research then appeared.

It’s not exactly on the topics which we cover but it shows how neuroscience can be used to answer questions in Social Psychology.

5) Generalised Goals And Depression

We do a lot now on the biology of depression, looking at ideas about brain structures, the role of serotonin, genes and depression and so on. This article is worth a look because it reminds us that we cannot ignore psychological explanations.

It looks at how depression can be explained by looking at the goals which people set themselves.

6) Autism And The Immune System

This article appeared on the Time website.

Time Magazine had a long and distinguished track record of investigative journalism. We should take notice of such research from a reputable university on such a website. The article and the others linked to it are interesting. The comments section contains some lively debate. There are campaigners in the US and elsewhere who maintain that autism is linked to the immune system and in particular to immunisation. Think about what the discussion in that area tells us about what counts as good science.

And finally ….

Here’s Elizabeth Loftus at TED.

I can’t find the video yet but will post a link when it comes. I didn’t show it this year but for many years, I showed a video of an old Discovery Channel programme featuring the case of Steve Titus. His face is in the background. This news story tells you a bit more about him.

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