Post Of The Week – Thursday 24th October

1) Inside Science – Steve Jones and Robert Plomin

There’s been some controversy over the last couple of weeks about genetics and intelligence.  There are several articles online about what Dominic Cummings, an adviser to Michael Gove, said or didn’t say about genetics and intelligence. Much more sensible is this discussion between two highly respected scientists on the BBC. This offers a strong insight into the nature-nurture debate.

This article explains some of these points in more detail with some good examples.

2) Young children with autism are more trusting than other children

As part of the development of self and theory of mind topic, we look at the Sally-Ann study carried out by Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues in the mid 1980s. This study demonstrates the idea that children with autism are unable to separate what they themselves know from what another character might know. This is said to illustrate the idea that children with autism lack a theory of mind.

This piece of research offers an interesting variation. Children with autism are more likely to look in a box for a reward when prompted by an adult than children without autism. They are more trusting and less suspicious. The authors of the research relate this to the issue of a theory of mind but also look at other explanations. Note that the researchers are looking for applications of their research to the education of autistic children.

3) Eating As Habit

In the eating behaviour topic, we look at factors which shape attitudes to food and eating. One of the factors we do not include is habit. This research explains the importance of habits in relation to food.

4) Why We Are Wired to Connect

Matthew Lieberman researches the biological basis of social cognition, using brain science to understand how we navigate our social worlds. In this article, he explains some of his theories.

This has implications for many areas of the A Level course. We’ve just been doing Piaget, Vygotsky and applications to education for A2. I’m thinking of the cognitive acceleration video and social interaction as the basis for advances in cognition. That video is here if you want to see it.

5) Brains On Trial

This is a link to part of a PBS programme broadcast last month in the US. It looks at the interface between the legal system and neuroscience.

This relates closely to the work we do on the adolescent brain in the biological basis of social cognition sub-topic. If you’ve time, watch the whole programme: looks fascinating.

6) Childhood Poverty and Stress Harms Adult Brain Function

When we look at stress management, we touch on the idea that the thinking that leads people to become stressed starts early in life. The point of stress inoculation and other such therapies is to allow people to address the habits of thinking that have been with people for much of their lives.  This paper links stress to poverty and explains how early experience of poverty and the stresses it brings with it shapes later development.

7) Ten Ways To Improve Your Memory

From the same site as 6) above.

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