Post Of The Week – Thursday 16th January, 2014

1) Following Up Research Into Childcare

I’ve had an enjoyable week looking at research from the AS groups about childcare. Two things have stood out. Firstly, in 12C, we saw some evidence about the positive effects of being cared for by grandparents on children of pre-school age. We decided that this was about continuity, about one to one care and about grandparents’ experience of being parents. Secondly, in 12A, we were interested in the extent to which the quality of childcare has improved. We looked at how the provision of day care makes the transition into school easier and at how care in after school settings and in pre- and primary schools seems to be improving. Where there are negative effects, they are small and can be overcome.

Here are a couple of links which act as a commentary on this. One is from the Institute Of Education, University Of London. The picture it gives of grandparent care is rather less positive than the one we built up in our lesson. Have a look and see what you think.

http://www.ioe.ac.uk/newsevents/16093.html

Secondly, there is now some concern that while we get early childcare like, the quality of life for older children, that is in the years leading up to 18,  is getting lower. We started to discuss this issue in the 12A lesson. Here’s an article which explores this idea.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25653389

Read it and try following the links on the page. For me, the main conclusion from doing this research is that we have moved on from comparing day care against care at home to asking more complex questions about what makes for a happy environment and upbringing for a child. We are looking at factors, not just systems and locations.

2) Some Nice Neuroscience

I’m grateful to Mr. Grace for showing me this link to RSA Animate – The Divided Brain.

http://www.thersa.org/events/rsaanimate/animate/rsa-animate-the-divided-brain

It’s not something we cover directly as part of our course but it’s great to hear a neuroscientist talk some sense.

For some commentary, here is Sarah-Jayne Blakemore on left brain / right brain.

http://www.edge.org/response-detail/25489

More generally, here are some neuroscience links from Jeremy Dean.

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/01/10-most-awe-inspiring-neuroscience-studies.php

3) Attachment Therapy

During the Early Social Development topic, I tried to explain that an important strength of Ainsworth’s theory of types of attachment is that it has been applied in the development of therapy. It’s a hard point to make because the people who work in this area do not publicise themselves as fully as psychologists working in some other areas. Here’s an article by an Australian therapist, Colby Pearce, who explains some of the context of what he does.

http://colbypearce.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/attachment-therapy-for-children-who-have-experienced-family-trauma/

4) Psychedelic Drugs And Nicotine Addiction

In the A2 Addiction module, we look at attempts to use drugs to help people stop smoking and gambling. These drugs do not work particularly well.

http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/people/professor-probes-psychedelic-drugs-for-a-cure-to-nicotine-addiction/

This article explains how hallucinogenic drugs are being trialled to treat nicotine addiction. It’s interesting because it draws in part on psychological interventions. CBT is used as part of the process and a link is made to the idea of a spiritual change which is part of the Alcoholics Anonymous approach. Just don’t try it at home, kids.

5) Treating Depression

We’re working through the A2 Depression module at the moment and starting to understand the limits of SSRIs and tricyclics as antidepressants. As people start to realise that the serotonin mechanism is not the key to depression that people thought it was when the amine hypothesis was proposed 30 years ago, other treatments are being looked at seriously.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2012/12/18/ketamine-magic-antidepressant-or-illusion-revisited/#.Utg6AXlGhg9

Here’s an article about ketamine. I first came across ketamine when I was teaching Year 10 about drugs to say no to six years ago. There is now some investigation into its power as an antidepressant. Here’s the abstract of a more recent article which explains some of the problems in using it as an anti-depressant.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24409146

Similarly, there is increasing interest in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and transcranial Direct Current Stimulation as treatments for depression. Professor Colleen Loo talks about them and about ketamine here.

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/research/meetourresearchers/colleenloo.cfm

The take home message for me from this research is that depression is not in one chemical system nor in one area of the brain but arises from something fundamental in how the brain functions. These forms of therapy have an effect across many areas of the brain. That’s what seems to make them work.

More generally, this article challenges the idea that mental illness is nothing but brain illness.

http://edge.org/response-detail/25510

This challenges us to move away from purely biological explanations of any mental illness.

6) Going To School To Sculpt The Brain

Here’s an article about what happens to our brains when we learn.

http://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/going_to_school_to_sculpt_the_brain/1/

7) Video Games And Gambling

I’ve posted on here before about the connection between video games and gambling. The idea is that the patterns of thinking which adolescents learn through video games are the same as those which adults use for gambling, sometimes with serious consequences. Here’s a news story about some of Mark Griffiths’ research in this area.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/11/candy-crush-children-gambling

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