Post Of The week – Thursday 27th February, 2014

1) Horizon On How You Really Make Decisions

This programme looks at the way in which logic and intuition govern the decisions we make. It features the work of Daniel Kahneman from Princeton University. I’ve only managed to watch a few minutes so far but, as with the other psychological Horizons recently, it looks really interesting.

As a follow up, here is a collection of articles on decision making from the BPS.

2) Hormones, Including Leptin

I didn’t manage to watch all of this either but I caught a glimpse of the section towards the end dealing with leptin.

Leptin and insulin are two key hormones we look at during the Eating Behaviour topic. I’ll aim to watch all of this programme soon.

3) Changing The Brain

Remarkable progress is being made in neuroscience in ways in which processes can be manipulated within the brain. This interview contains some of the latest ideas. There are links to a couple of TED Talks at the bottom. I’ve spent some of this week as part of General Studies looking at predictions about how much more powerful computers will become. For this reason, I find the predictions about what can be done with the brain here eminently plausible. The article makes reference to the BRAIN Initiative, a huge federal government project to understand more about how the brain works.

I sometimes wonder why we do Psychology in schools. It seems to me that with governments around the world spending such large sums on understanding the brain and with neuroscience being at the heart of scientific progress, it would be foolish not to have Psychology as part of the curriculum in school.

4) Neuro Hype

The downside of the development of the technologies outlined in 3) is that the importance of understanding the inner workings of the brain gets overstated. Christian Jarrett does a great job of dissecting this problem here.

5) Diabetes And Depression

When we study depression, we note early on that an issue of valid diagnosis is co-morbidity. People tend to have depression alongside something else, which sometimes makes the depression hard to spot and which poses the question of which is the main problem, the depression or the other condition. When we look at treatments for depression, we assume that the person being treated is only being treated for one thing. In real life, someone taking antidepressants or having CBT is likely to be receiving treatment for something else as well. We don’t think about how the treatment for depression works alongside the other treatments.

This article deals with this issue because it looks at how treatment works for people with both depression and diabetes. These two appear together quite often but it’s striking how little is known about how to treat both of them at the same time.

6) A Couple More On Depression

I’ve been interested in football, perhaps too interested, for as long as I can remember. For most of that time, Ray Wilkins has been first a prominent player and then a prominent coach. I was therefore quite affected by this account of his experience of mental illness.

Here’s an article which appeared today explaining what is now known about the side effects of medication.

It’s speculation I know, but I sense that as the influence of drug companies wanes, more bad stuff about antidepressants will come out.

7) Memory As Reconstruction

In our Memory topic, we look at the work of Karim Nader on how memories of traumatic events can be altered. Every time, we remember something, we rebuild a picture of it based on fragments of memory. This process can be manipulated so that the emotional edge of memories can be blunted.

This news story explains how the memory loss which some people experience during ECT can be exploited to deal with traumatic memory.

8) Eating Disorders

It’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Here is how Time To Change presents this issue.

Some of my Year 8 students have been looking at this site as part of their health project. Have a look if this is an area which interests you.

9) Male Attractiveness

When we look at evolutionary explanations of human reproductive behaviour in Relationships, we look at some research which suggests that preferences for different types of faces change during the menstrual cycle (Penton-Voak et al (1999). This article does the same for body shape.

It’s interesting that a fairly old idea is presented as news and that the assumptions of evolutionary influence and sexual selection are accepted without criticism.

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