Post Of The Week – Thursday 3rd July 2014

1) Stress And CHD
In AS Stress, we look at the relationship between stress and coronary heart disease, looking at Friedman and Rosenman’s study of Type A personality. The thing we don’t look at in detail is why stress should be related to CHD. This interview focuses on a piece of research which might help us to understand this relationship.
Essentially, the problem is that stress causes an increase in white blood cells which in turn leads to more athersclerosis, the process by which arteries become damaged and blocked.


2) Facebook, Emotions And Ethics
I don’t use Facebook so some of the features of this story are a little beyond my understanding. However, it has made a few people cross. Basically, Facebook worked with two universities in order to see what effect negative or positive news stories had on people’s posting behaviour. Here are the details from the BBC.

There are some interesting issues here. Deception plays a part. People do not know that they are part of a study before, during or even after. That means they do not have a right to ask questions or a a right to withdraw. On the other hand, the terms and conditions which people sign up to when they join Facebook cover this intervention and there was complete confidentiality. The point I take away from this is that I sometimes come across students doing studies who think their study is OK if they have some sort of consent and have guaranteed confidentiality. I’ll be using this study in future to make the point that all ethical issues have to be taken into account.


3) Heidi Johansen-Berg – Women In Science
It’s coming up to UCAS time and you might be thinking about career paths. Here, Heidi Johansen-Berg talks about her journey via Psychology into a fascinating area of brain research.

Here’s Heidi Johansen-Berg talking on the radio this week.

I haven’t listened to this yet but it’s promising.


4) ECT And Ketamine
I blogged last week about the controversy surrounding a trial which tests whether ketamine can reduce the negative effects of ECT. There have been substantial objections to this study and I suggested that there was an element of hit and hope about it.
In this article, the chief researcher for this study, Ian Anderson, defends its value. He makes some good points. I still think the main point stands. There is risk here based on the fact that we don’t really know how ketamine and ECT work. At some point in the future, we might look back on this study and wonder how we knew so little.


5) A Couple Of Things On The Adolescent Brain

This article is not explicitly about the adolescent brain at all but is rather about the 10,000 hours myth. Basically, the idea is that anyone can achieve mastery level at anything if they practise deliberately for 10,000 hours. I have been following this blog for a while because I am interested in how this works in golf.

This article seeks to bust the 10,000 hours myth. It does so through detailed statistical analysis. The relevance of this to the adolescent brain is that Sarah-Jayne Blakemore suggests in a tweet that when you practise might be as important as how much. Practising when you are young and when your brain is still developing seems to be the key to success in many areas of expertise.

On a much darker theme, this article explores the effects of solitary confinement on young prison inmates. It is deeply disturbing.


6) Luis Suarez

A few things have been written about why Luis Suarez bit an opponent during the World Cup. Some of these things have been quite daft. Mark Griffiths has something sensible to say here.


7) Two Views On CBT


David Clark comes into our course when we look at CBT. He is one of the main movers behind IAPT, the NHS programme which seeks to improve access to psychological therapy. He is a strong advocate for the evidence based approach. Along with Richard Layard, an economist, he has just published a book arguing for further expansion of mental health services. One of the articles above explains this idea, one criticises the assumptions on which it is based. See what you think. The debate here runs along similar lines to the discussion involving David Clark and John Mezellier which you can hear on this programme.


8) Islington Youth Theatre And Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

I originally blogged about this in March. It is now on YouTube. I watched it again just now. I still think it’s brilliant.



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