Post Of The Week – Sunday, November 16th 2014

1) The Neuroscience Of Memory

This year in AS Memory, I have given you the opportunity to see some current research on the neuroscience of memory. The idea has been to see how the models of forty or fifty years ago have been built on as we have understood more about how the brain works.

This Royal Institution lecture from Eleanor Maguire explains some of this contemporary research.

2) And The Neuroscience Of Eye Witness Testimony

At the start of the AS course, we look at the field experiment by Fiona Gabbert where the memory of a witness is influenced by a confederate who feeds the witness false information. Recent research quoted here explains this phenomenon at the level of brain function.

This takes us into the question of what memory is for. In evolutionary terms, it is for establishing social coherence to help us be part of groups which can protect themselves. With the A2 course in mind, this makes us realise that cognition is essentially a social activity.

3) Etymological Maps Of The Brain

Increasingly in our lessons, we refer to different parts of the brain. In the new A Level course, there is a compulsory module on Biopsychology which will require us to cover more about brain anatomy. Here is a guide to what some of the words mean.

4) CBT On The Phone

When we study CBT as a psychological treatment for depression, we identify as a strength the way in which its use can be adapted to an online setting.

It can be even simpler than that. This link from the Beck Institute explains how establishing phone contact with service personnel at risk of PTSD can have a significant impact.

5) How CBT Works

This article takes as its starting point the notion that if CBT works, we need to know how and why. If we know how and why, we can make it work better. It explains that progress in addressing symptoms is sudden rather than gradual: people have breakthrough moments in their thinking. It looks at how CBT appears to promote changes in the prefrontal cortex and limbic system, the areas we look at when we study biological explanations of social cognition. It also looks at how depression creates different profiles of brain activity in different people.

Everything we do in Psychology connects to everything else.

6) Some Follow Up On Cognition And Development

In applications of theories of cognitive development to education, we considered whether neuroscience might offer better applications to education than the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky. Here’s an announcement from the University Of Oxford of what some people intend to do about this.

In our discussion of biological explanations of social cognition, we thought about the best ways to nurture adolescents to promote healthy development. Here is the Harvard Graduate School Of Education, where Lawrence Kohlberg once worked, on some positive interventions. It looks like they will be uploading a webinar on this some time soon.

Finally, in development of sense of self, we look at techniques for helping people with autism develop a theory of mind. This news report explains how they do this in Denmark using robots.

7) Mindful Eating

In the dieting sub-topic, we look at Sandra Aamodt’s ideas about mindful eating. The idea is that deliberately limiting calorific intake is almost certain to fail but listening to your body’s signals and needs is likely to work much better.

This article compares the effectiveness of giving people nutritional information and training people to notice how certain foods changed their emotions. The people who had this training were more likely to choose a healthier snack than those just given nutritional information. This is evidence for the idea that mindful eating can work.

8) The Global Burden Of Depression

From the same special edition of Nature as 5) above, this shows the global burden of depression,

This is serious news but also shows what career opportunities there might be for people who want to work on alleviating that burden.

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