Post Of The Week – Saturday January 17th 2015

1) Horizon Special – What Is The Best Diet For You?

These programmes have been on during the week and will be available on iPlayer for the next three or four weeks. I haven’t had the chance to see them but they seem to cover many of the themes and issues from our Eating Behaviour module. Definitely worth a look. As a follow up, here is Giles Yeo, one of the contributors to the BBC series, talking on Naked Scientists.

2) Brainstorm

I have shown groups some video of Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s work with Islington Community Theatre. Here is a review of the play. Sounds brilliant.

In similar vain, here is a review of an American book which lays out some of the research and offers advice to parents on how to deal with the complexities of caring for adolescent children.

3) Blood test to help smokers ‘find best way to quit’

The headline is about a blood test but the interest in this story from our point of view is the use of Varenicline. The idea is that a blood test can be used to determine how quickly someone breaks down nicotine. If they break it down at a normal rate, they will find it hard to quit smoking. Varenicline will work well for them but has side effects. For people who break down nicotine slowly, patches represent a better option because they do not have the side effects of Varenicline.

This represents a move away from the trial and error prescribing which characterises much of the practice in this area to prescribing based on a scientific understanding of individual differences.

4) Clinical Characteristics Of Depression

We look at four types of symptoms: behavioural, emotional, physical and cognitive. This story is therefore interesting because it cuts across two of these. It suggests that a characteristic of people with depression is that they are unable to distinguish between different negative emotions. This could be seen as a cognitive issue: it is about processing information. It could also be seen as an emotional problem: it is emotions we are talking about. Either way, it suggests that a good first step to helping people deal with depression is to get them to recognise their own feelings.

5) NHS To Pursue Digital Health

We have had a debate in school this week about ebooks and real books. It feels as if we are on the brink of a major change in how we use digital technology. The same is happening in health. In both sectors, how this is managed is critical. Here is Claire Harding from Big White Wall on how things might change in the NHS in 2015.

6) Using Light To Talk With Neurons

This looks fascinating but incredibly complicated ….

7) Life After Stress – The Biology Of Trauma And Resilience

This link takes you to an article and a longer radio programme.

It includes the work of Rebecca Elliott’s work on resilience at the University Of Manchester which I have looked at with students before in the context of biological explanations of depression. The material here looks widely at what resilience is and whether resilience is a natural state.

8) Monkeys And Reflections

On the development of sense of self sub-topic, we look at self-recognition as an important milestone in the development of a sense of self. There is the task where babies are placed in front of a mirror to see if they recognise themselves and will rub off dye which has been placed on their noses. It turns out that people have been doing similar tests on monkeys. What the monkey understands about who it is remains controversial.


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