Post Of The Week – Saturday January 25th 2015

1) Arrival Of The Fittest

We are all familiar from Darwin with the idea of survival of the fittest. Mutations lead some individuals to have a better chance of survival than others. These genes then get passed from generation to generation, creating an evolutionary adaptation. What is less clear is how these mutations occur. That is what is explained in this Royal Institution lecture from Andreas Wagner from the University Of Zurich.

I haven’t watched all of it yet but, as a non-biologist, I find it interesting and accessible. Recommended.

2) 11 Truths About Depression

We’re about to start the Depression topic in A2 and will start with the clinical characteristics. We then spend some time thinking about the reliability and validity of classification and diagnosis.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/tayana-simons/how-depression-feels_b_6494054.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Beyond these disputes, this short article tells us what Depression is really like.

3) Strategies To Cut Suicides

For the first time that I can remember, mental health is likely to be a general election issue. Here is a news story about government strategies to cut suicide. Worldwide, 850,000 people a year kill themselves. Ebola has killed a tiny fraction of that number.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30857546

4) Weight Gain And Memory

When we looked at dieting in A2, we were quite impressed by Sandra Aamodt’s ideas about mindful eating. Basically, if you think about what you eat and listen to what your body is telling you, you will eat healthily and live well. There’s a link between how we think and how we eat.

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1001085/?utm_content=buffer9f732&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

This extract from the Naked Scientists podcast takes this idea a bit further. People who eat too much and put on weight suffer memory loss. Having a poorer memory might lead you to eat more. There are mechanisms being explored to see how this works.

5) Researcher Bias And Self-Report Methods

This article is about well being programmes in schools. Schools recognise that there is a problem with student mental health so come up with some interventions. People with a vested interest investigate these interventions and pronounce them a success. What we know in an area which should concern all of us depends on how we know. Understanding what can seem like dry research methods issues becomes centrally important.

http://theconversation.com/well-being-programmes-in-schools-might-be-doing-children-more-harm-than-good-36573

6) Sport And Mental Health

I have written before on this blog about how sport is used in Australia to promote ideas about mental health and well-being. I’ve read a couple of things this week about footballers who I watched, in one case on television, in the other in person, which discuss some complex mental health issues. Here’s an article from the BBC about Marco van Basten.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/30854083

And here is Claus Lundekvam, who I saw play many times for Southampton, talking about his experience of depression and addiction.

http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/mar/26/claus-lundekvam-threatening-kitchen-knife

7) Plain Packaging As A Public Health Strategy For Reducing Smoking

I have been following this story for a few months. It will come into our work on interventions to prevent addiction in A2. It looks as if the UK government will follow the lead of Australia in allowing only plain packaging of cigarettes. The evidence of the effectiveness of this intervention is now overwhelming.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30926973

8) Two More Things On Dieting

We use the boundary model of dietary restraint as an explanation of why diets fail. People find themselves in positions where they break their diet, think “on what the hell” and then eat even more. Now research is starting to understand the biological processes which lead people who have been on a diet to put on weight. You can read the details here.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25614201?dopt=Abstract

My nan used to tell people she had been fat all her life. She walked everywhere, ate healthily and lived until she was 18 days short of her 100th birthday. I thought of her when I read this article about what it is like to deal with medical professionals when your lifestyle is healthy but your BMI is over 30.

http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.g6845

9) PTSD In The Ancient World

I spend part of my week being a Classics teacher so I quite like things which cover both Psychology and Classics. Here’s a link.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30957719

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