Post Of The Week – Sunday 17th May 2015

1) Two Minute Neuroscience

Here is a playlist of some very useful neuroscience videos.

2) Brain Fade

This audio clip from the BBC uses some neuroscience to explain what happens when politicians cannot answer questions or golfers cannot hole putts.

There is a very nice example of this in this piece of video.

Philip Zimbardo is best known in Psychology for his Stanford Prison Experiment. Here, he seems to get caught out by the introduction of scientific rigour into a debate about the effects of gaming on young males. You can read more about Zimbardo’s controversial views here.

3) Randomised Controlled Trials

These are used to test drugs: some people get the drug being tested, some get the placebo. Recently, we have used lack of of an RCT as an evaluation point in two areas: the effect of day care on social relations and the application of theories of cognitive development to education. I was taught in week 1 of a Psychology of Education masters degree over 20 years ago that RCTs were not possible in educational contexts because of the ethics of allocating some students to a control group. This article explains how attitudes to this are changing as the need for evidence based approaches.

4) The Maudsley Debate

This week, the Institute Of Psychiatry held a debate about whether drug treatments do more harm than good. You can see a video of the debate here.

The picture quality is not always good and I admit to not having watched all of it. However, you can get a strong sense from this of how stark the differences are between the views of academics in this field. For some commentary on this debate from one of the participants, please follow this link.

5) Mindfulness Again

This continues to be an area of controversy in Psychology. Here is the Mental Elf on a trial of MCBT.

Here’s a post more generally about the evidence for mindfulness.

6) Caring For People With Autism

We have used the link to autism as an evaluation point for research into development of a sense of self. People with autism appear not to develop a theory of mind. The question then arises of how to help them develop an understanding of themselves and of others. This article explains how the process of diagnosis and then of supporting parents and carers can help.

7) The Evolution Of Motherhood

We have been using contemporary ideas about evolution to evaluate claims about sexual selection and parental investment theory. These older theories are based on the assumption that evolution comes out of conflict. In intra-sexual selection, males compete for access to females. In parental investment theory, males are programmed to be promiscuous, females to be monogamous. This assumption is challenged by theories based on co-operation. To be able to produce offspring with big brains which can survive to pass on their genes, males and females need to co-operate.

This idea of co-operation has been explored by Sarah Hrdy. You can read about some of her ideas here.

8) Matchmaking In India

In the Relationships topic, we look at how relationships in non-western countries are supposed to be permanent, collective and obligatory. We also look at evidence about how attitudes and practices are changing.

This article explains what is happening in India now that divorce is becoming more common. Divorcees are being targeted by companies who seek the job done traditionally by matchmakers in helping families arrange marriages. A weird mixture of old and new.


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