Post Of The Week – Sunday 26th July 2015

1) Cases Of Amnesia

I am in the middle of planning the Memory topic for AS next year. Here is a case of amnesia which has defied explanation.

Amnesia cases are both useful for illustrating the principles by which we understand memory but also for exposing the limitations of what we understand.

2) Computerised CBT

We use the possibility of access to CBT online as an evaluation point when looking at psychological therapies for depression. There is good evidence from trials in New Zealand that it works. Because more studies have been done on it, it now possible to use meta-analysis of these studies to come to a clearer judgement about its effectiveness.

The outcomes are generally positive but the questions we might ask about computerised CBT are similar to those we would ask about any other therapy: what are the active ingredients? to what extent are users willing to comply with its demands? how variable is the quality of CBT?

3) Meta-Analysis And CBT

A recent meta-analysis of studies of the effectiveness of CBT has suggested that its effectiveness is on the wane.

In this article from the Mental Elf, Ioana Cristea suggests that the problem does not lie with CBT but rather with meta-analysis itself, particularly the inclusion of non-randomised and non-controlled trials. Meta-analysis is something we will need to think about in the new A Level course.

4) Understanding Placebo

The placebo effect is often seen as an unwanted element of a psychological treatment. We want to get rid of the effect of a patient’s beliefs in order to understand what the intervention is really doing. However, the circumstances surrounding the administration of a treatment are an important part of its effectiveness. If a treatment for anxiety or depression is working on neurotransmitters related to mood, then the effect of raised mood brought about by being part of a treatment programme needs to be considered, not marginalised. This article explains more.

5) Psychotherapies For Children And Adolescents With Depression

Depression is a cause for concern in children and adolescents. If depression strikes early, it can last a long time and have significant negative effects on people’s development.

This analysis suggests that it is only CBT and IPT which are effective, with patients receiving IPT less likely than those receiving CBT to withdraw from treatment. Two particular points of interest emerge. Firstly, although depression often strikes before people are 18 years old, very little of the therapy administered is devised specifically for children. As with other areas of medicine, children get a cut down version of therapy designed for adults. Secondly, some of the sample sizes for analysis of different therapies are very small. Analysis of the effectiveness of CBT was based on a sample size of over 1000. For IPT, the figure was 344 and for psychodynamic therapy, 35. That is not far from the sample size of some of the practicals I have seen students do recently.

6) BBC Future

Here is an article about culture and evolution which relates to some of the things we look at in A2 Psychology.

Here’s another one on eye movement and thought processes.

7) Ultra Brief Pulse Stimulation

This is a version of ECT which is being developed by Colleen Loo at the University Of New South Wales. It seems to work.

What’s interesting here is that the article suggests that ECT continues to have undesirable side effects, something which some studies have denied.

8) Me And My New Brain

This is part of the BBC’s Defying The Label season and focuses on recovery from brain injury. There was an accompanying documentary broadcast on Tuesday.

The programme explores how people focus on physical symptoms during recovery without considering the effects on cognitive functioning.

9) Phineas Gage

Here is an interesting take on his case from Arundel High School.

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