Post Of The Week – Sunday 23rd August 2015

1) Interrogation And Telling The Truth

I have spent the last week thinking about the social influence topic in next year’s AS. Within that topic, I have been thinking about the role of psychologists in interrogation through the the idea of conformity to a social role. Since Zimbardo’s work on this in the Stanford Prison Experiment, people have been interested in how people conform to the role of prisoner when they are imprisoned and what implications that might have for them. This afternoon, I have been thinking about how military psychologists might understand the process of desertion in conflicts like that in Syria and might then apply those insights in planning special operations.

This article is then interesting because it looks at how the process of interrogation is being reformed. Many people think Psychology is just about mental illness. It is about so much more.

2) E-Cigarettes

The problems with e-cigarettes are that they carry a substance which is harmful, nicotine, and they are seen as a gateway into smoking. Young people might try e-cigarettes and move on to the real thing. The problem with real cigarettes is that they kill lots of people.

This article is interesting. There has been much negative publicity about e-cigarettes in the past year or so but this seeks to redress the balance, based on a study published by academics at King’s College, London. The tone is very different from other news stories about e-cigarettes. It will be interesting to see how this story runs once everyone is back from their holidays.

3) Adolescent Brain

Here is Marc Smith on the adolescent brain. He’s a Psychology teacher and the parent of a teenage son.

4) Treating Depression On Older People

There are two issues here. Firstly, we know that co-morbidity is a problem in any area of Psychology. Older people experience a number of health changes and issues particular to the ageing process, any of which might contribute to the experience of depression. That means that the treatment they might need for depression is different. The second issue is the hit and hope nature of much of the prescribing for depression. People often work through a series of prescriptions before they find a combination which works.

This article looks at the prescribing of a drug normally used for ADHD alongside a standard anti-depressant for older people with depression. This isn’t a total guess. The ADHD drug is known to work on the dopamine system. In this combination, it seems to work though despite the methodological limitations of the study. This is a useful snapshot both of how much we know and of how medicines are prescribed.

5) Summer At NIMH

Thomas Insel is always worth reading. Here, he gives an overview of what research is being done and how changes are being made.

There is nothing mind-blowing here but there is a sense in which science can move forward in small steps to achieve better outcomes.

6) FTO And Diabetes

In our work on eating behaviour, we look at evidence that differences in the FTO gene can be used to predict weight gain.

Previous research suggests that FTO genes affect the brain in the way it controls appetite. This research suggests that it does something to fat cells which might be more significant. As with many pieces of research in this area, this changes subtly the way we think about obesity as some sort of personal failing and offers one more avenue for dealing with it.

These figures on diabetes remind us why we need to do something.


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