Post Of The Week – Saturday 3rd October 2015

1) How Memories Form And How We Lose Them

This is a TED-ED lesson aimed at a less specialist audience than us. It is still worth watching, touching on some of the issues in our course.

2) Suicide Prevention In Young People

Here is a summary of some research into the effectiveness of interventions in preventing suicide in young people.

The video link contains a wide-ranging discussion of young people’s mental health. There’s some discussion about stigma and about what people learn about mental health in schools. Alys King-Cole, one of the speakers in the video, points out that we spend time on sex education in schools but that nobody dies of a sexually transmitted disease. By contrast, we do little about mental health in schools. The point about sex education has come up in conversation with Year 13 students researching the links between education experience and attitudes to mental illness.

3) E-Cigarettes As A Gateway

There’s an argument about whether smoking e-cigarettes leads to smoking real ones. People talk about e-cigarettes as a “gateway”. That could mean lots of things.

This article looks at the evidence and shows what we know and don’t know about whether smoking e-cigarettes causes people to smoke real one.

4) Gene For Depression

The assumption in the diathesis-stress model is that genes make people vulnerable to illness but that these genes are triggered by the environment. The focus is still on the genes.

This is different. This piece of research focuses on a gene related to the serotonin system. There is a form of it which makes people more likely to be depressed if they have negative experiences but also more likely to be happy if they have positive experiences. The focus therefore shifts to the environment.

5) Publication Bias In Studies About Psychological Therapies For Depression

In looking at biological therapies for depression, we quote the work of Erick Turner illustrating publication bias. We also look at the work of Pim Cuijpers on the effectiveness of CBT. In this paper the two join forces.

They have gone back to researchers whose work was funded but not published. They have included that data in meta-analysis. They have found that the efficacy of psychological therapies has been over-estimated by 25%. That should be in the news.

6) Eating Disorders In Families

In A2, we are just finishing the Eating Behaviour topic. We’ve several times made reference to the work by Terry Wilkin about how obesity runs in families, with obese fathers producing obese sons and obese mothers obese daughters.

This research looks at a much larger sample and a wider range of disorders. It finds that these disorders run in families, with children of someone with a disorder twice as likely as those of someone without a disorder to develop a disorder themselves. Nobody knows whether this is genetic and environmental but it has to be a focus for policy and intervention.

7) Simon Baron-Cohen On Kanner And Asperger

There are two principal confusions about autism. Firstly, people are unsure about whether Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism are the same thing. Secondly. people are unclear about how common autism really is. Simon Baron-Cohen, in his review of Steve Silberman’s work, brilliantly explains the origins of these confusions in the work of Kanner and Asperger almost 80 years ago.

You can watch Steve Silberman’s TED talk here.

8) Why It Was Easier To Be Skinny In The 1980s

This article suggests that people taking in the same number of calories and exercising the same amount in the 1980s as now would be thinner. Changes in prescribed medicines, the amount of meat eaten and in the chemicals we encounter in the environment all have a role.

All of this serves to challenge stigmatised attitudes to obesity.


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