Post Of The Week – Saturday 7th November 2015

1) Neurotribes

This book is by Steve Silberman. I have included a link to his TED Talk on autism on the blog before. The book has just won the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

Here’s a review about it from The Psychologist.

2) Omega 3

For explanations for the success of dieting in A2, we use the effect of omega 3 oils as an example of an explanation for the success of dieting. We cannot synthesise these oils so need to ingest them, for example by eating more fish. Omega 3 oils have effects on the brain well beyond influencing mechanisms which control weight loss. This Radio 4 extract explains why we need to take them seriously.

3) Research Domain Criteria

I have included reference to this in the new AS course. Essentially, the idea is that we no longer seek to define psychological abnormalities in terms of observable behaviours but instead look at underlying biological processes. Having defined them this way, research aims need to be based on these processes rather than on the old behavioural categories. The National Institute For Mental Health, NIMH, in the US was at the forefront of promoting this approach. It’s all gone a bit odd though. Thomas Insel, the driving force behind this move, has just gone to work for Google. There is widespread scepticism about whether RDoC will deliver anything any time soon and concern that in focusing on the biological mechanisms which drive mental health disorders, we lose sight of their social context. Allen Francis, as ever, deals with this sensibly here.

4) Big Data On Autism

There has been collaboration between the Autism Research Centre and Channel 4 to gather data on the extent of autism. The results are here.

I used to show students a video from the Open University from the late 1980s which featured a young Simon Baron-Cohen and which made out that autism was a very rare and particular condition. Views on this have now changed radically.

5) Smoking Cessation And Genes

This article looks at research into the use of Varenicline as an intervention to address addiction to smoking.

What makes this study interesting is that it also investigates participants’ DNA. If an intervention works for some people better than others, we need to know why.

6) Stigma

There’s been lots about on this during the week.

This article explains 10 steps to creating equality of physical and mental health provision.

Here’s some celebrity backing.

Here’s a persuasive piece from Ruby Wax.

What’s worrying is that the research which illustrates the best way to tackle stigma suggests both that the effectiveness of current attempts to reduce stigma through social contact is limited and that the research methods for investigating stigma are under-developed.

7) BPS Digest

The BPS Digest has some great links this week, including something interesting on the study of babies.

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