Post Of The Week – Sunday 29th November, 2015

1) Nature-Nurture

For many years, I used a television programme made by the psychologist Oliver James to explain psychological explanations of depression. James is about to publish a book where he challenges the idea that decoding the human genome can tell us much about human behaviour. He falls very much on the nature side of the argument.

Here is Stuart Richie’s reply to a letter from Oliver James to The Psychologist. His crucial point is that even if we do not yet know which genes cause which behaviours and how they do so, we can still say that there is a genetic basis to some behaviours. How we know in Psychology is always connected to what we know. There is a particular point about Genome-Wide Complex Trait Analysis which is worth pursuing. Techniques are evolving rapidly.


2) Psychology’s Ten Greatest Case Studies

This includes the familiar cases of HM and Phineas Gage but also some more unusual ones. I mentioned in A2 the other week the depiction of autism in the film Rain Man. The person on whom the main character in that film is based is on the list. He wasn’t, it turns out, autistic.


3) A Calorie Is Not Just A Calorie

We have been working on this concept for a while in A2 Eating Behaviour. It’s central for understanding the topic because the long standing dual process of model of eating and satiety relied on the idea of hunger mechanisms being triggered when we don’t have enough calories in the form of blood sugar and satiety mechanisms being triggered when we are full. We now know that the systems are much more complex than this, being sensitive to the different types of food we eat.

This podcast from The Naked Scientists tackles this idea and a whole load of others in relation to sugar.


4) Parental Drinking

In the Addiction topic, we think about the influence of parents as role models for addictive behaviour. We use social learning theory to suggest that if children see their parents being rewarded through an addictive behaviour, they will copy it.

This study looks at the influence a parent drinking alcohol might have on the behaviour of his/her children. It finds an association but not enough evidence for a causal link.


5) Mindfulness

Mindfulness based CBT has had a lot of attention, not least through the efforts of Ruby Wax. This Mental Elf review looks at what we know and don’t know about the effectiveness of mindfulness.

The linked discussion from All In The Mind is here.




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