Post Of The Week – Saturday 5th December 2015

1) Blocking Ghrelin

The point of understanding neural mechanisms associated with hunger and satiety is that it makes it possible to intervene to prevent obesity.

This study concerns ghrelin. Ghrelin is released from the digestive tract when it is empty. It found that blocking gherlin reduced foraging and eating behaviour in hamsters while injecting it increased it. If that can be applied to humans, it might be another way of tackling obesity.


2) Biomarkers In The Brain

We’ve just been doing biological explanations for social cognition. We’re confident in the findings about the pre-frontal cortex but the evidence about mirror neurons is less persuasive. This article points out the problem. Many studies finding biomarkers turn out to have small samples, lack a clear hypothesis and have not been well replicated. Publication bias doesn’t exactly help.

We’re at a stage with brain imaging studies which we were about 10 years ago with studies reporting a “gene for ….”. The article points out that we have got past this stage by developing tighter publication practices and by better technology: genome wide association studies. There is clearly still some way to go.


3) Treatment Guidelines For Problem Gambling

These come from Singapore.

They represent a very good summing up of what is known about interventions.


4) New Ways To Understand Depression

For the purposes of our course, we still divide explanations into biological and psychological. It’s rarely one or the other.

This article explains how modelling methods used in engineering and business have been applied to depression by some very clever people at MIT. It uses the idea of drivers for depression and explains how different drivers interact. The goal is to have apps for people to add their symptoms and understand both the direction in which their depression is going and how to halt it.


5) IAPT on All In The Mind

A few years ago, BBC Radio 4’s “All In The Mind” had a special on CBT, including a discussion of the IAPT programme. Six years on, this programme is now well established. The evidence is that CBT delivered through a series of levels works but there are big variations between areas in effectiveness. To hear the discussion, wind about 10 minutes into the programme.

This should serve to remind us that the success of a therapy depends on when, by whom and how often it is given.


6) The Secret Life Of 6 Year Olds

This programme has just been broadcast on Channel 4: thank you to Jack in Year 13 for the link. Children of this age are at the end of the process of developing a sense of self and Theory of Mind.


7) Diagnosis

Ann York is a child psychiatrist. In this extract, she talks about her approach to diagnosis and her personal experience of being given a diagnosis.


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