Post Of The Week – Saturday 16th January 2016

1) Naked Scientists

Here is Steve O’Rahilly from Cambridge University talking about obesity, leptin and exercise. You have to click on the link and wind about 35 minutes in.

https://www.acast.com/naked_scientists_podcast/obesity-appetite-exercise-and-weight-loss

 

2) Gene For Autism

Research into “genes for” typically starts with the people diagnosed with the condition and looks at the genes they have in common. That works badly with autism where symptoms are diverse and where the causes are likely to be different in different people. This research works differently. It starts with a gene and looks at the behaviour of people with mutations of that gene.

https://spectrumnews.org/news/cluster-of-symptoms-reveals-genes-link-to-autism-subtype/

The research makes a link between a particular phenotype and mutations of a gene, CHD8 which is involved in regulating the structure of DNA. Part of that phenotype includes symptoms of autism. The research is at its early stages but there is clearly something here worth pursuing.

Also on the subject of autism, this article explores why the experience of autism is different for girls compared to boys, particularly in their perceptions of friendship.

http://www.bps.org.uk/news/autism-and-friendship-it’s-different-girls

 

3) How Attitudes To Mental Illness Change

Here’s some commentary from Emily Frith on David Cameron’s speech about mental illness this week.

An historic speech on mental health

Closer to home, here’s a piece from Plymouth City Council on work done by Josh and colleagues.

Plymouth’s young people talk about mental health

 

4) Think Like A Scientist

This article concerns the reasoning skills of advanced doctoral students and post-docs in Psychology, comparing them with first year undergraduates.

http://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/01/how-to-evaluate-argument-like-trained.html

It explains some interesting ways in which the psychologists perform better than the undergraduates. As you’d expect from a piece about evaluative skills, it explains some of the limitations of the study, principally that it is not longitudinal.

 

5) E-Cigarettes

These have recently got what seems like a more favourable press. This article explains why some researchers are very cautious about their use.

https://theconversation.com/why-e-cigarettes-could-be-holding-back-your-plans-to-quit-smoking-52889

Essentially, the problem is that people use them as a complement to smoking cigarettes rather than a substitute. This in turn means that people are less likely to access resources to help them quit. The article also suggests that e-cigarettes make smoking seem more acceptable again.

 

6) Addiction To Alcohol

This piece explains the neurobiology of addiction to alcohol. Along the way, it tells a story about dopamine and genetics.

How does alcohol influence the mind? A look into the brain and its genes.

 

7) It Ain’t Just Us

In A2 over the last week, we have been troubled by problems of replicability and peer review in Psychology. This article serves as an antidote in that it suggests that the problems run all through science. That may or may not be a troubling thought.

 

 

8) Sue Hallam

I am lucky to have been taught by Sue Hallam. One of the things she taught me was the importance of being a strategic learner. You do what you need to do to achieve the goal you want. It’s advice I try to follow for myself and pass on to my classes. Here, she talks about her life in Psychology.

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-29/february/one-one-susan-hallam

 

9) Derren Brown

Here’s Derren Brown pushing people to the edge. I watched a bit of this but don’t feel like watching any more. See what you think.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/derren-brown-pushed-to-the-edge/on-demand/62311-001

 

10) Escalators

When we were working on an observation based on a piece of video of people walking along a high street, I explained how people with a Psychology background got involved in designing public spaces. This article illustrates the point. It explains how Transport for London are trying to change the way people use escalators. It refers to issues of obedience, conformity and social change.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jan/16/the-tube-at-a-standstill-why-tfl-stopped-people-walking-up-the-escalators

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