Post Of The Week – Sunday 20th March 2016

1) Grid Cells

One of the videos on the Types Of Memory webpage shows a lecture by Eleanor Maguire. It explains the significance of grid cells. These enable mice to navigate around simple mazes. They are the first example thinking recorded as brain activity. We can infer what the mouse is thinking directly from patterns of activity detected by scans.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2016/mar/10/grid-cells-come-into-play-when-the-imagination-runs-away

This article explains a development of this research. It explains how grid cells in humans fire when we plan possible moves through a virtual environment. This tells us that memory is about looking forward as well as looking back. We use what we have experienced before to work out what to do next.

 

2) Diagnosing Autism In Women

Early diagnosis is essential for managing autism. This article looks at the problem of diagnosing autism in females. The problem revolves around repetitive behaviours. In males these are obvious and a sign of abnormality. In females, repetitive behaviour, for example playing with dolls, might be seen as normal, meaning that females showing failures to function in other domains do not get a complete diagnosis.

https://spectrumnews.org/news/diagnostic-tests-for-women-with-autism-fall-short/

 

3) Letting It Happen vs Making It Happen

I have had some conversations over the last couple of weeks comparing performance in sport to performance on academic tasks. This article concerns the performance of elite golfers, a sport which I play.

http://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/03/elite-golfers-describe-their.html

 

4) Risk Of Early Death And Autism

This article explains possible reasons why people with autism die younger on average than the general population. The evidence comes from a large scale study in Sweden.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35833997

People with autism seem to be at risk because of suicide and because they are more likely to experience epileptic seizures. Nobody knows why.

 

5) Sugar Tax

When the current A2 course started in 2009, I used a programme from the BBC World Service about how New York City Health Department was using adverts and proposing tax changes in order to persuade people to stop drinking drinks with high sugar content. That seemed an outlandish suggestion back then.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35824071

This week, it has become government policy. This shows how quickly things can change when research presents a cogent case.

 

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