Post Of The Week – Sunday 3rd April, 2016

1) Nature And Nurture

The debate has rumbled on this week. Here is a piece of research which has been reported about depressed rats in a couple of places.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/depression-not-governed-by-genes-and-environment-is-a-major-factor-when-it-comes-to-being-happy-a6958686.html

and, more briefly,

How Family History of Depression Affects Chance of Mental Illness

The best thing I have read continues to be Marcus Munafo’s piece here.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/sifting-the-evidence/2016/mar/04/genetic-denialism-is-unhelpful-genes-play-a-role-in-who-we-are

This article is important because it reminds us that this is no dry academic debate. The assumptions made in the wider culture about where mental illness comes from affect the well-being of people who are suffering poor health.

https://theconversation.com/brains-genes-and-chemical-imbalances-how-explanations-of-mental-illness-affect-stigma-28324

At the bottom of this is an argument about money. People argue about the relative merits of nature and nurture because they think more money needs to be spent on one or the other. Click on this link from the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and wind about 2 hrs 15 mins in. You can hear these ideas being given an airing.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b074w30h

 

2) Brain Stimulation

Techniques to stimulate the brain are being developed which represent safer alternatives to ECT. The problem with them is that nobody is sure exactly how they work. This article suggests a possible explanation for the effectiveness of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2082420-brain-shocking-therapy-may-work-by-boosting-calcium-in-the-brain/?utm_source=NSNS&utm_medium=SOC&utm_campaign=hoot&cmpid=SOC%7CNSNS%7C2016-GLOBAL-twitter

The example I hold in my head to show the importance of this sort of research concerns my car. When I get my car serviced, the garage tells me I need to pay a bit extra to get a special sort of oil. If they can’t explain why this oil is better for the engine than the standard oil, I’m not paying the £18 extra.

 

3) Education And Neuroscience

A couple of years ago, I had the bright idea of using current research into the neuroscience of learning as commentary on older ideas about applying Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories to education. The idea was that Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories might not have contributed too much and that their influence was on the wane. Neuroscience might offer us something a bit better. This idea turned out to be not at all bright and I quickly abandoned it. This article from Neurosceptic explains what can go wrong. I’m not saying too much more than that because, as you’ll see from the comments section, lawyers are involved. It’s worth a look at both the article and the comments afterwards to see what’s at stake.

Your Brain on Maths: Educational Neurononsense Revisited

 

4) How Memory Works ….. And How We Can Improve It

I haven’t watched all of this yet and the sound and picture quality aren’t great. It seems to cover some interesting areas of memory research.

 

5) Antimemories

This is a bit weird but it shows how quickly research moves. We’ve seen in the Memory topic and when studying the cognitive approach that psychologists have moved from theoretical models of memory to describing what happens inside the brain when a memory is made.

https://theconversation.com/antimatter-changed-physics-and-the-discovery-of-antimemories-could-revolutionise-neuroscience-56703

This article explains one part of that process which remains deeply mysterious.

 

6) What Is Thought Made Of

A short video which covers what it says in the title.

 

7) Mindful Eating

This idea impressed us when we studied explanations for the success and failure of dieting. Part of being aware of what you are eating is hearing the sound of yourself eating it. The item at the start of this broadcast explains more.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03nqshj

 

8) Crowd Behaviour

In the Social Influence topic, we look a bit at research into crowds as an extension of research into majority influence. This article explains how our conception of a crowd is a child of its time and place and how current research challenges this conception.

http://pus.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/03/31/0963662516639872.full.pdf?ijkey=VkKFL7eAwkz7Slw&keytype=finite

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