Post Of The Week – Saturday 21st May 2016

1) Food Advertising

The way in which food is advertised and packaged gets a mention as a factor influencing attitudes to food and a factor influencing obesity. This article suggests that in addition to bans on television advertising, measures need to be taken to restrict billboard advertising and other forms of marketing.

As with the restrictions on cigarette advertising, the question arises as to what the evidence is to support such restrictions. There is a laboratory study involving a small sample of pre-school children here and a larger study testing self-report responses to adverts. One might anticipate a battle between fast food companies and regulators similar to that between tobacco companies and regulators which is being played out at the moment.


2) Predicting The Effectiveness Of Antidepressants

A standard evaluation point for biological therapies for depression is that antidepressants take four to six weeks before any reduction of depressive symptoms is seen. People with depression often have to try three or four prescriptions before they find a drug which works.

This project from Oxford seeks to address this by using face recognition. People with depression tend to notice negative stimuli more quickly than positive stimuli. It has been found that drugs cause changes in this process quite soon after a course of treatment is begun. By testing facial recognition a week after a prescription has been written, it may be possible to predict whether the drug will work.


3) Ketamine Again

Here’s an article about ketamine from Keith Laws. It refers to the study about the effects of ketamine posted here a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s a further piece exploring some of the latest ideas about how ketamine works based on studies of the GABA system in mice.

Ketamine remains fascinating for showing how much we do and don’t know about how drugs work and more generally about how to treat depression.


4) Plain Packaging

The High Court ruled this week in favour of the UK Government’s introduction of plain packaging and visual health warnings for cigarettes. The details are here.

What’s striking here is that there are arguments about restraint of trade but not about evidence for the effectiveness of the measure. It looks like that argument has been won.


5) Addictive Personality

Here’s a slightly extended version of Mark Griffiths’ article on addictive personality.

It is worth noting that he uses neuroticism and conscientiousness as personality dimensions linked to addiction. These are the two we have used as part of the course this year. The core point is that people can score high on these traits but still not be addicted to anything.


6) Age Of Anxiety

Here are five writers talking about anxiety.

Makes me think about how we define abnormality.





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