Post Of The Week – Sunday 29th May, 2016

1) Ethics

We have looked at a few ethics questions as part of the revision process. Occasionally, they relate to studies involving children. The rules are clear. Parental consent is needed for children under the age of 16.

New Questions Over Kids’ Company Brain Experiments

This article relates to Kids’ Company, a charity which has closed in controversial circumstances. It looks as if something has gone very wrong with the way in which consent has been obtained.


2) How Do We Choose A Partner?

With research on formation of relationships and sexual selection at the front of my mind having been revising it over the past few days, this article looks interesting.

It includes some of the latest research on attractiveness: remember that AQA sees attractiveness and liking as a separate issue from the formation of relationships. There’s some interesting research on similarities between twins in what they find attractive and some reflection on what happens when we don’t get exactly what we want.


3) Perineuronal Nets

In AS, we have just got used to being able to describe the structure and function of neurons. Our understanding of this goes back to the work of Santiago Ramon y Cajal over a hundred years ago.

Unlocking the Brain’s Deepest Secrets

This article suggests that in order to understand how memory and learning work, we need to look at what lies around the neuron. This has implications for how we might forget as well as learn.


4) An Open Letter To Jamie Oliver

I still worry a bit about the rigour behind the socio-cultural explanations we use for psychological explanations of obesity. There’s no doubt though that they are central to academic discourse about obesity. Here’s an article which looks at the focus on the individual and on the environment, suggesting that we need to look a bit further.


5) Fear Response In Adolescent Brains

We are familiar with the idea that in the adolescent brain, connections are still being formed. This means that adolescents are more susceptible to risk because the systems which inhibit risk taking are still developing. The upside to this is that our brains are primed to learn from this experience.

This study explores this by looking at experimental evidence from mice. The implications for therapy are clear. Adolescence is the time for putting things right if trauma has occurred. The brain is still plastic enough to be healed.

This finding is connected to this study which looks at how memories connect. When we study memory in the multistore model, we tend to think of one memory at a time. Memories however are connected to each other.

This study looks at what happens in younger and older mice when they have to learn the connection between two aversive events.


6) Physics Envy

The reproducibility crisis in Psychology has drawn considerable attention. This article suggests that this crisis extends across other sciences. This is in part because there is a lack of clarity about what we mean by “reproducibility”. That’s a bit of a relief.


7) Cricket

Here is Monty Panesar talking about his experience of mental illness and recovery.

Yesterday during tea at the test match, I heard Graeme Fowler, who opened the batting for England a few times in the early eighties, talk about his experience of depression. Here is an article about him.


8) Mindfulness Summarised

This piece explains some of the issues concerning the growth of mindfulness based therapies.

Judging effectiveness is complex. The key here is to understand the indirect mechanisms by which mindfulness brings about change.


9) The Psychology Of Money

Claudia Hammond, who presents All In The Mind, has just written a book about the psychology of money. She talks about it here.

In our course, we look at the irrational verbalisations people make when they gamble. These, it seems, are merely examples of the irrational thinking in which we engage when we make decisions about spending money.


10) Video Game Play, Academic Performance And Mental Health

This article looks at a study about the effects of video games. The results seem positive but the article explores what the limits of cross-sectional research based on fairly crude self-report measures might be.

Associations between video game use, academic performance and mental health issues in European primary school children

A good example of how science does or doesn’t work.


11) Louis Theroux On Brain Injury

Brain injury is not part of what we study. However, some of the studies we look at, for example case studies of people with memory loss, involve brain injury. Psychologists are involved in supporting people with brain injury.

There is much here to make you think.


12) Autistic Expression

This article explores representations of autism.

Autistic expression

There is something on different theories of autism as well as some disturbing revelations of the life of Hans Asperger.


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