Post Of The Week – Saturday June 11th 2016

1) Suzanne Corkin Obituary

Suzanne Corkin has died. She is the researcher who worked with HM, Henry Mollison.

It is easy to underestimate the validity of case studies. We criticise them because the researcher sometimes becomes too close to the subject of the case study and because case studies can seem like a one-off, making generalisation difficult. This obituary shows how Corking turned these limitations into strengths.


2) CBT For Cannabis Use

This is reviewed here.

Psychosocial interventions for cannabis use disorder #CannabisMatters

A combination of CBT and Motivational Enhancement Therapy was found to be effective but only in the short term. There are two familiar problems. One is therapist competence. People working in addiction are likely to be less competent in CBT than those working in other areas of mental health. The second is co-morbidity. People using cannabis tend to be using alcohol as well.


3) Some Links On Depression

Antidepressants do not work for everyone. Getting type and dose correct is often a matter of trial and error.

This blood test may be an important step in addressing this issue. It uses a couple of biomarkers to identify people who might be drug resistant. This can be used to adjust dose, offer people anti-inflammatory drugs or move them away from drug treatment altogether. That is a step closer to personalised treatment.

Here is a link to an article explaining a bit more about the habenula: I wrote about this last week.

This article concerns research into the experience of couples where one of the partners has depression.

Depression is a “we” condition because it involves other people: think about the clinical characteristics. This article explores the challenges of that.

Someone asked in the revision session yesterday why we still prescribe antidepressants for  children and adolescents even though there is a risk of side effects, including suicidal thinking.

Most antidepressants don’t work on kids and teens, study finds

This article rather reinforces the question. Antidepressants do not really work for children and adolescents, in part because depression looks different in them. They are prescribed because parents and doctors think they will be a quick fix.


4) Anxiety And Exercise

We are about, in Year 12, to start working on a research project on anxiety. One of the variables I have been thinking about which might influence anxiety is level of exercise.

This article suggest that people who are physically fitter deal with anxiety better because they perceive the physical signs of anxiety differently. That is an idea we might want to pursue.


5) Mapping The Brain

Our new A Level course asks us to look at ways of studying the brain. Here is Daniel Wolpert talking about mapping the brain.

His TED talk from a few years ago is here.


6) And Something On fMRI

Here is a study looking at face recognition. It uses fMRI to decode faces from the brain.

Decoding Faces from the Brain

The steps here are complicated. The main idea seems to be that from looking at patterns of brain activity on an fMRI, researchers can reconstruct with some accuracy the face being imagined.


7) Jerome Bruner

In our new course, I keep referring to the idea of a spiral curriculum. We come back to ideas at several points, each time deepening understanding. More generally, we spend a fair bit of time on the cognitive approach. Both of these owe their existence to Jerome Bruner. He has just died, aged 100.


8) Study says a major blood cancer is 11 distinct diseases

This isn’t a piece of psychology at all but influences how we should think about what we do in Psychology.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia kills a lot of people. It now turns out that it is really 11 separate diseases, not just one. Once we know that, we can target treatments better. The same, we might hope, might become true of mental illnesses.



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