Post Of The Week – Sunday 18th September 2016

1) Stress And Depression

I’ve not had time to listen to more than a fraction of this but it sounds really interesting. Carmine Pariante from King’s College London explores the links between stress and depression. This is important for what it tells us about the relationship between nature and nurture as well as about the importance of biomarkers in personalising care. You can see more Wellcome Collection podcasts by clicking here.


2) Aphasia

This short TED-ED video explores aphasia, with reference to Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas.   These are part of the Year 2  biopsychology topic on localisation of function in the brain. Something important is said at the end about brain plasticity.


3) Understanding The Neurology Of Attachment

The best piece of evidence we have about the importance of attachment in healthy development comes from Harlow’s monkey study which is now almost 60 years old. Rhesus monkeys were denied contact comfort in order to discover its effects. There are obvious ethical and scientific problems with this study. Brain imaging techniques now enable us to understand what effects physical contact with a mother might have on the development of the social brain. This article explains what has been found.


4) Meta-Analysis

In our course, we now have to focus specifically on meta-analysis. Meta-analysis sounds like a good idea: put data from different studies with the same procedure together to form a bigger picture. John Ioannidis explains here what the problems are. A meta-analysis is only as good as the data which goes into it and is as liable to bias as any other form of research.


5) Neuroscience In The Classroom

There is a long history of applying psychological theories to the question of how to help students learn better in class. Understanding applications to education is still a good way of evaluating the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky. This article explains how contemporary theories from neuroscience have been applied, with very mixed results.


6) Gambling Machines

This episode of Panorama looks at the rise of gambling machines in betting shops on the high street. It includes an account of neuroimaging from David Nutt at Imperial College, London.


7) Horizon On Laughter

There is lots to admire in this exploration of laughter from the BBC Horizon series: experts in their fields, contrasting psychological theories, evolutionary explanations, a range of research methods. Psychology at its best.


8) E-Cigarettes

This article explains current research into the safety of these. As with so much else, what we know depends on how we know it. Not all studies into e-cigarettes are randomised controlled trials. The picture will become clearer as more of these come on stream.


9) Tracking Mindfulness

I have been saying in lessons for a while that we are on the brink of having apps which track our mental well-being as we also have them for our physical well-being. This article explains how this might work for mindfulness and what issues might be.


10) Ten Famous Psychology Studies That Have Been Difficult To Replicate

The title of this article is self-explanatory. The one here that troubles me the most is about infants’ ability to imitate. That is something we refer to when we study caregiver-infant interaction.


11) Body Clock

With research on biological rhythms soon on the menu for Year 2, here is a piece from the BBC about body clocks.


12) Aquatic Ape

This isn’t strictly speaking a piece of Psychology but a very good example of how science works. It shows how evidence is building for evolutionary explanations, something we have to deal with in our course. It also shows how grand theories in Psychology fail to deal with the complexity of human development and behaviour.



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