One the things that has been bothering me for a while with RCTs (randomised controlled trials) is how it is possible to justify giving participants randomly allocated to a control group an inferior intervention. I was taught in week 1 of my Psychology Of Education masters degree course that this was not acceptable in education, which was why RCTs could not be used in educational contexts. Ben Goldacre’s article here explains how little is known about how ethics committees tackle this problem. Ethical committees for RCTs work behind closed and do not pass much about their deliberations to the outside world. Goldacre’s contention is that they should.
2) Replication Crisis
Psychology has been beset in recent years by claims that some of the most famous findings in Psychology do not replicate well. This makes Psychology sound weaker as science than other sciences. In this article, Andrew Gelman argues against this point of view, suggesting that it is the strengths that mean that problems of replication are more likely to be made public than in other sciences. We spend a lot of time in Psychology thinking about how we know what we know.
3) Language Areas Of The Brain
We’ve been doing localisation of brain function in Year 13 this week. I’ve been aware that there will be people in the room who have had people in their families and people they know suffer from brain disorders which affect, among other things, their ability to speak. It is a sobering irony that this week, news that Terry Jones, someone I have watched on TV speak and perform intelligently for most of my life, has been diagnosed with a form of brain disorder which means that he is losing the ability to speak. The details are here.
4) Learning Maths
We’ve also, in the context of the work on localisation of brain function, looked briefly at brain plasticity. This is part of a wider story about learning told in this article. There are some things here which we might think about incorporating into the learning and practice of Psychology.
5) Should I Try Mindfulness?
The latest episode of Trust Me I’m A Doctor features a section on mindfulness. You can read about it here. The sequence itself starts about 43 minutes into this programme. This is interesting partly for the method of studying the brain which is used: EEG in order to identify event related potentials in relation to anxiety. It also runs through some of the evidence about mindfulness training both online and in face to face therapy.
6) Rethinking The Asylum
Here’s a piece from The Guardian about how asylums have changed over the centuries and how the idea of an asylum is reflected in contemporary ideas about mental illness.
7) Student Mental Health
And here’s another piece from The Guardian on a familiar topic, student mental health. The number of students accessing services is greatly increasing, as is awareness of mental health issues and the benefit of counselling and therapy. The article does a good job of explaining a complex picture.
8) Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs
Here’s a link to a TED Radio Hour on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Thanks to Lily for sending this to me. Some interesting ideas to dip into.
9) Does The Brain Rest?
This documentary sounds fascinating. I’m hoping to listen to it over the next week or so.