Post Of The Week – Sunday 6th November, 2016

1) Poverty And Mental Illness

We have had a good time in Year 2 thinking about reductionism, holism and levels of explanation. This article focuses on the socio-cultural level of explanation. It asks whether poverty can lead to mental illness. One way of thinking about this is to focus on stress as an intervening factor. Another is to look at how depression causes poverty. With mental illness now representing a substantial disease burden across the planet, working out whether mental illness can be tackled through alleviating poverty is a question of primary importance.


2) Rates Of Diagnosis

Also as part of our work on reductionism, we have focused on the alarming rate of increase in the prescription of anti-depressants. This article suggests that this is not going to slow any time soon: rates of diagnosis are going up, not down.


3) Memory And Obesity

The relationship between these two is explored here. People may become obese because they cannot remember what they have eaten. There’s also evidence that obesity impairs memory function, perhaps through the process of inflammation. This leads to a vicious circle. The article suggests at the end how this may be addressed.


4) Explanations

Again with reductionism in mind, this is a complex philosophical paper about what we mean by “levels” and “kinds” of explanation. It is the kind of thing you get to read in the latter stages of a philosophy degree. I’ll need to give myself time at some point to read it properly.


5) Some Biopsychology

In Year 2 Biopsychology, we cover Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area as part of the localisation of brain function. We evaluate research in this area by looking at how more accurate brain imaging shows us how functions are much more widely distributed in the brain than was once thought. This article questions whether the idea of language areas as defined by Wernicke and Broca are useful anymore. By contrast, this article looks at the problems with fMRI. The difficulty is that the image of a brain with different colours is not a direct measure. Complex software takes feedback from radio waves and builds an image of which molecules might be found where. Furthermore, everyone’s brain is different. The article looks at some solutions to this problem.


6) Beliefs About Obesity

There’s a scientific consensus now emerging. Diets do not work. Obesity is determined not by lack of will power but by powerful genetic and environmental factors. The one way to tackle obesity which seems to work is to operate on people’s stomachs. Obesity therefore begins to look like heart disease in that it needs surgery. This article shows how people still tend not to know about this.



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