Post Of The Week – Saturday December 3rd 2016

1) Implications Of Research For The Economy

This comes not from a piece of peer reviewed research but rather from a commercial research company. It suggests that lack of sleep costs the economy of the UK £40 billion because people who sleep less than seven hours a night are more at risk of illness and take more days off work. Here is the link to the research company website. It gives a clearer idea of who did the research and how it was done.


2) One Size Fits All

Studies assessing the effectiveness of therapies work on averages. The average improvement in scores on questionnaires assessing, for example, symptoms of depression, is used to compare therapies with placebos. However, the averages hide variations which can be useful to clinicians. If it can be determined what sort of people are likely to benefit greatly or deteriorate as a result of a treatment, interventions can be better personalised. This article explains the findings of a research paper which explores that idea. Outcomes are divergent. Worse symptoms do not necessarily indicate a worse response to treatment.


3) The Effects Of Dopaminergic Drugs

When we study addiction, we look at the role of dopamine in reinforcing learning. Dopamine has been used to explain addictive behaviour because people learn to engage in and enjoy behaviours which they cannot stop and which do them harm. This article explains what is being found about the effect of drugs which supplement levels of dopamine in people with Parkinson’s Disease. They affect how areas deep within the brain which enable us to learn from experience and control our behaviour. The study uses both brain imaging and computational techniques to arrive at this conclusion.


4) The Global Burden Of Mental Illness

Making treatment available and persuading people to access it is difficult enough in a developed country such as the UK. This article looks at research into access and quality of treatment across the world. The oft-quoted difference between levels of care for physical and mental health in the UK is even greater in developing countries.


5) Cortisol And Depression

It has been known for a while that cortisol and depression are linked. People with Cushing’s Syndrome which is the result of excessive cortisol often show symptoms of depression. This article explains how cortisol levels can be used to predict who will benefit from CBT. This is an example of how we have to combine different approaches to explain and treat psychological disorders.


6) Urban Sprawl

When we look at psychological explanations of obesity, we need to think at a socio-cultural level. That might include thinking about the built environment. This TED talk looks at how this has been addressed in Atlanta, Georgia. Creating spaces where people can walk and cycle to get t0 places where they need to go affects levels of obesity.


7) Plain Packaging

This was not given prominence by news outlets but is very important. This news story explains how tobacco companies have lost their appeal against rules imposed by the UK government on plain packaging. It’s an important step forward.




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