Post Of The Week – Tuesday 27th December 2016

1) The Predictive Power Of Attachment Is Overrated

That is the claim of this article. At a time when attachment is being promoted as a way of understanding later difficulties, the article questions what we know about the influence of attachment. The article makes some important points. People tend to confuse insecure attachment with no attachment. Insecure attachment covers many different types of behaviour. Insecure attachment is common: it cannot be regarded as pathological. Some of the arguments here have been around for a while. We look at Rutter’s challenge to Bowlby’s theory as part of our course. What’s new for me here is the critique of the concept of resilience: neither fully operationalised nor properly tested. The article makes a strong case at the end for a new approach based on behavioural genetics and the impact of a range of factors beyond early parenting.


2) Sub-Types Of Depression

This article reports new research about findings from fMRI studies of people with depression. It suggests that there are four main sub-types based on differences arising from these scans, with each sub-type related to a different profile of symptoms. If that is the case, it represents a step forward in using biomarkers to classify and diagnose.


3) The Way We Read People’s Minds

I’ve been working over the last week or so on social cognition for the Year 2 course. Central to this is the idea of a theory of mind. Autism is described as a lack of theory of mind but that doesn’t explain much about how autism develops or how a theory of mind works. This article explains how theory of mind is linked to a number of other cognitive processes. It develops as they develop.


4) Becoming More Forgetful With Age

This article uses the distinction between familiarity and recollection to explain problems people have with remembering things as they get older. It also uses what we understand about the hippocampus and related brain areas to explain why familiarity remains constant with age but recollection declines.


5) Nobody Is A Natural Statistician

I got interested in Daniel Kahneman’s work on fast and slow thinking through a Year 9 PHSE session last term. There’s a fine Horizon video here. This article explores Kahneman’s relationship with Amos Tversky and how research they did about biases in statistical reasoning influence how we might understand Kahneman’s later work.


6) Bias In Text Books

This article reports some recent research into bias in text books. Text book accounts become out of date as new information emerges about famous studies. New text book accounts are often based on older ones. There are issues here for us about Milgram, Asch and Zimbardo. Asch’s study emerges as a more intelligent study once it becomes clearer exactly what he did and found.


7) Mindless Eating

At the end of the eating behaviour topic in Year 2, we looked at how mindful eating has been developed in the context of psychological explanations of obesity. Brian Lansink is the researcher who has developed the idea that much of our eating is mindless. We make decisions about what we eat without really thinking them through. The result is that we eat too much of the wrong sort of food. There’s a summary of some of his ideas here, along with a link to his website here.


8) A Bit About Circadian Rhythms

Babies don’t follow a circadian rhythm in the early months of their lives. There is a good reason for this. Their brains are growing rapidly and they need to eat a lot. That can be awkward if you are trying to look after one and get some sleep. This article explains what parents do about this and why that might not be a good idea.



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