Post Of The Week – Sunday 28th May 2017

1) The Mind-Body Problem

We’ve been struggling a bit with reductionism and levels of explanation in Year 2 revision: it is the issue/debate which has given us the most trouble. This article contains not only a useful account of fMRI but also an account of the debate between dualism and materialism which goes back to Descartes. At the heart of this debate is the question of what is real: do psychological experiences have a reality of their own or are they to be reduced to an explanation in terms of brain structure and function?


2) Ethics Of Digital Technology

The benefits of using digital technology in maintaining psychological well-being seem obvious. Apps can be used to detect physiological and behavioural changes which are the first sign of psychological disorder. This article explains some the problems with this approach, focusing on the tensions between the ethics of healthcare and the practices of the digital economy. To illustrate the speed with which this area is developing, this article looks at the use of technology to detect depression in older adults. The article explains some of the problems with research in this area.


3) Unreliability Of fMRI Emotional Biomarkers

This article explains issues of reliability wth measures of activity in areas of the brain associated with emotional responses. This shows not only that the test-retest method for assessing reliability is used in actual research: it is not just something which appears in textbooks. It also shows that what we think we know about how the brain responds to emotional stimuli may not be correct.


4) Neuroplasticity And Reading

Reading is an example of the brain’s plasticity. We have not evolved to read so parts of the brain which work well for other things have to be redeployed and reorganised. Most people can learn. This article explains findings from a study of the brains of women in India who learned how to read over six months.


5) The State Of Social Psychology

We’ve been thinking a bit in Year 1 this week about replicability. This article looks at the quality of evidence in studies of social psychology. There has been a replication crisis: findings of well-publicised studies have not replicated well. The article suggests that the science in this area may not be as bad as first appears.


6) Brenda Milner

Brenda Milner was the researcher who first worked with HM. At age 98, she is still working. We were working last week in Year 2 revision on hemispheric lateralisation. One of the evaluation points on which we worked was that research involving split brain patients does not tell us too much about how each half of the brain contributes to the function of normally functioning individuals. That is what Brenda Milner now researches. You can read the article here.


7) Underweight Mannequins

The male mannequins used by high street retailers to market clothes represent a healthy body shape. The female mannequins represent an unhealthily thin body shape. That is the finding of research from the University Of Liverpool which is discussed in this article.


8) How Autism Is Diagnosed

Mental disorder is diagnosed according to degree: degree to which someone fails to function adequately, deviates from social norms or ideal mental health or degree to which someone’s behaviour or traits are statistically infrequent. In times of austerity, the degree of distress required before assessment or diagnosis is given will be challenged. This article describes what is happening in one part of London.


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