Post Of The Week – Saturday July 1st 2017

1) Varenicline vs Nicotine Replacement Therapy

This paper deals with the latest research on Varenicline as a treatment for nicotine addiction. It’s a big study with records used from GP practices across the UK. There were 287 079 patient records accessed, with follow up over a four year period. Patients’ status of smokers is established by self-report: what they tell their GP about whether they smoke. The key messages are striking. 28.8% of participants using Varenicline compared to 24.3% of people using NRT had quit after two years. These numbers remained stable after 4 years. It’s clear that Varenicline does not work for everyone but provides a long term solution to smoking for a substantial number of people.


2) Is It Really Mental Illness?

Here is a podcast from the University Of Liverpool, with Peter Kinderman talking about how we define mental illness. Kinderman locates the causes of distress in the environment and life events of individuals. This has implications for our understanding of nature and nurture. It also has implications for how we define abnormality. The definitions we use all focus on the individual who deviates from social norms, fails to function adequately, deviates from ideal mental health or is statistically infrequent.


3) Sci Show Psych

There is now a YouTube channel for this, with some excellent video content. Here is the video about Asch’s study.


This is the link to the other videos.


4) Autism And The Immune System

In our course, we look at autism as a cognitive deficit: it is linked to an absence of theory of mind. What the biological basis of autism might be is still a matter of speculation. This article links the development of autism to fever and inflammation during pregnancy.


5) Sleep Deprivation

Here’s a brief video about a research study of sleep deprivation which uses a very large number of participants and fMRI.


6) Meta-Analysis: The Effects Of Video Games

When we look at meta-analysis, we consider the problem of deciding which studies are suitable. The meta-analysis is only as good as the studies which go into it. This article is a good example of this. It explains how meta-analysis of research into the effects of violent video games may be compromised by publication bias. If you look at the menu on the right, you can see that this criticism has been disputed by another group of researchers. What we know depends on how we know.


7) The Process Of Publishing

This long read from The Guardian explains something of the history of academic publishing and how it might need to change.


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