Post Of The Week – Sunday 30th July 2017

1) To The Bone

This article acts as a commentary on “To The Bone”, a film about anorexia nervosa which is now available on Netflix. The article challenges the idea that watching the film could be harmful or triggering for people at risk of developing anorexia. To claim this, the article claims, is to misrepresent the complexity of the condition. The article explores the idea that there is a socio-cultural aspect to anorexia, arising not simply from exposure to images of thin women but rather from the challenge of developing an identity as a female in a contemporary society. For the purposes of our course, this means thinking about using different levels of explanation to understand anorexia nervosa.


2) False Memories

Julia Shaw researches false memories and has just published a book about factors which influence false memories. This article covers at some length the milestones of research in  this area, going back to the research of Elizabeth Loftus.


3) Left Brain, Right Brain

This video from TED-Ed explains some of the myths concerning left and right brain, making a link to the work of Broca and Wernicke in the late nineteenth century. In connection with this, here is an article about brain plasticity from a year ago.


4) Parents And Alcohol

This article explains a meta-analysis of studies looking at how parents influence the consumption of alcohol of their children. It therefore provides a useful update for the research which we study here. It is no great surprise that having alcohol available at home, providing alcohol and drinking alcohol at home were parental behaviours associated with earlier initiation and higher alcohol use/misuse.


5) A Couple On Gender

On average, males and females do not differ greatly in the way they think and behave. However, there are striking differences between males and females in conditions such as dyslexia, depression and autism. Understanding these differences and the biology behind them may enable us to understand and then address these conditions more effectively. This article explains what is being done to understand how male and female brains are different. This article looks at research into concussion. Although not strictly speaking a piece of Psychology, it is a good example of how beta-bias works. Nobody had thought until recently that there might be gender differences in the consequences of a blow to the head.


6) Brain Inflammation And Obesity

This article describes research into the link between brain inflammation and obesity. It is  useful for us because it focuses on the role of leptin. Inflammation caused by overeating may cause the hypothalamus to be less sensitive to the release of leptin. This is important because the role of leptin in the development of obesity has not been well understood. Cases where people have a genetic mutation which prevents the production of leptin are rare. This research suggests that leptin may play a role in many more cases of obesity.


7) Genome Wide Association Study For Depression

In our course, we study the cognitive approach to explaining and treating depression. In order to evaluate this, we consider evidence about the serotonin transporter gene which suggests that there is a genetic basis to the experience of depression. The problem with focusing on one gene is that its effects are likely to be small. That is why genome wide association studies are more useful because they record the impact of many gene variations on the development of a disorder from a very large sample. This study  uses the genomes of over 320,000 individuals to identify genetic variations associated with excitatory pathways in the brain. That means that we have to take biological explanations seriously.


8) Attachment Type And Social Networks

We are used to the idea that attachment type influences romantic relationships, for example through the work of Hazan and Shaver. This study takes the research one step further. Rather than looking at the influence of attachment type on relationships one at a time, it looks at the influence on the network of relationships we develop.



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