Post Of The Week – Sunday 6th August 2017

1) Newborn Baby Development Has Been Vastly Underestimated

That is the claim of this article. The development on which it focuses is social development, specifically the response of new borns to the still face procedure which is explained here. Not only do infants respond to this procedure but they also seem to learn from it, suggesting that from birth they are able to regulate their own behaviour and influence the behaviour of others.


2) CBT Versus Counselling For Depression

Counselling tends to be seen as ineffective. Not only is there a lack of systematic evidence for its effectiveness but it is seen to be inferior to therapies such as CBT because they address fundamental psychological processes. The kindest thing we can say is that the humanistic approach has done us a favour by emphasising the importance of the therapeutic relationship but does not give us the tools to make people well who have complex things wrong with them. This article is therefore interesting because it looks at data from IAPT for cases of moderate to severe depression, comparing counselling to CBT. Counselling comes out as not inferior to CBT. This is important because it moves us back to the idea that it is the therapeutic relationship and the competence of the therapist which matters more than the process which is undertaken. The challenge therefore is to be able to define better “quality” and “competence”.


3) Canine Compulsive Disorder

This article explores the version of OCD which dogs get. It is well worth reading for several reasons. Firstly, it looks at how insights from dogs are moving towards a more integrated account of OCD. The problem we highlight when studying OCD is that we have a neural account based on serotonin, a neural account based on hyperactivity in the basal ganglia and a genetic account based on the PTPRD gene is that the science is fragmentary. Each account stands by itself without any links to the others. The research in this article points to genetic variations connected with glutamate which have been discovered in dogs and to drug interventions based on glutamate which seem to work. Secondly, the article challenges the idea that we can’t generalise from non-human to human animals. Thirdly, the article interweaves the personal and the scientific: the author describes her experience of OCD. It does so powerfully and effectively.


4) Brain Plasticity

This idea is central to our study of Biopsychology. The researcher who did much to develop it, Marian Diamond, has just died. Here is her obituary.


5) P Values

We were pleased when working on the research projects in the summer term to see some significant results. Correlations emerged where the chances of making a Type 1 error were less than 5% and the null hypothesis was rejected. There is however a debate about whether a p value of 0.05 tells us anything at all meaningful about a study. That debate is developed here.


6) Social Mobility

Here is an article about the genetic basis of educational achievement and social mobility. I posted a linked video a couple of weeks ago.


7) Public Understanding Of Science

Here is an article about media representation of a study about video gaming. The risks are misrepresented. Here is an article about the complexity of research into the effect of concussion in sport.


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