1) Conspirators In Their Own Memory Loss
We’ve been working this week in Year 1 on explanations of forgetting. We focused on two broader evaluation points. Interference and retrieval failure due to absence as cues as explanations of forgetting are based on inference. They are not based on direct observation but rather are based on conclusions drawn from performance on memory tasks. They are also machine reductionist in that they breaking forgetting down into smaller, simpler units, using the language of computers to describe systems of memory. Both of these ideas are relevant to this article on amnesia. In looking at extreme cases of amnesia, there is a physiological aspect: some people develop amnesia as a result of brain injury. There is also an attempt to understand amnesia holistically in terms of response to traumatic events.
2) Recovered Memories
Also in Year 1, we are about to start looking at the work of Elizabeth Loftus on eye witness testimony. In the later part of her career, Loftus has become involved in cases where people claim to have recovered memories of being abused when they were very young. This article deal with a highly sensitive issue in an intelligent way, telling the story of the woman at the centre of a law suit involving Elizabeth Loftus.
3) Mental Health – Ten Charts
Figures about mental health often get distorted and misrepresented. This BBC article sets the record straight accurately and elegantly. The figures are quite troubling.
4) Autism – Myth And Reality
This article works through some of the myths about autism, contrasting them with what is known. There is a particularly useful section on mirror neurons and autism which we deal with here as part of our course in Year 2. In connection with autism, this article looks at how brain scanning techniques are being used to distinguish between children at risk of autism and those with language delay. Early diagnosis is important. Using brain scans rather than observation of behaviour provides a more promising approach.
5) Big Brain Projects
This article describes a new project looking at how we make decisions. It’s an example of how large amounts of data and new techniques can be used to crack problems about how the brain works.
6) Minds And Brains
This TED-Ed video looks at how current questions about mind and body are rooted in much older debates.