1) My Amazing Brain – Richard’s War
This programme tells the story of one man’s recovery from a serious stroke. It covers some essential elements of our course: plasticity, lateralisation, localisation, language. It’s much more than that though. It shows how far medicine has got in treating such complex problems and shows us what it is amazing about all of our brains.
2) What’s Going On In A Toddler’s Brain
This short video looks at research into theory of mind. It uses an old procedure: applying red dye to a child’s face to see if s/he realises the face is hers/his. What makes this different is that brain activity is then measured using infrared light. This shows us how research moves on, using methods from cognitive neuroscience to understand theory of mind.
3) Anne Treisman
Anne Treisman has just died. In an earlier version of the A Level, we used to study her work on attention. This is an interview with her from 2010. It’s good for understanding both the development of the cognitive approach as a response to the limitations of behaviourism and the more recent development of cognitive neuroscience.
4) How Responsible are Killers with Brain Damage?
This article introduces some useful insights into brain structure and free will. It describes the findings of a study just published which looks at autopsies of brains of people who committed murder after brain lesions. The areas of the brain affected by these lesions in every case were different but were linked into a functional circuit. The article tackles the idea of responsibility and free will. Every action is neurally determined but the process of making a choice, like any other process in the brain, can be interrupted by physical damage to the brain.
5) Eating Disorders Are Not A Choice
This account of anorexia nervosa challenges some of the assumptions made in relation to it. In particular, it looks at the idea of an anorexic voice and contains a link to research into how the development of anorexia nervosa is linked to early food preferences.
In Year 2 classes last week, we watched some video from 30 years ago about autism in order to understand the context of the Sally-Anne study. We saw how autism was seen as a very rare condition then whose features were vaguely defined.
One consequence of this is that some people only receive diagnosis in middle age. This video explores this. As more is now understood about autism, more research is going into its links to other conditions. This article explores how the link between ADHD and autism is being researched. In France, older ideas from within the psychoanalytic tradition about autism as a response to uncaring parenting are still held within the medical profession. This article explains the consequences of this. This article explores this issue.
I mentioned in the lesson Baron-Cohen’s work on empathy. He explains some of that in this TED Talk. Here is what he is interested in at the moment.