Post Of The Week – Tuesday 13th August 2019

1) Drug For Obesity

When we study biological explanations of obesity, we consider the impact of the MC4R gene. We also consider this as a piece of socially sensitive research. One of the justifications of the research into the genes for obesity is that even though it labels and possibly stigmatises people, it gives them a chance to get better. This press release from a drug company in the US claims success for a drug which works on the MC4R receptor. That is an important step forward.


2) Bullying And Attachment

Because it was a Year 2 exam question in May, I have been back to look at the Koiv study about bullying and avoidant attachment which you can read about here. Here is a study which appears to support Koiv’s findings. The more a student feels like they belong among their peers and family, the more likely they will feel like they belong at school.


3) Cognitive Load Theory

We should be interested in this not only because it gives us an idea about how to learn better but also because it uses the distinction between long term memory and working memory. This article has the details. In connection with this, here is a useful overview of the cognitive approach.


4) Explanations Of Anorexia Nervosa

Psychological explanations of anorexia nervosa imply that anorexia comes out of nowhere. They are a response to role models, distorted body image or a lack of autonomy. This research challenges this implication by showing continuities between early childhood behaviours in relation to food and later disorders.


5) Haslam, Reicher And van Bavel On Zimbardo

This paper has been published online. We see Zimbardo’s study as a study of conformity to social roles. If people are assigned a role which is toxic, they will fall into bad behavioiur. Zimbardo suggests that if you put people in an evil place, the evil place wins. Haslam et al’s paper suggests that these are not roles into which people fall but rather into which they are dragged. Zimbardo and his associates had to work hard to make the guards and prisoners behave the way they did. The detail of this in this paper is substantially at odds with how the study is normally portrayed.


6) Growth Mindset

I have been thinking a bit about quality of evidence in the context of some practicals on which I have been working. Here is a piece on growth mindset which shows how weak the evidence is for its importance.


7) Social Prescribing

This podcast relates to the effects on music. This article looks more generally at the use of arts and culture in therapy.


8) The Effects Of Fifteen Evidence-Supported Therapies For Adult Depression

This is the latest from Pim Cuijpers and his research team. It is useful for our purposes because it shows how research and practice have moved on. We divide therapy into broad categories: cognitive, behavioural, psychodynamic, humanistic. The fifteen therapies listed here use ideas from one or more of these. The level of publication bias is high: only studies which support the use of therapy are published. Of the 15, only two types of therapy showed significant positive effect. The Coping with Depression course uses principles of CBT to educate people about depression over 8 sessions. Self-Examination Therapy uses ideas from the humanistic approach to examining different aspects of the self.


9) Emotional Brain

This  looks like really interesting work from UCL. I’m not sure how the app works or exactly how the dara is stored. I know Ms. Davidson may explore its use with you in the new academic year.


10) Advanced Sleep Phase

This is a rare condition where people go to bed and get up very early. Research about it is described here.  It may have a genetic basis.


11) And Also On Circadian Rhythms …

This article explains how breast milk varies by time of day in its ingredients. This may mean that it is central to setting the endogenous clocks of infants so that they can follow a 24 hour cycle.


12) Can science tell us who’s most likely to develop depression?

Here’s a podcast that seeks to answer that question. There is a very good account of the characteristics of depression at the start.

Here’s a related piece on the immune system, stress and depression.


13) Effects Of Screen Time

Here’s an excellent review of some research into the effects of screen time. It explains the limitations of correlational evidence, generalisability and quality of evidence. We’ll be doing some correlational research in Year 2 early in the new academic year.




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