Post Of The Week – Sunday 8th September, 2019

1) Plasticity

Over the summer, I worked a bit on the webpage on localisation of brain function. In particular, I was looking for evidence about recruitment of homologous areas. This article describes research into children who experience strokes at or around the time of birth. The right side of the brain was taking over the language functions of the left. That is quite startling.

 

2) Response Disequilibrium Therapy

This is a new therapy for OCD. It is dealt with here. It is basically a form of behavioural therapy. It works by the client rewarding him/herself if s/he can avoid obsessive behaviours. It seems to work at least some of the time.

 

3) Human Emotions Are Personal Narratives

Here is an interview with Joseph LeDoux about his new book. Ledoux is famous for his work on the emotional brain. As the article explains, his original work was on split brains. The article is interesting because it challenges the reductionist idea of emotions residing in particular parts of the brain. LeDoux argues that distinct emotions arise from several parts of our brain putting together a narrative.

 

4) Genetics Of Sexual Behaviour

Here’s some video about a study which has received much attention this week.

The researchers have put their data on to a website here. Here is a very good piece of commentary on this study. This is as good an example as any of the nature-nurture debate.

 

5) How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain

This video not only tells us something about music but also explains something important about current research into brain function.

 

6) Peak Experiences

Peak experiences are part of self-actualisation as defined by Maslow in his hierarchy of needs. This article looks at the importance of meaningful events, be they sad or happy, in framing our sense of who we are.

 

7) Causes Of Autism

People used to think that autism was caused by emotionally distant parenting. Thirty-five years ago, Baron-Cohen’s Sally-Ann study challenged this idea, suggesting that autism symptoms were the product of cognitive processing. This article explains something about how far research has got since then in understanding the biological basis. This research paper suggests one possible direction in which the research might go. It contrasts two sets of symptoms of autism, social and communication difficulties and unusually repetitive and restricted behaviour, interests and activities. It suggests that the genetic basis for each is different.

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