In the science podcast for the week of 29th August 2008. There is discussion of Amyloid Beta Peptides in people following head injuries. Amyloid Beta peptides role in Alzheimer’s disease interested the researchers in the role this might play in head injury. The peptide levels fell in people as their neurological status worsened which was thought to be related to neuronal activity. In other words, the Amyloid beta peptides were thought to be proportional to neuronal activity (although they didn’t measure neuronal activity directly – it was an inference). The researchers also found that Amyloid Beta 42 levels increased and decreased with overall amyloid beta peptide levels. The researchers suggest that their techniques can be used in Alzheimer’s disease research (STT2-4). Other research suggests that there were ancient tribes producing large scale civilisations in Amazon regions where it was long thought not to be possible. Incredibly, some of these civilisations may be up to 4000 years old with many societies interacting with each other. These findings may be relevant to evolutionary psychiatry as the civilisations solved the problem of developing agriculture in a hostile environment using a variety of means (STT6). Some remarkable research showed that if people believe that they have a fake hand (using a dummy hand), the temperature of the hand it ‘replaces’ actually drops!
The Nature Podcast of 29th August 2008. Research is discussed looking at whether our sense of fairness is innate or whether it is learnt. Over 200 children were entered into a game where they could choose whether to give sweets to other children. They found that the altruistic tendency didn’t exist at age 3 but developed quickly – to about 45% in children at age 8. There were strong altruistic traits to children who were ‘within-group’. The researchers also found that the youngest children in a family, in the study were less altruistic. There is also an elaboration of the extreme male brain theory in autism by referring to imprinting. The argument is that paternal gene imprinting should be predominantly expressed in the hypothalamus whilst maternal imprinting would be expressed in the cortex. Therefore any changes in imprinting would lead to structural changes in the relevant brain areas – essentially providing a theoretical structure to fit with the higher level extreme male-brain hypothesis (STT5).
Episode #170 of Shrinkrap Radio features an interview with Dr Arnold Mindell (a Jungian analyst) and Dr Amy Mindell who talk about dreamwork. Dr Arnold relates his experience with gout and how he constructed a concept of the ‘dream-body’ based on these experiences. There is also a discussion of some work with people in a coma state, Taoism and process-based work.
The Psychology Press website features an interview with Viren Swami one of the authors of ‘The Psychology of Physical Attraction’. Swami discusses physical attractiveness and how its definition has changed in cultures across time and in different parts of the world. Swami discusses some of the positive and negative connotations of being viewed as attractive as well as some of the ‘objective’ measures that have been utilised.
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