Behavioural Science Blog

The Science of Human Behaviour

Posts Tagged ‘research

Dan Fitzgerald about fMRI – Video interview

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This is a Behavioural Science Video Interview with Daniel Fitzgerald about fMRI

fMRI Video Interview #1

  • Introduction
  • What is fMRI?
  • fMRI Research
  • fMRI Method
  • fMRI Signal
  • The Salmon
  • Corrections & Thresholds
  • The Black Box
  • The Press

fMRI Video Interview #2

  • fMRI & Behaviour
  • Understanding Behaviour
  • Getting Started
  • Use of fMRI
  • Future of fMRI
  • Brain Pacemakers

Written by Martin Metzmacher

February 6, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Discussion during the third European Workshop on Causal Reasoning in Clinical Decision Making

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These are my notes of the discussion during the third European workshop on causal reasoning in clinical decision making. The workshop took place on April, 25th and some experts from different European countries were present. My notes are not at all complete, they were rather meant to help me remember the interesting points that were discussed during the whole workshop. If you have any questions about them (because some might be quite complicated) please leave a comment, I’ll then get back to you.

In Belgium a program was designed that uses specific rules to compute reasoning from a questionnaire of Likert scales. That did sound really interesting and I would like to have a go with this program. It could also be very interesting to make an online version and get a lot of people to fill it in, so we have a norm-group.

Differentiate the causal models

During the workshop people used different causal models (classification , explanatory…) in their presentations. It would be prudent to set those causal models apart and look in what ways they are different/the same. This would also make it easier to compare the research presented.

Discuss function analysis with your patients

Actually THEY are the best knowledgeable expert about themselves, so discussing the function analysis can tell you a lot more, because you can see how they react and if what you got seems to be true. Maybe you wondered off a strange path…(still be careful about that – they might also want you to follow a specific path).

“Causal” is a difficult term in clinical therapy.

Actually the therapy can be seen as a way to test the causality-hypothesis that you have come up with. But still then causality on psychotherapy is different form causality in physics. Also worth thinking about: Does your believe of causality change if the therapy fails?

Research in the field

With regard to the research in the field three final points were discussed. First it was mentioned that to the your hypothesis it would be prudent to construct critical cases. You really need to know your theory to do that because you will need to find the critical point in which you expect the reasoning of the two conditions to differ. Secondly you should take care at what you are aiming at: Is it a explanatory model or a treatment model? Methods are quite different… Finally Nadine suggested that the level of abstraction is also an important factor. Looking at cheater detection research for example, people are quite bad doing this in an abstract context, but are very good if social rules are used.

Alright…that’s it. See you all next year in Spain (-:

Developmental Psychopathology

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The study of developmental psychopathology is a multidisciplinary approach for studying factors that contribute or impede mental health. These factors can be internal (for example genes) or external (environment) and are conceptualized not as directly influencing mental health, but as building vulnerabilities or enhance adaptation. It is assumed these factors differ in their mechanics according to age. Data about the risk factors and protective factors is recorded by the means of longitudinal studies and then analyzed with their regard to adaptive versus maladaptive developmental outcome. Psychopathology is expected to be found in individuals that are exposed to many risk factors during their development, without access to protective factors that can counteract maladaptive development.

Most studies conducted within the field of psychopathology employ a framework of several factors that spread through multiple levels (macro, exo, micro, intogenetic) from society to the individual. Normal development is studied next to pathological development in order to better understand the processes at hand and their interaction with each other.

Research so far has stressed the influence of the microsystem (family, school and work) for the development of the child. Especially factors related to the quality of parenting have shown to exert much influence on the individual development as either source of or buffer against stress. A well functioning microsystem might be the cause why some children who grow up under bad conditions never develop psychopathology and why children who seem to have perfect premises for a good development do develop psychopathology.

Early inadequate treatment in parent-child interactions might play an important role in maladaptive developmental path, as maltreated children show difficulties in dealing with emotional stimuli. Research supports a sensitization model that leads to stronger emotional reactions with repeated exposure. Biological effects of this developmental path might be connected to altered activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical-system.

As the toddler grows affect regulation is transferred from the parents to the child. If the emotional system is not able to handle the stress of this transition the child will regard internal affective information as a threat and start to avoid this information. This will impair further development as affect regulation is regarded to be a central process in successfully achieve later developmental stages.

This is especially evident when in kindergarten or primary school peers start to become more important as social interaction partners. Maladaptive development in earlier stages often leads to aggression and/or social withdrawal. Maladaptive social interaction not only keep others from becoming important protective factors, it can also be a source of tremendous stress.

Studying extreme maladaptive development might enable us to understand developmental processes that usually are too subtle and gradual to be observed by the current methodology.

While most social sciences try to reduce reality to a few variables for any given hypothesis, developmental psychopathology often deals with massive amount of data to get as close to reality as possible. New methodological analysis such as structural equation modeling are often used to identify effects that go beyond simple cause and effect relations between to factors, as bidirectional influences between the child and his environment are considered to be an important process.

Written by Martin Metzmacher

April 1, 2008 at 1:02 am