Non-invasive brain stimulation: miracle or hype?

In Mind
Thursday, 15 October 2015 14:30

The clinical potential of non-invasive brain stimulation seems to be almost unlimited. But with few applications having been thoroughly tested, the expectations are too high. Research is now set to begin on the effects of brain stimulation on cognitive rehabilitation after a stroke. The study is a unique collaboration between Teresa Schuhmann of Maastricht University (UM) and Sascha Rasquin from the Adalante-Zorggroep rehabilitation centre. “The interaction between fundamental research and clinical treatment is a win-win situation.”


In 1987 Diana, Princess of Wales, shakes hands with a man with HIV. Click, goes the camera, and the picture is seen all over the world. At the height of the AIDS frenzy, this gesture was a huge statement. How different things are today, with HIV now a chronic rather than a deadly disease in many parts of the world. Nonetheless, people living with HIV continue to be confronted with stigma – a prejudice all of us may be guilty of.


Learning not to eat

In Mind
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 13:50

Imagine: you adore chocolate. White, dark, filled with caramel, whatever. You only have to see it or smell it and you’re sold. And you rarely stick to just the one bonbon – no, you eat the whole box in one go. Chances are, you’re also overweight. This irresistible urge, the overpowering desire to overeat, is much more prevalent in obese people than in thin people. The good news is that, with the help of a psychologist, you can ‘unlearn’ this uncontrollable eating behaviour. The bad news is that it’s not yet clear whether you’ll also lose weight.


Imagine the following situation. You have agreed to cook dinner for your mother-in-law, who has been acting rather strangely lately. “Wasn't she ignoring me the last time we visited her?”, you grumble to yourself while preparing the chilli sauce. Her behaviour has been bothering you for weeks now. The water boils. Chopping the peppers, you realise she’s been mean to the kids too. “She doesn't answer their phone calls. And she didn’t even show up at Billy’s birthday party.” You chop and chop, and while your heart beats faster, more and more peppers slip into the bowl. You're angry – and she’s going to taste it. The proof is in the sauce.

‘Sexual dysfunction? If I don’t accidentally get pregnant and don’t have an STD, everything’s just fine’, many young people seem to think. Women not reaching orgasm, men ejaculating prematurely – either young people do not see these as problems, or the threshold for seeking help is too high. Yet, 27% of male and 43% of female 15- to 24-year-olds suffer from at least one sexual dysfunction. PhD candidate Andrea Grauvogl studied the extent of young people’s knowledge of these issues and developed a brief, anonymous counselling course. She also examined the relationship between sexual functioning and disgust. Here she discusses her dissertation, ‘Let’s talk about sex!’


“Pavlov, does that ring a bell?”

In Mind
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 14:57

According to ‘eating professor’ Anita Jansen, a scientist must also be a writer. Those who write clearly think clearly, she teaches her PhD candidates. And apparently, they listen: Karolien van den Akker is barely halfway through her PhD research, but has already won the Publication Prize of the journal De Psycholoog. “I can’t stand ‘authority arguments’”, says Jansen. “You know, of the sort: I’m a professor so that’s how it is.”


Working on activation (video)

In Society
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 16:10

In today’s welfare state, labour participation is viewed as the ideal tool for gauging a person’s social participation and a way to promote individual and social prosperity. This, however, has proven extremely difficult to implement in practice, particularly for people with disabilities. This dissertation reveals how the specific design of activation in vocational rehabilitation programmes unintentionally achieves opposite results. It also reveals how professionals are hampered in supporting the most vulnerable individuals due to the framework within which they operate. At the same time, this analysis demonstrates how (professional) creativity and more discretionary space can reverse processes of exclusion. These analyses are based on stories about disabilities, vocational rehabilitation and (labour) participation told by clients and professionals.


According to the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), people with dementia should only be euthanised if they are able to give informed consent when the time comes – even if they have aliving will. “Doctors struggle these days with euthanasia requests that are not about physical but psychological suffering”, says Job Metsemakers, professor of General Practice Medicine. “They want more clarity.” This is understandable, says the medical ethics lecturerRob Houtepen: “It’s important that the considerations involved in the end of life are laid down in legal criteria, but there must remain room for interpretation.”

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