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Archive for March, 2009


Posted by dlende on March 31, 2009

Neuroskeptic is hosting the latest edition of Encephalon, the carnival that rounds up mind/brain blogging during the past two weeks.

Some good stuff, the God spot, obesity and controversy, Facebook, and more. Enjoy.

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Grad conference: Culture, Cognition & Construction

Posted by gregdowney on March 30, 2009

dropletAll kinds of conference announcements are coming into us here at Neuroanthropology! We have another one that may be of interest to our readers, scheduled for London in May 2009. Among the guest speakers will be Harvey Whitehouse (Oxford), Rom Harré (LSE), George Gaskell (LSE), and Fathali Moghaddam (Georgetown).

The London School of Economics is proud to announce the hosting of the 10th Anniversary Inter-University Graduate Conference: Culture, Cognition and Construction, May 22-23 2009, London, in collaboration with Cambridge University.

The Conference has traditionally supported the integration of diverse viewpoints across the social science disciplines. As the title suggests, this year’s event focuses on the cultivation of synergy between constructionist and cognitivist perspectives in the social sciences. Graduate and post-graduate students are invited to submit abstracts of no longer than 250 words to lsecamconf (at)

The deadline for submission is April the 10th 2009. For further details visit our website

Posted in Conferences | 1 Comment »

Conference: Language, culture & mind

Posted by gregdowney on March 30, 2009

I just received this announcement through the Society for Psychological Anthropology, and it looks like something that our readers might find interesting although we’re pretty far out in front of the meeting date (note: 2010):

We are pleased to announce the 4th International Conference on Language, Culture and Mind (LCM 4), to be held in Turku, Finland, at Åbo Akademi University, 21-23 June 2010.

Currently confirmed plenary speakers are:
Bradd Shore, Emory University
Dan Zahavi, Centre for Subjectivity Research, Copenhagen
Cornelia Müller, Berlin Gesture Centre and Europa Universität Viadrina
Peggy Miller, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

The LCM conferences are interdisciplinary fora, targeted primarily at researchers in the disciplines of anthropology, linguistics, philosophy and psychology who consider that they have something both to impart to, and to learn from, each other in the study of language as a social, cultural, cognitive and biological phenomenon. More information can be found at:

Posted in Conferences, Language | 2 Comments »

Ancient Stones

Posted by dlende on March 26, 2009

The latest Four Stone Hearth carnival of anthropology blogging is now out (in?) at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub. So grab your cowboy coffee and head over for a good soaking.

This is most definitely a FOUR field edition, and Ed Darrell deserves a lot of credit for that. Primates, globalization, the earthen and the electronic, fossils – it’s all there!

Posted in Links | 1 Comment »

Wednesday Round Up #56

Posted by dlende on March 25, 2009

I know things have been kind of sparse on my side of late; for those of you wondering, it’s just the time crunch. Three conferences in two weeks; teaching; funding to secure; and even more stuff. But Greg and I are excited about what’s to come, and soon we’ll be making a big announcement on the Neuroanthropology front.

So with that opening, let’s get down to business – the top, mental health, anthro and the brain.

Top of the List

Mouse Trap, Self Relevance and the Reality-Fiction Blur
Sandy’s useful summary and reflection on a new PLoS article, Reality = Relevance? Insights from Spontaneous Modulations of the Brain’s Default Network when Telling Apart Reality from Fiction. Neuronarrative also summarizes and reflects on the success of reality TV. My take – it means self-reference and specific memories can make even imaginary things “real”, and that’s a big step towards culture.

Sue Sheridan, Very Funny
The Onion Video: Experts Agree Giant, Razor-Clawed Bioengineered Crabs Pose No Threat

Brian Crecente, Maria Montessori: The 138-Year-Old Inspiration Behind Spore
Learning as exploration and growth in imagination, and how that inspired a modern-day video game that is sort-of about evolution

Archaeoastronomy, An Astronomical Experiment YOU Can Contribute To
A worldwide study of light pollution and why we don’t see the sky at night like we once did. Hurry to participate – the deadline is March 28th!

Supercourse: Epidemiology, The Internet, and Global Health
More than 3000 lectures from world experts, delivered in 26 different languages. Wow.

Mental Health

David Dobbs, Soldiers’ Stress: What Doctors Get Wrong about PTSD
Scientific American article on overdiagnosis and mistaking adjustment back to civilian life as dysfunction. David provides some great follow-up and engages readers over at Neuron Culture, beginning here, with sources and links, and debate on war and medicalization, and finally David responding forcefully to a snarky critique.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Wednesday Round Up | Leave a Comment »

Evolution of altruism: kin selection or affect hunger?

Posted by gregdowney on March 20, 2009

bridgecoverWalter Goldschmidt, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology from the University of California Los Angeles got in touch with us here at to give us a bit of a (friendly) hard time about unfortunate neologisms (touché) and to ask if we were familiar with his work. With my repeated posts on evolutionary psychology, he thought it might be of interest, especially his discussion of affect hunger.

What Prof. Goldschmidt did not realize is that I have an autographed copy of his book, Bridge to Humanity: How Affect Hunger Trumps the Selfish Gene (Oxford U Press listing, Amazon), and I’ve long thought it was both an excellent counter-argument to the ‘selfish gene’ hypothesis as well as a much more persuasive account of the possible evolutionary origins of altruism than the typical explanation: kin selection.

So, as a bit of a ‘thank you’ to Prof. Goldschmidt for providing such a compelling work, I’m going to post a bit of a book discussion here, focusing especially on Prof. Goldschmidt’s account of ‘affect hunger,’ which I find a much more neuroanthropologically plausible account of altruism than the usual account provided by evolutionary psychology discussions of ‘kin selection.’
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bibliography, Book Review, Emotion, Evolution | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Cognitive Science conference in Oz

Posted by gregdowney on March 20, 2009

For all our Australian readers, the 9th conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science will be held at Macquarie University, Sydney, from Wednesday 30 September to Friday 2 October 2009. The Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science is hosting the event, and my colleague, John Sutton, will be convening the event. The announcement can be found here.

Lots of interesting speakers are already confirmed, including Thomas Metzinger of Johannes Gutenberg-Universität and Barbara Tversky from Stanford.

If you’re in Australia, and you’re interested in neuroanthropology or cognition and culture more broadly, drop me a line because we may try to put something together around the conference to meet up and talk over future directions in the field.

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Wednesday Round Up #55

Posted by dlende on March 17, 2009

I’m off to a conference, so you’re getting the Wednesday round up a day early. The typical stuff on brain and anthro, plus some happiness, eating and other stuff thrown in. Enjoy!

Top of the List

Mo Costandi, Experience Induces Global Reorganization of Brain Circuitry
Plasticity in action, now showing that small changes can produce bigger changes elsewhere

Hugh Gusterson, Empire of Bases
The global reach of the US military. It’s no longer the military-industry complex, it’s just the military complex. It’s hard to fathom, and all that money that might be spent differently…

Dave Munger, Training in Working Memory Can Improve Preschoolers’ Performance in a Variety of Tasks
The title says it all. Train visual working memory, get benefits elsewhere.

Brian McKenna, How Anthropology Disparages Journalism
A call for anthropology to engage what could be one of its closest allies, as well as to take on what journalism offers for getting our message beyond the Ivory Tower

Gary Sherman and Gerald Clore, Clean and Virtuous: When Physical Purity Becomes Moral Purity
Scientific American: “How “embodied” metaphors, rooted in our physical understanding of abstract concepts, shape our view of the world.”


Deric Bownds, The Myth of Language Universals
Deric is as intrigued by this new Behavioral and Brain Science target article as I am, The Myth of Language Universals: Language diversity and its importance for cognitive science

Read the rest of this entry »

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Grand Encephalon

Posted by dlende on March 17, 2009

brain-coral-university-of-melbourneThe latest mind/brain Encephalon carnival is out at Ionian Enchantment. Lots of good stuff, so check it out. A couple of favorites include Dr. Shock’s look at online gaming (what a surprise there – and he reminded me that I need to check out Quake Live) and Podblack’s poetry – practive vs. impulse – debate.

ACP Internist is hosting this week’s medical blogging Grand Rounds in a well-done newspaper style format. Looks like there is broad support for health care reform among patients. The rise in number of psychiatrists in the US has gone hand-in-hand with increasing use of drugs and a proliferation of diagnostic categories, all to justify both the work and getting paid for it, argues Phillip Hickey. Neurofeedback is now being used to deal with ADHD, reports SharpBrains. And here’s a great debunking – we don’t actually lose the majority of our heat through our heads.

Posted in Links | Leave a Comment »

The Real Pliocene Hominin

Posted by dlende on March 16, 2009

Just for fun! Hat-tip to Sue Sheridan.

Link to youtube The Real Pliocene Hominin.

And for a more serious video that covers human evolution, here’s one from last year: Meet the Family: Human Evolution.

Posted in Evolution, Fun and Humor, Video | 1 Comment »


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