Neuroanthropology

For a greater understanding of the encultured brain and body…

Archive for January 13th, 2010

Four Stone Hearth #84 is Gelada-ful

Posted by gregdowney on January 13, 2010

image from the BBC


The new, Four Stone Hearth #84! (Gratuitous Gelada Edition), is up at A Primate of Modern Aspect, and it’s especially Geladicious! If you don’t get it, you’re just going to have to go check it out, this itinerant web carnival of all things anthropological. (And, no, it’s not a reference to a delicious frozen dessert…)

I especially liked Eric Michael Johnson’s post, Bonobos and the Emergence of Culture, on Susan Savage-Rumbaugh’s TED lecture, Susan Savage-Rumbaugh on apes. It’s not a long comment, but check out the discussion as well. It’s really intriguing to watch the commenters struggle to dichotomize biology and culture when the bonobos are making a mangle of them. I do think Savage-Rumbaugh is over-invested in the argument that bonobos are specifically human-like (Comparison with Tasmanians? Ouch. But the bonobos are very cute when roasting marshmallows and learning to drive a golf cart). The fact that bonobos are ‘culture susceptible,’ shall we say, is sufficient to make a mess of biology v. culture and to highlight the way that the ‘extended mind’ concept can help us think about brain enculturation to build basic cognitive capacities. Johnson writes:

I challenge you to watch Kanzi build a fire and perform activities that require precise hand-eye coordination (including the making of stone tools) and conclude that this is a difference of kind rather than merely a difference of degree.

Also interesting is Zinjanthropus’s own post, So… Did knuckle walking evolve twice?, about a case of convergent evolution. Krystal D’Costa does a really nice ethnography of gold in the South Asian community, based in NYC: Sometimes All That Glitters Is Indeed Gold (JH3). And Beast Ape has a short but well cited piece on baboon fathers sorting out paternity of their female friends’ kids, Friendship, fatherhood, and MHC in baboons; it suggests baboon daddies are likely not able to sniff out their own offspring.

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Wednesday Round Up #98

Posted by dlende on January 13, 2010

Enjoy another week, all mashed together once again.

3 Quarks Daily, Michael Moshen Performs the Triangle
An amazing display of skilled performance, integrating timing, music and throwing – definitely one I threw in here for Greg!

Robin Young, Rehab for Terrorists
NPR’s Here and Now speaks with the British journalist Owen Bennett-Jones, who has investigated the Saudi’s rehab program for terrorists. Striking to me both because of the dilemmas of this approach (or any like it) in a probabilistic age that still wants ideal absolutes, and also because of the striking difference in the portrayals of “terrorists” (see the NY Times’ recent piece, The Terrorist Mind) and how young men and women become involved and hence why rehab can work.

Institute of Psychiatry – King’s College, Post Doctoral Research Worker
Looking for a post-doc in neuroanthropology? King’s College in London’s Institute of Psychiatry wants you! The research is on cognitive models of dissociation and the subjective and neural correlates of automatic speech and writing.

Ray Tallis, You Won’t Find Consciousness in the Brain
“My argument is not about technical, probably temporary, limitations. It is about the deep philosophical confusion embedded in the assumption that if you can correlate neural activity with consciousness, then you have demonstrated they are one and the same thing, and that a physical science such as neurophysiology is able to show what consciousness truly is.”

John Cloud, Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny
Epigenetics makes Time magazine! Hunger, abundance, and multi-generational effects in Sweden is the lead case study.

David Dobbs, Neuron Culture’s Top Five from December
Get the links to the posts on David’s Orchid and Dandelion series, which talks about genetic sensitivity and the environment – really looking forward to his book on the subject

Read the rest of this entry »

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