Neuroanthropology

For a greater understanding of the encultured brain and body…

Wednesday Round Up #99

Posted by dlende on January 21, 2010

Dirk Hanson, The Addiction Inbox Top Ten
The most popular posts over at very well done The Addiction Inbox: The Science of Substance Abuse

Ethan Watters, How the US Exports Its Mental Illnesses
Another great piece by Watters over at New Scientist of the globalization of US mental health concepts (or ethnopsychologies). For more, see some good commentary over at Mind Hacks

Michiko Kakutani, A Rebel in Cyberspace, Fighting Collectivism
The artist and computer scientist Jaron Lanier fights against the hive mind and digital Maoism (i.e., the wisdom of the crowd) and the importance of developing a unique voice in his new book You Are Not A Gadget

Vaughan Bell, The Ominous Power of Confession
125 proven cases of wrongful conviction based on false confessions – Mind Hacks covers an excellent yet disturbing paper

Stephen Casper, Book Review: Warwick Anderson, The Collectors of Lost Souls: Turning Kuru Scientists into Whitemen
“This marvelous book deliberately forces us to re-imagine the meaning of sojourn, scientific discovery, colonialism, and sorcery, while at the same time providing us with an account of the discovery of Kuru, a lethal neurological disease, and the science that ultimately determined its etiology. In a narrative grounded in sources found in archives in Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the United States, and further developed through oral histories with scientists, anthropologists, and the Fore people, Anderson shows us that the prion – an infectious protein supposedly discovered in the laboratories of Britain and the United States – was a thing constructed first through colonial aspirations and global imaginations.”

Peter Jay Hotez, How to Cure 1 Billion People? Defeat Neglected Tropical Diseases
They wear down the poorest of the poor, yet so much more could be done

Washington Post, Mexican Museum Details the Real Enemy: Drug Cartels
Welcome to the Museum of Drug Trafficking – a photogallery that provides an exclusive look at a private Mexican museum used to help train government officials and law enforcement

Gary Stix, Using Light and Genes to Probe the Brain
The new field of optogenetics is shedding light on the links between brain and behavior

Pamthropologist, Unteaching: It’s What We Do
Study anthropology! It’s good for learning, and even business too!

Dave Munger, The Outfielder Problem: The Psychology behind Catching Fly Balls
Catching fly balls in virtual reality! Not only fun, but good experimental design, in this innovative research

Kirsten Bell, Going to the Dentist Bites
An anthropologist reflects on her crooked teeth in the face of a culture obsessed with pearly whites

Deric Bownds, Attention Alters Appearance
Attention changes our subjective experience. In this research case, “attention increases the perceived contrast of visual stimuli (sine wave gratings) by boosting early sensory processing in the visual cortex”

Kerim @ Savage Minds, David Brooks: Worse Than Pat Robertson
Brooks, the NY Times columnist, blames Haiti’s poverty on culture. Savage Minds responds vigorously, as well as including some great links to ongoing reporting on Haiti

Jonah Lehrer, Charity Is Social
And can be studied as a decision making process using real money and a fMRI. It’s social and it’s empathic. A nice write-up over at Frontal Cortex.

Drug Monkey, Is It A Substance Abuse Disorder, or Is He a Substance Abuser?
“those assigned the ‘substance abuser’ term .. were significantly more in agreement with the notion that the character was personally culpable for his condition and more likely to agree that punitive measures be taken”

The Neurocritic, It Wasn’t Me, It Was Someone Else: Agency Error and Alien Hand
Neural activation and the sense of agency

Neuroskeptic, A Brief History of Bipolar Kids
Can children get bipolar disorder? The Neuroskeptic looks at the rise of the diagnosis in the US – “at least in terms of the literature, pediatric bipolar is overwhelmingly a 21st century American phenomenon. It barely existed before 2000, and it barely exists elsewhere”

Comparative Physiology @ Ohio Wesleyan, Real? Really?
The fun video Ugly and Unusual Animals – and there are plenty of both!

Benedict Carey, Morphine May Help Traumatic Stress
With combat casualties, “prompt treatment with morphine cut in half the chances that troops would develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress later on”

Jay Dixit, Heartbreak and Home Runs: The Power of First Experiences
A long and reflective piece that mixes a humanist’s sense with data on how first experiences mark us over at Psychology Today

Edmund Blair Bolles, 10 Hypotheses about Language and Thought
Babel’s Dawn provides an insightful list of needed research and novel ideas about the evolution of language and ape-early human cognition

National Geographic, The Bionic Body
An interactive site on the latest development in bionics from head to foot

Jo Piazza, Audiences Experience “Avatar Blues”
Longing to stay in that immersive world, including a topic thread “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible” with more than 1000 comments so far. For some very insightful commentary and analysis of this sort of yearning, see Peter Stromberg’s Why Do We Long for Fictional Worlds? over at Psychology Today

Andrea Vianello, New Podcast on Archaeological Sciences
Not quite so new – it’s from 2007 – but I just ran across it. Features University of South Florida professor Robert Tykot, who brings sophisticated methods to the work of archaeology and exploring the past

Andy Crouch, Sana’a Sunset: A Panoramic View of Yemen’s Capital City
A striking photo by Stefan Geens, part of the 360 Cities collection

Ethan Watters, Crazy Like Us: The Soundscape of Zanzibar
An excerpt from Watters’ book that presents the work of the anthropologist Juli McGruder on how the “auditory landscape of a place often becomes central to the experience of a schizophrenic”

Lorenz @ Antropologi, The Globalisation of the Western Conception of Mental Illness
Lorenz gives us his reflections and excerpts on the Ethan Watters’ article The Americanization of American Illness, and also rounds up a bunch of good reflections from around the web

Abbas Raza, Frans de Waal and David Berreby Talk about Empathy and More
BloggingHeadsTV in action!

Julian Baggini, Where Happiness Lies
The Financial Times gives us an insightful reviews of a batch of high-powered books out on positive psychology and the study of happiness

Christopher Ryan, Women in Bed: What’s All the Noise About?
Female primates – including women – are noisy when they copulate. Here’s what we know.

Anne Lovell, Alain Ehrenberg’s The Weariness of the Self
The esteemed French sociologist now has an English translation of his French bestseller on depression

Jon Hanson, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Situationism
King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail as an example of how the famous civil rights activist understood how much power context has

2 Responses to “Wednesday Round Up #99”

  1. Carl said

    My wife and I really enjoyed Ryan’s piece on female copulatory vocalization, but with three qualifications. 1) The sample for humans (n=3) may not quite achieve representation. 2) The research setting in which the (socialized) human sample really cuts loose while under close observation is not easy to envision. 3) To say that loud copulatory vocalization must be adaptive because it persists despite creating predator risk is barely better than a just-so story. Persistent mutations don’t need to be adaptive, they only need to not be fatal (the survival principle is not ‘fittest’ but ‘fit enough’). So all that hypothesizing about what all the noise must be ‘for’ may be beside the point. I don’t find intelligent design any more convincing when evolution does it than when God does it.

    • dlende said

      Well said, Carl. I particularly like your last line, “I don’t find intelligent design any more convincing when evolution does it than when God does it.” The evolutionary biologist might respond that the theory is a way of generating hypotheses, in this case noisy and counter-intuitive ones that also draw on comparative primatological research. But that’s not how the story gets presented originally. Still, a story on female copulatory vocalization – as you say, one to enjoy.

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