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Archive for February, 2010

Complete this quote: “The two really dramatic transformations in human behaviour occurred…”

Posted by Paul Mason on February 28, 2010

How would you complete the following unfinished quote from Steven Mithen’s book The Prehistory of the Mind?

“The two really dramatic transformations in human behaviour occurred…”

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Posted in general | 2 Comments »

Summer Institute for Cultural Neuroscience at Uni of Michigan

Posted by jdomi on February 24, 2010

The Center for Culture, Mind and the Brain, CCMB, University of Michigan, will be hosting its first Summer Institute for Cultural Neuroscience in the second half of July 2010. The event has a line up of leading researchers on this field such as Shinobu Kitayama, host of the Institute and Director of the CCMB, Richard Nisbett, Shihui Han, Denise Park and Joan Chiao.

The topics that will be covered during the ten days include culture, self and the brain; culture, cognition and the brain; neuroeconomics, decision making and culture; and stereotyping, racial bias and brain processes.

While no anthropologist will be speaking at the Summer Institute, this program represents an important step toward the consolidation of research into the culture-brain nexus. For example, Joan Chiao was a wonderful presenter at our Encultured Brain conference back in October.

Applications for the Summer Institute are due March 1st, so jump on the opportunity if you want to go.

Click here for more information about the Summer Institute in Cultural Neuroscience.

And here is the link to the Center for Culture, Mind and the Brain.

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Wednesday Round Up #104

Posted by dlende on February 24, 2010

So the favs, then a bunch of book reviews, and onto anthropology and the mind. Then some health, art and philosophy, and after you spend all day reading this stuff, why not finish it off with some alcohol and sex?

Top of the List

Sharon Begley, West Brain, East Brain
“What a difference culture makes.” Newsweek has a story on cultural neuroscience!

Chris Clark, Zooming in with Prezi
Prezi, a cool new presentation tool – an online version of Powerpoint that lets you zoom in and out and also embed YouTube and Flash animations. Looks both cool and useful!

Sarah, Would You Like to Kula?
Funny anthropology pick up lines.

BigThink, Oliver Sacks on Humans and Myth-Making
“Humans naturally create stories and narratives,” says Oliver Sacks in this video lecture.

Leslie Heywood, Gender Specs
An informed feminist takes on the evolutionary psychology approach to gender. So, what do women look for in a man? And what do men look for in a woman?

Joe Brewer, Belief and Worldview in Politics
Over at Cognitive Policy Works, an argument that what someone believes to be true is more important than what is actually true. How do our minds work? How do we view reality? These are the sort of questions addressed here, using an applied approach informed by cognitive science. Another interesting piece is Story Reversal: The Power of Frame Breaking, which includes a video.

Harvey Whitehouse, Four Recipes for Religion
Our Encultured Brain keynote presenter gives a nice summary of different types of organized religion. Discussion continues over at Cognition & Culture in the post, Religion Science: If you pay the piper, do you call the tune?

Book Reviews

Emily Bazelon, The Tiny Differences in the Littlest Brains
A review of the new book by Lise Eliot, Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps — and What We Can Do About It. Looks like a very good neuroanthropology read on gender and the brain.

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Posted in Wednesday Round Up | 2 Comments »

EvoS: Evolution, Addiction and the Encultured Brain

Posted by dlende on February 23, 2010

Two weeks ago I had a wonderful visit to EvoS, the Evolutionary Studies Program at Binghamton University. Leslie Heywood, a gifted writer and a true interdisciplinary scholar, invited me to Binghamton. She really enjoyed herself at our Encultured Brain conference, and wanted me to share my work with the EvoS program.

It was a very stimulating visit, and given their technology gurus there, I can share with you two key parts of it.

First there is the video of my lecture on Evolution, Behavior and the Encultured Brain. You don’t actually get to see me, however – you see my Powerpoint slides and hear my accompanying lecture. In the talk I cover a lot of my work on evolutionary theory and addiction, and then discuss how that work has lead me to neuroanthropology and how neuroanthropology works as a good complement to evolutionary biology.

I also took part in a podcast, where I got involved in a great discussion with students at Binghamton about my research on substance use and abuse in Colombia. So in the podcast I range more widely over my work, in particularly discussing some of the cultural anthropology work I have done. So you can also get the Daniel Lende podcast.

They also had a page providing a brief introduction to my talk, and there you can access the pdf of my Evolutionary Medicine and Health chapter “Evolution and Modern Behavioral Problems: The Case of Addiciton.”

Posted in Addiction, Links | Leave a Comment »

Two by Four Stone Hearth

Posted by dlende on February 21, 2010

We’ve been a little lax about posting links to the great anthropology carnival Four Stone Hearth. So we’re going to take a swing at updating you about the last two editions.

A Very Remote Period Indeed hosted Four Stone Hearth #85: Cold Wind Edition. Amidst the January cold came archaeological delights like ancient pants and prehistoric footwear to keep you warm, as well as Melville Herskovits in the history of anthropology, the place of linguistic anthropology at the hearth, and much, much more.

Over at Testimony of the Spade we have Four Stone Hearth #86: Amazing Stories Edition. It’s worth a visit for the great covers from fantastical fiction. But you can also find musings on the paleolithic diet, a bronze age halberd, dance and trance, and once again, much, much more!

Link to Four Stone Hearth #85: Cold Wind Edition

Link to Four Stone Hearth #86: Amazing Stories Edition

Posted in Links | Leave a Comment »

Complete this quote: “Cultures encode proprieties by…”

Posted by Paul Mason on February 21, 2010

Complete this quote:

“Cultures encode proprieties by…”

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Posted in general | 9 Comments »

Wednesday Round Up #103

Posted by dlende on February 17, 2010

I really like this round up – one of my better efforts of late, I think. Some great stuff up top, and then lots of good material on new media, social networking, gaming, etc. Then a neuroanth mash-up, followed by drugs, genetics, mental health, and of course chickens.

Top of the List

Emily Polis Gibson, Children’s Hospital Rotation
A powerful poem about attending to an anencephalic newborn, a baby without a brain. Written by a doctor in Washington State

Science Friday – Ira Flatow, Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall on studying chimpanzees, preserving habitats, and what lies ahead for the field of evolutionary science. I particularly liked her answers to people’s questions, including an adorable 13 year old girl, in the second half as she powerfully described how she moved from working on chimps to working for conservation and human development.

Research Digest Blog, Evidence-based Tips for Valentine’s
Miss out on Valentine’s Day? Well, better dig into the research on how to enhance your irresistibility

Desde el Manicomio, Adrian
Some beautiful and award-winning photos of an autistic child in his daily life

Reader Comments – NY Times, Comments on Bob Herbert’s Watching China Run
These reader recommended comments are some of the best critiques of US society and culture that I have read in a long time

Daniel Elkan, The Comedy Circuit: When your Brain Gets the Joke
Neuroimaging humor, with a look at why a joke is funny to some and not funny to others.

David Sloan Wilson, Economics and Evolution as Different Paradigms IV: The Limiting Factor of Cultural Evolution Is Not Origin But Spread
I had an illuminating conversation with David when I visited Binghamton University last week. He has really pushed evolutionary thinking into applied arenas, and here examines the intersection of cultural evolution and economics, with childhood education and risky adolescent behavior both discussed.

Tara Parker-Pope, As Girls Become Women, Sports Pay Dividends
Showing that sports participation has direct benefits for development with “ lifelong improvements to educational, work and health prospects”

New Media

Vaughan Bell, Don’t Touch That Dial!
I thought Facebook rotted my brain… right? Not so fast, says the master behind Mind Hacks, in this “history of media scares, from the printing press to Facebook”

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Posted in general | 4 Comments »

Graduate Student Pecha Kucha Session @ New Orleans

Posted by dlende on February 15, 2010

Denice Szafran, a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Buffalo, is putting together a Pecha Kucha session for the annual American Anthropological Association meeting in New Orleans. Pecha Kucha is a new visual format for giving a talk, which features 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each. Here’s her call for submissions over at the Anthropology Cooperative:

I am putting together a session proposal for the 2010 AAA meeting in New Orleans, and would like to call for submissions of abstracts.

The session will focus on graduate student works-in-progress, and will be Pecha Kucha – 20 slides, 20 seconds each. Often the only people who are aware of graduate student work are our advisors and committees, and this will be a chance to show the discipline what we are up to and where we are researching, and get feedback from the audience. This format is an exciting way to do that. With this method we will be able to accept 12 presenters for the session, and all research areas are welcome.

If you are interested, or think you might be, please submit an abstract to me at by February 24 so that I can assemble the invited session proposal by the March 1 deadline. You will be notified by February 27 whether your abstract will be included with our submission (just in case we get more than we can handle).

As Denice notes, Lorenz over at Antropologi kicked up interest in Pecha Kucha with his post in January, Pecha Kucha: The Future of Presenting? It bears some similarity to our speed presentation format that we used successfully last October at the Encultured Brain conference. Lorenz included a bunch of links to learn how and explore more. You can also go directly to

Here’s a video about this new format:

Another example, this one from Wired and introducing Pecha Kucha and then discussing the social uses of signs:

Posted in Conferences | 1 Comment »

Complete this quote: “There is considerable debate surrounding the issue of…”

Posted by Paul Mason on February 14, 2010

Complete this quote:

“There is considerable debate surrounding the issue of…”

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Posted in general | 6 Comments »

Public Release of the DSM-5 Draft

Posted by dlende on February 13, 2010

The draft of the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, was released this week. This guide to the diagnosis of mental and behavioral health problems will shape the delivery of psychological, psychiatric, and social care for years to come.

You can access the entire draft here at the American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Development Website. There the APA writes about the comment policy:

The draft disorders and disorder criteria that have been proposed by the DSM-5 Work Groups can be found on these pages. Use the links below to read about proposed changes to the disorders that interest you. Please note that the proposed criteria listed here are not final. These are initial drafts of the recommendations that have been made to date by the DSM-5 Work Groups. Viewers will be able to submit comments until April 20, 2010. After that time, this site will be available for viewing only.

It is interesting to note that the APA included a press release announcing that the DSM-5 Development Process Includes Emphasis on Gender and Cultural Sensitivity.

Actual proposed changes are set up in an interesting way. The opening tab is the proposed revision, but there is also are rationale, severity, and DSM-IV tabs. So it does provide more information than one might think.

So, as one major example, Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent, has an extensive draft proposal for the DSM-5. Here the rationale isn’t that great, since it largely focuses on single episodes of depression. On the severity side, it’s clear what the APA group is thinking about in terms of differential ratings. And it’s easy to compare the DSM-5 with the DSM-IV criteria.

Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks includes some extensive commentary, and a wealth of links, on the DSM-5 Draft in the piece The Draft of the New ‘Psychiatric Bible’ Is Published. He opens by saying:

It’s a masterpiece of compromise – intended to be largely backwardly compatible, so most psychiatrists could just get on diagnosing the few major mental illnesses that all clinicians recognise in the same way they always did, with some extra features if you’re an advanced user.

One of the most striking extra features is the addition of dimensions. These are essentially mini questionnaire-like ratings that allow the extent of a condition to be numerically rated, rather than just relying on a ‘you have it or you do not’ categorical diagnosis.

John Grohol, writing over at Psych Central, also provides an initial overview of the main changes in the DSM-V and then provides a review that features the good, the bad and the ugly.

If you’re looking for just the critical, the Psychiatric Times has a piece Opening Pandora’s Box: The 19 Worst Suggestions For DSM-5. Dr. Allen Frances, who chaired the DSM-IV Task Force, identifies two areas that are quite worrisome (and predictable) for a critical medical anthropologist:

(1) Dramatically higher rates of mental disorder, including “millions of newly misidentified false positive ‘patients’ [and] massive overtreatment with medications that are unnecessary, expensive, and often quite harmful”

(2) Unforeseen consequences, where DSM5 options often have an “insensitivity to possible misuse in forensic settings. Work Group members cannot be expected to anticipate the many ways lawyers will try to twist their good intentions.”

You can explore the legal aspects more over at In the News.

For specific diagnoses, Dr. Petra has particularly good coverage on the proposed changes in sexual disorders. Liz Spikol looks at the diagnosis of childhood bipolar disorder with a critical eye.

For more reading, Furious Seasons has some good initial thoughts on the DSM-5. Additional coverage can be found at the NY Times and New Scientist.

Posted in Medical anthropology, Mental Illness | 1 Comment »


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