Neuroanthropology

For a greater understanding of the encultured brain and body…

Wednesday Round Up #110

Posted by dlende on April 7, 2010

This week it goes tops, mind, anthropology, technology, and finishes with some great sex.

Top of the List

Greg Hickok and David Poeppel, Self-Destruction of the Mirror Neuron Theory of Actual Understanding
Mirror neurons now reflect our fantasies.

Patricia Cohen, Next Big Thing in English: Knowing They Know That You Know
Literary criticism meets evolutionary theory and neuroscience – or the hot new thing, in this book review at the NY Times.

Lorenz Khazaleh, Beware: No Pecha Kucha Allowed Without Consent from Tokyo
I’ve recommended the Pecha Kucha approach. No more. STAY AWAY.

Kerim, Hard Problems in Anthropology
Over at Savage Minds, a proposal for two “hard problems” in anthropology, with lots of ensuing discussion and other proposals

Lori Oliwenstein, Caltech Scientists Find First Physiological Evidence of Brain’s Response to Inequality
“the team found that the reward centers in the human brain respond more strongly when a poor person receives a financial reward than when a rich person does. The surprising thing? This activity pattern holds true even if the brain being looked at is in the rich person’s head, rather than the poor person’s.”
What’s interesting to me is that once you get beyond a set notion of hard-wired reward, here’s the start of a rich experimental that could get at some neurological parts of how inequality also gets established, as in rich people paying more attention to when poor people get more than they should…

Onion News Network, Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday
Funny The Onion piece, complete with video.

Mind

The Neurocritic, Voodoo and Type II: Debate between Piotr Winkielman and Matt Lieberman
A debate between those supporting the statistical analyses behind fMRI studies and those critiquing them – or the latest round in Voodoo Neuroscience

Stephanie Pappas, Optimism Boosts Immune System
Optimism doesn’t just enhance your mood. According to new research, a glass-half-full outlook also strengthens the immune system.

Genevieve Wanucha, New Insights into the Science of Emotion Unravel the Seeming Neurological Magic that Turns Emotions into Emotions into Social Expressions
Over at Seed, recent research that points towards more integrated approaches to emotion.

Anil Ananthaswamy, Mind Over Matter? How Your Body Does Your Thinking
Our ability to think has long been considered central to what makes us human. Now research suggests that our bodies and their relationship with the environment govern even our most abstract thoughts. This includes thinking up random numbers or deciding whether to recount positive or negative experiences.

David Elkind, Playtime Is Over
Schools around the country, concerned about bullying and arguments over the use of the equipment, are increasingly hiring “recess coaches” to oversee students’ free time. Is this a good thing?

Blue to Blue, Muddling Through
Psychiatry presumes to comment upon the selves that we are and the selves we ought to be–as such, it is as ambitious and as rightly contentious as politics or religion.

Vaughan Bell, Bernardino Álvarez, Asylum Bandit
The amazing story of the founder of the oldest psychiatric hospital in Latin America was an ex-soldier turned criminal who broke out of jail, escaped the law with the help of a prostitute, and eventually ended up destitute after spending his entire fortune caring for the mentally ill.

Anthropology

Lorenz Khazaleh, Anthropologist Uncovers How Global Elites Undermine Democracy
A new system of power and influence has taken hold globally, one that undermines democracy, government, and the free market.

John Hawks, Misinformation About Brain Evolution
An interview in the Guardian with Colin Blakemore – or how he denies selection.

Jonah Lehrer, Metacognitive Apes
It’s estimated that, on average, people have a tip-of-the-tongue moment at least once a week. How the mind decides what to think about.

Maximilian Forte, Information, Communications, and Targeted Killing
Lengthy commentaries based on research concerning private military contractors and their operations.

Simon Romero, Through Cage Bars, an Exotic Peek into Drug Wars
In Colombia, a sanctuary houses hundreds of animals rescued largely from drug traffickers and paramilitary warlords. Includes a touching video linked to the story.

David Brooks, The Broken Society
How social relationships matter…

Richard Gray, Missing Link Between Man and Apes Found
Homo habilis – the old species now a new “missing link” through a new fossil find.

Stanley Fish, Pragmatism’s Gift
An explanation of pragmatism and what it can offer – which is rather a lot for anthropology, I have often thought.

David Lewis-Williams, Conceiving God: the Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion
Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens confront the faithful head-on, but there may be another way to dispel religious beliefs.

Mo Costandi, Magnetic Manipulation of the Sense of Morality
When making moral judgments, we rely on our ability to make inferences about the beliefs and intentions of others, i.e. our “theory of mind”. Magnetic effects can shape reactions. Now if only people would get that culture and social context can do the same…

Ed Yong, Pigeons Outperform Humans at the Monty Hall Dilemma
Pigeons out-think humans, or the human spin, we over-think things.

N. Pepperrell, Hacking History
A relation links the present to the past – not because the past necessarily drove history in some particular developmental direction, but because the present was formed from the reconfiguration of materials that existed in the past.

Technology

Joe Brescia, For Pro Athletes, Practice That’s All In The Thumbs
Professional athletes in a range of sports say that video games enhance their physical and mental capacities, in part because the quality of the sports simulations by companies like Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive has gotten so good.

Stephen J. Dubner, Computers Help Children Learn Computer Skills, But What Else?
It is a reasonable postulation that the children with computer access have a huge advantage in gaining human capital, right? Unraveling the cause and effect as to why this is.

Sex

Lise Eliot, The Truth about Boys and Girls
Great Scientific American piece. Sex differences in the brain are small—unless grown-up assumptions amplify them.

Olivia Judson, Evolving Sexual Tensions
Just how different males and females really are, at least when we look to the animal world.

Jon Mooallem, Can Animals Be Gay?
In this lengthy NY Times Magazine article, recent animal research on same-sex relationships in the wild is covered. Turns out that they are much more common than our prejudices would let us think.

Deric Bownds, Mate Preferences Predicted by National Health
Interesting new evolution research, looking at potential female strategies in high versus low risk environments – or contingent mating, revealed through what makes men attractive in particular places

Kara Platoni, The Sex Scholar
Decades before Kinsey, Stanford professor Clelia Mosher polled Victorian-era women on their bedroom behavior. She kept the startling results a secret. Now the research is revealed. For more, see Mind Hacks.

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