Neuroanthropology

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Announcing the Notre Dame Hub: Taking Students’ Academic Lives Online

Posted by dlende on November 1, 2010

The Hub @ Notre Dame is now live! The Hub takes students’ academic lives online, providing a platform for exploring ideas, presenting their work, and social networking within an academic community.

I initiated this project in the spring of 2009 at Notre Dame, so it is wonderful to see it come to fruition. Here is the opening to my original Hub Proposal:

Students today can share their personal lives on online sites like Facebook and MySpace. They do not have a comparable site for their academic lives. Through the creation of the Notre Dame Hub, students will be able to share their research and artistic creations, reflect on what they are learning, and discuss new ideas and opportunities.

The Hub will offer that through a centralized online architecture, a core group of students in charge of managing the site and handling editorial responsibility, a faculty advisory group, and content created by students from across the Notre Dame campus.

To get a full description of the Hub Project, including downloading the Hub proposal and examples of the Hub in action, head over to the full PLoS description of the Notre Dame Hub.

Posted in Education, Links | Leave a Comment »

Daniel Lende: Looking for Graduate Students

Posted by dlende on October 17, 2010

Since I am now at the University of South Florida, I can finally mentor some graduate students! I encourage people to apply to the graduate program in anthropology here. USF accepts students at both the masters and the Ph.D. level. If you’re going to start at the Ph.D. level, your masters does not have to be in anthropology.

My research interests fall into three broad areas: neuroanthropology, medical anthropology, and applied social science. Most of my long-term research has focused on substance use and abuse, including the neuroanthropology of addiction, risk and preventive factors for drug use, and the cultural moderation of substance use.

In recent years I’ve broadened that focus to include research on alcohol use, video games, stress, and PTSD. I might also develop a project on frontotemporal dementia. I have also done work on breast cancer and embodiment, new media & technology, and public anthropology. I use both quantitative and qualitative methods, and advocate combining theory-driven work with community-based research.

You can read more about my projects on the Neuroanthropology PLoS site. And here is my departmental website, where you can access my CV. If you want to contact me, please send me an email at dlende at usf dot edu.

The USF anthropology department emphasizes both theory and applied work within anthropology, and uses an interdisciplinary approach in training and mentoring students. Here is a condensed excerpt from the Department’s Mission:

Anthropology is the comparative and global study of humanity which addresses all aspects of human experience. We are committed to understanding global diversity through community-based applied research that is holistic and interdisciplinary.

Here is one of the main things to emphasize about our graduate program:

The Graduate Program at USF aims to develop creative scholars and scientists who will apply their knowledge and skills to contemporary human problems.

The graduate program has both biological and cultural tracks, and includes a concentration in biocultural medical anthropology. You can see my syllabus for my course on Biocultural Medical Anthropology here. You can also get a dual degree, with an MA in anthropology and an MPH in public health.

Click here for information on how to apply to the USF anthropology program. And here is information on financial assistance and scholarships. Applications are due December 15th, 2010.

I advocate that graduate students find both good mentors and a department that broadly fits their interests. The USF anthropology faculty has a range of expertise and interests that are a great complement to what I do.

Faculty specializations include medical anthropology, human biology, urban policy and community development, educational anthropology, media studies, ethnic policies and heritage, economic development, immigration, archaeology, cultural resource management, gender, environment, applied linguistics, and archaeological science. Geographic specializations emphasize the Caribbean, Latin America, United States, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

You can find out more about the major research themes of the department here, including biocultural dimensions of health and illness, material culture, community identity and heritage, communications and education, sustainability and development, and the social and cultural construction of race, ethnicity and gender.

USF includes a range of departments and affiliations that also complement what the anthro faculty and I do. USF Health includes programs in medicine, nursing, and public health. There is a strong department of psychology, a concentration in neuroscience research, and a broad array of other excellent programs in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Locally USF has affiliations with the Florida Mental Health Institute, the Moffitt Cancer Center, and the Veterans’ Hospital.

Please email me at dlende at usf dot edu if you have questions!

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

The Web Instead of Traditional Peer Review?

Posted by dlende on August 24, 2010

That’s a more accurate title, but I really wanted to call this post, Tenure Online?

First off, I wanted to ask the question, what do professors out there think? Can peer-review be open sourced? Is online work getting any credit, or is it still all about traditional peer reviewed articles?

The prompt for this is an article in the NY Times: Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review

The grueling process of subjecting work to the up-or-down judgment of credentialed scholarly peers has been a cornerstone of academic culture since at least the mid-20th century.

Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career-making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience.

The Shakespeare Quarterly is leading the charge over in the Humanities. They handled the open comment process through Media Commons Press, which has the tagline: “Open Scholarship in Open Formats.”

The larger point comes later in the article, and it’s one I hope to hear people’s opinions about:

Today a small vanguard of digitally adept scholars is rethinking how knowledge is understood and judged by inviting online readers to comment on books in progress, compiling journals from blog posts and sometimes successfully petitioning their universities to grant promotions and tenure on the basis of non-peer-reviewed projects.

Posted in Education | 3 Comments »

Susan Blum, Plagiarism, and Anthropology

Posted by dlende on August 2, 2010

Susan Blum, my colleague at Notre Dame, is featured in a NY Times’ article today, Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age. The basic point of the article is that students, in the age of wholesale copying and pasting on the Internet, and a culture with changing notions of authorship, have trouble understanding the academic emphasis on doing one’s work (including writing one’s own words) and citing others for their ideas, data, and other types of work.

Ms. Blum argued that student writing exhibits some of the same qualities of pastiche that drive other creative endeavors today — TV shows that constantly reference other shows or rap music that samples from earlier songs.

In an interview, she said the idea of an author whose singular effort creates an original work is rooted in Enlightenment ideas of the individual. It is buttressed by the Western concept of intellectual property rights as secured by copyright law. But both traditions are being challenged.

“Our notion of authorship and originality was born, it flourished, and it may be waning,” Ms. Blum said.

She contends that undergraduates are less interested in cultivating a unique and authentic identity — as their 1960s counterparts were — than in trying on many different personas, which the Web enables with social networking.

Based on her research with Notre Dame undergraduates, Blum published an enticing book in 2009, My Word!: Plagiarism and College.

Professors are reminded almost daily that many of today’s college students operate under an entirely new set of assumptions about originality and ethics. Practices that even a decade ago would have been regarded almost universally as academically dishonest are now commonplace. Is this development an indication of dramatic shifts in education and the larger culture? In a book that dismisses hand-wringing in favor of a rich account of how students actually think and act, Susan D. Blum discovers two cultures that exist, often uneasily, side by side in the classroom.

Relying extensively on interviews conducted by students with students, My Word! presents the voices of today’s young adults as they muse about their daily activities, their challenges, and the meanings of their college lives… Blum suggests, the real problem of academic dishonesty arises primarily from a lack of communication between two distinct cultures within the university setting. On one hand, professors and administrators regard plagiarism as a serious academic crime, an ethical transgression, even a sin against an ethos of individualism and originality. Students, on the other hand, revel in sharing, in multiplicity, in accomplishment at any cost.

Back in 2009, Susan wrote about her work in an article Academic Integrity and Student Plagiarism: a Question of Education, Not Ethics in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Susan outlined the two main approaches to preventing plagiarism, a moral one generally using honor codes and a disciplinary one requiring greater enforcement by faculty and staff.

Traditional efforts by administrators to prevent plagiarism fail for a number of reasons. For starters, students have only a vague sense of what is meant by the moral quality termed “academic integrity.” Also, rules about intellectual property are in flux.

In addition, our notion of the originality of utterance as the product of the unique, isolated, authentic self had its peak in the 1960s and 1970s. Students today have been immersed in a culture that revels in trying on different personae and sharing freely. There is no inviolable connection between words and the self that produces them. Students are not wedded to the integrity of their own writing and do not necessarily assume that others are either.

Moreover, students are mostly focused on success and achievement, a bottom-line mentality that has helped them gain admittance to the highly selective institutions that are, in fact, trying to enforce the norms of academic citation. If students pursued education for its own sake — as do most professors — they would try to produce academic work that increases learning and to model their behavior on their professors’. But many students don’t especially value the process of classroom learning — so, in fact, any process will do.

She outlines a series of practical steps to increase academic integrity by reducing plagiarism and improving students’ approach to citing others. She concludes:

Treating academic integrity as a constellation of skills, taught largely through the long apprenticeship of higher education, is the most promising approach for getting students to follow the rules of academic citation, and the one with the least likelihood of providing a shortcut. That means teaching students what academic integrity involves, why professors value it, and how exactly to carry it out.

Posted in Education | 4 Comments »

Second annual Neuroscience Boot Camp wants you!

Posted by gregdowney on November 5, 2009

recruits

Not your grandad's boot camp!


Applications are now being accepted for the 2010 Neuroscience Boot Camp at the University of Pennsylvania. For more information, head on over to the Boot Camp website.

Kezia Kamentz dropped me an email and shared that last year’s Boot Camp went really well: “great teachers, a small but very diverse group of students, and a varied set of teaching methods.” Kezia said that they would love to have some anthropologists on board, and I know that there’s a few of you out there. Kezia writes:

Through a combination of lectures, break-out groups, panel discussions and laboratory visits, Boot Camp participants will gain an understanding of the methods of neuroscience and key findings on the cognitive and social-emotional functions of the brain, lifespan development and disorders of brain function. Like last year’s faculty, the 2010 Boot Camp faculty consists of leaders in the fields of cognitive and affective neuroscience who are committed to the goal of educating non-neuroscientists.

For more information.

Posted in Education, Links | Leave a Comment »

Culture and Compulsion: Student Posts 2009

Posted by dlende on June 4, 2009

Compulsion III by Sandra Doore

Compulsion III by Sandra Doore

Here are all the student posts from this year in the order I put them up. As a group they’ve already proven popular, getting attention from a range of high-power sites and social networks. That’s great, and well-deserved!

Below I also outline how I approached this project with my students. If you want to incorporate something similar into your teaching or comparable work, feel free to use and/or adapt these guidelines. Of course any suggestions or alternative approaches are always appreciated. Leave a comment below or email me at dlende at nd dot edu

The List

Why Do They Do It? Portrayals of Alcohol on Facebook and MySpace

Gambling and Compulsion: Neurobiology Meets Casinos

What’s the Dope on Music and Drugs?

Tobacco Worse Than Cocaine?

Caught in the Net – The Internet & Compulsion

Lights, Camera… Alcohol?

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Can Videogames Actually Be Good For You?

The New Performance Enhancing Drugs

These nine posts join the eight from last year, which went from understanding brain imaging to the differences between men and women drinking on campus – those were rounded up in Why A Final Essay When We Can Do This?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Addiction, Education, Links | 5 Comments »

The New Performance Enhancing Drugs

Posted by dlende on June 4, 2009

Enhanced Brain
By Andrew Hessert, Andrew Medvecz, Jimmy Miller, Jacquelyn Richard

Barry Bonds elevated his game to the next level with “the clear” and “the cream”, shattering legendary records in the process. Are scientists, students, and other academics about to do the same?

While stars such as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi continue to defend themselves against their alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, a new debate over the use of a different kind of performance-enhancing drug has begun to rage in the scientific world.
Barry Bonds Pumped Up
Cognitive enhancers like Adderall and Ritalin have commonly been used as a treatment for behavioral disorders such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. However, these drugs are now becoming popular “performance enhancing” substances for healthy individuals trying to gain a competitive edge by boosting their overall cognitive function.

Henry Greely, a Stanford Law Professor, advocates for unrestricted availability of these drugs, claiming the enhancers will level the “cognitive playing field” and spark a new era of increased innovation. But Greely and other advocates fail to recognize the severe personal and societal consequences that such availability would generate, looking instead to a pharmaceutical solution that would, in the end, cause more problems than it would solve.

How They Work

Ritalin and Adderall have been on the market since the 1960s to treat conditions like ADD and ADHD (Center for Substance Abuse Research, 2005). While the specific mechanisms of these disorders have yet to be fully elucidated, cognitive enhancers have been successful in controlling or mitigating symptoms in patients. Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Adderall (dextroamphetamine) both inhibit dopamine reuptake, allowing dopamine signals to remain active for longer periods of time (Jones, Joseph, Barak, Caron, & Wightman, 1999). Provigil (modafinil), an alternative to the potentially addictive dopaminergic drugs, operates in similar fashion, but instead blocks reuptake of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Neural plasticity, Skill acquisition, Medical anthropology, Education, Brain Mechanisms | 16 Comments »

Triune Ethics: On Neurobiology and Multiple Moralities

Posted by dlende on May 15, 2009

Darcia Narvaez
Editor’s Note: The following essay by Darcia Narvaez is based on her paper Triune Ethics: The Neurobiological Roots of Our Multiple Moral Personalities, which was part of the Notre Dame Symposium on Character and Moral Personality. You can obtain all the conference papers online, including Daniel Cervone, Ross Thompson, Dan McAdams, and others.

Darcia Narvaez is associate professor of psychology at Notre Dame and executive director of the Notre Dame Collaboration for Ethical Education.

Triune Ethics: The Neurobiological Roots of Our Multiple Moral Personalities

By Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D.

Triune Ethics is an interdisciplinary theory whose goals are to link moral psychology to affective neuroscience, help explain individual differences in moral functioning, and suggest some initial conditions for moral development. It is also an approach that can be linked to social relationships, conditions and situations, thus providing a biosocial view of moral action.

Three types of ethics can drive human morality, as I outline in this 2008 paper on neurobiology and our multiple moralities (pdf). These are based on different affectively-based moral stances that persons can take: one oriented to security (the Ethic of Security) and focused on self-preservation through safety, and personal and ingroup dominance. Another is oriented to emotional engagement with others (the Ethic of Engagement), particularly through caring relationships and social bonds. The third I call the Ethic of Imagination, which is focused on creative ways to think and act socially. While these labels are not all inclusive, they do seem to capture three different ways of co-existing with others in the social landscape.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Brain Mechanisms, Education, Psychological anthropology | 3 Comments »

Raising IQ: Nicholas Kristof Meets Richard Nisbett

Posted by dlende on April 16, 2009

intelligence-and-how-to-get-it
Nicholas Kristof has an op-ed today, How to Raise Our I.Q. He opens with a standard version of the individual meritocracy argument, that IQ is largely inherited:

Poor people have I.Q.’s significantly lower than those of rich people, and the awkward conventional wisdom has been that this is in large part a function of genetics. After all, a series of studies seemed to indicate that I.Q. is largely inherited. Identical twins raised apart, for example, have I.Q.’s that are remarkably similar. They are even closer on average than those of fraternal twins who grow up together.

If intelligence were deeply encoded in our genes, that would lead to the depressing conclusion that neither schooling nor antipoverty programs can accomplish much. Yet while this view of I.Q. as overwhelmingly inherited has been widely held, the evidence is growing that it is, at a practical level, profoundly wrong.

Kristof cites Richard Nisbett’s new book Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count. I covered some of Nisbett’s work in the post IQ, Environment and Anthropology, and Jim Holt gave a strong review of the book recently in the NY Times. The publisher’s home page simply says that this book is a “bold refutation of the belief that genes determine intelligence.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Developmental psychology, Education, Inequality, Learning | 8 Comments »

Brain Books for Kids

Posted by dlende on February 24, 2009

your-brain-by-anita-ganeriMy eight year old son just wrapped up his science presentation project for school, a large poster that he’ll share with his class and then judges at the school’s version of a Science Fair. His topic? How the Brain Works.

A great topic, of course! Maybe a tad ambitious (!), but just the sort of question you want kids to ask. So I was excited to show off my Internet skills and get him hooked into some sites to help explain the brain to a growing boy. Paul outlined a bunch of them in his post Brain School.

But none of them did the trick! My son wasn’t particularly interested in them, the explanations and graphics didn’t always seem accessible, and I came away a little frustrated with the state of neuroscience for kids on the internet.

We had better luck at the local library, so I’m detailing the four most useful books below. If there are other books you like, please leave a comment! It would be great to build a resource. And if there is a great Internet site out there that your kid really hooked into, then tell us about that too.

Here are the boosk with Amazon links:

Anita Ganeri (2003). Your Brain. Gareth Stevens Publishing and part of the How Your Body Works series.
-This book was short, with vivid illustrations and language that my son got – it was the one he drew on the most to get the basics down for his presentation.

HP Newquist (2004). The Great Brain Book: An Inside Look at the Inside of Your Head. Scholastic Reference.
-A more encyclopediac book, covering history, evolution, the brain itself, treatment and more. It’s more text oriented, but does have good illustrations. Amazon plugs it for ages 9-12, but the School Library Review says Grade 7 and beyond.

Michael DiSpezio (2004). How Bright Is Your Brain? Amazing Games to Play with Your Mind. Sterling Publishing.
-It gets info across using kid-friendly drawings, but also focuses on activities kids can do to help understand their brains. Definitely some fun ones, and a good way to introduce some ideas about experiments.

Steve Parker (2006). Control Freak: Hormones, The Brain, and the Nervous System. Raintree.
-This book has more photos and focuses on what the brain does. Good stuff on the senses and movement.

Posted in Education | 3 Comments »

 
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