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Wednesday Round Up #118

Posted by dlende on September 1, 2010

Those of you looking for our weekly round up, you can now find it at PLoS Neuroanthropology – Wednesday Round Up #118.

That’s right – we’ve moved over to PLoS Blogs! Well, for the most part. Greg and I will be doing our main blogging over there now. More in just a bit about the move.

Here’s the link to our main Neuroanthropology page there. Please update your subscriptions. We really look forward to having you over there. This is a very exciting move for all of us.

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Suggestions for the Wednesday Round Ups???

Posted by dlende on August 25, 2010

I just posted the latest Wednesday round up. Since coming back from a summer hiatus, I’ve tried to mix things up a little bit. Well, really added more features – a photo at the beginning, video in the middle, a personal note, a poem or some literary tidbit at the end. Do you like these additions? Have any other suggestions for the Wednesday round ups?

Also, how important is the Wed round up for you? It takes a fair amount of work to put together, rarely posts huge numbers… I guess my question is whether it’s too long. Would you prefer to have shorter round ups? Or any other ideas?

Please leave a comment, or send me an email if you want. daniel.lende over at gmail dot com

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Wednesday Round Up #117

Posted by dlende on August 25, 2010

This week the top, then anthro, mind, and alcohol and drugs as a chaser. I stuck the mini-reflection piece after the top. And there’s a little poetry at the end.

The photo is an x-ray of a dozen roses, taken by Hugh Turvey. You can see more of Hugh Turvey’s work over at CNTV.

Thanks to my graduate assistant Naheed Ahmed for helping put this one together.

Top of the List

Rebecca Seligman & Ryan Brown, Theory and Method at the Intersection of Anthropology and Cultural Neuroscience
Abstract for a strong article on how the fields of anthropology and neuroscience can collaborate in understanding the human brain and its socio-cultural context.

Floyd Bloom et al., A Judge’s Guide to Neuroscience: A Concise Introduction
Can the field of neuroscience help the legal system in determining a defendant’s culpability? This question along with others is explored in a comprehensive introduction to neuroscience.

Philip Swift, The Octopus: Eight Footnotes
Tentacles galore! Octopus references in Japanese culture, anthropological theories, and the World Cup.

Melody Dye, Don’t Bite: In Sum, Dear Readers
Irresistible discussion of “self control” based on research with children and their ability to refrain from eating cookies. Really, you need to give in and go read it!

Jef Akst, I Hate Your Paper
Ever had a paper rejected by a journal for unfair reasons? In this article, Akst examines problems with the peer review system and possible solutions.

Impact Lab, Top 10 Photos of the Week
Some funny pictures of cowboy training, a “green” RV, stadium seating in North Korea, and more… I needed that after the rejection.

Neuroantropologia
Get your neuroanthropology in Italian, flavored towards the neuro side.

Bill Yates, Neuroscience of Murder and Aggression: Part 1
A commentary on the TEDs talk by Jim Fallon, the neuroscientist who found that he had neurological traces of a pattern found in murderers. It provides a nice discussion of multiple causation, cultural reinforcement and cultural buffering.

Livia Blackburne, How Language Affects Thought — plus book giveaway!
Discusses two recent studies where studies in which subjects’ natal language affected ability to answer time related questions after answering spatial ones (English v. Mandarin Chinese) and gender-related associations with words that had grammatical gender in Spanish and German.

Rob Mitchum, The Disparity of Pills
Covers a recent study that explored disparity in medication use by patients based on ethnic group. The take-away: even allowing for income, education and access to insurance, the statistical difference between majority and minority populations persisted, suggesting that pharmaceutical access is affected by other, possibly harder to quantify, factors

Interlude

I woke up too early, thoughts of my class, posts, emails, and articles cluttering my mind. I sat at the computer, no coffee, and soon after got the Blue Screen of Death. Would that my mind could suffer that same crash, rebooting against the clutter, or at least finding sleep. But such design is not my or Microsoft’s strength. But at the least I can wish for purity of purpose.

Anthropology

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Wednesday Round Up #116

Posted by dlende on August 18, 2010

I took the dogs outside this morning, and the air turned liquid. Drops of rain fell in the trees, Tampa’s humidity condensed amid leaves and branches. The stars gleamed hazy through the trees, and the two dogs sniffed their way around the yard. A frog called beside the house. I walked down the driveway, looked at the other neighbors’ trash, and still I smiled.

I found this apropos photo, a Cuban tree frog photographed by James Snyder in southern Florida, and originally featured on National Geographic’s Daily Dozen. Find out what he had to say about the shot over at Neatorama.

This week I’ve done my favs, then an excellent selection on culture and cognition. After that some health, some anthropology, some cognition, some A. afarensis tool use. Cannabis and the Last Word, a poem this time, finish it off.

I had a lot of help from my new graduate assistant Ethel Saryee in putting this round up together. So thanks to her!

Top of the List

Brian Mossop, The Brains of Our Fathers: Does Parenting Rewire Dads?
Uh oh, my sons have reprogrammed me! Must be why I love playing video games with them… (Not sure my wife will buy that…) Very nice piece on neural plasticity, development, and father-son relationships over at Scientific American

Melody Dye, A Thinking Machine: On Metaphors of the Mind
Are we pre-programmed spreadsheets or search algorithms? Metaphors matter, because they can dictate our assumptions.

Paul Thagard, Why Cognitive Science Needs Philosophy and Vice Versa
Cognitive science and philosophy NEED each other. In this article (pdf), critiques of rationalist, analytic, and postmodern approaches while talking about how to do synthesis.

Awkward Family Photos – Hall of Fame
Oh, these made me laugh!

PZ Myers, Ray Kurzweil Does Not Understand the Brain
Pharyngula takes the computer guru to task for claiming he’ll be able to reverse engineer the brain in a decade. My favorite line:

To simplify it so a computer science guy can get it, Kurzweil has everything completely wrong. The genome is not the program; it’s the data. The program is the ontogeny of the organism, which is an emergent property of interactions between the regulatory components of the genome and the environment, which uses that data to build species-specific properties of the organism.

Vaughan Bell, A Gut Reaction to Moral Transgressions
Mind Hacks on how gut feelings and reactions can be the “unrecognised basis of moral judgements and social customs”

David Harvey, RSA Animate – Crises of Capitalism
An animated Marxist perspective! The graphical animation alone is worth it, but Harvey’s analysis is as illustrative as the drawings.

Psychology around the World

Ed Yong, Genes and Culture: OXTR Gene Influences Social Behaviour Differently in Americans and Koreans
Not Exactly Rocket Science on some intriguing research: “In both cases, the G carriers were more sensitive to the social conventions of their own cultures. But the differences between these conventions led to different behaviour.”

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Wednesday Round Up #115

Posted by dlende on August 11, 2010


I’m baaack… The last Wednesday round up was May 5th. I am now safely esconsed in Tampa, and getting started at the University of South Florida. Definitely excited about what’s to come, with a great anthropology department, an emphasis on integrated neuroscience research, and a lot of support for interdisciplinary work.

It’s also been a lot of fun for Greg and myself to get back in gear with Neuroanthropology.net. There’s even better stuff to come, believe me. But for now it’s time to get back to the Wednesday round ups.

I’ll probably play around with things a little bit over the coming weeks. I haven’t used photos that often before, but a little image always brightens the day. Today’s comes from Pedro Gaspa, it’s called Retorcida; here’s his Flickr site. I also might try some longer and more integrated descriptions. Yesterday’s post, Death Becomes Us, actually started as a short meditation on a collection of links, but then ballooned into something robust enough for a short post.

And if you have any ideas for how to make the Wednesday round up better, or even reads that you might want to suggest, just send them over to encultured . brain @ gmail . com – yeah, take out the spaces.

And now below – some favs, mind, misc, anthro, video games, and addiction. Doing some of my consistent interests this time round. Plus a new surprise at the end. Enjoy!

Top of the List

Paul Rozin, What Kind of Empirical Work Should We Publish, Fund and Reward?
The esteemed psychologist, who really has been one of the most interdisciplinary minds of the past couple decades about human behavior, publishes a critique (pdf) of the narrow, lab-based, experimental-focus of psychology. Descriptive work is needed! (And I’d add that ethnography is a fundamental way to begin that descriptive work.)
For commentary, see Mind Hacks and Culture & Cognition

Culture Evolves
Website for one of the Royal Society’s 350th Anniversary Summer Science Exposition, which focuses on a group of leading researchers on how culture evolves. That evolution comes in two varieties, first research that shows cultural traditions in animals and second cumulative progress and change in human culture. You can access lots of information on some of the main case studies, including chimpanzees, meerkats, and laboratory microsocieties.
Andrew Whiten, an esteemed scientist in this area, provides a nice video introduction to the whole Culture Evolves project

Stephen Colbert, Threat StandDown – Monkey Terrorism
Very humorous video over at Colbert Nation, debunking the monkeys trained by Taliban to be terrorists story promoted by, well, you can guess it…

Angela Stuesse, African Human Rights Defenders or Colonialists? Seeking Justice in Equatorial Guinea
Angela’s a new colleague of mine at USF. Here she writes about corruption and poverty – the president of Equatorial Guinea is giving 3 million dollars away for an international prize competition even as his country suffers greatly. Includes some striking photos.

Mind

Daphne Merkin, My Life in Therapy
In this NY Times Magazine essay, Merkin describes her encounters with therapy over 40 years of treatment, and reflects on what makes therapy tick and why she continues to go. This is a follow-up piece to her earlier essay, A Journey through Darkness, a haunting account of her life-long struggles with depression

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Wednesday Round Up #114

Posted by dlende on May 5, 2010

First off I want to thank my great student assistant Casey Dolezal for all her hard work supporting the Wednesday round-up since last September. She’s been a huge help!

And now onto the news. I’ll start with the good part. I am taking an associate professor position in anthropology at the University of South Florida starting in August. I’m really excited, as I’ll have a wonderful new set of colleagues, graduate students (finally!), and access to great people working in the medicine, public health, and neuroscience. Should be a big benefit for pushing forward with interdisciplinary work of all sorts!

The bad part, at least for you guys, is that I’ve decided to take a hiatus from doing the Wednesday round up until early September. Basically Casey has spoiled me! So now I want to have another student to help out, and that won’t happen for a few months. But it’s also because I have to move to Tampa over the summer, as well as push forward with our volume on neuroanthropology (yes, Greg and I are plugging away on that!) as well as my own book on addiction. That’s an extremely full plate! I’ll still be doing the occasional post, along with Greg and Paul and others, so no worries – there will still be plenty of good content flowing through here.

Top of the List

Palgrave Macmillan, BioSocieties, Special Issue: Drugs, Addiction and Society
An excellent special issue that is entirely free right now! Here is the opening overview “Drugs, Addiction and Society” (pdf) by Deanne Dunbar, Howard Kushner and Scott Vrecko.
Kushner kicks the issue off with “Toward a Cultural Biology of Addiction” and David Courtwright finishes with “The NIDA Brain Disease Paradigm: History, Resistance and Spinoffs.” In between there is neurobiology, history, development, public health, and more!

Vaughan Bell, The Politics of Social Engineering
Politics, social engineering and the use of mimes as a traffic calming measure in Bogotá!

Mara Altman, Rutgers Lab Studies Female Orgasm Through Brain Imaging
This newspaper reporter donates an orgasm for science! A very effective mix of personal experience, reporting, and science writing about neuroimaging and the state of the art in research on orgasms.

Christina Pikas, Review of an Article Using Bibliometric + Qual Methods to Study Sub-Discipline Collaboration Behavior
Pikas reflects on a piece where the authors coalesce network analysis of the co-authorship network with qualitative interviews with the scientists to look at intergroup collaboration, migrations, and exchange of services or samples.

NDtv, James McKenna: The Last Lecture Series
Featuring Professor James McKenna, Professor of Anthropology and the director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab. As a world-renowned social scientist, a teacher of Irish tap dance, and one of Notre Dame’s most beloved teachers, Professor McKenna has impacted the lives of many. Here he shares his wisdom in an online video.

Power Trip

Ed Yong, Power Breeds Hypocrisy – Powerful People Judge Others More Harshly but Cheat More Themselves
Five experiments show that powerful people are more likely to behave immorally but paradoxically less likely to tolerate immorality in other people.

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Wednesday Round Up #113

Posted by dlende on April 28, 2010

This week I do a mini feature in the top of the list on behavioral health, then give some other favs, before giving a quite nice collection of video game links – and believe me, it’s about more than just video games. Then it’s anthropology and the mind. Enjoy!

Top of the List – Behavioral Health

All right, let me start off by saying that behavioral health matters. It really matters. Recent research is showing that “bad habits” add up to have a big impact. And the latest research doesn’t even include things like injury & violence, which are the greatest mortality threat for healthy teenagers and young adults, or depression, which has a large impact on behavioral health as well. Onto the links.

Harvard Press Release, Four Preventable Risk Factors Reduce Life Expectancy in U.S. and Lead to Health Disparities
Smoking, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose and overweight and obesity currently reduce life expectancy in the U.S. by 4.9 years in men and 4.1 years in women.

For similar research, the Associated Press gets in on the fun with Bad Habits Can Age You by 12 Years, Study Suggests. Those habits are smoking, drinking too much, inactivity, and poor diet.

Over at Brain Blogger, Jennifer Gibson reports on Health Behaviors More Important than Socioeconomic Status, where longitudinal research shows that it’s actually health behaviors that have a greater impact on morbidity and mortality that overall socioeconomic status.

Other Top Pieces

Katie Moisse, Good Teachers Really Do Make a Difference
Science shows that teachers play a leading role in helping kids’ reading skills soar.

Ian Sample, Chimps’ Emotional Response to Death Caught on Film
Chimpanzees grieve too. Features a powerful video.

Tara Parker-Pope, Little-Known Disorder Can Take a Toll on Learning
Auditory processing disorder, and how hearing affects so many things related to learning

Charlie Rose, Charlie Rose Brain Series
The PBS series on the study of the human brain is now online, with great videos freely available. Top scientists and researchers are interviewed.

Vaughan Bell, Cultures of Foreplay
Cultural variation in common or acceptable sexual practices and it touches on how foreplay differs between societies.

Video Games

Associated Press, Justices Take Case on Video Game Law
Supreme Court will consider the issue of violence in video games and the scope of free speech when considering a California law that aimed to limit the sale of violent video games to minors. The video game site Kotaku also covers this in US Supreme Court to Review Game Ratings Law, where lots of readers weigh in with their opinions. And over at NPR’s The Diane Rehm show there was an excellent program today on Violent Video Games.

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Wednesday Round Up #112

Posted by dlende on April 21, 2010

This week it goes top, sports, mind, war, anthropology, and health.

Top of the List

Ed Yong, Williams Syndrome Children Show No Racial Stereotypes or Social Fear
People with Williams Syndrome are incredibly social and lack racial bias. The loss of about 26 genes make this possible.

Todd Meyers, Special Issue of Ethos on Autism
The latest Ethos is a special issue on “Rethinking Autism, Rethinking Anthropology”, guest edited by Nancy Bagatell and Olga Solomon, and includes articles by scholars like Elinor Ochs and Sharon Kaufman.

John Horgan, Can Brain Scans Help Us Understand Homer?
A critical reaction over at Scientific American to the recent New York Times piece that approvingly examined how some literary scholars are turning to neuroscience and evolutionary psychology for insight.

NPR, Nobel Winner Rethinks Business from Ground Up
Social business! Muhammad Yunus’ ideas about lending to the poor have changed lives in his native Bangladesh and beyond.

Sports

Jonah Lehrer, Don’t Choke
The superstar effect – choking and performance anxiety – is discussed. Can anything be done to prevent choking?

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Wednesday Round Up #111

Posted by dlende on April 14, 2010

This week it’s a bit of war in between the top and anthropology & mind.

Top of the List

David Schneider, Your Internet Brain’s on Coleridge
“The questions that neurobiologists and cognitive psychologists are contending with today, Coleridge was wrestling with in the early 19th century via minute observations of his own mind in the process of thinking and perceiving. The similarities are sometimes startling.”

Paul Ehrlich, On Closing the Culture Gap
Human activity is destructive at a massive scale – climate change, nuclear conflict, biodiversity loss. We need to combine the humanities and the sciences to better understand and address our own actions. For more, see Seed’s Are We Beyond the Two Cultures?

Ed Yong, Dangerous DNA: The Truth About the ‘Warrior Gene’
The story of one gene epitomizes popular misconceptions about how our DNA shapes us. But it can also teach some crucial lessons, says Ed Yong.

Ryan Anderson, Model Behavior
Looking at experimental economics and ethnography, and considering the limitations of both

Dirk Hanson, Impulsivity and Addiction
The dangers of a hypersensitive dopamine structure.

Evgeny Morozov and Clay Shirky , Digital Power and Its Discontents
A debate with Evgeny Morozov and Clay Shirky on the subjects of dictators, democracy, Twitter revolutionaries, and the role of the Internet and social software in political lives of people living under authoritarian regimes.

War

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, Hardly Existential: Thinking Rationally About Terrorism
Many people hold that terrorism poses an existential threat to the United States. Yet actual statistics suggests that it presents an acceptable risk — one so low that spending to further decrease its likelihood or consequences is scarcely validated.

Benedict Carey, Psychologists Explain Iraq Airstrike Video
Many veterans have made the point that fighters cannot do their jobs without generating psychological distance from the enemy. It’s almost like they’re playing a video game. They have to do this so that the people don’t seem real.

Anthropology

Nadia Sussman, Bodies Altered in Pursuit of Beauty
“The worldwide pursuit of body improvement has become like a new religion,” Zed Nelson, a photographer, says. Pictures included.

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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

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