Wednesday Round Up #12


Alexis Madrigal, Is Meth a ‘Smart Drug’?
Got to do my own promo… Wired is pretty cool

Not Exactly Rocket Science, Brain-enhancing Drugs Work by Focusing Brain Activity… For Better or Worse
A more brain-based take on the same thing: cognitive enhancers and context

Jonah Lehrer, The Hidden Cost of Smart Drugs
“Enhancement” and the loss of creativity

Vaughan Bell, How Neurotech Will Change the World, One Brain at a Time
“drugs and devices to cure diseases and optimise our brains”

Natasha Mitchell, Quitting the Habit: Neurobiology, Addiction and the Insidious Ciggie
The latest on smoking—quite a good show. Note that the transcript has lots of good links.

SparkNotes, Theories of Addiction
SparkNotes are study guides put together by Barnes & Noble. This one provides an overview of some basic psychobiological models.


Andy Coghlan, Religion a Figment of Human Imagination
Anthropologist Maurice Bloch argues that religion driven by imagination, not social cohesion

Scott London, The Ecology of Magic
Interview with David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous

Scott Atran, The Religious Politics of Fictive Kinship
“friendship and others aspects of small group dynamics, especially acting together, trumping most everything else”

Heather Smith, Procrastinators without Borders
“Did perhaps just one anthropologist ever think to ask a penis-gourd-wearer if he wakes up some days and thinks he’s going to make a new penis gourd, but instead this happens and that happens, and making the new gourd just gets put off, along with everything else that he’s supposed to be doing, until he feels terrible and the only option seems to be to move to a place where no one notices that his gourd is outmoded?”

Science Daily, Having Less Power Impairs the Mind and the Ability to Get Ahead, Study Shows
Can we say unequal playing field?

John Judis, The Big Race
Obama and the political psychology of the color barrier

Scott McLemee, Becoming Richard Rorty
The sociology of ideas: “a study of how institutional forces shape an intellectual’s sense of personal identity, and vice versa.”

Winnie Hu, District Puts All the World in Classrooms
“integrating international studies into every aspect of its curriculum”

John Noble Wilford, Project Digitizes Works from the Golden Age of Timbuktu
Bringing the intellectual treasures of the crossroads city to the world

John Jackson, Some Thoughts About Ethnography…
Ethnography and the mash-up of anthropology and sociology

Embodied Cognition

Art Glenberg, Embodied Cognition: Thinking with the Body
“The latest research in embodied cognition demonstrates just how entangled the body and brain are.”

Ginger Campbell, Art Glenberg on Embodied Cognition
A great podcast for your aural pleasure

Alison Motluck, How the Brain Detects the Emotions of Others
Mirror neurons, mimicry and emotion

Naomi Rokotnitz, Constructing Cognitive Scaffolding Through Embodied Receptiveness
Cognitive interaction, vision, and the scaffolding of learning

Science and Politics

Michael Gerson, A Phony ‘War on Science’
Bashing the Republican science-bashers

Furious Seasons, Drug Czar Plays Politics With Mental Illness, Suicide And Marijuana
Hypocrisy, not science, leads the day in new government report on marijuana and mental illness

Steven Pinker, The Stupidity of Dignity
Pinker takes on Bush’s Council of Bioethics. For more, see the Neurocritic.


Marco Iacoboni, Mental Mirrors
Natural History article on mirror neurons: “the basis of empathy and social connections”; also has a podcast

Michael Shermer, The Brain Is Not Modular: What fMRI Really Tells Us
Overcoming modularity metaphors coupled to technological limitations: “brain-scan pseudoscience”

Kevin McKeever, Money, Praise Similarly Activate Brain’s Reward Center
“Your brain may be telling you to be nice because it will pay off — financially or socially”; or, dopamine does it all; see Neurocritic’s take here

Science Daily, New Insights into the Dynamics of the Brain’s Cortex
“a direct link between activity in the cortex and the microscopic structure of this neuronal network”—very cool

Sara Reistad-Long, Older Brain May Really Be Wiser Brain
“the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit”

Deric Bownds, The MRI of Morality?
Hume and Kant duke it out in a mind-reading machine?


Alvaro Fernandez, Can Intelligence Be Trained? Martin Buschkuehl Shows How
Through a “a challenging computer-based cognitive training regimen”

Natasha Mitchell, Can Science Measure Happiness?
All in the Mind program leads roundtable of two Buddhists, two scientists, and one philosopher.

Malcolm Gladwell, Who Says Big Ideas Are Rare?
Author of The Tipping Point takes on intellectual history and modern-day “invention sessions” (group brainstorming by really smart people) in a New Yorker essay

David Dobbs, Claudius Conrad, A Surgeon Who Performs With A Scapel
Piano playing, growth hormone, and the neuroanthropology of healing

Laura Freberg, Diet Vs. Exercise
You can’t lead a horse to water, but can you get a mouse on a treadmill?

Ben Silverman, Video Games Turn Kids into Killers? Not So, Says New Book
“Just because you play as a criminal doesn’t mean you’ll become one”

Richard Corrigan, Freedom and Neurobiology by John Searle
An engaging review of Searle’s latest book

Sarah Stillman, Suicide Watch
Depression, trauma, and suicide—considering the long-term toll of the Iraq War (lots of good commentary on this one)

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