Wednesday Round Up #30

This week it’s gaming, mental health, academia, technology, the brain, and anthropology.

Video Games

Heather Chaplin, Xbox’s ‘Braid’ Is a Surprise Hit, for Surprising Reasons
NPR on Braid, a “game grownups can play” and a “meditation on the meaning of life”

Clive Thompson, How Video Games Blind Us with Science
Do kids practice science when they play? Professor and gamer Constance Steinkuehler argues yes

Maggie Greene, UC Irvine Gets Grant to Study WoW
World of Warcraft in US and the China – will culture matter?

The Brainy Gamer, Brilliant
Engagement, obsession, immesion? How about open worlds and the ability to express yourself!

The Game Anthropologist, Games’ Influencing of Players
“The long and short of it? The game makes the player.”

Cognitive Daily, The Bloodier the Game, The More Hostile the Gamer
Mortal Kombat settings and a one-game study – the bloodier the game play, the more violent the resulting thoughts. So, are players after that arousal gap? And with the sword, are they looking for that bloody spray? And here context (in game only) helps shape resulting experience.
So, interesting results but various ways to interpret what players are doing and experiencing

Mental Health

Sarah Kershaw, Girl Talk Has Its Limits
Teenage girls and co-rumination – or wallowing in sorrows and anxieties together

Serendip, Mental Health and the Brain
A discussion over at Bryn Mawr college this fall

Richard Perez-Pena, The Sports Whisperer, Probing Psychic Wounds
Gary Smith and the wounds and obsessions and stories of athletes

Clara Moskowitz, Social Isolation Makes People Cold, Literally
Rejected people feel colder. Is it all metaphor and embodied reactions? Benedict Carey at the NY Times also covers the same research in A Cold Stare Can Make You Crave Some Heat

Mind Hacks, A History of the History of Madness
Was Foucault all that?

Jennifer Egan, The Bipolar Puzzle
NY Times Magazine feature article on manic-depression in children. Furious Seasons outlines 12 problems with the feature article!

Benedict Carey, Risks Found for Youths in New Antipsychotics
“the medicines most often prescribed for schizophrenia in children and adolescents are no more effective than older, less expensive drugs and are more likely to cause some harmful side effects”

Ronald Pies, Redefining Depression as Mere Sadness
Has psychiatry made a pathology of normal and even appropriate emotions? One doctor’s informed reflections

BPS Research Digest Blog, An Oliver Sachs Case Study Brought to Life on Stage
The review of the play Reminiscence, which had consultation by Vaughan Bell of Mind Hacks

Belinda Goldsmith, Porn Passed Over as Users Become Social
Social networking now hotter than online porn! Who has time to look at adult sites when you are networking? And more trivia from a recent data miner


Janet Rae-Dupree, When Academia Puts Profit Ahead of Wonder
NY Times article on the increasingly profit-motive university

Noam Cohen, Don’t Buy that Textbook, Download It Free
Will online textbooks shape up the high-priced monolith of university textbooks?

David Gesner, Those Who Write, Teach
Nice reflection on being a writer and becoming a teacher – for financial support and then for engaging with students

Alexandra Star, The Case Study: Barack Obama
What does Obama’s teaching tell us about the man and his politics?

Technology and Other Demons

Damon Darlin, Technology Doesn’t Dumb Us Down. It Frees Our Minds.
Critical reaction to the essay, Is Google Making Us Stupid? My take: We might be more distracted, but we’re also more productive…

Neurophilosophy, Science Blogging Article and Paper
Whether technology is making us stupid or more productive (or both), blogging is changing the way science is communicated and understood publicly. So a couple published papers on this, and of course science bloggers react!

Brandon Keim, Neuropolitics Researchers Accused of Liberal Bias
Wired reports on the latest neuro-controversy, more conservative people might have a higher startle response (i.e., you’re supposed to read, are more fearful…). The initial argument is made at Slate, Mind Hacks has a critical reaction, and Wired gives the latest blow-by-blow.
Except this one! The Neurocritic provides links to the popular coverage, important background information from Gene Expression and John Hawks, and then another two cents!

The Brain

Scicurious, Humans in Love
Another take on vasopressin, men and monogamy, with some of the best lines yet – “I can just see it now, next month’s Cosmo: “How to tell if your man has enough AVP1A, is this relationship over?” “10 Ways to please a man with low AVP1A”…ugh…”
Plus, Neurotopia is now at version 2.0, and unites the Evil Monkey and Scicurious into one evil curious creature

Robert Burton, My Candidate, Myself
On being certain, about oneself and one’s candidate, and why that is sometimes wrong

The Neurocritic, Jumping Into the Salon on Cerebral Asymmetry and Sexual Orientation
More from the critic on the assumptions behind the “gay brain”

Mind Hacks, Neuroaesthetics and the State of the Art
Vaughan covers Mo’s new Seed article on beauty and the brain, and more besides

Deric Bownds, Development of Sharing in Human Children
Going from selfish to fair – a human developmental trait


The Frontal Cortex, Magical Thinking
Jonah Lehrer takes on the lack of fundamental religious belief (i.e., doctrine) and the openness to “alternative” ways of thinking

Marshall Sahlins, Leslie White
Biography of a great one by a great one – Leslie White and his cultural evolution

Henry Fountain, Neanderthals Took Hunt for Food to the Sea
Seafood lovers unite! (Do you also have red hair…? A sure Neanderthal then) Neanderthals ate “mussels and other mollusks, fish and even marine mammals like seals and dolphins.” So not just red meat!

Phil McKenna, It Takes Just One Village to Save a Species
Worth the click just to see the wonderful photo of a mother and baby langur. But also a great article on how primate conservation is a group effort: “combined all the elements — protection, research, ecotourism, good relations with the local community; he’s really turned the langur into a flagship for the region.”

Culture Matters, Dori Tunstall – Anthropology and Design
An interview with a well-known practitioner of convergence

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