Wednesday Round Up #34

This week we’ve got a literary theme, plus the brain, mental health, and anthropology.

Top of the List

Carl Zimmer, Searching for Intelligence in Our Genes
The prominent science writer takes on new research about this controversial topic in a Scientific American report

Vaughan Bell @ Mind Hacks, Colombian Congress of Psychiatry Report
Vaughan visits Bogotá, my old stomping grounds, and comes back with some auditory hallucinations after dancing on tables. Wait until he goes to Cartagena!

Simon Romero, Acclaimed Colombian Institution Has 4,800 Books and 10 Legs
The Biblioburro! Two burros and one man bring literacy and literature to the rural areas of Colombia. Horacio Quiroga, first author mentioned in the article, is a fantastic writer; here is his tale Anaconda.

Ginger Campbell, Brain Science Podcast #47: Introduction to Brain Evolution
Ginger discusses the work of Georg Striedter, a leader in his field who uses a comparative and cross-species approach to this area of research. She brings us an excellent historical overview and explanation of what we know about brain evolution!

Margaret Atwood, A Matter of Life and Debt
The acclaimed novelist writes about debt, fairness and our humanity in this worthy op-ed


John Cleese, A Poem for Sean Hannity
Cleese pans the conservative talk show host

Edward Rothstein, Exhibition Review – Ambivalence as Part of Author’s Legacy
Irène Némirovsky, the author of Suite Francaise, and the contradictions of her work, her life and her times on display

Joel Parthemore, Review – Body Consciousness
Metapsychology review of the book Body Consciousness: A Philosophy of Mindfulness and Somaesthetics by Richard Shusterman – embodiment for philosophers!

Lee Siegel, Unsafe at Any Read
“If great literature is so great, why is it that if you act on anything great literature tells you about life, you’re in big trouble? I mean, big trouble.”

Diane Rehm Show, Two Former US Poet Laureates Discuss Their Work and the State of Poetry in America
A good NPR show through the distinctive voice and insightful questioning of Diane Rehm

Harold Bloom, Out of Panic, Self-Reliance
Returning to Ralph Waldo Emerson in this time of economic crisis

The Brain

Richard Knox/NPR, Chocolate Milkshakes on the Brain
Genetic variation in dopamine response and blunted dopamine reactions to a chocolate milkshake while in an fMRI scanner – do certain people want more but get less pleasure? And does that affect weight gain? Yahoo also reports on the “brain’s reaction to yummy food,” with more quotes from notable scientists

Laurie Bartels, Teaching Is the Art of Changing Your Brain
James Zull’s proposals for teaching, building on David Kolb’s work on experiential learning. Zull provides some biology to experiential learning, and includes 10 strategies for teaching

Neurophilosophy, Brain-Muscle Interface Helps Paralysed Monkeys Move
A new approach, where single cells can drive muscle movements through a relatively simple brain-body interface. NPR also had a nice radio show on this new research.

Alvaro Fernandez, The Brain Fitness/Training Market: An Executive Summary
The growing market for software to make our brains smarter, or at least function a bit better

Robert Richards, Recovering the Past
American Scientist review of the book Deep History and the Brain by Daniel Smail

Mental Health

Benedict Carey, Psychoanalytic Therapy Wins Backing
New meta-analysis in JAMA shows psychoanalysis effective for certain disorders (such as anxiety and borderline personality disorder) most suited to the psychodynamic approach

Lauren Neergaard, Magnet Device Aims to Treat Depression Patients
The FDA approves the first transcranial magnetic stimulation device – let’s see the results from the larger study first before rushing in, I’d say for now

N. West Moss, A Planet of Pain, Where No Words Are Quite Right
Loss and miscarriage: “Talking about miscarriages is so loaded and pitiful and hushed and fraught with meaning about age and usefulness. It feels as though having three miscarriages in a year means I did something wrong”

American Public Media, Being Autistic, Being Human
Website for the new radio program on autism, along with lots of excellent materials that really broaden the normal considerations of autism in the US

Tara Parker-Pope, A ‘Dose of Nature’ for Attention Problems
Attention deficit disorder and environmental therapy – how natural settings help

Melissa Faye Greene, Reaching an Autistic Teenager
NYT Magazine on the “relatively new, creative and highly interactive teaching method known as D.I.R./Floortime, which is producing striking results among T.C.S.’s student body (D.I.R. stands for developmental, individual differences, relationship-based approach” based on the work of the psychiatrists Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder

Eric Nagourney, Children: Higher Expectations Help Fight Asthma
Parents’ expectations help children by being aggressive in managing the illness

Patient Voices: Eating Disorders
The NY Times brings us a range of people who share their experiences of eating disorders with us in their own words

Jung at Heart, So What Does This Mean?
Reflections on the recent money and Big Pharma scandals in psychiatry


Stephen Chrisomalis, Teaching Linguistic Anthropology as Integrative Science
Approaching language through evolution and culture – a great example

Edmund Blair Bolles, The Logic of Language Evolution
Michael Tomasello’s new book Origins of Modern Communication explored over at Babel’s Dawn. For more, see here and here.

Webb Keane, The Evidence of the Senses and the Materiality of Religion
Pdf of Keane’s article on experience and materials as a way to get at what religion is about, avoiding the belief trap

John Noble Wilford, Under Maryland Street, Ties to African Past
American slave culture and traditional African religious artifacts from this excavation in Annapolis

Jeffrey Gettleman, Rape Victims’ Words Help Jolt Congo Into Change
A culture of impunity after tens of thousands of rapes is confronted by powerful words and new trials. It includes this video Breaking the Silence

Mind Hacks, Myths of the Sleep Deprived
Modern society doesn’t actually deprive us of sleep –we’re doing all right

Mind Hacks, Memory, Brainwashing and the Cold War
Adam Curtis, the documentary film maker, explores the links between memory and history – social remembering shown through film

Tamar Lewin, A Hemline Index, Updated
How a troubled economy provokes changes in other areas of society, including our popular tastes

Judy Fortin, Ancient Chinese Sport Helps Modern Breast Cancer Survivors
Dragon boats in Georgia!

Greg Laden, Tuberculosis Detected in Bones from 9 kya Israeli Neolithic Site
TB dates back to 9000 years ago, and might have gone humans to cattle (rather than the current proposal of cattle to humans) – fascinating research

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