Wednesday Round Up #35

This week we have decision making, the brain and anthropology, plus this week’s top picks.

Top of the List

Eugene Raikhel, The Prevalent Placebo
Anthropology sheds light on the placebo. Somatosphere’s take on the recent report that 50% of US doctors give placebos to patients, with a consideration of both the placebo phenomenon and the literature surrounding it.

Deric Bownds, Arguing for Embodied Consciousness
Deric gives us some of the Harold Fromm Science review of the new book “What Science Offers the Humanities – Integrating Body and Culture” by Edward Slingerland. My Mind on Books give us more on Slingerland and his book.

The Banana Peel Project, Communities of Selves
A riff off Paul Bloom’s recent piece – a community of selves inside each of us, boosted by abundant new technologies of self, from drugs to avatars. Also see Bloom’s piece, First Person Plural

Neil Scheurich, Annals of the Prodigious
The bar-tailed godwit, the longest recorded flight, and a poem from Emily Dickinson

Scicurious, General Stuff I Blog About: Dopamine!
Your Neurotopia guide to dopamine, going from the chemical structure to brain structures. Quite an overview.

Decision Making

Neuronarrative, The Lucifer Effect: An Interview with Dr.Phillip Zimbardo
Making monsters out of decent young men – an interview with the psychologist behind the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment

Wray Herbert, A Recipe for Motivation
Getting people to exercise regularly – and the importance of understandable how-to instructions

The Situationist, Situational Sway
One of the Brafman brothers speaks at Google headquarters about their new book, Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

Jonah Lehrer, Anchoring and Credit Cards
The anchoring effect (or more generally priming) and how we aren’t perfectly rational

Jonah Lehrer, The Inner Argument
The mind as inner argument, and the relation to risky decision making

Jonah Lehrer, Self-Control and the Prefrontal Cortex
The cortical muscles behind self control

Dave Munger, Dan Ariely and Rational versus Irrational Decision Making
(Un)informed decisions, organ donation, and opt-in versus opt-out choices

Billy Baker, She Explores the Inner Workings of Bias
The work of Mahzarin Banaji, the Harvard psychologist

Brain Ethics, Brain Value – Recent Updates
A new issue of Current Opinion in Neurobiology has a special issue on cognitive neuroscience and decision making. Lots of cutting-edge stuff!


Nicolas Le Novere, The Diversity of Subunit Composition in nAchRs
The young protégé of Jean Pierre Changneux gives us the pdf of what he considers his most paper (see his publications list). Why?
“This article developed the quite challenging point of view that, within multigene families of receptors, the quantitative pharmacological variability would be rather meaningless, resulting mainly from neutral genetic drift. The genetic diversity (the number of paralogous genes) would be selected mainly to achieve a fine regulation of tissue expression and sub-cellular targeting of the receptors.”
It’s actually a rather startling proposal, given all the emphasis I have seen on dopamine sub-types (the research with which I am more familiar). Clear evolutionary thinking, plus good data, do add up to some insightful analyses!

Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience
Scholarpedia site for all your reference needs

Alan Mozes, Scientists Erase Specific Memories in Mice
The molecular genetics of memory deletion! Neurophilosophy provides more detail

Tara Parker-Pope, Natural Settings Help Brain Fatigue
The restorative powers of nature and the workings of attention, complete with a podcast. So, what does this do to the brain fitness movement?

The Neurocritic, Correlations between Slow Cortical Potentials and Spontaneous Fluctuations of the BOLD Signal
Blood oxygen levels and slow brain waves studied in epilepsy patients – plus musing on sensorimotor correlations and the function of the brain’s spontaneous activity

Mike88, Early Recognition of Children with Autism: A Study of First Birthday Home Videotapes
First birthdays videos, and the differences between children later diagnosed as autistic and kids on a normal developmental trajectory – getting at early diagnostic criteria

Lauran Neergaard, Warm Hands Lead to Warm Hearts, Sneaky Study Shows
Clever study design to get at embodied warmth and assessments of personality – is a hot cup of coffee just a stand-in for making you feel warm all over? And what happens in the summer? Cloying?

John Naish, Being a Daddy Makes You Kinder and Smarter
The biology of fatherhood


Cultural Survival, Guatemala Radio Project: The Guatemalan Army Couldn’t Wipe Out Mayan Culture, But American Idol Can
Preserving indigenous culture through radio shows!

Greg Laden, Cultural Evolution from Mosquitos to Worm Grunting
Great meditation on culture-biology interactions. For even more about worm grunting, see here.

Owen Wiltshire, More Commentary on “Ethnography as Commentary”
Can ethnography make the transition to the Internet? Will it find renewed life there? Reflections on Johannes Fabian’s latest book, Ethnography as Commentary

Almost Diamonds, What Is Race Good For?
Taking down racism through an anthropological understanding of race

Quetzalcoatl Anthropology Forum
Discussion galore!

Grafos y Accidentes, Riesgo, Incertidumbre y Horror
Levi-Strauss in Spanish. For more from this blog, check out Juegos y Roles en Antropologia y Marketing

Michael Abbott, The Poverty We Forgot
The Brainy Gamer extends his reach to rural poverty in the USA. Well done, with personal reflection and good data and links wrapped up an effective piece.

Anne Barnard, From the Streets to the Libraries
Gangsta lit gets some respect, and brings in the readers too!

Douglas Martin, Rudy Ray Moore, 81, a Precursor of Rap, Dies
Some social history that I didn’t know about the “Godfather of Rap”

Kerim, On the Limits of Economics
Savage Minds on the growth of Paul Krugman as a thinker

LL Wynn, Doctors Complain about Ethics Oversight – Just like Anthropologists! (Well, Almost)
Conflicts in medicine with the biomedical/laboratory approach to human subjects, and parallels with anthropology

Greg Downey, Innovation out of Constraint
Applied anthropology, innovative technology, and lessons from engineering

Pauline Chen, Stories in the Service of Making a Better Doctor
Literature makes for better doctors

John Hawks, Robert Lowie on Anthropology and Psychology
Back to the early days of anthropology to think about the relationships between the two fields

Sabrina Tavernise, On the Bosporus, a Scholar Tells of Sultans, Washerwomen and Snakes
Murat Belge, the Turkish scholar, shares history

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