Wednesday Round Up #64

So a few favs, then some more complicated decision making, followed by anthro and the brain, and finished off with some very good stuff on our new lives online.

Top of the List

The Economist, Expats at Work
“Living abroad gives you a creative edge” – so anthropologists rule! See Jonah Lehrer’s nice riff on creativity and being abroad, as well as Greg Laden’s complement piece, Knowing More Languages = Good
Darwinius masillae
Tim Arango, The Missing Link, and a Mass Audience
Does that picture look like a missing link to you? Hyping science even as it’s in process. For a more detailed write-up on this basal primate fossil, see the new Wikipedia entry. PZ Myers also covers the basics while ranting about the “missing link” nonsense. Update: Greg Laden also summarizes and critiques in a very effective post on this new fossil nicknamed Ida.

Malcolm Gladwell, How David Beats Goliath
“When underdogs break the rules” – the Davids in the world win on a fairly consistent basis. So how?

Scott Horton, A Convenient Death
Death in a Libyan prison and a key person gone from the center of the torture debate

Decision Making

Psique, What Is Rewarding Brain Stimulation?
This YouTube clip on the development of research on electrical stimulation of the reward systems in the brain

Rachel Rettner, Monkeys Ponder What Could Have Been
Using imagined information to guide behavior, not simply direct experience of reward. Here’s the abstract for the actual Science article, Fictive reward signals in the anterior cingulated cortex

Deric Bownds, The Neuroeconomics of Taking Your Pick
Two recent papers on how the brain deals with perceived value. Still, for me this line “the brain must assign values to each available option” is a Platonic view of a decidedly more Darwinian and embodied process, and thus ultimately ends up as a homunculus approach.

Deric Bownds, How the Brain Talks to Itself – Errors in Emotional Prediction
Get the pdf for the latest Gilbert & Wilson article on using affective premonitions to guide choices now. Chasing happiness…

Jonah Lehrer, Spending Money
It’s not happiness later, it’s the pain of not having now…

Ed Yong, Thinking about Money Soothes Sting of Social Rejection and Physical Pain
Now go rub a few benjamins all over your body and call in the morning

Vaughan Bell, Send a Signal to Table Three Please
Consumer signaling, the NY Times missing the point, and the power of associations on our preferences

Science Codex, How Learning Shapes Successful Decision Making in the Human Brain
“the brain does not just learn the structure of the physical world but, through learning, encodes rules that regulate how we interpret future sensory information”


Savage Minds, The Pig in a Garden: Jared Diamond and The New Yorker series
Great debate over the controversy surrounding Jared Diamond’s ethics in presenting his ideas about violence and personal information about his friends and other people he knows in Papua New Guinea

Joana Breidenbach, Dead Aid
Aid slows growth and makes poor people poorer, argues this post over at BetterPlace.Org (which looks pretty cool itself). For more, see the follow-up at Culture Matters

Ed Yong, Prehistoric Carving Is Oldest Known Figurative Art
Ed gets a great up-close photo of the recently presented from at least 35,000 years ago. A full-figured, accentuated woman, and Ed gives his usual effective summary, plus a splash-of-cold hook to calm down those hyperventilating masculine minds

Michelle Chen, A Tangle of Problems Links Prison, Foster Care
“Interlocking systems, interlocking problems” between child welfare and criminal justice

Catherine Rampell, Social Spending and Inequality
Graphing social spending and inequality – what a surprise, an inverse relationship. The less social spending, the more societal inequality using data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Helen De Cruz, Cumulative Culture in the Lab and Chimpanzees
What does it take to get cumulative traditions, those complex sequences of behavior marked by step-wise improvements?


Closer to Truth, Do Brains Make Minds?
USC video production featuring a quite varied set of panelists, from John Searle and David Chalmers to Fred Wolf and Barry Beyerstein. Hat-tip to PsychLectures

LiveScience, Surprise! Daydreaming Really Works the Brain
“Executive function” parts shown to be active when we daydream… Hmm, maybe executive function isn’t really what we’re talking about. In any case, sometimes taking a chill pill can help you solve complex problems.

Scicurious, Basking in the Dopamine Glow
Dopamine and green fluorescent protein and studying vesicles in one single synapse with glowing fake dopamine (is that a metaphor for a drug trip?)

Mo Costandi, Decoding the Brain’s Response to Vocal Emotions
“different vocal emotions are encoded by distinct patterns of brain activity, and could lead to a better understanding of psychiatric disorders in which the ability to recognize the emotional information in voices is compromised.”


Michael Wesch, From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments
The new media anthropologist and professor of the year lays out his view on how online interactions change and challenge our learning environments

Vaughan Bell, Grand Theft Neuro
Mind Hacks takes on Susan Greenfield and her doom and gloom about new technologies

Annette’s Blog, “We Live in Public” Trailer
The flashy intro to the new documentary on Josh Harris, online pioneer. Virtual worlds taking control? Well, more like people themselves… But anyway, looks like something to make you think about life online

John Dupuis, Online Social Networking Isn’t for Everyone
What’s the benefit? And how’s the personality fit?

JD Lasica, Free ebook: ‘Identity in the Age of Cloud Computing’
Get all of the Aspen Institute e-books as pdfs, from The Mobile Generation: Global Transformations at the Cellular Level to the latest, Identity in the Age of Cloud Computing: The next-generation Internet’s impact on business, governance and social interaction

Michael Wolf, Will Social Networks on the Web Ever Make Money?
Build it and they might come – but they won’t necessarily come bearing gifts

John Timmer, Wikipedia Hoax Points to Limits of Journalists’ Research
Just how far will a hoax (about a final waltz) spread and journalists not checking their sources

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s