Wednesday Round Up #73

This week we’ve got synesthesia and drug categories, alongside the top selections and the anthro and neuro placeholders.

Top of the List

Aaron Traister, It’s Hot! It’s Sexy! It’s … Marriage!“Am I the only person who actually enjoys being hitched these days?”
A funny read with a substantive point, well, at least for this married guy.

Petra Boynton, The New Scientist, Female Ejaculation, and Six Things Science Has Taught Us about Sex
“The problem with the New Scientist piece and scientific research that focuses purely on the physiological is it taps into the women-are-mysterious narrative that unhelpfully underpins so much media coverage. “

Lindsey Tanner, Kids’ Lower IQ Scores Linked to Prenatal Pollution
Not good news. And of course pollution is unequally distributed in the environment.

Lauran Neergaard, Unraveling How Children Become Bilingual So Easily
Good summary of language learning by an AP journalist

Natalie Angier, When ‘What Animals Do’ Doesn’t Seem to Cover It
An informed discussion of what the term “behavior” actually means

Ed Yong, Why Information Is Its Own Reward – Same Neurons Signal Thirst for Water, Knowledge
I’m thirsty just thinking about it!

Cathryn Delude, Adult Brain Can Change within Seconds
“The brain is constantly recalibrating the connections through short-term plasticity mechanisms.” Or more provocatively, where already established connections meet with already established sociocultural phenomena?


David Eagleman, Synesthesia
Actually the lab page of the Baylor neuroscientist – but what I want to highlight is the video on synesthesia about half way down the page.

Brain Pickings, Short Film Spotlight: Synesthesia
Fascinating short film – a concept film – imagining synesthesia in an artistic way.

Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics, Synaesthesia across Cultures
Home page for this new initiative by the German institute. For more info, see Mark Dingemanse’s Ideophone blog

Wikipedia, Synesthesia
The online encyclopedia has a comprehensive entry


American Public Media, How Much Longer for the War on Drugs?
Marketplace, an economics show on NPR, interviews Ben Wallace-Wells, who writes on drugs for the Rolling Stone. Wallace-Wells gives a good summary of the state of science vs. politics in the US

Blue to Blue, This Is Your Brain on Drugs
A reflection by a North Carolina psychiatrist on the recent debates over marijuana and addiction through the eyes of 15 years of clinical experience. “What a strange drug it is” captures so much of why addiction is a difficult and terrible phenomenon, particularly as we try to grasp why people use drugs and how it comes to influence over lives.

Sarah Kershaw & Rebecca Cathcart, Marijuana Is Gateway Drug for Two Debates
More money from taxes if legalized vs. more addiction if more widely available

Room for Debate, If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?
The NY Times editors round up a group of experts to give their opinions. Quite a succinct summary of what’s known and what’s being considered in today’s climate.

NPR, Tobacco Fuels Addiction, And Terrorism
Welcome to one of the most smuggled and contraband items in the world – tobacco

Mother Jones, Totally Wasted
The homepage for all their recent pieces on the Drug War


Diane Rehm Show, Charles Siebert: “The Wauchula Woods Accord”
Really fascinating NPR show on Siebert’s new book and his journalism about human-chimp relations and what that says about how we view other animals, ourselves, and the increasing hybrid sense of nature we have

CJ Chivers, A Fearless Activist in a Land of Thugs
A profile of the slain Chechnyan human rights activisit Natalya Estemirova. This one really hit me hard.

Mariana Soffer, Meaning Theories
A nice consideration of different social science approaches to meaning

Harvard Media, Women’s Health in Haiti
Striking video about the state of health and healthcare in Haiti

Max Forte, Cross-Cultural Understanding for Peace: So Why Does HTS Go to Afghanistan?
We need plenty of cross-cultural understanding at home!

Tim Jones, Richard Wrangham on Cooking and Human Origins – plus Ray Mears’ Fruit Gums
Wrangham on how barbequing made all the difference in human evolution

BlackBox Republic
Are you “sex positive”?

Olivia Judson, Microbes R Us
Get to know your vast array of microbes

Economies in Cultural Perspective, Can I Pay My Rent in Cacao Beans?
Defending bartering even in the midst of considering different currencies. A new blog by an Irvine grad student.

Jenna Bryner, Comet Killed Ice Age Beasts
North American large mammals couldn’t cope with the triple threat – a comet, climate change, and human hunting

Deric Bownds, The Possibility of Impossible Cultures
Marc Hauser and his Nature editorial on the intersections between generative linguistics and evolutionary developmental biology

Martin Rundkvist, Digging at the Finnestorp War Booty Sacrificial Site
Danish war booty! Do I need to say more?


Jon Hamilton, False Signals Cause Misleading Brain Scans
NPR on the recent controversy over brain imaging methods

Hui Chen et al., Hypothalamic Neuroendocrine Circuitry is Programmed by Maternal Obesity: Interaction with Postnatal Nutritional Environment
Developmental plasticity, canalization and intergenerational biology without genes. Some impressive rat research over at PLoS One.

The Neurocritic, I Just Finished the Boston Marathon! (but I can’t remember your name)
Definitely enjoyed this piece on memory function at the end of races. Interesting methods, revealing results.

Daniel Goleman, Sitting Quietly, Doing Something
Practicing happiness. Sort of. I like that sexy marriage essay better. But if you aspire to be a Tibetan monk, here’s the new guy getting all the press.

Robbie Cooper, Self-Organized Criticality
Chaos drives the brain, immersion style

Carol Bradley, Lead Poisoning Research Benefits Science, Community
Community based research on how to prevent lead poisoning

Carl Zimmer, The Gene Puzzle
Overview of the latest at Newsweek. John Hawks comments here.

Dr. Shock, Architecture and Neuroscience
Outlining the relationships between the two fields

Sandra Blakeslee, Researchers Train Minds to Move Matter
New method to get monkeys to move robotic arms with thoughts alone. Great demonstration of plasticity in action!

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