Wednesday Round Up #92

This week it’s music, anthropology and mind once we get the highlights out of the way.

Top of the List

Ed Yong, How Our Skin Helps Us To Listen
How your skin, along with your ear, is also involved in listening. So, can you hear me now? Your body matters to your brain, and our old concept of dedicated mental modules, encapsulated for specific functionality, just doesn’t match up with the reality of how the brain works.

Lisa Maruka & HotBook, Class Schedule: History of the Book: Literacy, Technology, Culture
Get a whole semester’s worth of reading on reading! Some fascinating links to understanding books using an interdisciplinary approach.

Neuroskeptic, Mental Illness vs. Suicide
Do countries with more mental sickness have more suicides? The assumption has often been yes, but worldwide data doesn’t support that. A good consideration of both the data and the assumption

Dr. X, Happy Thanksgiving
I loved these photos of a small boy at Thanksgiving

Scicurious, Mapping the Glutamate Receptor
Neurotopia with some pretty pictures and great description of a new paper in Science that gets all colorful (and structural too) with glutamate

Independent Lens, Journals of a Wily School
This documentary is amazing. It shows what anthropologists often hope to illustrate – the impact of both inequality and meaning, in this case for a young pickpocket in Kolkata who is part street leader, part police informer – and you get to see him caught up in both realities at once.


Jonah Lehrer, Creation on Command
How does an act of imagination come about? Looking at how jazz improv and brain scans help reveal our internal artist

A. John Popp, Music, Musicians, and the Brain: An Exploration of Musical Genius
The concept of musical genius used to frame a discussion of the “art” practiced by neurosurgeons. Also includes a tribute, and even a photo, of my father Richard Lende.

William Benzon, Synch, Song, and Society
A review of Steven Mithen’s book The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body

Levitin Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise
See Daniel Levitin, the author of This Is Your Brain in Music, in action in this selection of videos from his lab. You can also get his research papers here.


Synapse, IF. Live Curious.
National Geographic’s latest promotional YouTube video. If only anthropologists could promote their brand and their work so effectively, so engagingly. But no, I’m off to get 15 minute papers read to me while I fight off my wandering attention.

Colleen Morgan, Tumblr in the Classroom
What is Tumblr? “It is a simplified, speed-blogging service that provides a place to “tumble” your thoughts.” And it works pretty well for teaching.

Jovan Maud, The Commons, and the Culture of Climate Change
A video to recognize the things that we share as a civilization, such as water and government, and the injustice that takes place when just a few people exploit them.

Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit, The “Alien Language” Experiment
Studying language evolution in the lab. You can do it too! An online game, a growing tree, and description of this study on where language structure comes from.

John Noble Wilford, A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity
In the lower Danube valley and Balkan foothills, an old European culture is coming to life through recent archaeology – Europe’s civilization now goes back to 5000 BC?

Maximilian Forte, Professional Knowledge Creation in the World-System
Building an anti-imperialist “anthropology,” where an anthropology that studies imperialism requires unthinking anthropology and social science.

Michael Mannheim, Another Proof of Life & Links
A set of great links, with short discussion on why these links are good ones. Particularly interesting are the BBS papers – one on the myth of language universals, the other on how Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies differ a lot cognitively from the rest of the world

Zoe Wool, Language and the Media in Fort Hood
Zoe, who wrote a piece for us earlier on PTSD, discusses how language is used around the media reporting and online prattle about the accused shooter at Fort Hood, Maj. Nadal Hasan, over at Savage Minds


Deric Bownds, Watching our Brains Judge Gain Versus Pain
How pain and reward are incorporated into goal-directed behavior – it looks like pain alters sensitivity to benefits

Dr. Shock, How Your Brain Grows From a Sensory to a Cognitive World
A video with Susan Greenfield that explains how your brain becomes individualized through developmental plasticity

Eugene Raikhel, Neuroethics Conference Podcasts
Get your podcasts from the recent conference Brain Matters: New Directions in Neuroethics

Jonah Lehrer, Reverse-Engineering
How reverse engineering (or creating artificial neural networks that mimic the brain) should actually work – base it on biology rather than on just the engineering

Helen De Cruz, Is the Spell Broken? Reflections on Evolutionary Debunking and Religious Beliefs
“It seems that either evolutionary debunking arguments would undermine the credibility of all beliefs formed through an interaction of human mind and brain, or that they do not challenge any of our beliefs.”

Claudia Dreifus, Developmental Psychologist Says Teenagers Are Different
Two conversations with Laurence Steinberg, a developmental psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, who is one of the leading experts in the United States on adolescent behavior and adolescent brain biology.

Jason R. Atwood, Uphill. Both Ways. In the Snow. It’s Good for the Brain.
An argument for exercise as promoting brain fitness in kids

Edouard Machery, Shameless Self-Promotion: BBS’ Call for Commentaries on Doing Without Concepts
This brief call for commentaries caught my attention – Machery’s book on Doing Without Concepts recognizes a variety of types of concepts (rather than concepts as a natural kind) and we need new ways to understand our own creation and use of concepts

The Neurocritic, Does “Internet Addiction” Really Shrink Your Brain?
Internet addiction is a dim and divisive disorder that is the focus of concentrated dispute over whether it should be incorporated into the novel DSM-V. I’m hooked!

Daniel Bergner, Women Who Want to Want
After saying women want sex in an earlier NY Times Magazine feature, the Times now takes on low sexual craving among women. Hmm, I wonder what kind of psychoanalytic problem afflicts the Grey Lady herself…

Katherine Ellison, Medical Marijuana: No Longer Just for Adults
Medical marijuana is now being recommended to patients in the Bay Area, including teenagers with psychiatric disorders like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. “It can make a profound difference in their lives,” says Valerie Corral, a founder of the Women’s and Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

Philip Dawdy, British National Health Service Goes After American Website
Zyprexa, a National Health Service brochure, is critiqued over at Furious Seasons.

Benedict Carey, Surgery for Mental Ills Offers Both Hope and Risk
A Rhode Island hospital carries out an experimental brain operation in which four raisin-sized holes are burned deep into OCD patients’ brains to relieve the stress of the every day. The procedure changed the patients’ lives.

Tim Jones, David Eagleman: Heaven, Hell and Synaesthesia
David Eagleman and his research into synaesthesia over at

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