Wednesday Round Up #105

A day late – yesterday I was busy wrapping up that long post on how anthropologists can build a broader audience! So got my favs, and then a topical fav, skull modification! Then onto modern attempts at modification, neuromarketing. After that it’s anthropology and the mind, finishing it off with video games.

Top of the List

Jonah Lehrer, Depression’s Upside
Evolutionary approaches to depression, including an examination of Darwin’s life and how his melancholy might actually have accelerated the pace of his research. Mind Hacks provides some good commentary, including one potential problem.

Greg Boustead, The Age of Impossible Numbers
Make sure you follow the zoom in! “Running the Numbers, photographer Chris Jordan attempts to convey the vastness of modern consumption by breaking down annual statistics into more graspable quantities depicted by clever visualizations made of individual objects or groups of objects that he photographs.”

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Survival of the Fittest Theory: Darwinism’s Limits
How uncritical neo-Darwinian research is.

Ned Block and Phillip Kitcher, Misunderstanding Darwin
How the above critics got it wrong.

Maurice Bloch, Reconciling Social Science and Cognitive Science Views of the Self, the Person, the Individual etc…
The esteemed anthropologist in a great video lecture that is part of the special series of lectures ‘The Study of Cognition and Culture Today’.

Dirk Hanson, Speaking in Tongues – A Neural Snapshot
Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, has fascinated thinkers. Tongue speakers typically claim that the outbursts are non-voluntary, but others can sometimes produce instances of glossolalia on demand. If you want to see glossolalia in action, you can also go to our extensive round up on trance in video!

Cranial Modification – or Culture Does Skulls

Carl Feagans, Artificial Cranial Modification: Head Shaping
Skull shaping reviewed at A Hot Cup of Joe, which looks at examples from around the world.

Bonvito, Neuroarchaeology Anyone?
Bringing neuroscience into the picture when examining the archaeology of cranial modification

Vaughan Bell, Decorative Skull Reshaping
Good photos from the Machililla, now housed in the archaeology museum in Quito, and a long piece from a good article on “artificial cranial deformation” in the journal Child’s Nervous System

Mo Costandi, An Illustrated History of Trepanation
An archaeological and medical review of the oldest type of neurosurgery, removal of a part of the skull

Nicolette Parr, Cranial Deformation
A research-oriented overview, complete with citations, for the anthropology class “Health and Disease in Human Evolution”


The Neurocritic, Neuromarketing the Neurology of Facebook
Facebook gets fMRI’ed! And the Neurocritic picks up the social networking pieces.

PSFK, Campbell’s Soups Labels Using Neuromarketing
Campbell Soup redesigned its label through neuromarketing. Deep interviews and physiological measures give us the truth of people’s reactions! You can find here a better graphic of the new label, complete with described changes. Wow, soup looks better warm!

SlowTV, Natasha Mitchell: You Are Not Your Brain Scan!
And here’s the perfect antidote to neuromarketing! In this video Mitchell introduces a healthy note of sense and caution to the discourse about what we can learn from studying brain scans.


Jovan Maud, Culture Matters Gets a Mention in American Anthropologist
Kudos to CM! “Good public anthropology is not about dumbing down the material and insights; it is simply good anthropology that is well written and sensitive to its audience.”

Rex, Savage Minds in American Anthropologist
Kudos to SM! What public anthropology could and should be based on the author’s experience – go to the comments for Rex’s great line, “it’s the ethnography, stupid”

Lorenz, University Reforms – A Threat to Anthropology?
How and why universities are now managed like businesses, striving for “excellence” and such. What are the consequences of focusing on contest instead of collaboration?

John Postill, New Media and Cultural Change From 1980 to 2010 – A Set of Notes
“We must embed our theorising of new media and cultural change in world-historical events and processes; test these theories through the unfolding of historical events in specific geographical locales.”

Peter Stromberg, Entertainment Literacy
Why we need to think about the effects of entertainment more seriously, drawing in particular on psychological anthropology

Babel’s Dawn, Normal Perception Is Enough
A recent report reveals that… “Zebra finches can learn to distinguish between vowel in monosyllable words — e.g., man vs men — even if the words are spoken by somebody the finch has not heard before.” So the brain can do language perception on its own; no innate module for this part…

Martin R., Beautiful Vendel Period Jewellery
The tortoise brooch is the most iconic Viking Period jewellery type.

Olivia Judson, Stand Up While You Read This!
Why sitting for long periods is bad for you.

Jason Goldman, Social Cognition in Dogs or How Did Fido Get So Smart?
Exploring thought and cognition in the non-human animal.

Briarcroft from Barnstorming, May 19, 1975
Hanging out in Gombe National Park in Tanzania with Jane Goodall! And then it goes bad, due to the direct impact of the turmoil and upheaval of political rebellion and insurgencies in the surrounding areas.

Rex, Books on Writing Books
Books to get you writing better, from revising your dissertation on!

The Memory Bank, An Anthropology of the Internet
Is an anthropology of the Internet even possible? Building a comprehensive framework to examine this new social and technological domain


Mo Costandi, PhD Comics Brain Development Infographic
Your brain in one comic!

Pawan Sinha, Pawan Sinha on How Brains Learn to See
In this TED video, Sinha details his groundbreaking research into how the brain’s visual system develops, as well as his efforts to combat blindness in India.

Courtney Sherman, Psychotropics and Youth, Part 1 – The Five Myths
The dramatic rise in prescriptions of psychotropics for children and young adults has alarmed several commentators. Five erroneous myths that influence prescribing are described in this article.

Hannah Silverblank, “A Tissue of Signs”: Deproblematizing Synesthesia and Metaphor
Looking at synesthesia and the insights it might provide into metaphor and meaning

Ginger Campbell, Memory: Challenging Current Theories with Randy Gallistel, PhD
Why read/write memory is an indispensable constituent of computation with an emphasis on the animal experiments that support the claim that brains must possess read/write memory.

Kevin Mitchell, Why Johnny Can’t Read (But Jane Can)
Reading is not a skill that comes naturally. It relies on an amalgamation between visual and auditory processes.

Laurie Toby Edison, Poets from Buffalo Leave a Rousing Legacy
Poets on video!

The Sun & Anchor, Candid and Uncensored with David Eagleman and Rebecca Goldstein
A back and forth between Eagleman and Goldstein on their books that explore the relationship among science, literature and religion.

David DiSalvo, Why We Return to Bad Habits
A common mental miscalculation causes us to overestimate our self-control.

Video Games

Charlie Jane Anders, Is There Some Way To Be A Telekinetic Pinball Wizard Without Looking Demented?
Playing pinball with your brain! An amazing photo.

Ed Yong, RCT: Video Games can Hamper Reading and Writing Skills in Young Boys by Displacing Other Activities
Debates about the harm video games inflict on growing children.

Katie Moisse, Stroke Victims Aided in Motor Function Recovery by Playing Home Video Games
“The same technology that has people swinging imaginary rackets and bowling virtual balls for entertainment at home might help people recovering from strokes, according to research presented February 25 at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference.”

Seth Schiesel, Murderer’s Young Prey; A Father’s Torment
Heavy Rain grabs hold in a new way of conveying narrative in video games – a glowing review here.

Michael Abbott, Heavy Rain
What is Heavy Rain? What is it about this video game that is so intriguing and makes players hungry for more? Why does it leave the author feeling cold? Answers here in a more sanguine review.

Stephen Totilo, Points For Toothbrushing: The Gaming Speech Everyone Is Talking About
Jesse Schell says “the leading trend is games “busting through reality,” denying the old notion that gaming’s best attraction is fantasy.”

Leigh Alexander, Why We Play Games, And Why We Grumble About Them
Some of our best-loved gaming experiences earn adoration for the strength of their ideas even when the execution isn’t exactly pitch-perfect. Plus a typology of players and their motivations.

Michael Abbott, On My Shoulder, Whispering
Games rely on heroism as a sturdy foundation for interactive storytelling, but they rarely explore what heroism means.

Rhodes et al., Video-Game Exercise Bikes – Not Just a Gimmick
People are playing Wii fit sports games in their homes and gyms are full of ever more interactive exercise machines. But is this trend anything more than gimmickry? Yes, according to Rhodes and colleagues.

Stephen Totilo, The Next Big Thing in Video Games Might Be Fear of Embarrassment
Social embarrassment, not fun, keeps people gaming, particularly for extraordinarily popular games like Facebook’s FarmVille

John Sutter, Online Game Seeks to Empower Africa
The new online game Urgent Evoke aims for social action on behalf of Africa and solving problems like environmental degradation, lack of food, water scarcity, poverty and violence

Vaughan Bell, Violent Video Games: Small Causal Link with Aggression
Mind Hacks provides an extensive review of a new study in the Psychological Bulletin that uses meta-analysis to conclude that violent video games cause “a small but reliable increase in aggressive behaviour and anti-social thinking.”

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