Wednesday Round Up #113

This week I do a mini feature in the top of the list on behavioral health, then give some other favs, before giving a quite nice collection of video game links – and believe me, it’s about more than just video games. Then it’s anthropology and the mind. Enjoy!

Top of the List – Behavioral Health

All right, let me start off by saying that behavioral health matters. It really matters. Recent research is showing that “bad habits” add up to have a big impact. And the latest research doesn’t even include things like injury & violence, which are the greatest mortality threat for healthy teenagers and young adults, or depression, which has a large impact on behavioral health as well. Onto the links.

Harvard Press Release, Four Preventable Risk Factors Reduce Life Expectancy in U.S. and Lead to Health Disparities
Smoking, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose and overweight and obesity currently reduce life expectancy in the U.S. by 4.9 years in men and 4.1 years in women.

For similar research, the Associated Press gets in on the fun with Bad Habits Can Age You by 12 Years, Study Suggests. Those habits are smoking, drinking too much, inactivity, and poor diet.

Over at Brain Blogger, Jennifer Gibson reports on Health Behaviors More Important than Socioeconomic Status, where longitudinal research shows that it’s actually health behaviors that have a greater impact on morbidity and mortality that overall socioeconomic status.

Other Top Pieces

Katie Moisse, Good Teachers Really Do Make a Difference
Science shows that teachers play a leading role in helping kids’ reading skills soar.

Ian Sample, Chimps’ Emotional Response to Death Caught on Film
Chimpanzees grieve too. Features a powerful video.

Tara Parker-Pope, Little-Known Disorder Can Take a Toll on Learning
Auditory processing disorder, and how hearing affects so many things related to learning

Charlie Rose, Charlie Rose Brain Series
The PBS series on the study of the human brain is now online, with great videos freely available. Top scientists and researchers are interviewed.

Vaughan Bell, Cultures of Foreplay
Cultural variation in common or acceptable sexual practices and it touches on how foreplay differs between societies.

Video Games

Associated Press, Justices Take Case on Video Game Law
Supreme Court will consider the issue of violence in video games and the scope of free speech when considering a California law that aimed to limit the sale of violent video games to minors. The video game site Kotaku also covers this in US Supreme Court to Review Game Ratings Law, where lots of readers weigh in with their opinions. And over at NPR’s The Diane Rehm show there was an excellent program today on Violent Video Games.

Stephen Totilo, God Was a Math Problem
How religion gets programmed into games.

Geoffrey Cain, South Korea Cracks Down on Gaming Addiction
Too many South Korean youngsters appear to be getting hooked on video games.

Marisa Ramiccio, Video Game Helps Alcoholics Prevent Relapse
When recovering alcoholics enter rehab, they’re taught how to make better life choices for themselves when they step back into the real world. Now professors at the University of Central Florida aim to teach those skills through a role-playing video game.

Elizabeth Soep, Chimerical Avatars and Other Identity Experiments from Prof. Fox Harrell
Fox Harrell says he started wanting to play characters that expressed and presented themselves in ways that captured his real world cultural values, though still set in those same fantasy worlds. In other words, not just white guys! Harrell follows that up with a post he wrote on Identity and Online Avatars: A Discussion over at Kotaku, where he talks about how online identity representations can make avatars more artistic and communicative.

Joseph LaViola Jr., From Research To Games: Interacting With 3D Space
The next thing in videogaming: 3D! How the research is going to become a reality.

Anand Chotai, Developing the Art of Games
Are games art? This article shows how.

Michael Abbott, Building Permit
Unlocking student’s creativity with video games.

Lorenza S. Colzato et al., DOOM’d to Switch: Superior Cognitive Flexibility in Players of First Person Shooter Games
This study explored whether and to which degree experience with such videogames generalizes to other cognitive control tasks.

Bernhard Hommel and Lorenza S. Colzato, Games With(out) Frontiers: Toward an Integrated Science of Human Cognition
Using games, an online article talks about putting research on human cognition into a broader perspective. It considers the central role this research plays in connecting different scientific areas and disciplines, as well as the social and infrastructural changes that will be necessary to effectively tackle the challenges that linger on our way to an integrative science of human cognition.


David DiSalvo, What Makes Us Human?
Three videos on thoughts that address the question – What makes us human?

Michael Homan, Dry Bones Tell New Orleans Stories
In New Orleans, death is not quite so removed and sanitized. Here, it’s part of life.

John Hawks, Multiregional Evolution Lives
Genome-wide evidence of interbreeding outside of Africa, a multiregional model.

Dienekes, Α Historical and Demographic Model of Recent Human Evolution (Laval et al. 2010)
An argument where humans came out of Africa ~60,000 years ago, then had a long period of Eurasian unity, followed by separation of Europeans from East Asians ~22,500 years ago. This makes very little sense to Dienekes.

Lorenz, Polynesian Tattoos and Public Anthropology
Public anthropology does exist. There are lots of anthropologists who write for the wider public and not only for other anthronerds. An example of this can be seen in Tricia Allen’s book, The Polynesian Tattoo Today.

Maximilian Forte, Interviewed Today on Al Jazeera: Social Media, Soft Power, and American Empire
The use of social networking sites (and I focused mostly on Twitter) for the purposes of both surveillance of citizens at home and for exercising state power abroad.

Nicolas Claidière, What Explains the Stability of Animal Culture?
Cognition and Culture provides a novel view.

Matt Rhodes, YouTube is Five – Let’s Look at the Anthropology
As YouTube turns five it is worth reexamining the nature of YouTube videos and the anthropology that is going on here. Includes Michael Wesch as YouTube guru.

Nicole Branan, Neandertal Symbolism: Evidence Suggests a Biological Basis for Symbolic Thought
Abstract thinking may date back further than formerly thought.

Louis Uchitelle, Your Money, Their Pockets
A new book on why regulation is needed, and how the “efficient market hypothesis does not work.”

Jesse McKinley, Don’t Call it ‘Pot’ in This Circle; It’s a Profession.
Marijuana is going corporate.


Katinka Hooyer, Ethan Watters’ Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche
The homogenization of modern theories and treatments surrounding mental illness. A review of the new book, Crazy Like Us.

Daniel Carlat, Mind Over Meds
A psychiatric interview has a certain rhythm to it. The benefits of it and why you should choose it over medicines.

Joe Brewer, Why You Need to Understand Political Psychology
A new theme in public education – knowledge and insights into the political mind.

Peter D. Kramer, One Man’s Trash…
Psychologists working with hoarders.

BPS Research Digest, A History of Psychology Treasure Trove
A magnificent treasure trove of images, articles and interactive tests from the history of psychology has been placed online thanks to the Science Museum and the work of the British Psychological Society’s curator of psychology Philip Loring. The new online exhibition can be found on the Brought to Life section of the Science Museum website, under the new heading ‘Mental Health and Illness’.

Olivia Judson, Brain Damage
Being fat is bad for your brain, according to some studies.

Mo, Bodily Motions Influence Memory and Emotions
Embodied cognition – when talking about our feelings, we often use expressions that link emotions with movements or positions in space.

Research Digest Blog, Face-to-Face in a Brain Scanner
Imaging takes another step forward, where actual social interactions come into play.

Greg Miller, How Our Brains Make Memories
The Smithsonian’s recent feature article, which looks at research on memory, and also examines how the act of remembering may help people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jonah Lehrer, Thinking About Tomorrow
The lure of instant gratification is hard to resist: When we want something, we want it right now.

Adrian Owen et al., Cognitive Training Doesn’t Work (Much, If At All)
“Brain training” programs don’t seem to work, according to some recent research. Over at Sharp Brains, Alvaro Fernandez responds with BBC “Brain Training” Experiment: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Jonah Lehrer, Prozac and Plasticity
Prozac (or fluoxetine) is one of the most successful drugs of all time. How so? New research focuses on plasticity rather than neurotransmitter regulation.

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