Wednesday Round Up #55

The Black Cemetery Network: Black Cemeteries Are Black History.

We created a network to tell these stories. Help us share them. Submit your site today.

The African American Burial Ground & Remembering Project (AABGP) is a collaboration between the University of South Florida and local artists working to address black cemetery erasures in the Tampa Bay area. Our network has partnered with the AABGP team to coordinate research and advocacy efforts which share the same goal: to preserve black cemeteries by telling their stories

Simone Manuel Gives Emotional Press Conference Explaining Overtraining Syndrome Diagnosis
Where the mental and physical collide, and the individual and the historical, all embodied in one person in one moment. A courageous interview, as amazing as her Olympic win in 2016.

What Pigeons Teach Us About Love

Love is as love does. “There’s no reason to think it would be much different for humans than nonhumans,” says Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals. “I’ve known mourning doves”—a species closely related to pigeons—“who were more in love than a lot of the people I’ve known.”

Chasing the Myths of Mexico’s “Superrunners”

Energy bar and shoe companies have profited from products inspired by these “superrunners.” Traditional Rarámuri ways of life are under threat with the encroachment of mining, logging, climate change, organized crime, and the arrival of new technology, including cellphones. And misconceptions have swirled around this community.

Against this backdrop, Lieberman and his colleagues document how Rarámuri running remains intimately interconnected with the community’s culture, religion, and social life. He and his colleagues scientifically examine how the runners’ physiology does—and does not—contribute to their remarkable stamina. In the process, the authors debunk widely believed stereotypes and examine the deep spiritual significance of Rarámuri racing.

Little Foot’s shoulders hint at how a human-chimp common ancestor climbed

Little Foot lived roughly half-way between modern times and the estimated age of a human-chimp common ancestor, says paleobiologist David Green of Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., a member of Carlson’s team. If that ancient ancestral creature was about the size of a chimp, as many researchers suspect, shoulders resembling those of gorillas would have supported slow but competent climbing, Green says. Gorillas spend much of the time knuckle-walking on the ground. These apes climb trees with all four limbs, reaching up with powerful shoulders and arms to pull themselves along.

“The maintenance of a gorilla-like shoulder in Little Foot offers clues that climbing remained vital for early [hominids],” Green says. It’s possible, he added, that Little Foot’s shoulder design represented “evolutionary baggage” among hominids evolving bodies more suited to upright walking.

Helen Sword – Books on Writing.
Sword is the author of Stylish Academic Writing, among other works. Here are some of her recommendations.

Towards a new ecological conception of perceptual information: Lessons from a developmental systems perspective

Over the last decades or so, empirical studies of perception, action, learning, and development have revealed that participants vary in what variable they detect and often rely on nonspecifying variables. This casts doubt on the Gibsonian conception of information as specification. It is argued that a recent ecological conception of information has solved important problems, but insufficiently explains what determines the object of perception.

Drawing on recent work on developmental systems, we sketch the outlines of an alternative conception of perceptual information. It is argued that perceptual information does not reside in the ambient arrays; rather, perceptual information is a relational property of patterns in the array and perceptual processes. What a pattern in the ambient flow informs about depends on the perceiver who uses it. We explore the implications of this alternative conception of information for the ecological approach to perception and action.

A computational neuroethology perspective on body and expression perception

Survival prompts organisms to prepare adaptive behavior in response to environmental and social threat. However, what are the specific features of the appearance of a conspecific that trigger such adaptive behaviors? For social species, the prime candidates for triggering defense systems are the visual features of the face and the body. We propose a novel approach for studying the ability of the brain to gather survival-relevant information from seeing conspecific body features. Specifically, we propose that behaviorally relevant information from bodies and body expressions is coded at the levels of midlevel features in the brain. These levels are relatively independent from higher-order cognitive and conscious perception of bodies and emotions. Instead, our approach is embedded in an ethological framework and mobilizes computational models for feature discovery.

Celebrated Stanford psychology Professor Lee D. Ross has died

Lepper recalled how Ross found inspiration from a close examination of paradoxes and peculiarities in everyday life. This made it “easy for others to study the applications of his ideas to real-world problems and settings outside the laboratory,” Lepper said.

When his Stanford tenure seemed uncertain in 1977, Ross wrote what was essentially his research statement about all his work up to that point in an effort to prove his mettle. It was in that paper, “The Intuitive Psychologist and His Shortcomings: Distortions in the Attribution Process,” that Ross coined the term “fundamental attribution error,” referring to the failure to acknowledge the importance of the situation in determining behavior, and which is one of his most lasting contributions to the field, among many. The paper successfully secured Ross’s tenure and has since become one of the most quoted articles in all of social psychology.

The language of race, ethnicity, and ancestry in human genetic research

The language commonly used in human genetics can inadvertently pose problems for multiple reasons. Terms like “ancestry”, “ethnicity”, and other ways of grouping people can have complex, often poorly understood, or multiple meanings within the various fields of genetics, between different domains of biological sciences and medicine, and between scientists and the general public. Furthermore, some categories in frequently used datasets carry scientifically misleading, outmoded or even racist perspectives derived from the history of science.

Here, we discuss examples of problematic lexicon in genetics, and how commonly used statistical practices to control for the non-genetic environment may exacerbate difficulties in our terminology, and therefore understanding. Our intention is to stimulate a much-needed discussion about the language of genetics, to begin a process to clarify existing terminology, and in some cases adopt a new lexicon that both serves scientific insight, and cuts us loose from various aspects of a pernicious past.

Dopamine modulates the reward experiences elicited by music

In everyday life humans regularly seek participation in highly complex and pleasurable experiences such as music listening, singing, or playing, that do not seem to have any specific survival advantage. The question addressed here is to what extent dopaminergic transmission plays a direct role in the reward experience (both motivational and hedonic) induced by music. We report that pharmacological manipulation of dopamine modulates musical responses in both positive and negative directions, thus showing that dopamine causally mediates musical reward experience.

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