Oldies but Goodies: Daniel Lende

I posted some oldies but goodies from Greg a few weeks back when we hit 100,000. So now it’s my turn, even though we’re already at 120,000. The start of the semester has been busy!

These are posts when we were just getting started, and haven’t seen as much love as some more recent or more popular ones. My new student assistant Erin Brennan helped me pick them out, so many thanks to her.


Wending between Faust and Wimsatt

On Stress – Blakey

Addiction and Our Faultlines

Visual Rewards

Human Variation

Obama and Race

Puzzles and Cultural Difference

Loneliness and Health: Experience, Stress, and Genetics

Will Power as Mental Muscle


The Family Dinner Deconstructed

Prison Nation


The Neurobiology of Play

Taking Play Seriously

Play and Culture

Play and Embodiment

Oldies but Goodies: Greg Downey

Well not that old, but I thought I might highlight some posts from our early days when our daily visits were pretty low. These posts deserve some attention alongside the top ten I posted on Sunday.

Today I will cover Greg’s posts. I’ve decided to split the posts into three themes: (1) work that comes out of Greg’s main research interests in perception, sport, and skilled activity; (2) his critical takes on ideas of “innateness” (whether in neuroscience or in evolutionary psychology); and (3) his anthropological examination and reflection of recent mind/brain research.

Perception and Skilled Action

Exercise is ‘mindset’ as well as activity

Brainy muscles

Tools, mirrors and the expandable body

Trust your hand, not your eyes

Children integrating their senses


Craving money, chocolate… and justice

‘Innate’ fear of snakes?

More on persuasive, irrelevant ‘neuroscience’

Anthropology and Neuroscience

Thinking about how others think: two ways?

(insert clever French grammar title here)

‘Blind to change’ or just ‘mostly blind’?

Tightening your belt on your mind


ARC\'s Splash Mural

ARC's Splash Mural

ARC is the Anthropology of Contemporary Research Consortium, focusing on the “human sciences” with the aim “to develop techniques of collaboration, modes of communication, and tools of inquiry appropriate to an anthropology of the contemporary.”

ARC has three main projects, one on vital systems security, another on biopolitics, and the final one covering synthetic biology and nanotechnology. This synthetic anthropos (“artful design and composition of the human thing”) is the most relevant to this site, and is run by Paul Rabinow.

ARC also has a collection of on-line “concept” papers, alongside working papers and web documents within each project. Chris Kelty, one of the directors of ARC, also posts on Savage Minds and wrote recently that “ARC Seeks Passengers and Drivers.” So check that out.

BIOS is the “international centre for research and policy on social aspects of the life sciences and biomedicine.” As another consortium, they have a wide-ranging set of research themes including biopolitics, neuroscience and society, and biomedicine and identity.

There is also a podcast available, “Beyond the Genome: the Challenge of Synthetic Biology“, based on a distinguished panel discussion on “Synthetic biology is heralded as the next frontier. But what is synthetic biology and how do we imagine its future directions?”

BIOS also gave me this link to the affiliated European Neuroscience and Society Network, “a multidisciplinary forum for timely engagement with the social, political and economic implications of developments in the neurosciences.” Check out the publications list by ENSN members, with quite a few articles that you can download. One interesting one that jumped out at me is Folk Neurology and the Remaking of Identity.

Channeling Encephalon

Channel N has the latest edition of Encephalon up, and it’s quite a collection of neuroscience and mind-related materials. I also want to plug Channel N–a great resource for brain-related videos!

As befits the site, there is a video theme to this Encephalon, with a Steven Pinker intro, Bjoern Brembs covering spontaneous behavior (in drosophila), Jonathan Haidt on morality and happiness, Laura Collins on anorexia, The Karen Carpenter Story (also anorexia), Albert Bandura and social aggression, and a sleep walking robot all featured onsite!

A couple other posts that jumped out at me were Modern Medicine for Manipulation of the Mind on oxytocin, trust and pharmacological treatment and Socializing Promotes Survival of New Nerve Cells and May Preserve Memory on zebra finches and neurogenesis.

Also to note, we will be hosting the next Encephalon on June 23rd, so please send in your submissions to encephalon dot host @ gmail dot com before then!

The Allegory of the Trolley Problem Paradox

Back in January we discussed the trolley problem when considering Pinker’s proposal for a moral instinct. But here’s a much funnier take on the whole issue! (Click on the image to make it larger if you can’t read the small lettering.)

The hat tip goes to the very cool Bioephemera, or biology + art (also see the old version here for more art & biology). That led me to Saint Gasoline, or a fine mixture of intellectualism and fart jokes, and their discussion of the trolley problem.

Migrated to neuroanthropology.net

We’re young and still experiencing some growing pains, but we’ve gone ahead and gotten our own domain. So if you’re reading this, hopefully you’ve notice that we’re now neuroanthropology.net. WordPress is still hosting the site, but we think that the new address will help us to continue to grow ourselves as a site for exploring the many intersections between anthropology and the brain sciences.

Expression and trauma

Just a brief note. I came across this press release from the UC of Irvine, Expressing feelings after trauma not necessary, research shows, based on work by psychologist Roxane Cohen Silver. As the press release details:

Talking it out has long been considered essential to recovering from a trauma. But new research shows that expressing one’s thoughts and feelings after a traumatic event is not necessary for long-term emotional and physical health, a finding that could change the way institutions devote money and resources to mental health services following collective traumas.

The research looked at the effects of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks and found that ‘individuals who communicated their thoughts and feelings about the attacks reported more physical health problems and emotional distress over time, even after controlling for exposure to and distance from the attacks.’

What I appreciated about the release though is that Silver didn’t feel the need to propose that a uniform therapy form need replace the current orthodoxy. That is, she simply acknowledges that people are different, and that different coping and recovery techniques might work for various people. I found the lack of one-solution-fits-all rhetoric pretty appealing. Certainly, we find in different cultures that people cope in a variety of ways; imposing therapeutic techniques, rather than just creating or offering therapeutic opportunities, often is counterproductive.

100 ways to improve your brain health

One of our readers, Fiona King, sent a link to me for the page, Brain Power: 100 Ways to Keep Your Mind Healthy and Fit, by Alisa Miller. Usually, when I get this stuff, it’s someone trying to sell something, like ‘brain health’ online programs or tapes or something, but this list looks legit, and it’s not trying to plug some product (well, there’s some kind words for chai and avocado, for example, and some mild criticism of the blogger’s fuel of choice: caffeine).

The page is provided by the Online Education Database, which appears to be a network of online educational resources.

Thanks to Fiona for providing it, although the anthropologist in me is still squeamish with the notion of ‘brain health.’ I still think that it often encourages an idea that there is a ‘best way’ to have a brain, when, in fact, there are a number of ways that brains are grown, and they likely all have mixed ‘health’ consequences. But I’ll write more on that some other time…