Wednesday Round Up #137

I came across this photo at No Caption Needed in the post, The Anthropological Moment. We definitely seem to be in one of those now – just a very different one.

For all that the caption [“Act of Faith”] does to shape comprehension, the photograph is a compelling depiction of emotional intensity. The image is one of great compression: the cropping concentrates our vision on the intensely evocative human face which is intensified further by the symbolic power of the cross, the communicative power of hands at once open and clasped, and the intimacy of a kiss. Not only are two bodies being brought together, but they are enacting a powerful moment of public intimacy.

Arizona and the Giffords Shooting

I’ve provided ongoing coverage of one major aspect in my post, Jared Lee Loughner – Is Mental Illness the Explanation for What He Did? Here are some other pieces, largely out of the mainstream, that also caught my eye, and that I want to highlight.

Bradley Voytek, Gabrielle Giffords’ Brain Surgery: Decompressive Hemicraniectomy
*Great in-depth detail on the surgical procedure

MarkCC, Mental Illness and Responsibility
*Good reflection on mental illness, everyday life, social reactions, and responsibility for actions

Christian Science Monitor, Arizona Shooting: An Isolated Case with Broad Ramifications
*One of the best editorials out there on the shooting and what it might mean for us as a society

Keka, Sheriff Dupnik–A Different Type of Hero
*Dupnik’s words directly in the aftermath of the shooting resonated with many people. Here’s a good reflection, as well as the video itself


Jason Goldman, Announcing The Open Lab Finalists!
*List of the finalists included in the 5th edition of The Open Laboratory. Some really great blogging!

Open Scholar
*If you’re thinking about creating an academic website for your research, check out this new, user friendly web tool that helps you launch your own site.

Mark Peterson, Developing Expertise
*NPR recently aired a story on the development of language, however, instead of asking a linguistic anthropologist to contribute to the broadcast, they asked a paleoanthropologist. This story sparked a discussion among linguistic anthropologists on how to increase their participation in media outlets. The following is an excellent guide for anthropologists and other academics on using the internet to reach a broader audience.

Alvaro Dias, The Foundations of Neuroanthropology
*A pretty good discussion of parts of neuroanthropology and bridging the divide between neuroscience and social anthropology.

Michael Smith, The International Encyclopedia of The Social and Behavioral Sciences
*Excellent online resource of 17,000 pages filled with social science articles. Great starting point for when you’re researching an unfamiliar topic.

Travis Saunders, Can Sitting Too Much Kill You?
*Surprising new findings indicating that sitting for an extended amount of time has negative health consquences for everyone, including individuals who exercise regularly. The lesson here is to take frequent breaks from your desk and walk around for a bit.

Joel Johnson, The Agonizing Last Words of Programmer Bill Zeller
*Bill Zeller, a PhD student at Princeton and well-known computer programmer, recently took his own life. He left an intense and emotionally wrenching suicide note detailing the sexual and physical abuse he experienced as a child, which led to his decision to kill himself.

Award Winning Anthropology Writing
*Great list of anthrological writings that have received awards.

Ed Yong, No Love for Outsiders – Oxytocin Boosts Favouritism towards our own Ethnic or Cultural Group
*Oxytocin, the dark side of the “love” hormone. For my money, this is not surpising – oxytocin is a social affiliation hormone. But people keep wanting to cast human causes/characterizations onto the physical functioning of our brains. If the brain really worked that way, we wouldn’t work at all.

David Dobbs, The Love-Hate Hormone, Ingroup/Outgroup Wars, and the Power of Culture
*Dobbs highlights how culture can make oxytocin function in the ways the new research has revealed. Great post!


John Postill, Digital Politics
*Does the Internet increase democratization? Encourage civic engagement? These are some of the questions explored in a bibliography of articles on digital politics.

Barbara Miller, Top 40 North American Dissertations in Cultural Anthropology 2010: AnthroWorks Picks
*Good list of dissertations on health, inequality, gender, violence, environment, family, and population.

Science Daily, Lice DNA Study Shows Humans First Wore Clothes 170,000 Years Ago
*Through a study of lice DNA, scientists have a better understanding of when our ancestors first started wearing clothes, which assisted in their migration to colder climates. For more detail, see this lice story from Medical News Today

S. Rana, A Time for Drunken Horses
*Review of an ethnographic film on Iranian Kurds and their perilous journey between Iraq and Iran.

Dimitris Papadopoulos, Insurgent Posthumanism
*Great article on posthumanist, left politics, and justice.

Valuable Online Resources for Students of Anthropology
*Excellent guide to websites on the four sub-disciplines of anthropology.

Associated Press, Cretan Tools Point to 130,000-Year-Old Sea Travel
*Exciting discovery of stone tools in Crete, which point to early sea voyages.

Brandon Keim, Clever Crows Use Tools in New Way
*Crows are known for using sticks to forage for food, but they have also demonstrated the ability to use sticks for other purposes. Watch video footage of a crow using a stick to poke a rubber spider – very similar to what some children do.

Marc Kaufman, Ancient Winemaking Operation Unearthed in Armenian Cave
*Evidence of the first winery and it’s not in France.

Ruminations of Madness, Culture and Psychosis: Brief Ruminations
*A riff off Greg’s piece

Gary Susswein, Being Poor Can Suppress Children’s Genetic Potentials
*Here social conditions produce different effects, much as we know with height and genetics

Alix Spiegel, Closing The Achievement Gap With Baby Talk
*Words, words, words, and early in life


Kathryn Clancy, Around the Web: Cognitive Sex Differences
*Great post on sorting through various studies on cognitive sex differences and how to teach your students to be critical of these studies.

Christian Moore, The Influence of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior
*Research showing that personality traits contribute to violent behavior, not video games.

Neuroskeptic, A Grand Unified Theory of Autism?
*Neuroscientists recently proposed a unified theory of autism, based on the premise that all symptoms of autism are a result of the brain’s hyper-responsiveness to stimuli. The underlying theory is that an autistic person has too many connections within some microunits.

Stephen Levy, The AI Revolution Is On
*While we may not see robots walking around, artificial intelligence has become a part of our lives in many ways, which we tend to overlook.

Sam Dillon, Journal Showcases Dying Art of The Research Paper
*There’s been a decline in research papers according to the founder of an academic journal for high school students and based on a survey of high school history teachers.

Steven Hyman, Slipping The ‘Cognitive Straitjacket’ of Psychiatric Diagnosis
*Fascinating look at recently studies examining the connection between genetics and mental health disorders and what this means in terms of diagnosing patients.

Raymond Tallis, The Mind in The Mirror
*Review of The Tell Tale Brain, which discusses what the brain can tell us about ourselves. Tallis takes the book’s author to task for taking a reductionist view of human behavior.

Neurocritic, More Friends on Facebook Does NOT Equal a Larger Amygdala
*A look at some of the misrepresentations in the news of the recent study showing an association between large social networks and the size of the amygdale in the brain.

Alix Spiegel, What’s A Mental Disorder? Even Experts Can’t Agree
*Former editor of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual weighs in on the current controversy surrounding upcoming revisions to the book and talks about his concerns regarding over diagnosis.

NPR, Our Brains Are Shrinking. Are We Getting Dumber?
*In the last 50,000 years, our brains have shrunk in size. Did we just domesticate ourselves?

Science Daily, Researchers Identify ‘Facebook Neurons': Population of Highly Active
Neurons Could Provide Insight Into the Neocortex
*Certainly a catchy title, but with predictable problems! The Neurocritic says it best in her post on this research, Is the moniker really necessary?


Scicurious, Drug Abuse And Rat Playgrounds
*Remember that study on rats in a playground and their consumption of morphine? It’s an often cited study in drug projects and now the original is dissected in this interesting post on the actual findings and methods.

Antoine, Bechara, Decision Making, Impulse Control And Loss of Willpower to Resist Drugs: A Neurocognitive Perspective
*A neural explanation of addiction, choice, and impulse.

Randall O’Reilly and Michael Frank, Making Working Memory Work: A Computational Model of Learning in the Prefrontal Cortex And Basal Ganglia
*Good article on how the prefrontal cortex regulates working memory.

George Mason University, Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America
*Interesting cross-disciplinary (anthropology and public health) study examining what influences teens to drink.

Zevic Mishor, Book Review: The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios
*Psychedelic anthropology, shamanism, and drug tourism. Fascinating book on the work of Marlene Dobkin de Rios, one of the first researchers to study drug practices.

David Brin, An Open Letter to Researchers of Addiction, Brain Chemistry, and Social Psychology
*Interesting letter on gaps in current studies on addiction and how addressing these issues will help in gaining a better understanding of drug abuse and treatment options.

Steve Mirsky, Ancient Greek Symposium Featured Drinking Rules
*The first fraternity started with a bunch of men sitting around drinking together. Not much has changed since it was created…

Vaughan Bell, The Real Real Thing
*The reclaiming of coca and the return of a popular beverage. Read about the Paez people in Columbia producing a drink containing coca leaves.

Valorie Salimpoor, Anatomically Distinct Dopamine Release During Anticipation And Experience of Peak Emotion to Music
*Music is enjoyed globally and a source of pleasure for many listeners. The affect music has on dopamine levels in the brain may explain this phenomena.

Zusha Elinson, Marijuana Dispensaries Are Facing New Scrutiny
*The legalization of medical marijuana was a victory for severely ill patients, however, law enforcement officials have started to crack down on businesses that sell marijuana to non-patients.

Justin Smith, The Internet, Tamed
*The internet can suck up our time quickly, but how do we wean ourselves from our addiction to Facebook and Youtube? Smith discusses how the internet draws us in and how we might decrease our time surfing the web.

Safia Danovi, The mTORC1 Signaling Cascade Plays a Key Part in Alcohol Abuse Disorders
*It’s well-known that drug abuse can alter the brain’s reward system. Now scientists are closer to understanding the molecular changes that beer can cause in the brain.

Marya Zilberberg, Radium, Dopamine And Innovation: Name Your Poison
*Interesting post on how dopamine may not only influence addictive behaviors, but also risk taking and creative processes.

Alison Bass, More Americans Harmed by Prescription Drug Misuse Than Illegal Drugs
*Surprising news on the increase in prescription drug use, which has led to more health complications than illegal drugs.

David Nichols, Legal Highs: The Dark Side of Medicinal Chemistry
*Disturbing post by a drug researcher on how his work has been used to manufacture illegal and sometimes fatal compounds.

Gretchen Reynolds, Phys Ed: Does Exercising Make You Drink More Alcohol?
*Yes, studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are more likely to drink, but researchers are still unsure why it happens.

A&E, Intervention
*Reality show from A&E that documents people battling their addictions – a surprisingly serious topic for reality television.

Jerome Handler, Aspects of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Smoking Pipes, Tobacco, and the Middle Passage
*Tobacco well-established in West Africa by very early 1600s – some really great graphics in this paper

Maia Szalavitz, Top Ten Legal Drugs Linked to Violence
*And political commentators have access to all of them!

James Owen, Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave
*6,000 years ago!

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