Neuroanthropology on Facebook – A Round-Up of the Good Stuff

Earlier in this year, Greg and I started micro-blogging and posting links on our Neuroanthropology Facebook site. We’re over 1,000 likes there, so thanks to everyone who has taken part in building our presence on Facebook.

Along with my assistant Allison Hansell, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of the short posts, links, and scholarly articles we’ve posted. A mega round-up, as it were, in the tradition of the old Wednesday Round Ups. It covers everything through October 31st, 2012. Have fun exploring!

We’ll keep doing short stuff over there, so head over to Facebook to stay current. Or take a glance to the right, where the Facebook RSS feed can give you a sense of recent activity…

One note: The Facebook posts are done in chronological order, earlier in the year to most recent. Everything else – blogs and social media, news and journalism, and scholarly research – is in alphabetical order.

Facebook Posts

Michael Phelps: Losing the 400IM and his Taper. Neuroanthropology Facebook. July 29, 2012.

Phelps didn’t even medal in the 400IM. So, what happened?

Can We Get Beyond Dualism, Statistical or Otherwise? Neuroanthropology Facebook. July 30, 2012.

This critique reviews the New York Times article Neuroscience and Moral Responsibility, in particular their reduction of human language and action to brain states.

Prediction Error. Neuroanthropology Facebook. August 8, 2012.

This critique provides insight into “prediction error” theory and critiques an article by Andy Clark (found here) which discusses the theory.

Seeing Blue Summary. Neuroanthropology Facebook. August 12, 2012.

This post provides a summary by Giulio Tononi of how his theory of integrated information works.

Francis Crick Memorial Conference. Neuroanthropology Facebook. August 14, 2012.

This post provides an overview of the conference that was held in July with the theme “Consciousness in Human and Nonhuman Animals”. It also discusses the new “Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness”.

We’re in for a Long Fight. Neuroanthropology Facebook. September 8, 2012.

This post provides an overview of an article by Robert Wright (found here) in which Wright discusses psychology and the problem with the discussion surrounding “an internet gene”.

Writing Changes. Neuroanthropology Facebook. September 26, 2012.

This article discusses writing and the changes of writing throughout the years. It also provides an overview of the Atlantic’s “Writing Revolution”, found here

Julian Jaynes: Notes on Revisiting the Bicameral Mind. Neuroanthropology Facebook. October 30, 2012.

Julian Jaynes produced a provocative theory on the historical origins of consciousness in the 1970s. Here’s a quick overview of how scholars have updated his ideas.

Blogs and Social Media

Abbott, Michael
2012. Skyrim for Small Fry. Brainy Gamer. July 30.

The Brainy Gamer posts about playing Skyrim – a mature fantasy game full of monsters and swords and magic – with his four and a half year old daughter. Michael Abbott captures why this game is “an incredibly fertile playground” for kids as well as adults.

Bell, Vaughan
2012. A Very Modern Trauma. Mind Hacks. August 11.

New research on how we’ve understood the impact of trauma historically, including during the Civil War.

Bemme, Doerte and Nicole D’souza
2012. Global Mental Health and its Discontents. Somatosphere. July 23.

The field of Global Mental Health (GMH) is an emerging formation of knowledge and practice seeking to address mental illness on a global scale. Is it just a new form of Western domination or something that will achieve local good?

Boroditsky, Lera
2012. Beyond the Physics: How Languages Help us Construe and Construct. YouTube. July 25.

Boroditsky on Language and Culture. And Sarah Palin!

Cummings, Constance
2012. 3×5: Culture, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry Weekly Roundup: Empathy (August 6). blog. August 7.

A roundup of readings related to empathy which covers anthropology, neuroscience, and psychiatry.

Defective Heart Girl
2012. Tales from the OR. Defective Heart Girl Problems. July 29.

In-depth description and photos of Defective Heart Girl’s own open-heart surgery.

Dobbs, David
2012. Batman Returns: How Culture Shapes Muddle Into Madness. Wired Science Blogs. July 27.

The Aurora shootings, and the analysis of culture, violence, and mental illness.

Dunn, Rob
2012. Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians. Scientific American. July 23.

A different perspective of the “paleo diet” which proposes the idea that there is no one diet that actually encompasses the “Paleolithic diet”.

Elusive Self
2012. In Defence of Cognitive Neuroscience. August 29.

While Raymond Tallis highlights certain things that neuroscientists miss, areas where anthropologists can certainly contribute, there is also a role for neuroscience in explaining human behavior.

Empirical Zeal
2012. The Crayola-Fication of the World: How We Gave Colors Names, and it Messed with Our Brains (Part II). June 11.

Great summary of cross-cultural research on color perception, Whorfian relativity, experimental work, and brain processing.

Fuentes, Agustin
2012. There is Nothing Simple about Being Human: Busting Myths of Human Nature. Berfrois: Intellectual Jousting in the Republic of Letters.

The biocultural approach to human nature, and how that requires breaking apart some common myths we hold about our essential human character.

Fuentes, Agustin
2012. Is Inequality Natural? Psychology Today.

Inequality, evolution, and history in short order. Fuentes distinguishes between human variation and the idea of “psychosocial equality,” and the historical processes over the past 10,000 years that have led to social inequality.

Greenemeier, Larry
2012. Colorado ‘Batman’ Shootings Eerily Similar to Others Involving a Lack of Cognitive Control. Scientific American. July 20.

This article on the Colorado shooting includes an interview with Marco Iacoboni about why some individuals act on their violent thoughts while others do not. Includes questions such as “What turns anger into action?” and the “signs” of a “disturbed person”.

Jabr, Ferris
2012. Does Self-Awareness Require a Complex Brain? Scientific American. August 22.

Interesting discussion of the possibility of self awareness and forms of consciousness, even in the face of severe brain insult, lesion or developmental problem.

Johnson, Eric Michael
2012. The Joker’s Wild: On the Ecology of Gun Violence in America. Scientific American. July 26.

The ecology of violence, the dynamics of social capital, and the need for local activism and engagement.

Levy, Neil
2012. Your Brain on the Internet: A Response to Susan Greenfield. The Conversation. August 8.

A more balanced discussion of the effects of new communication technologies on the brain than the Barroness Susan Greenfield, serial techno-phobic.

Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre
2012. Podcast: Dr. Laurence Kirmayer on Cultural Psychiatry. June 20.

Laurence Kirmayer is a leading figure in cultural psychiatry and biocultural anthropology. In this podcast he discusses the importance of culture for psychiatry.

2012. Interview with Hillary S. Webb. Psychedelic Press UK. August 17.

Hillary Webb, an anthropologist who did work on altered states and psychedelic substances in Peru.

Ruminations on Madness
2012. Maeror Meror (In Mourning). Ruminations on Madness: Theory, Phenomenology & Politics.

Moving first-hand account of schizophrenia in grad school, the stigma and exclusion experienced, and eventual transcendence.

2012. The Cockroach Beatbox. TED-ED. March.

Let’s just say this is a unique way of teaching neuroscience!

Willingham, Emily
2012. Autism, Immunity, Inflammation, and the New York Times. August 27.

A solid critique of a New York Times article on autism, which proposed that autism is caused by immune reactions and inflammation.

Newspaper/Magazine Articles

Ananthaswamy, Anil
2012. Brain Might Not Stand in the Way of Free Will. New Scientist. August.

New research that reworks Benjamin Libet’s classic take that there is no “free will” in the brain, since decisions appear to be “made” by the brain before you are consciously aware of them. Here, the new research shows how much Libet’s interpretive frame shaped how he presented his results, and how dynamic systems theory adds new avenues to understand human agency.

Buettner, Dan
2012. The Island Where People Forget to Die.. The New York Times. October 28.

A healthful lifestyle requires a cultural ecosystem, with the power of such an environment lying in “the mutually reinforcing relationships among lots of small nudges and default choices.”

Chivers, Tom
2012. We want a Culture of Risk-Taking in Schools? Brilliant – but Let’s Remember what Risk Actually Means. The Telegraph. August 13.

Risk, memory, and how we manage risk as a society. We want scapegoats and “causes”; we remember big events, rather than the everyday things that can really damage us; we think viscerally rather than statistically.

Cordell, Ryan
2012. Creating and Maintaining a Professional Presence Online: A Roundup and Reflection. The Chronicle of Higher Education. October 3.

Advice for how academics (and others) on how to cultivate their work in the emerging online ecosystem.

De Foe
2012. Body Swapping and Out-of-Body Experiences – A How-to Guide. The Conversation. October 12.

This article discusses out of boy experiences and gives the impression that these experiences can be induced, and that they may actually be useful for certain kinds of psychological coping. Earlier research has shown that these experiences may be positive for treating panic and anxiety disorders.

Downey, Greg
2012. Faster Athletes, Slower Spectators and the Olympic Marathon. Huffington Post. July 21.

This article discusses the gap that is growing between athletes and spectators due to the greater inactivity among people in both the developed and developing world. While the Olympics are a highly active global sport, the audience who watches from home is much more sedentary.

Egginton, William
2012. Can Neuroscience Challenge Roe V. Wade? New York Times. October 28.

Fascinating piece on science, law and personhood, with particular reference to neuroscience, pain, and reproductive rights.

Gilbert, Nick
2012. Researchers Demonstrate First Backdoor “Hack” into the Human Brain. Gizmag. August 22.

Can scientists now hack your brain and steal your bank information?  Maybe not quite yet, but they are getting an understanding of how your brain registers particular kinds of stimuli as meaningful or useful.

Gottlieb, Anthony
2012. It Ain’t Necessarily So: How much do Evolutionary Stories Reveal About the Mind? The New Yorker. September 17.

Great critique of evolutionary psychology.  Evolved fear of snakes?  Meet the snake handlers of the world.

Jha, Alok
2012. Childhood Stimulation Key to Brain Development, Study Finds. The Guardian. October 14.

As the brain matures during childhood and adolescence, brain cells in the cortex are pruned back and, as unnecessary cells are eliminated, the cortex gets thinner. Farah found that the more cognitive stimulation a participant had had at the age of four, the thinner, and therefore more developed, their cortex.

Johnson, Carolyn Y.
2012. Scientists Begin to Unravel the Long-Lasting Biological Effects of Early-Life Adversity, Social Isolation. The Boston Globe. September 21.

Good coverage of both animal model and human research on how early difficulties can produce long-term developmental problems.

Johnson, Eric Michael
2012. Ayn Rand vs. the Pygmies. Slate. October 3.

Ayn Rand versus evidence of altruism in foraging peoples. A well-crafted and timely piece that brings evolutionary theory to bear on a thinker who’s getting a lot of buzz because of the use of her thinking in contemporary American politics.

Kelland, Kate
2012. Insight – Neuroscience in Court: My Brain Made Me Do It. Reuters. August 29.

Do “abnormalities” in the brain help get people off? This Reuters piece on neuroscience and the law examines the increasing use of brain-based explanations in the legal system.

King, Barbara J.
2012. Thoughts on Three Famous “Language Apes”. National Public Radio.

A balanced and thorough account of some of most famous examples of other primates being taught to ‘speak,’ and claims being made about their cognitive capabilities by the researchers associated. King presents some of the thorniest ethical and philosophical issues in succinct detail.

Madrigal, Alexis C.
2012. Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong. The Atlantic. October 12.

This analysis discusses the power of “dark social” or informal social dynamics rather than organized noes such as Facebook or Twitter.

Mertens, Maggie
2012. Freedom Soda: New York’s Ban on Big Sodas Hits Us Where We’re Human. National Public Radio. September 13.

Two Anthropologists comment on NYC soda ban. Craig Hadley and Kathy Oths, leading biocultural researchers of food and nutrition, are featured on NPR.

Mullen, Paul
2012. Forensic Psych on Violent Minds. ABC News Australia. July 22.

In this video interview, Mullen gives a most balanced assessment of mass killers like James Holmes, Anders Breivik, and Jared Loughner. He discusses cultural scripts, individual variation, cross-cultural comparison with the amok in Malaysia, considered thoughts on the media and gun control, the links with mental health.

Murphy, Dominic
2012 Strange or Just Plain Weird? Cultural Variation in Mental Illness. The Conversation. October 23.

WEIRD psychiatry – “the western way of being mentally ill is just one culturally distinctive way among others”

Neuroscience News
2012. How Early Social Deprivation Impairs Long-Term Cognitive Function. Neuroscience News. September 13.

Short piece discussing links between stress and failure to develop sufficient myelination during critical periods of brain development that might explain one of the ways that early deprivation affects later brain function.

Schweller, Ken
2012. Apes with Apps: Using Tablets and Customized Keyboards, Bonobos can Become Great Communicators. Ieee Spectrum. July.

For more than three decades, researchers have been working with a small group of bonobos, to explore their amazing cognitive and linguistic abilities. The researchers hope their studies will shed light on people’s development and use of language, the impact of culture on cognition, and the cognitive structures that must be in place for language to blossom.

2012. More Sophisticated Wiring, Not Just Bigger Brain, Helped Humans Evolve Beyond Chimps, Geneticists fine. Science Daily. August 22.

Frontal cortex neural plasticity as key difference between humans and chimps, based on comparative research looking at gene expression in brains.

2012. Like Humans, Monkeys Can Make Irrational Decisions when Making Choices. Science Daily. October 3.

When making decisions about the value of an assortment of different objects, people approximate an average overall value, which though frequently useful can lead to apparently irrational decision-making. Jerald Kralik and colleagues at Dartmouth College shows for the first time that non-human primates also make similar ‘irrational’ choices based on approximation.

2012. Brain Parts can Evolve Independently, Shows Analysis of Brains of 10,000 Mice. Science Daily. September 25.

The research presented in this article indicates that different parts of the brain can evolve somewhat independently of each other, backing up previous proposals for just this kind of evolutionary dynamics.

2012. Evolution Mostly Driven by Brawn, Not Brains, Analysis Finds. Science Daily. October 15.

This article questions the classic analysis of brain to body size, demonstrating that body size can reduce even as brain size stays the same. For humans, the corrollary is actually even more important – much of our early jump in brain size in Homo evolution can be tied to simply becoming a larger size.

Sederer, Lloyd and Matthew Erlich
2012. How Thoughts Become a Psychiatric Diagnosis. The Atlantic. July 18.

Two psychiatrists give a balanced view of the art of diagnosis, the state of biological knowledge, and the practice of psychiatry.

Shultz, Dana
2012. Alzheimer’s May be Result of Poor Diet; Some Calling it Type 3 Diabetes. Diets in Review. September 13.

“Likening Alzheimer’s to diabetes means it could be caused by excessive blood glucose in the body caused by a deficiency of insulin – a hormone naturally produced by the body to alert the liver, muscles and body fat to absorb glucose in the blood. As a result, diabetes sufferers – and perhaps Alzheimer’s sufferers as well – experience either an inability to produce insulin or an inability within the body to respond to insulin signals.”

Spiegel, Alix
2012. Teachers’ Expectations can Influence how Students Perform. National Public Radio. September 17.

Teachers’ expectations about students, and how that shaped day-to-day interactions, had powerful feedback effects on students.

Stromberg, Joseph
2012. Combat Stress in Afghanistan Could Alter Soldiers’ Long-term Neural Makeup. Smithsonian Magazine. September 3.

An accessible overview of new research that followed NATO soldiers over time, comparing those who were deployed versus those who were not.

Velasquez-Manoff, Moises
2012. An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism. The New York Times. August 25.

Speculative in proposing that up to 1/3 of cases of autism as being a type of inflammatory disease (see the Willingham critique in the blog section); still, the interactive approach to environment and brain is intriguing.

Von Baldegg, Kasia Cieplak-Mayr
2012. A Freaky Visual Journey through a Human Skull, One MRI ‘Slice’ at a Time. The Atlantic. August 9.

After a series of medical tests, Christopher Powers, a software engineer and filmmaker, decided to transform the resulting series of 2-D and 3-D scans of his body into an experimental film — an eerie anatomical self-portrait. This article includes the video as well as an interview with Powers.

Wang, Sam and Sandra Aamodt
2012. Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain. The Dana Foundation.

Neuroculture, in this context, means cultural identifications and groupings based on neurological-themed discourses, for example, “cognitive health” in relation to aging.

Wright, Robert
2012. How ‘Confirmation Bias’ Can Lead to War. The Atlantic. July 25.

Confirmation bias and lack of cognitive control are highlighted as the privileged way to explain why war happens, or why a lone man kills many others.

Yong, Ed
2012. Science is Only Human – My Talk on Bad Behaviour. Discover Magazine. October 10.

Science writer Ed Yong links to his recent talk on the research problems and biases in the human sciences, with a focus on psychology.

Scholarly Articles and Presentations

Avants, B., L. Betancourt, J. Giannetta, G. Lawsone, J. Gee, M. Farah, H. Hurt
2012. Early Childhood Home Environment Predicts Frontal and Temporal Cortical Thickness in the Young Adult Brain. Presentation Society for Neuroscience, New Orleans, LA. October 17.

Cortical thickness in early adulthood is reduced (independently from parental IQ) by increased quality of the home environment at age 4.

Baer, Judith C., MiSung Kim, and Bonnie Wilkenfeld
2012. Is it Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Poverty? An Examination of Poor Mothers and Their Children. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal 29(4):345-355. DOI: 10.1007/s10560-012-0263-3.

Research that shows using epidemiology and statistics what anthropologists have long known (and demonstrated with ethnography) – being poor is anxiety-provoking, and can have as much to do with psychiatry as anything else.

Boykoff, Jules and Thomas F. Carter
2012. The Olympics and Its Discontents. Anthropology News.

A critique of the International Olympic Committee and the Games, with a focus on commercialization and the insistence of the IOC that it is ‘sovereign’ over global sport.

Brownlie, Julie
2012. Social Bundles: Thinking through the Infant Body. Childhood 18(2):196-210.

Parents’ understandings of the relationship between themselves, their infants, other bodies, the state, and cultural practices — material and symbolic.

Carvanna, A.E. et al.
2007. The “Bicameral Mind” 30 Years On: A Critical Reappraisal of Julian Jaynes’ Hypothesis. Functional Neurology 22(1): 11-15.

“After briefly summarizing Jaynes’ hypothesis, [this paper] addresses two main critical issues: the neurological basis of the bicameral model and the philological accuracy of Jaynes’ arguments. Finally, the concept of a non-unitary Self is presented as one of the most relevant contemporary legacies of the bicameral mind.”

Daniels, Jessie and Joe R. Feagin
2012. The (Coming) Social Media Revolution in the Academy. Fast Capitalism. October 2.

A comprehensive analysis of the basics of academia online.  But Greg’s comment points to what’s missing, giving how fast things are changing and how uncertain the future is:

“Interesting read, but I do feel like it’s a couple of years old. We’ve learned a lot more than this, I believe, including the fact that the ‘revolution’ is going to have casualties. But a few things that are missing from the article include online curating, the understanding of Twitter and Facebook as ‘conversations’ (they’re also ‘narrow casts’), and the rise and unpredictability of online classrooms (including the rage for MOOCs, which hasn’t yet broken into our fields)… I don’t think it’s late enough in the revolution to tell what the new order is going to look like. It isn’t just going to be university academics + internet.”

Eapen, Valsamma
2012. Neurodevelopmental Genes Have Not Read the DSM Criteria: Or, Have They? Frontiers in Psychiatry 3(75).

Genetics, meet development and neurodiversity in diagnosis.

Fiers, Jenniger
2012. Paradoxes of Power in Professionalized Youth Sport. Anthropology News.

The economic model of sport and how coaches and athletes with winning records are rewarded regardless of whether athletes become irresponsible or coaches/parents abuse their authority.

Gonon, Francois, Jan-Pieter Konsman, David Cohen, and Thomas Boraud
2012. Why Most Biomedical Findings Echoed by Newspapers Turn out to be Falst: The Case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. PLoS ONE 7(9):e44275.

70% of the top studies that were reported in the news turned out to be incorrect!

Happe, Francesca and Uta Frith
2009 The Beautiful Otherness of the Autistic Mind. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 364(1522):1345-1350.

Preface to a special issue on ‘talent’ and exceptional abilities in individuals with autism.

Hughes, Virginia
2012 Stress: The Roots of Resilience. Nature 490:165-167. doi:10.1038/490165a.

A discussion of stress and resilience framed around a woman’s long-term recovery from rape and attempted murder.

Liang, Y., Y. H. Gong, Z. P. Wen, C. P. Guan, M. C. Li, P. Yin, and Z. Q. Wang
2012 Social Determinants of Health and Depression: A Preliminary Investigation from Rural China. PLoS ONE 7(1):e30553.

This 2012 paper from China shows in a relatively large study done in a rural region that social determinants such as “socioeconomic status (years of schooling and self-reported economic status of family), social cohesion and negative life events” are associated with depression among adults, even after controlling for potential confounds such as gender and physical health.

Lipina, Sebastian J. and Michael I. Posner
2012. The Impact of Poverty on the Development of Brain Networks. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6:238.

Neuroscience approaches to childhood poverty using the recent data on brain networks including resting state data.

2012. Life Stresses. Nature 490:143. doi:10.1038/490143a.

This piece that calls for sociologists and biologists to work together on understanding environmental stressors.

Rodrigues, Sarina M., Joseph E. LeDoux, and Robert M. Sapolsky
2009. The Influence of Stress Hormones on Fear Circuitry. Annual Review of Neuroscience 32:289-313.

A new model for stress, with an explicit embrace of both feedforward/feedback networks and the need to understand the interaction of various neurobehavioral processes.

Rowe, Bill
2012 Retrospective: Julian Jaynes and The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. The American Journal of Psychology 125(1): 95-112.

A book ahead of its time, for good and for bad. This review favors the good.

Schwabe, Lars, Martin Tegenthoff, Oliver Hoffken, and Oliver T. Wolf
2012. Simultaneous Glucocorticoid and Noradrenergic Activity Disrupts the Neural Basis of Goal-Directed Action in the Human Brain. The Journal of Neuroscience 32(30):10146-10155.

Using experimental design, drug administration, and neuroimaging, they look at the mechanisms involved in how stress broadly conceived works to potentiate habitual behavior rather than pursue goals or other cognitively mediated intentions.

Williams, Simon J., Paul Higgs, Stephen Katz
2011. Neuroculture, Active Ageing and the ‘Older Brain’: Problems, Promises, and Prospects. Sociology of Health and Illness 34(1):64-78.

Neuroculture, in this context, means cultural identifications and groupings based on neurological-themed discourses, for example, “cognitive health” in relation to aging.

Williams, Gary
2011 What Is It Like to be Nonconscious? A Defense of Julian Jaynes. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10(2): 217-239.

“I defend the Jaynesian definition of consciousness as a social–linguistic construct learned in childhood, structured in terms of lexical metaphors and narrative practice. Finally, I employ the Jaynesian distinction between cognition and consciousness to bridge the explanatory gap and deflate the supposed “hard” problem of consciousness.”

Wolf, Eric
1989. Distinguished Lecture: Facing Power – Old Insights, New Questions. Paper presented at the 88th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November 19.

The article articulates a vision of “culture” that might prove quite useful for us – a tying together of power, organization, and signification. Wolf builds his argument by drawing on past examples, and taking the good and the bad from them to inform new questions to ask.

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