3×5: Culture, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry Weekly Roundup (May 21)

My five favorite reads for week of 14–21 May 2012:


1. Greg Downey of Neuroanthropology: “Not Allowed to Have a Small Heart: Tourette Syndrome.” May 15 – June 15 is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month and Greg has written a beautiful post about the neuropsychiatric disorder, which includes a review of Rob Lemelson’s deeply moving ethnographic film, The Bird Dancer.

2. Science historian Eric Michael Johnson’s Behind the TIME Cover: Most Human Societies Don’t Get Our Breastfeeding Hangup.

3. The Miami Herald also weighs in on the Time cover with a well-sourced commentary: “Did Cave Babies Have Attachment Parents” for which they pay thanks to Katherine Dettwyler of the University of Delaware and co-editor of Breast-Feeding: Biocultural Perspectives, Katherine Hinde of Harvard University and author of the blog Mammals Suck, and Meredith Small of Cornell University and author of Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent.

4. The research of psychologist Carol Ryff, a speaker at our next Culture, Mind, and Brain conference, is featured in a piece by science journalist and biopsychologist Alice Walton in The Atlantic: “What We Know About How to Be Happy.”

5. Biocultural anthropologist Kate Clancy has a great post on her SCIAM Context and Variation blog about why we shouldn’t prescribe hormonal contraception to 12-year-olds.


1. Edward Bullmore and Olaf Sporns’s “The Economy of Brain Network Organization” in the May 2012 issue of Nature Reviews Neurosience. 

2. Also, in Frontiers in Psychiatry, Alex Fornito and Edward Bullmore recently discussed the possibility of “connectomic intermediate phenotypes for psychiatric disorders.”

3. Fascinating PNAS paper on maternal stress and affective problems (“Maternal cortisol over the course of pregnancy and subsequent child amygdala and hippocampus volumes and affective problems“) by Buss et al.

4. Also in PNAS, emotion related circuitry in young children (I recently heard one of the co-authors,  Lucina Uddin of Stanford, give an interesting talk about functional connectivity with implications for autism at UCLA): http://www.pnas.org/content/109/20/7941.short?rss=1.

5. Finally, there is a great review on shared neurosubstrates by Naomi Eisenberger in the June 2012 issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience:  “The pain of social disconnection.”


1. China Daily discusses the country’s shortage of mental health services.

2. New England Journal of Medicine has a commentary by Paul McHugh and Phillip Slavney on the DSM (“Mental Illness – Comprehensive Evaluation or Checklist?”).

3. Jones, Rahman, and Everitt’s fascinating paper on psychiatric diagnosis at Maudsley Hospital 1924-1935  in latest History of Psychiatry  is about an era “before classification systems were tested for reliability” and “diagnosis was fluid, reflecting changing hypotheses about causation, pathology and treatment.”

4. In case you’re thinking of buying, here’s a pdf of Catharine Coleborne’s review of Waltraud Ernst and Thomas Mueller’s Transnational Psychiatries: Social and Cultural Histories of Psychiatry in Comparative Perspective c. 1800-2000.

5. Finally, in response to my post on the DSM-5, George Dawson suggested I read Justin Marley’s passionate rebuttal of Edward Shorter’s blog post in SCIAM. I did before and have done so again! I’d recommend both (but I’m totally Team Shorter on this)  – as well as the McHugh & Slavney commentary in NEJM mentioned above.


Beneficial neural effects of bilingualism http://www.pnas.org/content/109/20/7877.short?rss=1

This entry was posted in challenges of interdisciplinary research, Defining mental illness, DSM-5, social neuroscience by Constance A. Cummings. Bookmark the permalink.

About Constance A. Cummings

Constance A. Cummings, PhD, is Project Director of the non-profit Foundation for Psychocultural Research, which supports and advances interdisciplinary research and scholarship at the intersection of brain, mind, culture, and mental health and illness. She is co-editor (with Carol Worthman, Paul Plotsky, and Dan Schechter) of Formative Experiences: The Interaction of Caregiving, Culture, and Developmental Psychobiology (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and (with Laurence Kirmayer and Rob Lemelson) the forthcoming Re-Visioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience, and Global Mental Health (Cambridge, 2015). She received her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from New York University.

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