3×5: Culture, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry Weekly Roundup (May 29)


1. Stephen Levinson’s editorial “Kinship and Human Thought” and Charles Kemp and Terry Regier’s report, “Kinship Categories Across Languages Reflect General Communication Principles” in 5/25/12 issue of Science.

2. Daniel Lende’s 5/23/12 post on Neuroanthropology, “Dozier School, Dead Boys, and Forensic Setting to Rights,” which describes the efforts of a USF multi-disciplinary team to investigate horrific trauma at the Florida Reform School for Boys, including the identification and excavation of forgotten graves.

3. Jason Antrosio of Anthropology Report’s 5/25/12 roundup “Interdisciplinary Anthropology and Biocultural Approaches.”

4. James Staples and Tom Widger’s editorial, “Situation Suicide as an Anthropological Problem: Ethnographic Appraoches to Understanding Self-Harm and Self-Inflicted Death” in the June 2012 issue of Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry.

5. Michael Kral’s ‘Postcolonial Suicide Among Inuit in Arctic Canada,” inter alia, in the same issue.


1. Vaughan Bell has two posts on MRI.  “The Trouble with Brain Scans” (5/26/12) which appeared in The Observer, and the followup “A Bridge Over Troubled Waters for fMRI,” which he posted to his blog. He is also the master of metaphors that are good for thinking with: psychiatric disorders are like literary genres (see below), voxels (imaging science’s unit of analysis) are like roulette wheels (“ideally, the analysis should separate roulette wheels from genuine activity”).

2.  Psychologist Gary Marcus, writing in the The New Yorker (“The Web Gets Smarter”), argues that “in a decade or two, scientists and journalists may well look back at this moment as the dividing line between machines that dredged massive amounts of data—with no clue what that data meant—and machines that started to think, just a little bit, like people.”

3. Commentary by Joshua Buckholtz and René Marois, “The Roots of Modern Justice: Cognitive and Neural Foundations of Social Norms and Their Enforcement” in the May 2012 issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

4. Are prions at the root of some neuropsychiatric disorders? (Does this instigate a subsequent “connectopathy?)” Re former, see Claudio Soto’s “Transmissible Proteins: Expanding the Prion Heresy” (5/25/12) in Cell.

5. New research highlighted by Katherine Whalley in latest Nature Reviews Neuroscience: Issa et al.’s “Neural Circuit Reconfiguration by Social Status” in 4/18/12 Journal of Neuroscience.  


1. NIMH Director Thomas Insel’s 5/28/12 post on military mental health, “Serving Those Who Served.

2. Former marine Mike Scotto’s 5/28/12 opinion piece in the New York Times, “The V.A.’s Shameful Betrayal” about veterans’ inadequate mental health care, and ongoing struggle with stigma.

3. Related to which, the change in the public’s understanding of mental illness as a “neurobiological disorder” (both in US and across the globe) has not decreased stigma. See e.g. Pescosolido et al.’s “‘A Disease Like Any Other?’ A Decade of Change in Public Reactions to Schizophrenia, Depression, and Alcohol Dependence” in November 2010 American Journal of Psychiatry.

4. Vaughan Bell’s 5/22/12 “What Is the Bible of Psychiatry Supposed to Do? The Peculiar Challenges of an Uncertain Science.”

5. Katherine Whalley research highlight: (“Depression” Biomarker Discovery” in June 2012 Nature Reviews Neuroscience. See Pajer et al.’s Discovery of blood transcriptomic markers for depression in animal models and pilot validation in subjects with early-onset major depression in Transl. Psychiatry 2, e101 (2012).

This entry was posted in challenges of interdisciplinary research 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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