3×5: Culture, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry Weekly Roundup (June 19)

NOTE: I’ve posted four hour-long videos this week. If time doesn’t permit, I’d suggest listening to the Robert Sapolsky videos on depression and schizophrenia, maybe in your car on your way to work or finally taking that drive across the country. You couldn’t have more excellent company on a road trip!


1. I really enjoyed historian Jesse Ballenger’s first post on his new blog, To Conquer Confusion: A Historian’s Perspective on the Science and Experience of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, entitled: “Blogging and Dementia: Why This Blog.” I think blogging is a good way to throw some light on the curious contents of our “work” minds in process. (Like archeologists, we should “embrace the messiness” and, in Ballenger’s case, ambivalence.) But Ballenger also grapples with an important question, “how can choking the virtual world with one more blog possibly be an act of communicative meaning?”

2. Kristi Lewton’s review in American Anthropologist, “Complexity in Biological Anthropology in 2011: Species, Reproduction, and Sociality.”

3. The Ethnographer’s guide to big data, part 1 and part 2. Jenna Burrell’s dispatch from the DataEdge conference hosted by UC Berkeley’s School of Information.

4. Via Jason Antrosio’s Anthropology Report, with some skepticism, Zoe Corbyn’s Nature news item, “How Geography Shapes Cultural Diversity.”

5. Norbert Ross, Catherine Timura, and Jonathan Maupin in 6/11/12 Medical Anthropology Quarterly, “The Case of Curers, Noncurers, and Biomedical Experts in Pichátaro, Mexico: Resiliency in Folk-Medical Beliefs.”


1. I liked neuroscientist Bradley Voytek’s 6/16/12 post “Defending Jonah Lehrer,” which describes some critical issues regarding imaging (and also captures some of the angst surrounding the popularization of research by “non-experts”).

2. Vittorio Gallese (mirror neurons) YouTube video on “The Body in Aesthetic Experience: A Neuroscientific Perspective” from Berkeley’s Science, Technology, Medicine & Society. The talk focuses on his interdisciplinary approach to intersubjectivity and social cognition.

3. Apologies for posting TWO lengthy videos, but I loved Mario Biagioli’s book, Galileo, Courtier, so I had to post HIS Berkeley STMS talk, “Secrecy and Openness Revisited: A Genealogy of Priority in Science.”

4. Interesting 6/12/12 PNAS paper by a group of Finnish researchers, “Emotions Promote Social Interaction by Synchronizing Brain Activity Across Individuals.”

5. Andreas Bartels’ commentary in July 2012  Neuropsychopharmacology, “Oxytocin and the Social Brain: Beware the Complexity,” one of the lessons of which is, “we need to find clever ways to present social stimuli in truly social context.”


1. The is almost the all-video edition of 3×5, but Robert Sapolsky’s talk on depression is worth hearing. I agree with a commentator who described it as: “Absolute genius. Elegant, simplified without being simplistic, and cohesive.”

2. A second video by Sapolsky on Schizophrenia:

3. I’ve just started reading Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future. Here is link to U of Chicago description and excerpt:

[The Cybernetic Brain] explores the largely forgotten group of British thinkers—Bateson included—that tripped the light fantastic at the frontiers of psychiatry, systems management, politics, epistemology, and Eastern thought as the twentieth century came of age. In the excerpt that follows below, he locates Bateson’s ideas on schizophrenia and enlightenment alongside Western appreciations of Zen, as a form of what Foucault might call “gymnastics of the soul.”

4. Simon Baron-Cohen’s 6/13/12 commentary in The Guardian on “What the McLean Brain Bank Malfunction Means for Autism Research.”

5. From Psychiatric Times, Michael Casher and Joshua Bess on “Determination and Documentation of Insight in Psychiatric Inpatients,” which “reviews the relevant studies involving insight and offers an overview and critique of the various rating scales.”

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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