Friday, January 01, 2016

The scope and interests of our CulturePlaces Salon


Rather than try to tackle national and international topics that affect the larger civil society, we explore place-based trends that more directly affect our everyday experiences in our neighborhoods, workplaces and other closer connections. Though these will overlap with certain global phenomena, we seek to grapple with ideas that have immediate implications for understanding our own personal experience. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

'Female intuition comes from lower testosterone exposure in womb'


Intuitive thought is characterized by processing information automatically and unconsciously, requiring little cognitive effort. This way of thinking is frequently ascribed to women under the title of so-called "female intuition," and now, researchers suggest this could have a biological influence, rooted in lower prenatal exposure to testosterone in the womb.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Stress from racism passes from mother to child

by Chris Weller
Medical Daily
A little bit of stress is normal. But too much, and at a vulnerable time, can lead to long-lasting problems that cut across generations. A new study from the University of Colorado Denver has found the stress that comes with racial discrimination during a woman’s pregnancy may get passed on to her newborn child.  A solid amount of evidence already exists to support stress as not just a temporary frustration, but as a force capable of changing our genes — particularly if the stress is chronic. Severely stressed-out teenagers, for example, face a greater risk of mental illness in adulthood because of how the stress affects their genes. The effect comes from the hormone cortisol. The longer it stays in your body, the more your body begins to adjust to the new normal of constant stress, and it breaks down.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

THE GHOST IN YOUR GENES: HORIZON - Discovery/Science/Biology (documentary)

How the trauma of life is passed down in sperm, affecting the mental health of future generations


The children of people who have experienced extremely traumatic events are more likely to develop mental health problems.

And new research shows this is because experiencing trauma leads to changes in the sperm.

These changes can cause a man’s children to develop bipolar disorder and are so strong they can even influence the man’s grandchildren.

Psychologists have long known that traumatic experiences can induce behavioural disorders that are passed down from one generation to the next.

However, they are only just beginning to understand how this happens.

Researchers at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich now think they have come one step closer to understanding how the effects of traumas can be passed down the generations.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Genetic susceptibility to anti-social behavior


Both positive and negative experiences influence how genetic variants affect the brain and thereby behaviour, according to a new study. "Evidence is accumulating to show that the effects of variants of many genes that are common in the population depend on environmental factors. Further, these genetic variants affect each other," explained Sheilagh Hodgins of the University of Montreal and its affiliated Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal. "We conducted a study to determine whether juvenile offending was associated with interactions between three common genetic variants and positive and negative experiences." Hodgins and her colleagues published the study on December 11, 2014 in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pharrell's observation on Ferguson


http://www.dailydot.com/technology/police-body-cam-ferguson/?fb=dd

As this article argues, at the very minimum body cameras should be worn by the police. They will definitely help to dilute the cops' confrontational mode which is highly toxic to aggressive young black males.


More important I think is to follow up on Pharrell's astute comment in Ebony. This means getting a better understanding of the biosocial variables in the inner city.

Michael Brown was at a convenience store stealing cigarillos before he was killed. But Pharrell says he was upset when he saw the way Brown was acting towards the owner.

“It looked very bully-ish,” he said. “That in itself I had a problem with. Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?” 

People quckly misread this to mean a criticism of Michael Brown when it is just the reverse. The fault lies with the community and family-- a particular kind of 
"cultureplace"  where nature and nurture intersect and produce probable outcomes. How do we mitigate certain dangerous situations?

Friday, November 14, 2014

More on national cultural differences affecting behavior


The case against labeling and medicating children, and effective alternatives for treating them

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

French children don't need medications to control their behavior.
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In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological--psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children's focusing and behavioral problems withdrugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child's brain but in the child's social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child's brain.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

A virus has been discovered that affects cognitive abilities in healthy people




THE INDEPENDENT


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/virus-that-makes-humans-more-stupid-discovered-9849920.html


A virus that infects human brains and makes us more stupid has been discovered, according to scientists in the US.

The algae virus, never before observed in healthy people, was found to affect cognitive functions including visual processing and spatial awareness. 

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska stumbled upon the discovery when they were undertaking an unrelated study into throat microbes.

Surprisingly, the researchers found DNA in the throats of healthy individuals that matched the DNA of a virus known to infect green algae.

Dr Robert Yolken, a virologist who led the original study, said: “This is a striking example showing that the ‘innocuous’ microorganisms we carry can affect behaviour and cognition.

“Many physiological differences between person A and person B are encoded in the set of genes each inherits from parents, yet some of these differences are fuelled by the various microorganisms we harbour and the way they interact with our genes.”

Of the 90 participants in the study, 40 tested positive for the algae virus. Those who tested positive performed worse on tests designed to measure the speed and accuracy of visual processing. They also achieved lower scores in tasks designed to measure attention.

Humans’ bodies contain trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Most are harmless, but the findings of this research show that there some microbes can have a detrimental impact on cognitive functions, while leaving individuals healthy.

The study’s findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gender Equality and Gene-culture Co-evolution


The ratio of index finger length to ring finger length provides an index of sexual differentiation. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The ratio of index finger length to ring finger length provides an index of sexual differentiation. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
....
"In general, women from Northwest Europe have more masculine digit ratios, whereas women from farther east and south have more feminine digit ratios. This geographical trend is more pronounced for the right hand than for the left hand. Since the right-hand digit ratio is associated with social dominance, Northwest Europeans may be less sexually differentiated for that particular trait, as opposed to being less sexually differentiated in general.
Presumably, this isn’t a new tendency. Women must have been more socially dominant among Northwest Europeans even before the late 19th century and the earliest movements for women’s suffrage. So how far back does the tendency go? To medieval times? To pre-Christian times? It seems to go back at least to medieval times and, as such, forms part of the Western European Marriage Pattern." ...
For more go to: http://www.unz.com/pfrost/gender-equality-and-gene-culture-co-evolution/