Sunday, January 01, 2017

CULTUREPLACES SALON: A SYNOPSIS



DRAFT
Rather than tackle complex national and international issues and institutions that affect the entire U.S. of A,, we concentrate on place based trends that more directly affect our everyday experiences in our own neighborhoods, workplaces, and other closer connections.

Though they will overlap with certain national and global phenomena, we seek to grapple with ideas that stem from and have immediate implications for our personal ties.  We deal with those grassroots issues where we--rather than advocates or interest groups, think tankers, or politicians--can make a difference if armed with the kind of insights that emerge from our discussions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Same genes could make us prone to both happiness and depression


The Admin: This study serves as a microcasm showing the interplay of nature and nurture which goes beyond mental illness to temperament and similar personal traits.  How our genes shape our behavior depends on the quality and influence of the environment.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Behavioral Genetics:



Why We're Different

Robert Plomin [6.29.16]

What we're trying to do in behavioral genetics and medical genetics is explain differences. It's important to know that we all share approximately 99 percent of our DNA sequence. If we sequence, as we can now readily do, all of our 3 billion base pairs of DNA, we will be the same at over 99 percent of all those bases. That's what makes us similar to each other. It makes us similar to chimps and most mammals. We're over 90 percent similar to all mammals. There's a lot of genetic similarity that's important from an evolutionary perspective, but it can't explain why we're different. That's what we're up to, trying to explain why some children are reading disabled, or some people become schizophrenic, or why some people suffer from alcoholism, et cetera. We're always talking about differences. The only genetics that makes a difference is that 1 percent of the 3 billion base pairs. But that is over 10 million base pairs of DNA. We're looking at these differences and asking to what extent they cause the differences that we observe. 
ROBERT PLOMIN is a professor of behavioral genetics at King's College London and deputy director of the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.
See the rest of the article here: https://www.edge.org/conversation/robert_plomin-why-were-different
If you look at the books and the training that teachers get, genetics doesn't get a look-in. Yet if you ask teachers, as I've done, about why they think children are so different in their ability to learn to read, and they know that genetics is important. When it comes to governments and educational policymakers, the knee-jerk reaction is that if kids aren't doing well, you blame the teachers and the schools; if that doesn't work, you blame the parents; if that doesn't work, you blame the kids because they're just not trying hard enough. An important message for genetics is that you've got to recognize that children are different in their ability to learn. We need to respect those differences because they're genetic. Not that we can’t do anything about it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Genetic test predicts your success in life, but not happiness

“It is important that people recognise and respect genetic scores,” says Plomin. “When kids don’t do well, we blame their teachers and parents, but kids vary genetically. [A low polygenic score] doesn’t mean a kid can’t learn, but we should recognise that it might take more effort.”


People with scorecards

What’s your genetic score?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Women’s preference for smaller competition may account for inequality

“Smaller social groups, even when individuals are in competition, tend to allow people to form more intimate social bonds and be more attuned to others’ needs,” said Hanek, who recently received her doctorate from the U-M Department of Psychology. “And these communal behaviors, in turn, tend to be more normative for women.”

“This research by no means blames women for gender inequality but rather uncovers a novel environmental factor that might contribute to inequality, beyond the well-documented effects of gender biases and discrimination,” said Stephen Garcia, U-M associate professor of organizational studies and psychology.

http://www.psypost.org/2016/05/womens-preference-smaller-competition-may-account-inequality-42794

Friday, April 15, 2016

Brain imaging study suggests risk-taking behaviors can be contagious

Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe? In a new study, Caltech researchers explored the neural mechanisms of one possible explanation: a contagion effect.
The work is described in the March 21 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study led by John O’Doherty, professor of psychology and director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, 24 volunteers repeatedly participated in three types of trials: a “Self” trial, in which the participants were asked to choose between taking a guaranteed $10 or making a risky gamble with a potentially higher payoff; an “Observe” trial, in which the participants observed the risk-taking behavior of a peer (in the trial, this meant a computer algorithm trained to behave like a peer), allowing the participants to learn how often the peer takes a risk; and a “Predict” trial, in which the participants were asked to predict the risk-taking tendencies of an observed peer, earning a cash prize for a correct prediction. Notably in these trials the participants did not observe gamble outcomes, preventing them from further learning about gambles.

O’Doherty and his colleagues found that the participants were much more likely to make the gamble for more money in the “Self” trial when they had previously observed a risk-taking peer in the “Observe” trial. The researchers noticed that after the subjects observed the actions of a peer, their preferences for risk-taking or risk-averse behaviors began to reflect those of the observed peer–a so-called contagion effect. “By observing others behaving in a risk-seeking or risk-averse fashion, we become in turn more or less prone to risky behavior,” says Shinsuke Suzuki, a postdoctoral scholar in neuroscience and first author of the study.

Use of Genetically Informed Evidence-Based Prevention Science to Understand and Prevent Crime and Related Behavioral Disorders

  1. Jamie M. Gajos1,*
  2. Abigail A. Fagan2and
  3. Kevin M. Beaver3
Article first published online: 15 APR 2016
Criminology and Public Policy
DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12214
Research Summary
In this article, we outline the potential ways that genetic research can be used to inform the development, testing, and dissemination of preventative interventions. We conclude by drawing attention to how the incorporation of genetic variables into prevention designs could help identify individual variability in program effectiveness and thereby increase program success rates.

Policy Implications
Evidence-based prevention science seeking to reduce crime and other related behavioral disorders has made significant progress in the identification of risk factors involved in the development of antisocial behavior, as well as in the creation and testing of such programs intended to target these risk factors. Nonetheless, issues of program effectiveness remain as individual responsivity to prevention interventions is often overlooked. Paralleling the movement toward evidence-based prevention science, but largely isolated from such efforts, has been an area of research devoted toward identifying how genetic factors interact with social environments to influence behavioral outcomes. By joining these two fields, genetically informed prevention interventions have the potential to increase our understanding of the causes of crime and other problem behaviors, as well as to help identify individual variability in program effectiveness.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Most men with borderline testosterone levels may have depression



March 6, 2015

Men with borderline testosterone levels have higher rates of depression and depressive symptoms than the general population, new research finds. The results will be presented Saturday, March 7, at ENDO 2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.
"Over half of men referred for borderline  have . This study found that men seeking management for borderline testosterone have a very high rate of depression,, obesity and physical inactivity," said principal study author Michael S. Irwig, MD, FACE, associate professor of medicine and director of the Center for Andrology in the Division of Endocrinology at George Washington University in Washington, DC. "Clinicians need to be aware of the clinical characteristics of this sample population and manage their comorbidities such as depression and obesity."

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Return of Eugenics

2 April 2016
The Spectator

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It’s comforting now to think of eugenics as an evil that sprang from the blackness of Nazi hearts. We’re familiar with the argument: some men are born great, some as weaklings, and both pass the traits on to their children. So to improve society, the logic goes, we must encourage the best to breed and do what we can to stop the stupid, sick and malign from passing on their defective genes. This was taken to a genocidal extreme by Hitler, but the intellectual foundations were laid in England. And the idea is now making a startling comeback.
A hundred years ago the eugenic mission involved a handful of crude tools: bribing the ‘right’ people to have larger families, sterilising the weakest. Now stunning advances in science are creating options early eugenicists could only dream about. Today’s IVF technology already allows us to screen embryos for inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis. But soon parents will be able to check for all manner of traits, from hair colour to character, and choose their ‘perfect’ child.
The era of designer babies, long portrayed by dystopian novelists and screenwriters, is fast arriving. According to Hank Greely, a Stanford professor in law and biosciences, the next couple of generations may be the last to accept pot luck with procreation. Doing so, he adds, may soon be seen as downright irresponsible. In his forthcoming book The End of Sex, he explains a brave new world in which mothers will be given a menu with various biological options. But even he shies away from the word that sums all this up. For Professor Greely, and almost all of those in the new bioscience, eugenics is never mentioned, as if to avoid admitting that history has swung full circle.

See the rest of the article here

Testosterone may reduce empathy by reducing brain connectivity



Photo credit: DARPA

By David Hader on PsyPost, March 30, 2016

High levels of testosterone may reduce empathy by interfering with communication between parts of the brain involved in emotion, according to a study to be published in the journalPsychoneuroendicinology.
There is a large body of scientific research linking testosterone, a hormone produced in larger quantities by men’s bodies and in smaller quantities in women’s bodies, with impairment in the ability to cognitively process emotional information. This applies particularly processes related to empathy, the ability to correctly identify another person’s emotional state based on cues like facial expression and body language. Women perform consistently better at tasks requiring empathy than men.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Anthropology as an Inspiration to Food Studies: Building Theory and Practice.


The aim of this paper is to show the role of anthropological inquiry in the development of a new, interdisciplinary approach to food in culture -- namely: food studies. Early anthropologists, for example, Bronislaw Malinowski and Edward Evans-Pritchard, stressed the social meaning of food while analyzing the outcome of their fieldwork. When the functional approach had been replaced by structuralism, the symbolic meaning of food was given priority. Therefore, Claude Lévi-Strauss constructed his famous culinary triangle to show the connection between culture and nature in human thought; however, the triangle was not based on his own fieldwork, but rather many examples from other works were used to support this theoretical approach.

Full paper:

 
http://www.antropoweb.cz/cs/anthropology-as-an-inspiration-to-food-studies-building-theory-and-practice 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hubris and Humility: Gender Differences in Serial Founding Rates


Venkat Kuppuswamy 


University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School

Ethan R. Mollick 


University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School 

June 26, 2015

Abstract:      


Men are far more likely to start new ventures than women. Drawing on the hubris theory of entrepreneurship, we argue that one explanation of this gap is that women have lower susceptibility to hubris and higher levels of humility, the “male hubris-female humility effect.” Decreased hubris suggests that women faced with low-quality founding opportunities are less likely to engage in entrepreneurship than men. Increased humility implies that women will also make fewer founding attempts than men when opportunity quality is high. Using a data set of serial founders in crowdfunding, we find evidence of both hubris and humility effects decreasing female founding attempts relative to men. While decreased hubris benefits women individually, we argue that it disadvantages women as a group, as it leads to by 23.2% fewer female-led foundings in our sample than would have occurred if women were as immodest and overconfident as men.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2623746