Category Archives: Psychology

Evolutionary and Developmental Precursors for the Human Mathematical Mind

Now that summer is starting to fade, here is something else to look forward to: The 2010-2011 American Scientist Pizza Lunch speaker series returns next month.

Join us at noon, Tuesday, Sept. 21 here at Sigma Xi to hear Duke University cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Brannon give a talk entitled: “Evolutionary and Developmental Precursors for the Human Mathematical Mind.” In other words, Brannon studies what we all take for granted: our ability to do the numbers. She does it, in part, with studies of human babies and other primates.

Thanks to a grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center, American Scientist Pizza Lunch is free and open to science journalists and science communicators of all stripes. Feel free to forward this message to anyone who might want to attend. RSVPs are required (for the slice count) to cclabby@amsci.org

Directions to Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society in RTP, are here: http://www.sigmaxi.org/about/center/directions.shtml

The Primal Power of Play (video)

Science Café Raleigh – The Human-Animal Bond

Hi Café Friends,
Our June Science Café (description below) will be held on Tuesday 6/15 at the Irregardless Café on Morgan Street. Our café speaker for the evening will be Dr. Dianne Dunning from the NCSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Join us for a thought provoking discussion with Dr. Dunning about the relationships humans have with animals in our increasingly crowded world.
The Human-Animal Bond
Tuesday June 15, 2010
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm with discussions beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh 833-8898
Animals touch our daily lives — from the pets we keep, to the food we eat, to the health care advances we enjoy. Current animal welfare concerns include pet overpopulation, rescue and care of animals in disasters, treatment of food animals, biomedical research involving animals, and the affects of global urbanization and environmental change on wildlife. Our evolving human-animal bond and the mandate to be good stewards of animal welfare are at the heart of these concerns. Join our discussion about how the integration of veterinary medicine and animal science, as well as ethics and public policy, can dictate how successfully these concerns are addressed, and how the diverse needs of humans and animals are met on a local and global scale.
About the Speaker
Dr. Dianne Dunning is a clinical associate professor and the director of the Animal Welfare, Ethics and Public Policy Program (AWEPP) at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. Through professional education, public service, research and public policy development, AWEPP seeks to explore and address issues including pet abandonment, animal abuse and fighting, companion animal loss and grief, and the link between animal health and human well being.
Please RSVP (Katey Ahmann: kateyDOTahmannATncdenrDOTgov ) if you are able to come – As always, I will be communicating with the restaurant so that we can have a good set-up for our group.
Looking forward to seeing eveyone on the 15th – hope you can come.

Going Mad The American Way

New podcast and forum at PRI World Science:

Listen to a story by reporter Laura Starecheski, followed by our interview with Ethan Watters.
Our guest in the Science Forum is journalist Ethan Watters.
His latest book is Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche.
“America is homogenizing the way the world goes mad,” Watters writes. He contends that Americans are exporting their view of mental illness to the rest of the world.
Watters says culture influences not only how people deal with mental disorders but how mental disorders manifest themselves. Yet those cultural differences are disappearing as Western notions of mental health become popular worldwide.
Some examples Watters cites in his book:
• Anorexia nervosa, the eating disorder, is now common in countries with no history of the disease.
• Modern biomedical notions of schizophrenia are replacing the idea of spirit possession in places like Zanzibar.
• By selling pills for depression, pharmaceutical companies have caused a rise in the diagnosis of depression in Japan.
Bring your thoughts and questions about culture and mental illness to Watters. The discussion is just to the right.
* Is America’s view of mental health reflective of the nation’s individualistic culture?
* Have you or a family member been diagnosed with mental illness? Has your ethnic or religious background influenced your response?
* Would Americans benefit from importing ideas of mental health from other countries?

Related reading: The Americanization of Mental Illness.

Rubber hand illusion (video)

The Piano Stairway (video)

An awesome experiment in Stockholm, Sweden where students changed stairs in a subway station into a piano:

And? More people started using the stairs than the escalator! It’s just more fun!

Cognitive Monthly #2 is out

And it is good. Much longer than #1 and interesting to all of us who have kids heavily involved in playing computer games:

Whenever kids are involved in a violent crime, speculation about their upbringing inevitably takes center stage. Were they abused or neglected? Could their parents have prevented the tragedy? Most recently, video games have been targeted as the possible root of the problem. But are video games really to blame for horrific massacres like the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech? This month’s report considers the growing role video games play in our kids’ lives–and whether the playing violent games might really cause kids to be violent themselves. We assess the latest research on violent games and how it impacts kids. Researchers have found that playing some violent games does result at least temporarily in aggressive behavior, but it can also be beneficial. Do the benefits of gaming outweigh the many potential harms? We also describe how we’ve managed video games in our family, and offer some guidelines on how parents can approach gaming in their own homes.

Duke Nukem Comes to Dinner: Do Violent Games Make Violent Kids?” can be downloaded for only $2 at Lulu.com and it’s worth the price ;-)