Since 2003, The Foundation for Psychocultural Research--Hampshire College Program in Culture, Brain, and Development has organized events for students, faculty, and the public. CBD has welcomed national and international scholars, cutting-edge researchers, acclaimed artists and filmmakers, and other accomplished guests to Hampshire College to engage in innovative interdisciplinary dialogue. See our archive below for more information on past public lectures, distinguished lectures, professional conferences, film screenings, panel discussions, and other events.
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2011-2012
"From NeuroSelves to NeuroSocieties: Cross-Disciplinary Conversations around The Neurosciences," PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCE from June 11-12, 2012
Shadows & Illuminations, with an introduction by Director Dr. Robert Lemelson, FILM SCREENING on April 3, 2012
Robert Lemelson holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. from the University of Chicago. He is currently a research anthropologist at the Semel Institute of Neuroscience at UCLA. He is president and founder of The Foundation for Psychocultural Research, which supports research and training in the neurosciences and social sciences. In addition, Lemelson is director of Elemental Productions, a documentary film production company.
ABOUT: Shadows & Illuminations is part of the ethnographic film series Afflictions: Culture & Mental Illness in Indonesia and based on material drawn from 12 years of research by anthropologist and director Dr. Robert Lemelson. The film focuses on Nyoman Kereta, a rural Balinese man in his late sixties who suffers from a mental illness. The film explores Kereta’s personal history of trauma, loss, and environmental illness, all of which may have contributed to his experience. His story is placed in the context of local community, cultural beliefs, and practices, with his family members and local mental health practitioners’ observations and perspectives.
"The Shortsighted Brain: Neuroeconomics and the Governance of Choice in Time," by Natasha Dow Schüll, PUBLIC LECTURE on March 27, 2012
Natasha Dow Schüll is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor at the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has recently completed a book based on extended research in Las Vegas among gambling addicts and the designers of the slot machines they play. Her current, ongoing research concerns the field of neuroeconomics and what its questions and methods reveal about larger cultural values and priorities. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, among other sources.
ABSTRACT: The young field of neuroeconomics converges around behavioral deviations from the model of the human being as Homo economicus, a rational actor who calculates his choices to maximize his individual satisfaction. In a historical moment characterized by economic, health, and environmental crises, policymakers have become increasingly concerned about a particular deviation for which neuroeconomics offers a biological explanation: Why do humans value the present at the expense of the future? There is contentious debate within the field over how to model this tendency at the neural level. Should the brain be conceptualized as a unified decision-making apparatus, or as the site of conflict between an impetuous limbic system at perpetual odds with its deliberate and provident overseer in the prefrontal cortex? Scientific debates over choice-making in the brain, I will argue in this talk, are also debates over how to define the constraints on human reason with which regulative strategies must contend. Drawing on ethnographic and archival research, I will explore how the brain and its treatment of the future become the contested terrain for distinct visions of governmental intervention into problems of human choice-making.
"Intersecting Complexity: Neuroscience, Lie Detection, and the Legal Admissibility Matrix," by Jane Campbell Moriarty, PUBLIC LECTURE on October 27, 2011
Jane Moriarty is professor of law and Carol Los Mansmann Chair of Faculty Scholarship at Duquesne University School of Law, where she teaches evidence, professional responsibility, and scientific and expert evidence. She was previously a professor of law and director of faculty research and development at the University of Akron School of Law. Her scholarship focuses on expert evidence and professional responsibility. She is a co-author of Scientific and Expert Evidence (Aspen, 2nd ed. 2011), the author and editor of Psychological and Scientific Evidence in Criminal Trials (West, 1996-2006), and the editor of Women and the Law (1998-2010). She has published several articles on forensic evidence, neuroscience evidence, and expert evidence. In addition to practicing law in Boston and Pittsburgh, Professor Moriarty was a law clerk to the Honorable Ralph J. Cappy, Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and served as a law clerk to the Superior Court of Massachusetts.
ABSTRACT: Neuroscientists have made substantial progress in the last decade using neuroimaging in controlled laboratory studies to distinguish between truth-telling and deception. fMRI technology integrates physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, physiology, and statistical analysis to measure changes in brain activity. When synchronized with an appropriate behavioral paradigm, fMRI can discriminate between lies and truth in individual subjects with an accuracy rate of greater than 75%. While most neuroscientists believe that fMRI lie detection is not courtroom-ready, commercial entities are attempting to introduce tests results in trials. Proper legal analysis of the admissibility of scientific evidence balances many factors, including constitutionality; reliability; the role and limitations of juries; and social policy. The point where these two complex systems of science and law intersect is the courtroom. This presentation asks whether the science is good enough for the courtroom and whether the courtroom is capable of managing the science. Creating an "admissibility matrix," the lecturer attempts to deconstruct and explain the complexities of science and law to determine if there is a future for neuroscience lie detection in court.
“What I Did This Summer: Student Presentations and Internship Panel Discussion," CBD STUDENT SYMPOSIUM on October 15, 2011
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2010-2011
"Resilience: Exploring Biological and Cultural Factors," CBD SYMPOSIUM on May 18, 2011
"Cultural Neuroscience: A Unifying Framework for Bridging the Cultural and Biological Sciences," by Joan Chiao, PUBLIC LECTURE on April 15, 2011
Joan Chiao is an assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University and an affiliated faculty member of the Neuroscience Institute (NUIN), the Cognitive Science Program, and Asian-American Studies Program. Dr. Chiao received her Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 2006, studying social psychology and cognitive neuroscience. She completed her undergraduate work at Stanford University, graduating in 2000 with a B.S. in symbolic systems. Dr. Chiao's research interests include cultural neuroscience of emotion and social interaction; social and affective neuroscience across development; social dominance and affiliation; and integrating psychology and neuroscience research with public policy and population health issues. Dr. Chiao is a recipient of funding from the National Science Foundation and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and Technology to conduct research in cultural neuroscience, and has served as editor for pioneering texts in the field of cultural neuroscience, including an edited volume on cultural neuroscience called Cultural Neuroscience: Cultural Influences on Brain Function (2009) and a peer-reviewed journal, "Special Issues on Cultural Neuroscience" in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (2010).
ABSTRACT: The study of culture and biology have historically been stratified; however, recent theoretical and methodological advances in cultural and biological sciences provide novel opportunities for understanding the nature and origin of human diversity by bridging these gaps. Cultural neuroscience is an emerging interdisciplinary science that investigates cultural variation in psychological, neural and genomic processes as a means of articulating the bidirectional relationship of these processes and their emergent properties. Here I will discuss how cultural and genetic diversity affect mind, brain, and behavior across multiple timescales and the implications of cultural neuroscience research for basic and applied fields, including interethnic ideology, population health, and merging the scientific study of the social and natural sciences in an ever increasing globalized world.
"How the Environment Gets into the Mind," by Patrick Sharkey, PUBLIC LECTURE on April 7, 2011
Patrick Sharkey is an assistant professor of sociology at New York University, with an affiliation at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology and social policy from Harvard University, and recently completed a two-year fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program. Sharkey's research focuses on stratification and mobility, with a specialized interest in the role that neighborhoods and cities play in generating and maintaining inequality across multiple dimensions. His forthcoming book, titled Inheriting the Ghetto (University of Chicago Press), examines the transmission of neighborhood inequality to the children who were raised during the civil rights era, and asks how the persistence of neighborhood advantage and disadvantage has affected trends in racial inequality. Moving from the study of multigenerational inequality to the study of "everyday" inequality, Sharkey is beginning a long-term project on the impact of specific stressors in children's environments, such as extreme local violence, on their cognitive functioning, health, and academic performance.
ABSTRACT: Research examining the relationship between neighborhood environments and children's cognitive development has struggled to overcome theoretical challenges, empirical challenges, and methodological challenges, leaving unresolved several questions that are central to understanding how the residential environment may influence cognitive growth of children. Among the unresolved questions are the following: What is the temporal relationship between exposure to a disadvantaged environment and its impact on cognitive skills of children? Is the cumulative impact of the environment, as experienced over the life course and over generations of a family, more important than the child's environment at a given point in time? Does moving to a neighborhood with less poverty, higher quality institutions, or less violence affect the cognitive skills of children? Do specific events in children's environments impact their cognitive functioning? This talk will describe a set of research projects designed to provide evidence on many of these unresolved questions. While there is substantial evidence indicating that children's neighborhood environments are strongly linked with their cognitive development, the evidence on the mechanisms underlying this link is much less clear--understanding the mechanisms at work should be a central goal for the next stage of research on neighborhoods and cognitive skills.
"From Surviving to Thriving: A Contextual View of Resilience," by Tuppett M. Yates, PUBLIC LECTURE on February 3, 2011
Tuppett M. Yates is a developmental and clinical psychologist who earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychopathology and clinical science from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota in 2005. Dr.Yates is an assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) where she directs the Adversity and Adaptation Laboratory. Dr. Yates' research focuses on how childhood adversity influences developmental pathways toward psychopathology and competence with particular emphases on social and regulatory developmental processes. Her current research activities center on longitudinal studies of risk and resilience, including 1) formal school transition among 250 high-risk preschoolers and their primary caregivers, 2) socioemotional and physiological development in 360 children of mothers with psychiatric illness, and 3) young adult transitions among 200 youth as they "age out" of the California foster care system. Dr. Yates has extensive clinical experience with high-risk youth, particularly those involved with child protective services. Yates is the founder and director of the UCR Guardian Scholars, which provides a comprehensive network of support to emancipated foster youth as they pursue higher education at UCR.
ABSTRACT: How do children survive and, in some cases, thrive in the wake of adversity? From acute traumatic events, such as Haiti's 2010 earthquake, to the chronic challenges of wars waged in and outside the family setting, some children are living and growing despite marked threats to their well being, while others are suffering because of them. Nearly 50 years of scholarship has sought to elucidate the processes underlying the better-than-expected developmental outcomes that typify resilience. Despite evidence converging on a "short list" of features and factors that contribute to resilience, this talk will provide evidence that resilience is a developmentally anchored, multiply determined, dynamic developmental phenomenon. Findings from studies following 250 high risk preschoolers across the transition into formal schooling and 200 foster youth across the transition into adulthood will support this contextual view of resilience.
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2009-2010
"Art on the Brain: Exploring the Intersections of the Arts, Neuroscience, and Society," PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCE from June 3-4, 2010
"Eatertainment and the (Re)Classification of Children's Food," by Charlene Elliott, PUBLIC LECTURE on April 29, 2010
Charlene Elliott, Ph.D., is an associate professor in communication at the University of Calgary. With a research agenda focused on law, taste, and sensorial communication, Elliott has published extensively on issues of food and governance, and on the legal and cultural codification of color. She is principal investigator of several provincial and nationally funded grants on children's food/food marketing and food policy. She is co-editor of Communication in Question: Competing Perspectives on Contentious Issues in Communication Studies (2008).
ABSTRACT: Ideas of fun and play have emerged as dominant characteristics in children's packaged food marketing. This talk examines the expression and implications of "eatertainment" in children's packaged food products, contrasting it with the theme of "engagement" that typifies the marketing of many adult foodstuffs. It details how child-oriented packaged food both embodies and communicates (historical, culturally specific) ideas about childhood, and explores how Canada's regulatory environment seeks to deal with child-targeted food marketing in light of the childhood obesity epidemic. Drawing from the results of a CIHR-funded study (comprising focus groups with over 300 children), the talk probes how the reclassification of children's food into "fun food" brings with it a series of unintended consequences that are not merely related to the encouragement of overeating.
"Exploring the Potential Influences of Meditation on Brain and Behavior," by Antoine Lutz, PUBLIC LECTURE on April 13, 2010
Antoine Lutz is an associate scientist at the Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin Madison. He received his Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from University of P. et M. Curie, Paris (VI) under the supervision of Dr. Francisco Varela in 2002. His principal research focus has been on the neurodynamical correlates of consciousness and on the relationship between neuroplasticity and meditation training. His research has been largely supported by grants from the National Institute of Health. He is associated with the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in Madison.
ABSTRACT: Meditation can be conceptualized as a family of complex emotional and attentional regulatory training regimes developed for various ends, including the cultivation of well-being and emotional balance. Among these various practices, there are three styles that are commonly studied. One style, focused attention meditation, entails the voluntary focusing of attention on a chosen object. The second style, open monitoring meditation, involves nonreactive monitoring of the content of experience from moment to moment. The last style, compassion meditation, entails deliberately invoking an emotional state of empathy, affection, and compassion for others. We will present key neuroimaging findings illustrating how specific neurophysiological mechanisms are involved in such meditation practices and how meditation training has a long-term impact on mental processing and on the brain.
"Rapture: Religious Ecstatics and 'Deep Listeners,'" by Judith Becker, PUBLIC LECTURE on Februay 11, 2010
Judith Becker, professor emeritus of ethnomusicology, University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, is an authority on Indonesian music. Becker was director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and co-founder and director of the Center for World Performance Studies at the University of Michigan and is the author of numerous articles and three books, including Deep Listeners: Music, Emotion, and Trancing (2004), for which she received the Alan Merriam award from the Society for Ethnomusicology for the best book in ethnomusicology published in 2004. She is also author of the three-volume set of translations entitled Karawitan: Source Readings in Javanese Gamelan and Vocal Music (1984, 1986, 1987). Through exploring the common ground between the humanistic/cultural/anthropological and the scientific/cognitive/psychological, Becker’s research focuses on the relationships between music, emotion, and ecstasy in institutionalized religious contexts and in secular contexts.
ABSTRACT: In her book Deep Listeners: Music, Emotion and Trancing (2004), Judith Becker proposed that there may be a physiological relationship between religious ecstatics and secular "deep listeners." She defines "deep listeners" as those people who may feel chills or goosebumps, or who may cry when listening to music they find moving. She proposes that both religious ecstatics and "deep listeners" experience strong, deep-brain emotional responses when listening to music they find deeply moving. Her talk is about a scientific experiment that she conducted to test the hypothesis concerning a physiological relationship between religious ecstatics and deep listeners.
Ferocious Beauty: Genome by Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, ANNOTATED KEYNOTE PERFORMANCE on November 13, 2009
Genetic research raises prospects that previous generations may scarcely have imagined: of prolonging life and maintaining youth indefinitely; of replicating an individual; of choosing the bodies and brains of our children; and of creating new species to feed and serve us. How we heal, age, procreate, and eat may all be altered in the next years by scientific research happening right now. In Ferocious Beauty: Genome Liz Lerman Dance Exchange explores the current historic moment of revelation and questioning in genetic research. Under the artistic direction of choreographer Liz Lerman the subject is represented through a plurality of viewpoints, mirroring a dialogue among multiple voices--artistic, scientific, and scholarly--in all their varied perspectives.
"Dancing Through Science," PANEL DISCUSSION on November 12, 2009
Discussion of collaborations among artists and scientists:
Liz Lerman, choreographer and director, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange
Laura Grabel, Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science in Society, Wesleyan University
Billbob Brown, director of Chaos Theory Dance and associate professor of dance, Universiy of Massachusetts Amherst
Herb Bernstein, professor of physics, Hampshire College
"Is It Art? A Case-study in the Cognitive Science of Pleasure," by Paul Bloom, Ph.D., PUBLIC LECTURE on September 24, 2009
Paul Bloom is professor of psychology at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching. He is past president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, one of the major journals in the field. Dr. Bloom has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and for popular outlets such as the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic. He is the author or editor of four books, including How Children Learn the Meanings of Words, and, most recently, Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human.
ABSTRACT: Why are original paintings so much more valuable than forgeries? Why do people pay millions for abstract art? How do creations such as Duchamp's urinal get to be artwork in the first place? I present evidence that our understanding and appreciation of art--even contemporary art--reflects universal aspects of human nature. I argue that the experience of art is not special: there are deep parallels between the pleasures we get from artwork and the pleasures we get from seemingly simpler activities such as food and sex.
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2008-2009
40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy, a documentary by Robert Lemelson, PUBLIC SCREENING on April 27, 2009
Hampshire College invited the public to a special screening of the film 40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy. The film, from Elemental Productions, was directed and produced by documentary filmmaker and psychological anthropologist Robert Lemelson, a Hampshire College alum, and edited by two-time Academy Award winner Pietro Scalia (JFK and Black Hawk Down). Filmmaker Lemelson attended the screening and was available for a question-and-answer session with the audience immediately after. 40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy is the powerful feature length documentary that deals with how children perceive, cope with, and come to terms with severe trauma caused by the death, imprisonment, and disappearance of close family members. It primarily focuses on the long-lasting multi-generational consequences of psychological, physical, and socio-cultural trauma.
"Depression, Suicide, Culture, and Global Pharmaceuticals: The Moral and Political Economy of Psychiatric Disorders in Global Health," by Arthur Kleinman, M.D., DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on April 16, 2009
Arthur Kleinman, M.D., is one of the world’s leading medical anthropologists. He is also a major figure in cultural psychiatry, global health, and social medicine. Kleinman is the Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University; and professor of medical anthropology and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is at present Victor and William Fung Director of Harvard University’s Asia Center.
ABSTRACT: Mental health conditions account for fifteen percent of the global disease burden. They are also among the most economically burdensome of health conditions, and depression is a leading cause of disability. In all societies in which statistics are kept, suicide is one of the top ten causes of death. In addition, mental health problems are among the most stigmatized in all societies, contributing to the wide gap between disease burden and available resources. I will examine both the moral economy and political economy that frames global mental health and address the role that culture plays in shaping illness experiences and interventions. I will also examine mental health consequences of major changes of our time, including the current global economic crisis, and make the case for why global mental health is a subject that requires much greater attention and resources. I will look at pharmaceutical use for the treatment of mental health issues and the paradox of pharmaceutical misuse in resource-poor settings: drugs unavailable in rural areas and overused in urban settings. Finally, I will set out an agenda for global mental health.
"Understanding Child Abuse: From Neurobiology to Social Policy," by Joan Kaufman, Ph.D., PUBLIC LECTURE on November 13, 2008
Joan Kaufman is associate professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, director of the Child and Adolescent Research and Education (C.A.R.E.) Program, and co-director of the Zigler Center Child Welfare Unit.
ABSTRACT: Preclinical (e.g. animal) and clinical studies suggest that stress early in life can promote long-term changes in stress reactivity, brain development, and behavior. Relevant research is reviewed, including emerging findings on the role of genetic and environmental factors in moderating the effects of early stress. Clinical implications of this work are highlighted, and it is suggested that the development of innovative multidisciplinary treatment strategies will be enhanced by a program of research that spans from neurobiology to social policy.
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2007-2008
"Embodiment in Metaphorical Imagination," by Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr., Ph.D., PUBLIC LECTURE on February 7, 2008
Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr. is professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his B.A. from Hampshire College, his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, and did postdoctoral research in cognitive science at Yale and Stanford Universities. Gibbs is the author of The Poetics of Mind: Figurative Thought, Language, and Understandings (1994), Intentions in the Experience of Meaning (1999), and Embodiment and Cognitive Science (2006). He is editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought (2008); co-editor with Gerard Steen of Metaphor in Cognitive Linguistics (1999); co-editor with Herbert Colston of Irony in Language and Thought: A Cognitive Science Reader (2007); and editor of the journal Metaphor and Symbol. His research interests include psycholinguistics, embodied cognition, and pragmatics.
ABSTRACT: Many metaphor scholars in cognitive science and related academic disciplines now argue that metaphor is not just a linguistic device, but also a fundamental part of human cognition. "Conceptual metaphors" such as LIFE IS A JOURNEY or UNDERSTANDING IS GRASPING are pervasive in ordinary speech and writing, appear to be essential for how people conceive abstract concepts, and may be quickly recruited during many aspects of language production and understanding. Recent research even suggests that many conceptual metaphors appear to be grounded in recurring patterns of bodily experience, and thus provides additional evidence in favor of "embodied cognition." My talk offers an analysis of "conceptual metaphors" from a multidisciplinary perspective, and describes recent empirical evidence in support of the idea that many aspects of abstract thought are structured in terms of "embodied metaphor." I more specifically will claim that people ordinarily engage in embodied simulation processes when using metaphorical language, and, more generally, thinking in imaginative ways about their lives and the world around them.
"Autism: What Does It Mean to Be a Spectrum Disorder?" by Roberto Tuchman, M.D., PUBLIC LECTURE on October 18, 2007
Roberto Tuchman, M.D., FAAN, FAAP, is the director of Autism and Related Disorder Programs at Miami Children' s Hospital Dan Marino Center and director of Developmental and Behavioral Neurology at Miami Children' s Hospital. He is the founding director of the Miami Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Center for children with developmental disorders, and served as its executive medical director from its start in 1998 through 2001. Dr. Tuchman is an associate professor of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He is a graduate of Hampshire College. He earned his M.D. from the New York University School of Medicine and is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with Special Qualification in Child Neurology. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Tuchman has published and lectured nationally and internationally on the topic of developmental disorders including autism, ADHD, epilepsy, and learning disorders. He serves on the long-range planning committee for the Child Neurology Society. He is on the editorial board of Pediatric Neurology and serves as a reviewer for numerous neurology publications. With Isabelle Rapin, he is the co-editor of Autism: A Neurological Disorder of Early Brain Development (Mac Keith Press in association with the International Child Neurology Association (ICNA), 2006).
ABSTRACT: The labels of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) are commonly used to describe individuals who have varying deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and social skills and a restricted repertoire of interests or repetitive behaviors. These labels are now used interchangeably with autism. The criteria for determining who is and is not affected by autism are based on arbitrary clinical behaviors. The characteristic clinical feature that set autism apart from other disorders of brain development associated with communication and behavioral problems are impairments in reciprocal social interaction. Is there more autism or are we just recognizing it more? How do we define social deficits? What are the causes of autism and what factors biologically and culturally impact the social phenotype? How do early deficits in social communication lead to the clinical phenotype of autism, and what are the cellular and neural mechanisms that define the social constructs that determine social cognition? These questions will be discussed from the perspective of child neurology. The focus of the discussion will be on the changing criteria of autism over time and how this has affected the concept of the “normal” social phenotype. Examples of etiologies of autism will be discussed. The early social constructs that determine an individual’s distinctive social phenotype will be demonstrated. Our present understanding of the neuronal networks responsible for social behavior will be reviewed and discussed in terms of intervention strategies for social communication disorders.
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2006-2007
"A Talent for Life: Reflections on Human Vulnerability and Resilience," by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on November 30, 2006
Nancy Scheper-Hughes is professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she directs the doctoral program in Critical Studies in Medicine, Science, and the Body. She was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2006-7. Her life work concerns the violence of everyday life examined from a radical existentialist and politically engaged perspective. Her examination of structural and political violence, of what she calls "small wars and invisible genocides," has allowed her to develop a so-called "militant" anthropology, which has been broadly applied to medicine, psychiatry, and to the practice of anthropology.
ABSTRACT: This talk deals with human resilience and "hardiness" as opposed to human frailty and vulnerability. The experience of catastrophe, disaster, and trauma are part of the expected backdrop of everyday life among people living in protracted war zones and under social and economic conditions that mimic wartime. In these cases, traumas are constant, unresolved, and repeated, and only rarely consigned to history, the past, and the relative luxury of trace or traumatic memories. Based on decades of anthropological research among 'hunted' street kids, mothers, and infants on the verge of die-outs in the drought-plagued Nordeste of Brazil, massacre survivors of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and dis-placed and dis-graced kidney sellers duped or seduced into providing their organs to first world transplant tourists, I argue that human resilience and 'hardiness' have been grossly underestimated in contemporary psychological and anthropological literature. Drawing on very disparate life histories and very different contexts, I will outline "what it takes" to live under such conditions, and to suggest an alternative model of adversity and survival.
"A Comparative Approach to Human Origins," by Svante Pääbo, DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on November 7, 2006
Svante Pääbo is director of the department of evolutionary genetics at The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, where he is a biologist specializing in evolutionary genetics. In 2006 his research team isolated the long segments of genetic material from a 45,000-year-old Neanderthal fossil from Croatia. The work should reveal how closely related the Neanderthal species was to modern humans, Homo sapiens.
ABSTRACT: One approach to understanding what makes humans unique as a species is to perform structural and functional comparisons between the genomes of humans and our closest evolutionary relatives, the great apes. Recently, the draft sequence of the chimpanzee genome has opened up new possibilities in this area. I will describe work that compares the DNA sequences and activities of human and chimpanzee genes and discuss evidence that suggests that genes expressed in the brain may have been particularly important during human evolution. I will also argue that a genome-wide analysis of the Neanderthal genome would substantially enhance our ability to identify genes that have been recent targets of positive selection during human evolution.
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2005-2006
"The Information Value of Facial Expressions of Emotion," by Paul Whalen, PUBLIC LECTURE on March 9, 2006
Paul Whalen is assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth College in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Whalen's research aims to better understand the neural substrates of biologically relevant learning in the human. The focus is the amygdala as a model system for such learning. Building upon animal and human research documenting the role of the amygdala in emotion, specifically fear, Whalen aims to expose the more subtle abilities of this system in the modulation of moment-to-moment levels of vigilance.
ABSTRACT: Whalen uses brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI) to study emotion: specifically, how the brain responds to perceived threats. To be more specific, Whalen studies the brain’s response to the facial expressions of others. “What is he afraid of?” “Should I be afraid too?” We will see that a brain area called the amygdala is particularly responsive to what is predicted by the facial expressions of others. In addition, the prefrontal cortex attempts to control some of this reactivity. It is in this conversation between the prefrontal cortex and brain areas like the amygdala that we see interesting differences across individuals. This work has implications for understanding one’s own fluctuating anxiety levels as well as diagnosable disorders of fear management (i.e., anxiety disorders). Visit Whalen's laboratory website for more information.
"The Emergence of Gender Difference in Young Children," by Anne Fausto-Sterling, DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on March 2, 2006
Anne Fausto-Sterling is professor of biology and gender studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University and chair of the Faculty Committee on Science and Technology Studies. Fausto-Sterling's research applies dynamic systems theory to the study of human development. Dynamic systems theory permits us to understand how cultural difference becomes bodily difference. Her current case studies in this area examine sex differences in bone development and the emergence of gender differences in behavior in early childhood.
"Music, Brain, and Culture," by Jamshed Bharucha, PUBLIC LECTURE on February 23, 2006
Jamshed Bharucha is provost and senior vice president of Tufts University as well as professor in the psychology department. His research is on the perception of music, using computational neural net modeling and brain imaging techniques. He has co-developed two successful software products for teaching. Bharucha is a trustee of the International Foundation for Music Research and was editor of the interdisciplinary journal Music Perception.
ABSTRACT: Culture is learned automatically by the brain. The brain then uses this implicit knowledge to filter subsequent perception through "cultural lenses." This is true of all aspects of culture, including music. Our brains internalize the structural patterns and emotional associations that are pervasive in the musical cultures to which we are exposed. My students and I tested this hypothesis with brain imaging, using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI). We tracked the brain activity of volunteers from India and the United States while they listened to samples of Indian and Western music, as well as samples of spoken Hindi and English. Our results suggest that for both music and language, the brain responds differently to music that is culturally familiar than to music that is culturally unfamiliar, although the results are more complex for music than for language. In my talk I will also critique the co-called "Mozart effect"--the belief that listening to Mozart or other forms of music affects the brain in ways that affect spatial reasoning and other non-musical cognitive skills.
"On Emotional Experience," by Robert Solomon, PUBLIC LECTURE on February 16, 2006
Robert Solomon is Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Philosophy and Business and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a specialist in the philosophy of emotions, business ethics, and post-Kantian continental philosophy. He has also published extensively on ethics and the history of philosophy. His more than forty books include Living with Nietzsche (Oxford, 2003) and a three-volume series On the Passionate Life.
"Evolution, Science, and Intelligent Design," PANEL DISCUSSION on February 8, 2006
Panelists listed alphabetically: Ernie Alleva (CS), Mark Feinstein, (CS), Laura Sizer (CS), Lee Spector (CS), Jason Tor (NS), James Wald (SS); moderated by Salman Hameed (NS/CS)
The panelists discussed the principal arguments offered in support of intelligent design; the theory of and evidence for evolution by natural selection; why intelligent design does not belong in a science classroom; and the relationships between evolution, religion, and our quest for meaning. Open discussion followed.
Island of Lost Souls, FILM SCREENING and PANEL DISCUSSION on November 28, 2005
Discussion led by Ernie Alleva (CS), Lynn Miller (NS), and Jeff Wallen (HACU)
This 1933 version of the movie starring Charles Laughton provoked questions about genetic engineering and ethics.
"Beyond Dick and Jane: Multiple Views on Multiple Genders," PANEL DISCUSSION on November 15, 2005
Panelists listed alphabetically: Jane Couperus (CS), Cynthia Gill (NS), Kristen Luschen (SS), Bethany Ogdon (HACU)
ABSTRACT: In 2004 the president of Harvard University suggested that innate differences between the sexes could account for why fewer women succeed in math and science careers, bringing to light the continued ignorance of the complexity of sex. What are sex and gender? It is clear that sex and gender go beyond the X and Y chromosomes, but what role does biology play in shaping psychological and cultural differences? Likewise, how does the cultural performance of gender affect what we think of as "biological" differences? Bringing together research from the fields of neuroendocrinology, culture theory, cognitive psychology, and sociology, the panel moves beyond conventional binaries to explore the complex interaction of genes, hormones, and ideology that produce and transform the lived experience of sex/gender.
Inherit the Wind, FILM SCREENING and PANEL DISCUSSION on November 2, 2005.
Discussion led by Hampshire faculty Aaron Berman (HACU) and James Miller (CS).
"Gene Traders: Biotechnology, Globalization, and Resistance," by Brian Tokar, PUBLIC LECTURE on October 27, 2005
Brian Tokar is director of the Institute for Social Ecology's Biotechnology Project, which does community organizing against the biotechnology industry. He is also a faculty member at the Institute. In addition, he is the editor of two books on the subject of biotechnology: Redesigning Life and Gene Traders. The talk was co-hosted by: the Population and Development Program; the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program; the School of Natural Science; The Culture, Brain, and Development Program; and the Students for the Freedom to Unionize.
"What are Emotions? A Brief History of Competing Theories," by Jenefer Robinson, PUBLIC LECTURE on October 24, 2005
Co-Hosted by Mount Holyoke College. Robinson is professor of philosophy at the University of Cincinnati.
"Disgusted at the Movies: the Rhetoric of the Revolting in Film," by Carl Plantinga, PUBLIC LECTURE on October 19, 2005
Co-Hosted by Mount Holyoke College. Plantinga is associate professor, Communication Arts and Science Department, Calvin College, and is the author of Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and co-editor of Passionate Views: Thinking about Film and Emotion (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998).
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2004-2005
"Matters of Life and Death," PANEL DISCUSSION on April 25, 2005
Co-hosted by the Law Program at Hampshire College. Panelists listed alphabetically: Ernie Alleva (CS), Jane Couperus (CS), Mario D'Amato (visiting assistant professor of Asian religions and the philosophy of religion), James Harold (philosophy, Mount Holyoke College), Laura Sizer (CS), Neil Stillings (CS), Barbara Yngvesson (SS)
ABSTRACT: The Terry Schiavo case has raised difficult questions about the nature and quality of life and death, and has confronted all of us with the uncomfortable fact that there are conditions or states that are perhaps somewhere between life and death. Such states raise questions that do not yield to easy answers and require us to wrestle simultaneously with science, law, philosophy, and religion: What does it mean to be alive/dead/in a coma/persistent vegetative state/minimally conscious state? What makes life worth living? When is it okay to end a life? Who should make these decisions? What other legal issues are in play at the end of life? And what role should the government play in these determinations? This panel discussion brings together scientists, philosophers, anthropologists, and experts in the study of religion and legal studies.
Movements and Madness an Ethnographic Film on the Entanglements of Culture and Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Indonesia, by Robert Lemelson and Dag Yngvesson, in collaboration with psychiatrist Mahar Agusno. FILM on April 15, 2005
Dr. Robert Lemelson is a lecturer in the departments of anthropology and psychology at UCLA, and the president of the Foundation for Psychocultural Research.
"The Birth of the Mind: Genes, Neurons, and the Origins of Mental Life," by Gary Marcus, PUBLIC LECTURE on April 7, 2005
Gary F. Marcus is associate professor of psychology and neural science in the Department of Psychology of New York University. He received his B.A. in cognitive science from Hampshire College and his Ph.D. from MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He is the author of over 30 articles in leading journals such as Science and Nature, and the author of The Algebraic Mind (MIT Press), and The Birth of The Mind. In the words of Noam Chomsky, The Birth of Mind is "a wonderful contribution to our understanding of the biological basis for higher mental processes." Marcus won the 1996 Robert Fantz award for new investigators in cognitive development, and he was a fellow at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California.
"To Act and Think in Conventional Ways: How a Young Child Gets Common Sense With a Growing Brain," by Colwyn Trevarthen, DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on March 30, 2005
Colwyn Trevarthen is professor emeritus of child psychology and psychobiology in the department of psychology of the University of Edinburgh. He was trained as a biologist and psychologist. He has published widely on brain development; the development of communication in infants and toddlers; musical and gestural communication, parent-infant interaction; and the interpersonal foundations of language and meaning. He has co-authored and edited Brain Circuits and Functions of the Mind: Essays in Honor of Roger Sperry, Children with Autism, and Music Therapy in Context: Music, Meaning and Relationship.
"The 'Putting the baby down' Hypothesis: Bipedalism, Babbling, and Baby Slings," by Dean Falk, DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on February 17, 2005
Dean Falk is Hale G. Smith Professor and chair of the department of anthropology, Florida State University. Her research focuses on the evolution of the brain and cognition in higher primates, including hominins.* She is author of Braindance, Primate Diversity, and Evolutionary Anatomy of the Primate Cerebral Cortex (co-edited with Kathleen Gibson). Dean Falk presented her recently formulated hypothesis that relates the appearance and elaboration of prelinguistic neurological and behavioral substrates in early hominins to the evolution of infant-directed speech (“motherese" or “musical speech”) in conjunction with selection for bipedalism. This hypothesis predicts that certain areas of the right (musical) hemisphere became “hotspots” at an early point during hominin evolution, a prediction that she is in the process of testing on fossil endocasts. This work appeared as a target article in the February 2005 issue of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. *Note from Falk: Everyone now understands "hominins" (a tribe) to mean humans and their non-apelike early ancestors (e.g., australopithecines). In other words, what "hominids" used to mean. The term "hominids" is currently ambiguous because some people use it the traditional way as just defined, but a bunch of others (cladists) now include great apes and us in that term. The field is fast shifting to hominins and I use it because no one can mistake what is meant by it.
"Explaining the 'Magic' of Consciousness," by Daniel C. Dennett, DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on February 25, 2005
Daniel C. Dennett is Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University, where he is director of the Center for Cognitive Studies.
"Gender Revised," BRAIN BAG DISCUSSION on November 30, 2004
Open discussion and critique of Rodriguez event November 29, 2004.
Are My Lips on Straight? Gender, Performance, and Sexuality by Esme Rodriguez, PERFORMANCE and LECTURE on November 29, 2004
Esme Rodriguez (Teresa Kupin), a visual and performance artist, has lived in Minneapolis for four years. She is a Ph.D. candidate and undergraduate instructor at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and strives to bridge the innumerable gaps between traditional academics and the community.
"Music: Culture, Brain, and Evolution," FACULTY FORUM on November 17, 2004
Panelists: Rebecca Miller, "Music in/as Culture;" Lee Spector, "An Evolutionary Perspective on Music;" Neil Stillings, "Music and Brain: How Each Shapes the Other"
Commentators: Christoph Cox and Dan Warner
"Is It Me or My Brain?" by Joseph Dumit, FACULTY SEMINAR on November 12, 2004
"Digital Personhood," by Joseph Dumit, PUBLIC LECTURE on November 11, 2004
Joseph Dumit is associate professor of anthropology and science and technology studies in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz (History of Consciousness, 1995). He is the author of Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity (Princeton University Press, 2004). He also co-edited Cyborgs & Citadels: Anthropological Interventions in Emerging Sciences and Technologies with Gary Lee Downy (1997), and Cyborg Babies: From Techno-Sex to Techno-Tots with Robbie Davis-Flowd (1998). He is the associate editor of the journal Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry. He is currently completing a manuscript on pharmaceutical facts and marketing called Drugs for Life.
Blade Runner, FILM SCREENING on November 8, 2004
Informal discussion among faculty and students will follow this classic in mind, brain, and culture manipulation.
Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, FILM SCREENING on October 19, 2004
Post-film discussion led by: Falguni Sheth (visiting assistant professor of philosophy and political theory) and Lee Spector (CS)
"Gaia and the Evolution of Machines," by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, PUBLIC LECTURE on October 9, 2004
The Manchurian Candidate, FILM SCREENING on October 6, 2004
Post-film discussion led by: Penina Glazer (HACU) and Joanna Morris (CS)
"Shaping the Intimate: Influences on the Experience of Everyday Nerves," by David Healy, PUBLIC LECTURE on October 4, 2004
Dr. Healy is director of the North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine, former secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology, and visiting professor at the University of Toronto.
"Discussion of Marc Hauser's 'The Evolution of Our Moral Instincts,'" BRAIN BAG DISCUSSION on October 1, 2004
Conversation in response public lecture, with critiques by faculty Bruce Blumberg (MIT), Jane Couperus (CS), Laura Sizer (CS) and Barbara Yngvesson (SS)
"The Evolution of Our Moral Instincts," by Marc D. Hauser, PUBLIC LECTURE on September 30, 2004
Dr. Hauser is professor in the Department of Psychology and Program in Neurosciences; co-director of the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Program; and director of the Primate Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Harvard University.
EVENTS ACADEMIC YEAR 2003-2004
"What Neurology Can Tell Us About Human Nature, Consciousness, and Art," by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran M.D., Ph.D., DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on April 8, 2004
"Beyond Nature vs. Nurture," PANEL DISCUSSION on March 23, 2004
With Eileen Anderson-Fye (postdoctoral fellow, Center for Culture and Health, Neuropsychiatric Institute, UCLA), Ray Coppinger (CS), and Annie Rogers (CSI). Discussion of the implications of panelists' research on the interrelationships of nature and nurture for debates about the range of developmental plasticity in humans and for views that some developmental outcomes are innate.
"Moments of Truth: Genetic Disease in American Culture," by M. Susan Lindee, PUBLIC LECTURE on December 5, 2003
"The Evolution of Food Choice: Where the Gut Meets the Brain," by George Armelagos, PUBLIC LECTURE on November 7, 2003
"Culture/Biology and Social Movements," by Chaia Heller, PUBLIC LECTURE on November 3, 2003
"How Can Hampshire's Culture, Brain, and Development Program Work for You?" BRAIN BAG LUNCH on October 31, 2003
Hear from the CBD Steering Committee in conversation with Michelle Bigenho (CSI), Lynn Miller (NS), Joanna Morris (CS), and Dan Warner (HACU),