A recent study published in Cognition suggests that eye contact may interfere with verbal productivity. That is, one reason that people may look away is that the two processes, making eye contact and generating language, may be using the same resources.
From the [New York Times article]:
> A gift for spatial reasoning — the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator — may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math, science and related fields, according to a study published Monday in the journal [Psychological Science].
[New York Times article]: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/us/study-finds-early-signs-of-creativity-in-adults.html
[Psychological Science]: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/journals/psychological_science
I woke from a dream this morning in which I had gotten a nice note from my editor, Craig Gill, outlining ways to be productive — he wanted to make sure I delivered the book on time. One nice bit of advice oneiric Gill gave me was: “don’t think of writing for ‘due by’ but rather week by week.” It was a longer sentence, and better put, but I remember the play on the word *by*. Given that the email had something like five or more bullet points in them, it’s interesting that the one that stayed with me is the one that has the more poetic dimension to it. We are discussing the second chapter of David Rubin’s *Memory in Oral Traditions* today in class: this would seem to support the assertion that formula create stability in memory.
[DARPA’s SyNAPSE Program] “is an attempt to build a new kind of computer with similar form and function to the mammalian brain. Such artificial brains would be used to build robots whose intelligence matches that of mice and cats.”
I, for one, welcome our new cat- and mouse-brained overlords.
[DARPA’s SyNAPSE Program]: http://www.artificialbrains.com/darpa-synapse-program
Robert Krulwich has done a lot of nice work over the years, but this animation of what happens when you blindfold someone and tell them to walk a straight line is still one of the best things I have ever seen:
The good news? No one has figured it out yet.
There are a number of useful sites out there that attempt to narrate the history of cognitive anthropology and/or delineate its various dimensions. From what I can tell so far, maybe the field has never been quite big enough for the kind of abstraction that narration or delineation usually require. It seems like, in my reading, a remarkable collection of individuals who were loosely allied by principle but not so much by methodology. (Strikingly similar to folklore studies in that regard, I think.)
* The Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama has a collection of pages maintained by students on the various subfields of anthropology. [Cognitive Anthropology is included](http://anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=Cognitive%20Anthropology).
[Scientists have produced a map of the brain](http://news.illinois.edu/news/12/0410braininjury_AronBarbey.html). The lead researcher notes that they think they have found where particular mental activities occur: that is, their goal was to map, in a one-to-one fashion, links between an ability and a region of the brain. They used a large group of Vietnam veterans with localized brain injuries, who also suffered particular gaps in cognitive function:
> Scientists report that they have mapped the physical architecture of intelligence in the brain. Theirs is one of the largest and most comprehensive analyses so far of the brain structures vital to general intelligence and to specific aspects of intellectual functioning, such as verbal comprehension and working memory. Their study, published in _Brain: A Journal of Neurology_, is unique in that it enlisted an extraordinary pool of volunteer participants: 182 Vietnam veterans with highly localized brain damage from penetrating head injuries.
I need to read [the article](http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/03/05/brain.aws021.short?rss=1). The summary from the University of Illinois press release defines mental function rather loosely, e.g. “general intelligence.” (This, however, may be in fact a rather precise term within neurology, and thus I am only revealing my ignorance.)