The Encultured Brain

An Introduction to Neuroanthropology

The brain and the nervous system are our most cultural organs. Our nervous system is especially immature at birth, our brain disproportionately small in relation to its adult size and open to cultural sculpting at multiple levels. Recognizing this, the new field of neuroanthropology places the brain at the center of discussions about human nature and culture. Anthropology offers brain science more robust accounts of enculturation to explain observable difference in brain function; neuroscience offers anthropology evidence of neuroplasticity's role in social and cultural dynamics. This book provides a foundational text for neuroanthropology, offering basic concepts and case studies at the intersection of brain and culture.

After an overview of the field and background information on recent research in biology, a series of case studies demonstrate neuroanthropology in practice. Contributors first focus on capabilities and skills—including memory in medical practice, skill acquisition in martial arts, and the role of humor in coping with breast cancer treatment and recovery—then report on problems and pathologies that range from post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans to smoking as a part of college social life.

Table of Contents

  1. Contents
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. I. On the Encultured Brain
  4. 1. The Encultured Brain: Development, Case Studies, and Methods

    Daniel H. Lende and Greg Downey

  5. 2. Neuroanthropology and the Encultured Brain

    Greg Downey and Daniel H. Lende

  6. 3. Primate Social Cognition, Human Evolution, and Niche Construction: A Core Context for Neuroanthropology

    Katherine C. MacKinnon and Agustín Fuentes

  7. 4. Evolution and the Brain

    Greg Downey and Daniel H. Lende

  8. II. Case Studies on Human Capacities, Skills, and Variation
  9. 5. Memory and Medicine

    M. Cameron Hay

  10. 6. Balancing between Cultures: Equilibrium in Capoeira

    Greg Downey

  11. 7. From Habits of Doing to Habits of Feeling: Skill Acquisition in Taijutsu Practice

    Katja Pettinen

  12. 8. Holistic Humor: Coping with Breast Cancer

    Kathryn Bouskill

  13. 9. Embodiment and Male Vitality in Subsistence Societies

    Benjamin Campbell

  14. III. Case Studies on Human Problems, Pathologies, and Variation
  15. 10. War and Dislocation: A Neuroanthropological Model of Trauma among American Veterans with Combat PTSD

    Erin P. Finley

  16. 11. Autism as a Case for Neuroanthropology: Delineating the Role of Theory of Mind in Religious Development

    Rachel S. Brezis

  17. 12. Collective Excitement and Lapse in Agency: Fostering an Appetite for Cigarettes

    Peter G. Stromberg

  18. 13. Addiction and Neuroanthropology

    Daniel H. Lende

  19. 14. Cultural Consonance, Consciousness, and Depression: Genetic Moderating Effects on the Psychological Mediators of Culture

    William W. Dressler, Mauro C. Balieiro, and José Ernesto dos Santos

  20. IV. Conclusion
  21. 15. The Encultured Brain—Toward the Future

    Daniel H. Lende and Greg Downey

  22. Contributors

  23. Index