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Craving a Fix

I recently read the article “Cognitive and affective mechanisms linking trait mindfulness to craving among individuals in addiction recovery”  by E.L. Garland that I think I can use in my research proposal.

The article is about how mindfulness is related to craving.  Craving is the subjective experience of physical data related to the withdrawal from the cue (alcohol, drugs, etc.).  More than just the physiological experiences, craving is the inner interpretation of those experiences.  It is the constant thought of the craved substance, the anticipation of how good it will feel when the addict finally gets the substance, and all of the thoughts and behaviors that drive individuals to acquire the substance no matter what the cost.  I want to utilize this behavior in addicts to see if they are so focused in their cravings that they ignore reality, in the form of ignoring pain.  I wonder if their need for a fix is so great that other perceptions do not even register in their minds.  I feel like this repetitive, central goal might be somewhat similar to meditation that involves repeating a mantra, so I will have to read more on meditation.  Meditation could be a good contrast against addictions, since it is viewed in a positive light rather than a negative one and has already been shown to increase pain tolerance.

In this study, craving was measured using the Penn Alcohol Craving Scale.  It measures the duration, frequency, and intensity of craving for alcohol on a 7 point scale  with questions such as “How often have you thought about drinking or how good a drink would make you feel.”  This is perfectly designed to test the craving levels of the alcoholics in my proposal.  Since the scale was modified in the article to also measure cravings for drugs, I think it would be reasonable for me to modify the scale to measure the cravings of pathological gamblers.  This way, I would be able to compare the levels of craving of the addicted participants to their performance in the pain test.


A Guided Path Through Pain

The most important piece of information I gleamed from HC Fox’s article “Frequency of recent cocaine and alcohol use affects drug craving and associated responses to stress and drug-related cues” was the use of guided imagery.  Guided imagery involves “re-living” a recent stressful or drug-related personal event through guided imagery and recall.  I feel like this would be a good way to have the addicts in my study focus on their addiction before the pain test.  Instead of just telling the addicts to think of their addiction, this method would be standardized and repeatable, meaning the participants would all be told to imagine the same scenario.  It might be how they felt when they last indulged in their addiction, or imagining a scenario where they can indulge in their addiction all they want with no consequences.  I want to try and mimic the obsession that comes with intense addiction, and focusing in this manner might work.

Also, I liked the statistic analyses that were performed.  A linear mixed effect model is good when there are repeated measurements from the same individual.  This could be good if I have the participants do the pain test with and without the independent variable.  A T-test was performed, which is good to determine demographic and baseline drug differences.  Both of these statistical models could be used in my study.

Pain Sensitivity in Opiate Addicts

I recently read the article “Abnormal pain response in pain-sensitive opiate addicts after prolonged abstinence predicts increased drug craving” written by Ren Zhen-Yu.  This article is a great foundation for what I want to write my research proposal on.

In the article, the different intensities of cravings of opiate addicts was related with how much pain was felt.  Overall, the opiate addicts  in this study showed a shorter tolerance for pain than control subjects, which is one of the reasons I have decided to use alcoholics instead of opiate addicts in my study.  Opiate addicts can show either an increased tolerance to pain or a decreased tolerance to pain, depending on what stage of addiction the individual is in-development, maintenance, withdrawal periods, and periods of abstinence.  This could be because opiates have a specific receptor in the brain, since our bodies can actually produce certain opiates (endorphins).  Also, opiates such as morphine are used to treat pain directly.  Additionally, people who are at risk for opiate addiction might already be partially intolerant of pain.  They might choose to take opiates to relieve their pain.  Our bodies cannot naturally produce alcohol, and alcohol does not directly affect pain receptors, so I feel like alcoholism will be a better substance disorder for me to test than opiate addiction.

I like the descriptions of the participants that were involved in the study.  The opiate addicted participants had to be four months sober, could not be on any other psychoactive drugs except nicotine (so cigarettes are okay), any prescribed medicine, any medication for physical or mental disorders, and could not have a pain condition.  The control patients had to have no history of substance abuse, pain conditions, serious physical or mental disorders, and not be on medication.  To ensure this, a urine sample was taken to test for drugs.  They were collected through word of mouth and advertisement.  I feel like this will be a good model for me to follow.

A Cold pressor test (CPT) was used to test for tolerance to pain and pain intensity (sensory aspect) and distress (affective/emotional aspect).  I really like this quote that was used to describe the difference between pain intensity and distress. “To understand the difference between pain intensity and distress, think of listening to music on a radio. As I turn the volume up, I can ask you how loud the music is or I can ask you how pleasant or unpleasant the music is to listen to.  The intensity of pain is like the loudness of music. How pleasant or unpleasant the music is depends on how much you like or dislike the music, and the distress of pain depends on how much you dislike the sensation.”  These levels were measure using separate visual analogue scales VAS 0-100, 0 being “not at all intense” or “not at all unpleasant” and 100 being “the most intense pain imaginable” or “the most unpleasant pain imaginable.”  Again, this seems like a really good model for me to follow.


ADHA: Liability or Assett?

Considering the social context of ADHA, could ADHA be an asset or a liability? Dan Eisenberg, PhD, and Benjamin Campbell in their article, The Evolution of ADHD: Social Context Matters, ask a very good question to begin with: Why hasn’t natural section removed the genes that underlie ADHA from the human population? According to Eisenberg and Campbell, we must consider our current and past social environments over our evolutionary history, along with genetic and molecular evidence.  Humans today live in a very different environment than our hunter-gatherer ancestors did over 10,000 year ago. According to the article, learning took place through play, observation, and informal instruction, rather than a structured classroom almost all of us have experienced today.  The genetics of AHDA plays a key role as well. It turns out that the 7R (ADHD associated) allele of the DRD4 gene was created around 45,000 years ago and was selected for, referring back to the article, and therefore likely was evolutionarily advantageous. In a study conducted by Chuansheng Chen and colleagues, according to the article, populations with longer histories of migrating tended to have a greater frequency of DRD4 7R alleles. Later, the article goes on to say, that Chen and his colleagues reported that populations that currently practiced a nomadic lifestyle tend to have higher frequencies of 7r (ADHD-associated) allele than sedentary populations. The article states that they analyzed the DRD4 genotypes of 150 adult Ariaal men, half form nomadic groups and half form the settled groups. The nomadic men who had the 7R ADHD associated allele were less underweight than the nomadic men, but among the settled man, the reverse was true. Clearly, according to the article, something about the nomadic context that allows people with ADHA­ like behaviors to be more successful in an evolutionary sense. The article ends with a question, more or less: Are there areas in our society where children and adults with ADHD might better use their traits? And on a finally last note, children and adults are lead to believe that this is disability, but as it turns out, depending of social context, could be seen as strength.

Toward an Applied Neuroanthropology of Psychosis: The interplay of Culture, Brains, and Experience

About the author

Neely  Anne Laurenzo Myers is an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University.  She received her PhD from the University of Chicago’s department of Comparative Human Development in 2009.  Dr. Myers specializes in psychiatric anthropology and applied neuroanthropology with interests in mental health especially among underserved populations.

Applied Neuroanthropology of Psychosis

The purpose of applying neuroanthropology to psychosis or to mental health more generally is really to understand the interplay between one’s culture, neurodevelopment, and life experiences.  This case study examines how everyday experiences can be integrated into neurodevelopment and lead to psychosis in certain contexts.  Applied neuroanthropology can make improvements on the current recommendations for psychotic disorders by understanding how neurodevelopment during certain life stages and relevant life experiences can interact to affect biologically vulnerable individuals.  Hopefully, new treatments and interventions can be developed to treat people earlier in the course of their psychotic disorder as people in the west typically have a lower rate of recovery than patients in non-western countries.  Another distinct advantage of neuroanthropology is that it can look at psychotic disorders cross-culturally.  By doing so it becomes clear that psychotic disorders do not mean the same thing to people everywhere.  They are experienced quite differently and understandably treated with different approaches.

Introducing Psychosis

While you may not know someone with any type of psychotic disorder it effects around 1% of the global population and even more people experience more mild psychotic episodes at some point in their life.  Psychosis is severely disabling in that the person loses touch with reality, they have delusions, and sensory hallucinations.  You are probably most familiar with the idea that these people hear voices in their head and may talk to those voices.  The voices can vary in who and what they are saying but it can be very frightening.  The patient, family, and friends may become afraid.  The experience is different for every person because everyone has a different brain and for this reason the illness can be very isolating.  I’ve personally seen what psychotic illness can do to a person and their loved ones and it is incredibly devastating and life altering.  Part of this may have to do with the way we view and treat this type of mental illness in this country.  The other symptoms essentially changes the person’s personality and further isolate them from any existing close relationships they had left.  These symptoms include loss of emotional response, little motivation, socially withdrawing, and cognitive problems which can all easily interfere with seeking or adhering to treatment.

This clip summarizes the symptoms of schizophrenia and their impact on the patient and family.

Summary of the Case Study

Dr. Myers spent time at a clinic for psychiatric disabilities in New York where she used a mixed methods approach, including participant observation and interviews, to understand the experiences of a patient named Leroy.  Leroy was in his thirties and had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.  People with schizoaffective disorder frequently have the symptoms of schizophrenia with the symptoms of a mood disorder like depression.  Leroy was also an alcoholic and a felon.  Dr. Myers believed that his neurodevelopment may have been effected by institutional participation and led to the development of his psychotic events.  She detailed his history with psychotic events as well as his beliefs surrounding them.  He had had at least two mild psychotic events as a child.  His Aunt had explained to him that he may be hearing spirits and also told him a story about his birth and that his grandmother thought he might be susceptible to such things.  He seemed to accept this explanation and didn’t have problems for a while because his aunt put something in his water to help.  He explained these ideas to his doctors but they dismissed it completely.  When he was incarcerated he eventually became paranoid.  At some point he ended up serving eighty days in solitary confinement because of disobedience.  His psychotic problems became constant at this point.  He began hearing voices, talked back to the voices, became fixated on things he read in a bible, and ended up being taken to a psychiatric treatment center.  In the center they treated him with anti-psychotics but he felt he was denied the chance to truly face his illness because of this.

Psychotic Disorders: A Neuroscience Perspective

It really isn’t clear what causes Schizophrenia or any of the related psychotic disorders.  The models range from genetic to epigenetic to purely environmental.  The reason for this is that they can see some evidence of the disease in some patient’s brain such as a changing of certain structures or pathways but can’t definitively say it causes the disease.  They can only say it is probably part of the disease.  At this point a mix of genetic predisposition and environmental factors seem like the best explanation.  What has been suggested is that people with Schizophrenia may be biologically susceptible to social stresses and that as these build up they are unable to withstand it and develop psychotic symptoms.  Another idea suggests that is completely normal to experience mild psychotic events during certain stages of neurodevelopment but it only becomes pathological in these supposed biologically susceptible people.  Other models suggest that the reason psychotic symptoms become evident during the young adult years is because of the multitude of social stressors associated with life changes and certain susceptible people cannot handle that and develop psychotic disorders.  Something else that is clear that Leroy was an example of is that certain contexts raise the risk of psychotic illness.  These contexts include urban environments, social disadvantage, adverse life events, and poverty which can all cause prolonged stress.  Which brings us to the last possible explanation which is allostatic overload.  This model suggests that psychotic disorders may result from neural changes due to allostatic overload but specifically due to inflammatory cytokines and glucocorticoids and their effects on the brain.  The cause and mechanism for schizophrenia has yet to be discovered but it is likely a combination of these explanations which include genetic and environmental causes.

Toward an Applied Neuroanthropology of Psychosis

Neroanthropology can be used to better understand how experience is incorporated into neurodevelopment to alter pathways or structures that lead to psychosis.  In Leroy’s case certain episodes in his life (solitary confinement) led to the exacerbation of an underlying issue.  He also came from a disadvantaged background and had previous mild psychotic episodes with certain beliefs about them.  Could this information have been used to intervene and prevent full blown schizoaffective disorder?  We don’t know.  However, continuing applied neuroanthropological research into psychotic illness can provide the insight to answer those kinds of questions.  It can also help us to understand the stages of development, at-risk populations, and biological vulnerabilities that need intervention and what that intervention should look like.  Research experiences like this case study also make it clear that to dismiss the beliefs an individual holds about their illness can be a mistake.  A person’s cultural beliefs surrounding their illness can end up being a vital tool in fighting psychotic disorders.  In the U.S. this could lead to cognitive behavioral therapy as a resource for people who want to try something with or instead of traditional anti-psychotics.

A new form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Facing the voices) to complement anti-psychotics.

Holistic Humor: Coping With Breast Cancer

About the Author

Kathryn Bouskill holds both a  BA and MA in Anthropology from Notre Dame and Emory respectively. She is currently  completing a Ph.D. in Anthropology and a M.P.H. in Epidemiology at Emory. She maintains an interest in the topic of breast cancer though her current focus has shifted from ethnographic research on coping mechanisms to the globalization of typically American breast cancer awareness campaigns and their social implications in new contexts, specifically in Austria.

The Author, Kathryn Bouskill
The Author, Kathryn Bouskill

The Big Idea

Kathryn Bouskill decided to take a slightly different look at humor and illness. Traditional interest centers around humor as therapy, the idea that laughter can be a form of medicine, and/or the physiological implications of humor. However, Bouskill preferred to explore how humor was utilized in order to cognitively augment a sociocultural reality through social connection and understanding among survivors. While the fear was an unavoidable constant, by focusing on the comedic aspects of the non-lethal aspects of breast cancer sufferers were able to regain a sense of control while navigating their new role. This presented as true across age, race, and SES.

Neuroanthropology:  Joining Humor and Coping

Discovering the presence of breast cancer is a polarizing moment. Life is almost immediately divided in two categories: life before cancer and life with cancer.  Once a lump is discovered the acceleration into the world of cancer is almost exponential. In an exceptionally short amount of time  a woman loses her health and, for many, most of  her defining feminine features. The experience is not only characterized by sickness but by loss of identity, both personal and social.  Any coping mechanism is defined as managing stressors by the cognitive consideration of the situation within the context of the individuals’ life, i.e. their sociocultural  context. Both humor and coping are rooted within such a context, as responding to humor requires social aptitude and understanding. Bouskill notes that humor is instinctual and is a topic that has lacked popularity through the evolutionary-adaptionist lens as it doesn’t have a necessarily affect fitness one way or another. In all actuality the study of  humor presents difficulty through almost any lens, the most glaringly obvious reason being that it is difficult to find in the lab setting.  Humor study has long been a key topic in enthnography as a means of both as a means of social bonding and deviance. Though there is still much to explore what is known it that it creates a discernible distance between an individual and their suffering.

Breast Cancer in the United States: Politics And Pink Ribbons

The U.S breast cancer awareness movement was prompted in response to the shocking stigmatization and victim-blaming that formerly characterized the disease. Breast cancer is now a common concept as noted by how commonplace it is to see anything and everything bedecked in pink ribbon. While these are great strides forward, the disease has also become feminized and all-encompassing. Most male sufferers are overlooked and the attitude towards the disease serves to further define the diagnosed as a cancer suffer before they are seen as anything else

“We Laughed for Hours!”

The interest in this topic was prompted when an inaugural breast cancer support group meeting had an unexpected affect on the participants. Rather than the tales of hardship and frustration, the organizer was met with three hours of laughter. Most of the ethnographic information was taken from the Midwestern support center that hosted that very meeting. Every participant said that they used humor, as defined by each of the survivors, to cope.

Transitioning to “Cancer World”

The transition to the cancer world is as literal as it is metaphoric. It means coming to grips with the realities of suffering from breast cancer, dealing with each and every physical and emotional facet. Survivors from the center and associated biomedical clinic formed deep connections to other sufferers and staff, often communicating outside of scheduled meetings. “Cancer World” becomes a social haven though it continues to be a physical hell. The solidarity is an earmark of their world.  The support center becomes a place where they are no longer required to be the valiant survivor, they can feel their feeling and express them any way they choose. Typically this turns out to be a form of humor that could be considered to the layperson to be morbid, but is simply an expression of their reality. Time also plays a role in the transition, as most sufferers will not be wise cracking about shaving their heads at their first chemotherapy appointment. It is a fluid process of acceptance.

Dealing with “Cancer World”

The psychological stress that accompanies the diagnosis of cancer arises in many forms.  Where does one turn to deal with such an outpouring of change and emotion? Having an outlet along with locale and label assist in modulating such stress responses. Social support leads to lower cortisol levels and overall better quality of life. Humor cultivates the social bonds that lead to these marked physiological and psychological changes. The participants noted that humor allowed them to take their minds off of the negative aspects of the disease, whereas dwelling and complaining only seemed to give is power over their minds in addition to their bodies

Language, Humor, and Meaning

Linguistically, humor alters meaning.  It allows people to joke about the serious as well as the inherently humorous. Within this support center is acted as a mode of changing the minds of those who suffered to a frame of mind that allowed them to accept and cope with their situation. Humor does not remove their stress but it does serve to lessen their anxiety. Though metaphor and idiomatic reference, their orient themselves within their own world as well as the one outside.

Recess and Reward: The Positive  Effects of Humor

Physiologically humor does actually provide physical advantages.  If is looked at as a reward then is can be linked to the  mesolimbic  dipaminergic reward system . It also activates the medial ventral prefrontal cortex,  as seen through fMRI data. Women are seen to experience  greater reward response from the language processing centers than their male counterparts. Additionally coping via humor seems to lower the systolic blood pressure in women. Humor, however, is too complex to be looked at in a purely neurological manner. Activation of neural reward centers is dependent upon social interactions and context. It cannot simply be chalked up to neural reward, as that explanation is far to simplistic.


Humor allows breast cancer suffers a cognitive coping mechanism in three ways: 1.  It is a form of optimism that forces acceptance but also allows mental distance from stress 2. Allows a fluid transition to coping and finally 3. It taps into the human suite of traits that allow for stress relief and social group bonding through its instigation and laughter response.

All three of the above reasons are also challenges to how breast cancer and coping was previously assumed to be understood.

Emotions (Fear Faces)

The Authors: The article entitled “Cultural Specificity in Amygdala Response to Fear Faces” was researched by Joan Y. Chiao, Tetsuya Iidaka, Heather L. Gordon, Junpei Nogawa, Moshe Bar, Elissa Aminoff, Norihiro Sadato, and Nalini Ambady. All of these researchers sought to study the amygdala and whether cultural specificity had an affect on the neural response to fear faces.

Intro: The human amygdala is greatly activated to fear faces. It is thought that this heightened response is a reflection of an adaptive social signal to either warn or solicit help from others. Prior neuroimaging studies have only examined amygdala response to different emotional stimuli in participants within the same culture and not cross culturally, it remains unknown whether culture affects the neural response to fear faces. The researchers’ decided to test their hypotheses on two distinct cultures, native Japanese in Japan and Caucasians in the United States.

fear 1-001

Hypotheses: The authors had came up with two hypotheses for this research.
H1: Given automatic, prepotent nature of amygdala response to fear faces and the adaptive importance of responding to any signal of imminent danger in the environment, cultural affiliation will not affect the amygdala response to fear faces.
H2: Amygdala response may be enhanced for own- culture fear faces, given the greater similarity between self and other members of the same cultural group.

The purpose of the present work was to investigate these two competing hypotheses regarding culture and neural activation in response to fear faces. The researchers used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging in two distinct cultures to investigate cultural specificity in the amygdala’s response. In total the experiment had 20 healthy participants both men and women between the ages of 18-25 years, with corrected- to-normal vision, that were right- handed. The experiment used digitized grayscale pictures of 80 faces each with either a fearful, a neutral, a happy, or an angry expression taken from Japanese and Caucasian posers (20 men and 20 women from each cultural group). All participants were tested within their own culture by an experimenter who conducted the study in their native language, for each trial participants made an emotion categorization judgment using one of four buttons, the order of the stimuli was randomized within and between functional runs.

The fMRI results were evaluated in two different ways, through actual activation of the amygdala and response time/accuracy of emotions. Consistent with the researcher’s hypotheses, whole brain analyses revealed greater activation within regions of left and right amygdala for own culture compared to other-culture fear faces. Greater response to own-culture fear faces was also found in medial-temporal regions critical to successful encoding and retrieval of faces. The study showed that Caucasian participants were significantly more accurate at recognizing fear in their own-culture relative to other culture faces, while Japanese participants were faster in recognizing fear relative to Caucasian participants. To examine whether a culture of participant and a culture of face was present at higher thresholds, anatomical ROI analyses were also conducted. The anatomical ROI analyses also confirmed that amygdala response for recognizing fear was significantly greater for member’s of one’s own culture compared to other cultural groups. No other significant response for other emotional expressions were found in the ROI analyses.

In sum, the study demonstrates that cultural specificity ( or membership) modulates the brain’s primary response to fear. This is significant because the previously demonstration of the automatic, prepotent nature of the amygdala responses to fear faces underscores the significance of further cross-cultural testing at the neural level.

A Review of This Week’s Readings on the Methods of Neuroanthropology

While I do believe anthropology is one of the most useful and applicable majors out there, I have personally crossed paths with many potential employers who do not share my enthusiasm for the discipline. Whether it is a misunderstanding of the mission or applicability of anthropology, our discipline has people scratching their heads. For the record, anthropologists do not dig up dinosaurs or steal artifacts from ancient and cursed tombs (anymore). I believe that both articles discussed today, Lynn et al. (2014) and Seligman and Brown (2010), turn that head scratching into a knoggin’ knocking “why didn’t I think of that!?” The public has to acknowledge the usefulness of a biocultural approach in understanding the “encultured brain” as Lende and Downey (2012) so aptly put it. Every person loves to hear how special they are. What could be more incising to humanity than describing the intricacies of our big brains and the ways in which our biology influences our culture and vice versa.

Cartoon by Gary Larsen, accessed through
Cartoon by Gary Larsen, accessed through

Seligman and Brown (2010) focus on the niche construction of cultural neuroscience and how anthropology and social cognitive neuroscience are uniquely capable of combining to answer questions dealing with social construction of emotion, cultural psychiatry, and embodiment of ritual. This article really got me pumped for all of the applications of neuroanthropology whereas Lynn et al. (2014) made me envious of the opportunities awaiting current and future undergraduate students. This latter article focuses on how one might train an army of undergraduate students and prepare them for a future in neuroanthropology. Both of these articles presented me with new and improved methodologies that can be utilized in situ when completing fieldwork. Technologies that measure health and wellness are becoming more portable and affordable. As we know, it is not easy to replicate cultural contexts in a lab. One concern, however, did pop into my head. Seligman and Brown mainly use the term cultural neuroscience whereas Lynn et al. uses the term neuroanthropology. In a fledgling field, it seems to me of the utmost importance to have some agreed upon terms and conditions. Still, I am sure a Sherwood Washburn will come along in time to define neuroanthropology’s past and clearly declare the direction of its future.

A concept of great interest to me, and mentioned in both articles, is dissociation. This interest led me to an article on depersonalization disorder (DPD). Depersonalization can be described as a loss of self. As Adler et al. (2014) puts it, people experience “unreality, detachment, or being an outside observer with respect to one’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, body, etc.” (230). DPD may also involve derealization in which people’s experiences seem surreal and illusionary. Patients often list disruptions in cognitive functioning as a primary symptom of DPD. Adler et al. uses the “Spatial Cueing Paradigm” to assess whether DPD affects the mechanisms behind selective spatial attention. They hypothesize that differences in the selective spatial attention between DPD subjects and control subjects would be magnified during difficult tasks. Response times (RTs) were measured for valid, neutral, and invalid cue trails and RT benefits, RT costs, and total attention directing effect calculated. Then, a discrimination condition was presented in which the subject had to distinguish between two different types of events. They were asked only to respond to the “target.” A total attention directing effect was exhibited by all participants and the only marked differences between DPD patients and healthy participants were present in the high-demand condition. In short, the amount of brainpower a situation calls for affects the attention.

Figure 2 from Adler et al. (2014) that illustrates the valid cuing condition.
Figure 2 from Adler et al. (2014)  illustrating the valid cuing condition.
Figure 3 from Adler et al. (2014) demonstrating the targets of  different conditions.
Figure 3 from Adler et al. (2014) demonstrating the targets of different conditions.

Sports Culture

I know I’m late with my introductory blog, but hopefully I am doing this right and you all enjoy!


I really struggled to come up with a specific topic to write about because outside of this whole school thing I feel like I am all over the place. Then I realized the whole reason I felt like I was all over the place was because of sports. My whole life I have either been at school or at a practice. Although I no longer play sports,  I am fortunate enough to have landed an internship with the Athletic Events Management Department here at Alabama. I have been to about 65% of all of the athletic events on campus in the past 3 years. Now looking back, that’s  A LOT of my time. I would consider my internship more of a hobby because I do not get any form of school credit for it, just a resume’ boost honestly.

Aside from just Alabama Athletics, I am simply obsessed with sports. My TV is constantly on ESPN, my twitter feed, instagram, email, notifications on my phone -everything is filled with sports information. My favorite sports however are football, basketball, and softball.  I was the little girl at all the football games with her dad , who could name all the positions, the plays, the players, etc. Similar to Hayden Panettiere’s role in Remember the Titans, well the good parts of her role, (Ironically, I grew up a Tennessee Titans fan).  Basketball was a big family sport to watch when I was younger. My Filipino family has always been obsessed with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Basketball is a very popular sport in the Philippines, although most Filipino’s do not have the height for the sport they still very much appreciate and play the game. Literally, my cousin was so obsessed with basketball he named his daughter MJ(after Michael Jordan). I cannot make this type of stuff up.  Lastly, softball is one of my favorite sports because I played it for over 15 years. I miss the game a lot, but I thought I wanted to have a life. Little did I know that my life would still be consumed with it in some form or way.

Sports are thought to some as an element of culture. It is interesting to see it’s on going evolution within our culture to being considered only form of entertainment and to almost a subculture within its itself.

Historically: Sports can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, where healthy, athletic bodies were very evident in their art and where the Olympics originated from. Progressively during the World Wars, there was steady growth in the participation of sports continued for all classes of society to where we are today, as a part of a national culture that extends to majority of the population.

Proximally: The only way I can explain this is by saying since I was raised playing sports, watching sports, and being around different sports that is was only seemed fitting for me to like them as much as I do. It’s a good possibility that since I was always with my dad more than my mom that could have heavily influenced my perception.  I also met all my best friends through playing sports, being at the ballpark, and places like that. We were all raised through sports.

Developmental: Of course as a child I wanted to be around my friends as much as possible and essentially have play time with them.  So wanting to have friends and be around friends is appropriate for developing children. Sports also helps teach rules, social skills, and not to mention physical development.

Functionally: Physical development is an obvious pro of sports, I would like to think that not only does it help with one’s body but  the mind also. There’s been several studies done where sports help with stress and looking back at history sports have been used to promote peace and unification for culture’s also.

This isn’t the last you will hear about me talking about sports culture, this barely scratches the surface. But here is a pic of me working the first football game of last season with my coworkers. Hope to see you all at Bryant Denny Saturday!









Musings on the Usefulness of Mindfulness Meditation

I’ve been thinking about centering my research topic around an investigate of the usefulness of mindfulness meditation, a practice taken to new heights by the Shaolin monks, in treating the traveling malady culture shock .  It would be interesting to look at several different subsets of travelers: students studying abroad, military members about to deploy, and anthropologists completing ethnographic research.

H1: The practice of mindfulness meditation influences degree of environmental familiarity.  (This hypothesis would involve an ethnographic study of the  Shaolin monks and an examination of the mind-body connection in the novices as compared with the masters)

H2: The degree of environmental familiarity influences how the mind-body connection is perceived. (Questionnaire measuring mind-body dissonance taken before trip and after arrival)

H3: Conditions involving disorientation such as culture shock can be managed by practicing mindfulness meditation. (Half of the subject set to practice mindfulness meditation for 30 minutes a day for the entirety of the trip. Questionnaire measuring mind-body dissonance taken every two weeks)

A student studying abroad in St. Croix.
A student studying abroad in St. Croix.