This Monday, the class visited Musee de l’Homme, an anthropology museum in Paris–right next to the Eiffel Tower. During the visit, there were audio descriptions in English for a large number of exhibits which was much appreciated especially since the majority of museums we have visited as a class only had French plaque descriptions. There was definitely a connection between neuroscience and anthropology here:
“how anthropology and neuroscience can inform a model of the neural substrate for cultural imitative learning”
However, my favorite exhibit was the sneaker exhibit; I had a hypebeast phase, and so it was interesting to read about the origins of the rubber for the soles and construction of sneakers–products that would grow into luxury and even high fashion items today.
Attached above is a picture I took of the sunset while enjoying a picnic with some French friends on the river Seine. I remember thinking when I first got to Paris, that I wasn’t sure I could live somewhere so devoid of natural spaces to enjoy. Yes, there are ample parks, but surely it couldn’t compare to my home in Virginia. However, to my surprise, it was the Seine that provided me comfort and soothed some intermittent waves of homesickness – now it’s no Potomac, but it’ll do. I’ve always known green space to put me at ease, so this preference for the river over parks was unexpected. But nevertheless, it was my near daily walks on the Seine that brought me peace this summer. I found a study that looked into the effects of the visibility of “green space” versus “blue space” on psychological distress in Wellington, New Zealand. The results of the study corroborate my individual experience, as they found that residential exposure to visible “blue space” was associated with lower levels of psychological distress.
Nutsford, D., Pearson, A. L., Kingham, S., & Reitsma, F. (2016). Residential exposure to visible blue space (but not green space) associated with lower psychological distress in a capital city. Health and Place, 39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2016.03.002
This past Monday, the class got to visit the Musee de l’Homme right outside the Trocadero metro stop – Paris’ 20th century anthropology museum. It includes a unique collection of artifacts which are organized to represent human evolution and cultural variation. The nature of the museum is such that it takes on not only an anthropological approach, but also biological and ethnographical ones. Included above is a picture of Robina and I standing in front of a display case showing the brains of various different animals. I was very surprised to see some tiny brains, like an alligator’s brain which is about the size of three grapes. I was equally surprised to see some very large brains, larger than ours. This took me back to NBB201 and got me thinking about how the objective size of a brain is not what’s important to determining intelligence, rather it is the brain to body weight ratio.
On June 4th, 2022, Sam and I went to the Louvre, an experience I was looking forward to since we arrived in Paris. We were able to explore the beautiful building and appreciate various works of art, including the Mona Lisa (after her birthday cake scare). As a child, I took art classes at the Philadelphia Museum of Art every Saturday and in high school I worked at a pottery studio, causing me to become interested in the idea of art therapy, which I reflected upon during my visit to the Louvre. Art therapy is when a therapist uses art materials and directives to activate sensory responses and generate imagery that is directly connected to emotions, allowing their patient to re-experience emotions in a way that allows them to organize their feelings and form a narrative around an overwhelming experience. Studies have shown that art therapy measurably changes the body and brain.