Month: June 2015

A recent discovery by UConn Anthro covered by UCONN Today

UCONN Today covered a recent finding of a 12,000 years old stone tool in Mashantucket Pequot Reservation by UConn faculty and graduate students.

field school
Piecing Together a 12,000 Year-old Way of Life

About 12,000 years ago, when ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere had almost finished melting and the last ice age was coming to an end, a group of Paleoindians camped along the edges of what today is the Great Cedar Swamp at the center of the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation. Expert flint knappers or makers of stone tools, these early New Englanders left a treasure trove of history buried in the ground. Hundreds of their artifacts have recently been uncovered through archaeological excavation, a joint venture of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center and the University of Connecticut….

Coverage of Lang et al. work in UCONN Today

UCONN Today covered a recent publication on anxiety and ritualization published in Current Biology by Martin Lang and Dimitris Xygalatas.

cleaning task copy
Rinse and repeat to remove anxiety

The study found stress can result in action that could help as a coping strategy to reduce anxiety, a determination that may lead to a better understanding of psychiatric disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism spectrum disorders.
Advances in motion sensing technology offered researchers a new way to test for a link between ritual and anxiety. Although the link has been theorized for many years in social science research, the study is the first hard evidence of a relationship between the two, according to Martin Lang, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at UConn who led the study….

Lang et al. on anxiety and ritual behavior

UCONN graduate student Martin Lang with a collective of authors including Dimitris Xygalatas publish in Current Biology about their research on anxiety and ritualized behavior.

Effects of Anxiety on Spontaneous Ritualized Behavior

Martin Lang, Jan Krátký, John H. Shaver, Danijel Jerotijević, & Dimitris Xygalatas

Environmental uncertainty and uncontrollability cause psycho-physiological distress to organisms [1, 2 and 3], often impeding normal functioning [4 and 5]. A common response involves ritualization, that is, the limitation of behavioral expressions to predictable stereotypic and repetitive motor patterns [6, 7 and 8]. In humans, such behaviors are also symptomatic of psychopathologies like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) [8 and 9] and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) [10 and 11]. Although these reactions might be mediated by different neural pathways, they serve to regain a sense of control over an uncertain situation [12, 13, 14 and 15] by engaging in behavioral patterns characterized by redundancy (superfluous actions that exceed the functional requirements of a goal), repetitiveness (recurrent behaviors or utterances), and rigidity (emphasis on fidelity and invariance) [ 8, 9, 16 and 17]. We examined whether ritualized behavior will manifest spontaneously as a dominant behavioral strategy in anxiogenic situations. Manipulating anxiety, we used motion-capture technology to quantify various characteristics of hand movements. We found that induced anxiety led to an increase in repetitiveness and rigidity, but not redundancy. However, examination of both psychological and physiological pathways revealed that repetitiveness and rigidity were predicted by an increase in heart rate, while self-perceived anxiety was a marginally significant predictor of redundancy. We suggest that these findings are in accordance with an entropy model of uncertainty [ 18], in which anxiety motivates organisms to return to familiar low-entropy states in order to regain a sense of control. Our results might inform a better understanding of ritual behavior and psychiatric disorders whose symptoms include over-ritualization.

Blegen et al. about distal tephras of the eastern Lake Victoria

UCONN graduate student Nick Blegen with collective of authors publish in Quaternary Science Reviews about their research in East Africa.

Distal tephras of the eastern Lake Victoria basin, equatorial East Africa: correlations, chronology and a context for early modern humans

Nick Blegen, Christian A. Tryon, J. Tyler Faith, Daniel J. Peppe, Emily J. Beverly, Bo Li, Zenobia Jacobs

The tephrostratigraphic framework for Pliocene and Early Pleistocene paleoanthropological sites in East Africa has been well established through nearly 50 years of research, but a similarly comprehensive framework is lacking for the Middle and particularly the Late Pleistocene. We provide the first detailed regional record of Late Pleistocene tephra deposits associated with artifacts or fossils from the Lake Victoria basin of western Kenya. Correlations of Late Pleistocene distal tephra deposits from the Wasiriya beds on Rusinga Island, the Waware beds on Mfangano Island and deposits near Karungu, mainland Kenya, are based on field stratigraphy coupled with 916 electron microprobe analyses of eleven major and minor element oxides from 50 samples. At least eight distinct distal tephra deposits are distinguished, four of which are found at multiple localities spanning >60 km over an approximately north to south transect. New optically stimulated luminescence dates help to constrain the Late Pleistocene depositional ages of these deposits. Our correlation and characterization of volcaniclastic deposits expand and refine the current stratigraphy of the eastern Lake Victoria basin. This provides the basis for relating fossil- and artifact-bearing sediments and a framework for ongoing geological, archaeological and paleontological studies of Late Pleistocene East Africa, a crucial time period for human evolution and dispersal within and out of Africa.

12000 year old artifacts found on Mashantucket Pequot reservation

University of Connecticut’s archaeological field school and Mashuntucket Pequot Museum and Research Center on the Mashuntucket Pequot Reservation discovered 12 000 years old artifacts, making it one of the oldest discoveries in New England. You can watch a video podcast and read more about this discovery in this article on WTNH News 8 or on FOXCT.

12,000-year-old artifacts found on Mashantucket Pequot Reservation

Artifacts more than 12,000-years old have been discovered in Connecticut on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, making for one of the oldest discoveries in New England. “It’s one of the oldest sites in Connecticut and now the oldest site on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation,” said archaeologist Zac Singer, who studies stone tools and the pattern in the stone breakage. “We’re getting a glimpse into some of the first people who were occupying New England at the end of the last ice age.”