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Healthcare (9 Feb) - medical-related debt is the second leading cause of personal bankruptcies – and the middle class is suffering the most. [more]


Evil (8 Feb) - Predatory killers often do far more than commit murder. Some have lured their victims into homemade chambers for prolonged torture. Others have exotic tastes - for vivisection, sexual humiliation, burning. Many perform their grisly rituals as much for pleasure as for any other reason. Among themselves, a few forensic scientists have taken to thinking of these people as not merely disturbed but evil. [more]


Cloning (8 Feb) - The creator of Dolly the sheep has been granted a licence to clone human embryos for medical research. [more]


Sexual arousal gauge (7 Feb) - Israeli scientists have developed a test that can objectively determine the level of a person's sexual desire. [more]


Mate selection (8 Feb) - A new study by psychology researchers at the University of Michigan, using college undergraduates, suggests that men going for long-term relationships would rather marry women in subordinate jobs than women who are supervisors. [more]


Sex differences (7 Feb) - "When I was an undergraduate in the early 1970s, I was assigned a classic paper published in Scientific American that began: "There is an experiment in psychology that you can perform easily in your home. ... Buy two presents for your wife, choosing things ... she will find equally attractive." Just ten years after those words were written, the author's blithe assumption that his readers were male struck me as comically archaic," writes Steven Pinker. [more] [more] [more]


Anthropology (6 Feb) - 'Motherese' is not just a dumbed-down form of grown-up talk, but it lies at the root of how all humans speak, according to a theory recently published in a peer-reviewed journal by world-renowned anthropologist Dean Falk of Florida State University. [more]


Sex differences (5 Feb) - Even while the evidence shows us that the sexes differ, we should recognise that this is distinct from the political and moral issues. If we want equal representations of men and women at the top (in science or in any other field), then that is what we should be striving for. There is no shortage of talent in either sex. [more] [more] While neither men nor women may be the more intelligent sex, their brains may take different paths to reach the same intellectual level, according to one team of researchers. [more]


Ernst Mayr (4 Feb) - The biologist, Ernst Mayr, who has been called "the Darwin of the 20th century," died Thursday morning. Mayr is widely considered the world's most eminent evolutionary biologist and even one of the 100 greatest scientists of all time. [more] [more]


False memories (4 Feb) - Discussion on new research looking at how the brain makes memories. Though there's no shortage of research on memory formation, this study has a twist -- the researchers imaged the brains of the study subjects as they made memories of events that didn't actually happen. [more]


Erotic Museum (4 Feb) - Have you ever seen an actor who looked exactly like you? A supermodel whose portfolio could easily be your own personal photo album? Probably not. [more]


Development (1 Feb) - By most physical measures, teenagers should be the world's best drivers. Their muscles are supple, their reflexes quick, their senses at a lifetime peak. Yet car crashes kill more of them than any other cause -- a problem, some researchers believe, that is rooted in the adolescent brain. [more]


Teenagers - (18 Jan) - From boot camps to wilderness training, some parents now choose therapeutic schools to help their troubled teenagers. We discuss why young people get into trouble and the tactics their parents turn to, to get -- and keep -- their teens on track. [more]


Mind/body (18 Jan) - At the start of René Descartes' Sixth Meditation he writes: "there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and mind is entirely indivisible. - This thinking is the basis of what's known as 'Cartesian dualism', Descartes' attempt to address one of the central questions in philosophy, the mind/body problem: is the mind part of the body, or the body part of the mind? If they are distinct, then how do they interact? And which of the two is in charge? [more]


Human evolution (24 Aug) - "Although rational in many ways, the idea of considering human beings as something apart from nature is dangerous. Evolution has shaped all organisms, us included. Moreover, we are all shaped to live in particular environments," says Bjørn Grinde. [more]


Economics - politics (24 Aug) - Author Jeremy Rifkin says the American dream needs a serious tune up, or maybe it just needs to be traded in for a bigger, better European model. No stranger to controversy, Rifkin is making his argument at a time when Euro-skepticism in the U.S. is at its height. Rifkin argues that the American sink-or-swim mentality just doesn't stack up against European staples like universal health care and month-long summer vacations. And while America is ever more determined to protect its national interests through military force, the Europeans are putting cooperation ahead of conflict. [more]


Social justice - politics (15 Aug) - This essay argues the necessity for political struggle by questioning and confronting the way in which legal and moral authority are conceptualized currently in the United States. [more]


Philosophy (15 Aug) - Human conduct can be considered from a variety of standpoints, some of which are more concerned with its structural, universal, and abstract dimensions, and some of which are more focused on concrete practices and particularities. But inquiry into human conduct that loses sight of the interconnection between these dimensions misrepresents either, or both. [more]


Brain disease - pollution (15 Aug) - The numbers of sufferers of brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, have soared across the West in less than 20 years, scientists have discovered. The alarming rise, which includes figures showing rates of dementia have trebled in men, has been linked to rises in levels of pesticides, industrial effluents, domestic waste, car exhausts and other pollutants, says a report in the journal Public Health. [more]


Schizophrenia (15 Aug) - Parents coping with the distress of schizophrenia in their children have been caused further pain, a well-organised campaign would have us believe, by a series of articles in The Observer Magazine which examined the possibility that some parenting methods may actually be the cause of the condition. [more]


Genetics (15 Aug) - Scientists are to launch a £2 million study to uncover the genetic make-up of the British people. The aim is to find tell-tale pieces of DNA that will reveal the influences - including those of the Vikings, Saxons and Celts - which have shaped regional populations. [more]


Politics - biology (13 Aug) - First Lady Laura Bush is defending the current administration against charges of stymieing stem-cell research. How many stem cell lines are actually available to scientists? And how might the issue play in this year's election? [more] NPR's Noah Adams speaks with NPR's Ira Flatow, host of Talk of the Nation Science Friday, about hot-button science-related political issues, such as stem-cell research, that are likely to affect this year's presidential campaign. [more]


Antidepressants (10 Aug) - Six months after the Food and Drug Administration withheld an internal finding that antidepressant medications were associated with an increased risk of suicide among children, a second staff analysis has arrived at the same conclusion. [more]


Mood disorders (10 Aug) - Genes could explain why women are more prone to stress-related anxiety and mood disorders. US researchers have pinpointed a variation in a gene which controls regulation of a key brain chemical linked to mood. Their work, on monkeys, suggests people with this variant may be more likely to react badly to negative experiences. [more]


Language learning (11 Aug) - New research is shedding light on the question of whether babies think before they learn a language. This ScienCentral News video has more. [more]


Psychotherapy (10 Aug) - Good therapists usually work to resolve conflicts, not inflame them. But there is a civil war going on in psychology, and not everyone is in the mood for healing. On one side are experts who argue that what therapists do in their consulting rooms should be backed by scientific studies proving its worth. On the other are those who say that the push for this evidence threatens the very things that make psychotherapy work in the first place. [more]


Animal behavior (9 Aug) - Koko, a 33-year-old gorilla that was taught to communicate using American Sign Language, recently told her caregivers that she desired oral surgery to remove an aching tooth, which was extracted with success on Sunday. [more]


Aliens (9 Aug) - There are good scientific reasons to believe that extraterrestrial life forms might resemble human beings. [more]


Life skills (3 Aug) - If you've got problems at home, at work, or in your personal life, Graham Easton finds that there's no shortage of experts who will be glad to help... [more]

Conservation (9 Feb) - The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in partnership with Bolivian protected area authorities, announced today a one-of-a-kind international auction for the right to name an entire species of monkey. The online auction runs from Feb. 24th to March 3rd, and will be hosted by Charity Folks (www.charityfolks.com), an online auction venue for nonprofits that recently sold a guitar autographed by former Beatle Paul McCartney and lunch with President Bill Clinton. [more]


Longevity - motherhood (8 Feb) - Motherhood is a difficult job. In fact, the results of a new study suggest that, historically, taking on the role early in life was linked to shorter lifespans. A report published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that mothers who gave birth at a young age in the 18th and 19th century also tended to die young. The results suggest that natural selection may have sacrificed a woman's longevity for reproductive success. [more]


Cognitive evolution (7 Feb) - New findings, made by researchers studying the outcome of a decades-long fox-breeding experiment, suggest that some aspects of social intelligence in animals are correlated with genetically selected "tame" behavior--for example, fearlessness and non-aggression toward humans. [more]


Genetics - affective disorders (7 Feb) - 5-HTTLPR may represent a classic susceptibility factor for affective disorders by biasing the functional reactivity of the human amygdala in the context of stressful life experiences and/or deficient cortical regulatory input. [more]


Human cognition (2 Feb) - A remote tribe that lacks a counting system suggests limitations on inborn representations of number. [more]


Animal behavior (2 Feb) - Capuchin and squirrel monkeys prefer symmetrical pictures and those with elements repeated at common intervals more than random patterns, according to new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes (Vol. 31, No. 1). [more]


Archaeology (1 Feb) - A recent excavation of 400,000-year-old stone tools in Britain suggests that two groups of early humans could have competed with each other for food and turf. [more]


Bipolar disorder (1 Feb) - Severe childhood trauma appears to have occurred in about half of patients with bipolar disorder, and may lead to more complex psychopathological manifestations. [more]


Genetics - homosexuality (31 Jan) - Multiple genes - and not just the sex chromosomes - are important in sexual orientation, say US scientists. A University of Illinois team, which has screened the entire human genome, say there is no one 'gay' gene. Writing in the journal Human Genetics, they said environmental factors are also likely to be involved. The findings add to the debate over whether sexual orientation is a matter of choice. Campaigners say equality is the more important issue. [more] [more]


Animal behavior (28 Jan) - Researches have found that monkeys will "pay" juice rewards to see images of high-ranking monkeys or female hindquarters. They say their research technique offers a rigorous laboratory approach to studying the "social machinery" of the brain and how this machinery goes tragically awry in autism -- a disease that afflicts more than a million Americans and is the fastest growing developmental disorder. [more]


Inbreeding (25 Jan) - Many of the illnesses we suffer today are down to our ancestors not having enough choice in the mating game, UK researchers believe. [more]


Anger (25 Jan) - Robert Siegel talks with David Sander, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Geneva and one of the lead authors of an article in Nature Neuroscience about the brain's anger response mechanism. Sander explains how his team conducted the experiment and possible benefits this study may hold for understanding autistic and schizophrenic patients. [more]


Co-operation (21 Jan)  - Experiments investigating cooperative types in humans: A complement to evolutionary theory and simulations. [more]


Altruism (20 Jan) - The first gene linked to altruistic behavior has been identified by Israeli psychologists who believe it boosts receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine, which gives the brain a good feeling. [more]


Emotions (20 Jan) - Words may be a clue to how people, regardless of their language, think about and process emotions, according to a Penn State researcher. [more]


Anxiety (16 Aug) - Depression has a tremendous impact on a person's sense of satisfaction with life but anxiety does not, research from the University of Toronto shows. [more]


Evolution - prions (16 Aug) - Prions, the twisted proteins usually linked to disease, could help organisms adapt to tough situations by subtly altering the proteins manufactured by a cell. The discovery backs the idea that proteins as well as DNA are vital in driving evolution. [more]


Jealousy (13 Aug) - This study tested the prediction derived from the evolutionary psychological analysis of jealousy that men and women selecting the adaptively primary infidelity type (i.e., female sexual and male emotional infidelity, respectively) in a forced-choice response format need to engage in less elaborate decision strategies than men and women selecting the adaptively secondary infidelity type (i.e., male sexual and female emotional infidelity, respectively). Unknown to the participants, decision times were registered as an index of the elaborateness of their decision strategies. The results clearly support the prediction. [more]


Social exchange - evolutionary psychology (13 Aug) - What information is most salient during social exchange? Our studies assess the relative importance of cheaters and cooperators and whether their importance is affected by amount of resources involved in the exchange.  Experiment 1 found cheaters were rated more important to remember than cooperators and more so when a greater amount of resources was involved. Experiment 2 found cheaters were looked at longer and people had better memory for their faces and were more likely to remember their social contract status. This suggests the mind evolved to remember information most pertinent in social contract situations. [more]


Development - addiction (12 Aug) - Boys exposed to persistent levels of cocaine in the womb are more likely to have behavioral problems like hyperactivity in their early school years, new research suggests. [more]


Schizophrenia (11 Aug) - Researchers at the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have identified a relationship between a small section of one gene, the brain chemical messenger glutamate, and a collection of traits known to be associated with schizophrenia. [more]


Cognitive psychology (10 Aug) - If you're a loser in the dating game, your name might be part of the problem. New research has revealed that the vowel sounds in your name could influence how others judge the attractiveness of your face. [more]


Reward circuitry - molecular genetics (10 Aug) - Using a new molecular genetic technique, scientists have turned procrastinating primates into workaholics by temporarily suppressing a gene in a brain circuit involved in reward learning. Without the gene, the monkeys lost their sense of balance between reward and the work required to get it, say researchers at the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). [more]


Evolvability (10 Aug) - Concomitant with the evolution of biological diversity must have been the evolution of mechanisms that facilitate evolution, because of the essentially infinite complexity of protein sequence space. We describe how evolvability can be an object of Darwinian selection, emphasizing the collective nature of the process. [more]


Sex differences (9 Aug) - Derided for their pathological inability to listen, particularly to words such as "commitment" and "washing-up", men are actually better at hearing and identifying everyday noises than women, according to new research. [more]


Alzheimer's disease (9 Aug) - Researchers at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have found a new and interesting link between the mental demands of an occupation and later development of Alzheimer's disease. Their study is published in the August 10th issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. According to the study, people with Alzheimer's are more likely to have had less mentally stimulating careers than their peers who do not have Alzheimer's. [more]


Cognitive science (6 Aug) - For all you budding Kasparovs out there, a team of cognitive scientists has worked out how to think like a chess grand master. As those attending this week's Cognitive Science Society meeting in Chicago, Illinois, were told, the secret is to try to knock down your pet theory rather than finding ways to support it - exactly as scientists are supposed to do. [more]


Psychology (6 Aug) - Every mom and dad can tell you that keeping children busy helps stave off cries of boredom--and now there is scientific backing to prove it. Dr. Anthony Chaston and his research colleague, Dr. Alan Kingstone, have proven, once and for all, that time really does fly when you're having fun. Or, at least, it flies when your attention is engaged. [more]


Assertiveness (5 Aug) - Assertiveness really is all in the mind. Dominant rats have more new nerve cells in a key brain region than their subordinates, a study reveals. [more]

Biography - Robert Olby reviews The Man Who Invented the Chromosome: A Life of Cyril Darlington by Oren S. Harman. [more]

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Eugenics - Erika Nanes reviews War Against the Weak:  Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race by Edwin Black. [more]

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Stress - Anne H. Berman reviews Stress: A Brief History by Cary L. Cooper and Philip Dewe. [more]

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Emotions - cognitive science - Manuel Bremer reviews Emotion, Evolution, and Rationality edited by Dylan Evans and Pierre Cruse. [more]

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History - Why do some societies flourish whilst others fail? Quentin talks to social scientist and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jared Diamond, about his new book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. [more] [more]

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Emotions - Kathryn Ednie reviews Emotions and Life: Perspectives for Psychology, Biology, and Evolution by Robert Plutchik. [more]

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History - Joel Yager reviews Masters of the Mind: Exploring the Story of Mental Illness From Ancient Times to the New Millennium by Theodore Millon. [more]

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Anti-psychiatry - Christian Perring reviews Szasz Under Fire: The Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His Critics edited by Jeffrey A. Schaler. [more]

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The Baldwin Effect - psychology - Sara Shettleworth reviews Evolution and Learning: The Baldwin Effect Reconsidered edited by Bruce H. Weber and David J. Depew. [more]

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Psychology - Ethan Remmel reviews Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human by Paul Bloom. [more]

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Animal cognition - Mark Bekoff reviews Do Animals Think? by Clive D. L. Wynne. [more] [more] [more]

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Psychology - Valerie Kuhlmeier reviews Primate Psychology edited by Dario Maestripieri. [more]

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Sexual selection - sexual behavior - Robert Dorit reviews Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People by Joan Roughgarden. [more]

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Genocide - Genocide is a key part of forensic anthropologist Clea Koff's profession. She's investigated mass graves in Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. NPR's Scott Simon asks her about her experiences as outlined in her new book, The Bone Woman. (Random House). [more]

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Co-operation - "Our everyday life is much stranger than we imagine, and rests on fragile foundations." This is the intriguing first sentence of a very unusual new book about economics, and much else besides: "The Company of Strangers", by Paul Seabright, a professor of economics at the University of Toulouse.  Why is everyday life so strange? Because, explains Mr Seabright, it is so much at odds with what would have seemed, as recently as 10,000 years ago, our evolutionary destiny. [more]

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Biography - Quentin Cooper is joined by Martin Brookes, author of Extreme Measures the Dark Visions and Bright Ideas of Francis Galton and by Dr Joe Cain, senior lecturer in history and philosophy of biology at University College London to discuss Galton's scientific legacy and the origins of modern human genetics. [more [review]

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Neural Darwinism - Gerald Edelman was awarded the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine in 1972. One of the world's foremost experts on the brain and consciousness, he is founder and director of the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, Calif., a "scientific monastery," where he spoke with NPQ editor Nathan Gardels. Edelman's most recent book is Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness (Yale University Press, 2004). [more]

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Biography - Ian Sample reviews Extreme Measures: The dark visions and bright ideas of Francis Galton by Martin Brookes. [review]

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Prozac (8 Aug) - Traces of the antidepressant Prozac can be found in the nation's drinking water, it has been revealed. An Environment Agency report suggests so many people are taking the drug nowadays it is building up in rivers and groundwater. [more]


Cymbalta (5 Aug) - Eli Lilly, the drugs firm that brought Prozac to the world, yesterday prepared to launch its new antidepressant, Cymbalta, after saying the United States food and drug administration had approved it for sale in the country. The controversial drug is still being considered for European approval. [more]


Evolution (4 Aug) - Cancer and evolution both occur when genetic material changes randomly in ways that may be good or bad. A study in Nature magazine this week shows that these changes build up at a much quicker rate than anyone thought. The observation was made in tiny worms, but could revolutionize thinking about all living organisms. NPR's Joe Palca reports. [more]


Genomics (31 Jul) - "We have 25,000 genes (or recipes for protein molecules) which is the same as a mouse, just 6,000 more than a microscopic nematode worm and 15,000 fewer than a rice plant. However sophisticated our brains are, it is not reflected in our genes," writes Matt Ridley. [more]


Lying (31 Jul) - "Is he lying?" Odds are, you'll never know. Although people have been communicating with one another for tens of thousands of years, more than 3 decades of psychological research have found that most individuals are abysmally poor lie detectors. In the only worldwide study of its kind, scientists asked more than 2,000 people from nearly 60 countries, "How can you tell when people are lying?" From Botswana to Belgium, the number-one answer was the same: Liars avert their gaze. [more]


Law (4 Aug) - Emotions are not intrinsically opposed to reason, for they involve pictures of the world and evaluations. But there are some emotions whose role in the law has always been more controversial. Disgust and shame are two of those. [more]


Imagination (3 Aug) - The concept of imagination remains one of the greatest uncharted territories of psychology. Granted, we can't all paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but almost all of us have an ability to come up with ideas or images. So it's time scientists paid more attention to the power of imagination, said Open University senior psychology lecturer Dr Ilona Roth. [more]


Stress (3 Aug) - Levels of a particular hormone may influence a person's ability to cope with stress, suggests a study of soldiers put through a prisoner of war camp simulation. [more]


Economics (9 Aug) - For all its intellectual power and its empirical success as a creator of wealth, free-market economics rests on a fallacy, which economists have politely agreed among themselves to overlook. This is the belief that people apply rational calculations to economic decisions, ruling their lives by economic models. [more]


Obituary (29 Jul) - Francis Crick, the British scientist who helped discover the double helix structure of DNA has died. He was 88 years old and had been battling colon cancer. NPR's Richard Harris offers a remembrance. [more]


History of science (29 Jul) - When great science minds collide, the insults traded and the bile spilt has been both personal and scandalous. But all too often, the victor's reputation is scrubbed clean by the passage of history. William Hartston rakes up some of the muck that has always been part and parcel of the nature of scientific practice, but that few of us know about. [more]


Malthusianism (28 Jul) - The world has never been overpopulated with humans in any meaningful sense. It seems, though, that it is overpopulated with theoretical fears of overpopulation. [more]


Inequality (26 Jul) - Among those committed to understanding the mind as the work of natural selection, there is a sense that the time has come: we are now beginning to see what we really are. Two major propositions have emerged, sustained by a construction boom in Darwinian theory and the confidence that supporting data will increasingly be delivered in hard genetic currency.  One is that human nature is evolved and universal; the other is that variations in personality and  mental capabilities are substantially inherited. The first speaks of the species and the second about individuals. That leaves society - and here a third big idea is taking shape. In two words, inequality kills. [more]


Epigenetics (23 Jul) - A look at the emerging science of epigenetics: inherited information that isn't in the form of genes. [more]


Evolution - creationism (29 Feb) - In the past few years, Creationists and other anti-evolutionists have taken up the peppered moth as a stick with which to beat Darwinians. An LSE event was a rally in defence of the peppered moths' tarnished reputation. [more]


Homicide (26 Feb) - Sometimes we act like animals and sometimes we act like sophisticated animals. And sometimes, even the most sophisticated animals commit murder. It is the question of when, why, and under what conditions humans murder each other that informs the research of professors Margo Wilson and Martin Daly, world-renowned researchers and professors in the field of evolutionary psychology and homicide. [more]


Suicide (25 Feb) - The official number of military suicides in Iraq is set at 22; but some veteran advocacy groups charge that the number is much higher and doesn't include the soldiers who take their lives after returning home. Longer deployments and a controversial war they say, can lead to increased anxiety and depression. But can it also lead to suicide? That's what some families and veteran advocates want to know. [more]


Psychoanalysis (25 Feb) - Contemporary Anglophone philosophy often draws upon the resources of psychoanalysis. But is there a real connection between the two disciplines or are philosophers with an interest in psychoanalysis just trawling for ideas, critical openings, or catchy titles? [more]


Mental health (25 Feb) - Although mental health care for returning soldiers has vastly improved in the past 30 years, many within the government's medical community say they are barely able to treat veterans from previous conflicts. Funding for Veterans Affairs' mental health services has been slashed since the mid-1990s, and more cuts are looming. NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reports. [more]


Chimpanzees (25 Feb) - On the heels of the recent controversy over teaching evolution in Georgia schools, the Fernbank Museum is celebrating one of humankind's closest living relatives. [more]


Heroin (23 Feb) - Cheap and very pure heroin is creating a growing addiction crisis across America. Heroin -- much of it from Colombia -- is replacing crack cocaine as the drug of choice, particularly among the young. In Massachusetts, for example, more than 4 percent of high school boys report having used heroin. [more]


Adolescence (23 Feb) - Scientists had believed for years that the brain was almost structurally mature at about age 5. But several studies, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, found that it continues to mature throughout adolescence into adulthood, especially in the frontal lobes. That's meaningful and important, says University of California, Los Angeles neuroscientist Elizabeth Sowell, because the frontal lobes are the executive seat of the brain, the area that is responsible for decision-making, problem solving, planning and other functions. It controls behavior, too, helping to inhibit inappropriate responses. It also is the area responsible for personality. [more]


Politics (24 Feb) - David Goodhart's essay challenging liberals to rethink their attitudes to diversity and the welfare state has provoked a bitter debate among progressive thinkers. [more]


Mindreading (22 Feb) - Because a talent for mindreading is something all humans share -- it's as much a part of our nature as is converting oxygen into carbon dioxide -- we don't bother to teach it in schools, or test for an aptitude in it. Yet it is a skill, and like all skills it is unevenly distributed through the general population. And neuroscience can help us understand, and perhaps improve it. [more]


Psychiatry (22 Feb) - There is almost certainly a spectrum from sanity to madness, and different kinds of madness are not discrete from each other. Overall, 60 per cent of people who meet the strict criteria for one mental illness also meet those for another. This hardly suggests a watertight schema. [more]


Brain scanning (17 Feb) - Human beings are the only animals that have asymmetrical brains, this is thought to be the result of us having the capacity for language. However some people do have symmetrical brains and new research suggests they are much more likely to suffer from psychoses like schizophrenia and manic depression. [more] [audio]


Left-handedness (13 Feb) - The fraction of left-handed people today is about the same as it was during the Ice Age, according to data from prehistoric handprints. They were found in caves painted during the Upper Palaeolithic period, between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago. [more]


Evolutionary psychology (12 Feb) - What's the real reason for the tiny audiences at concerts of contemporary music? Evolution - according to psychologists at Duke University in the United States. Their studies suggest the human brain is hard-wired to reject dissonant sounds. It favours harmonious tones because they are the stuff of the sounds of human speech - Homo sapiens most important evolutionary adaptation. [more] [audio]


Psychopaths (10 Feb) - Professor Robert Hare has researched psychopaths for more than 25 years. His latest work looks at psychopathic behaviour in the workplace and suggests that a psychopath's superficial charm and ability to manipulate other people, enables them to be successful in many walks of life. [more] [audio]


Interview (8 Feb) - Philip Kitcher is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University and one of the most influential philosophers of science of the past two decades. His writings have been distinguished by the depth clarity of his analysis and the broad range of the questions on which he has written. [more]


Cheating (8 Feb) - We'd never lie or cheat, would we? A growing body of research suggests that in fact, we would, and do, on a regular basis. Doctors prescribe drugs that patients don't need. Students lie about that advanced tutorial in ancient Greek on a college application. Ever padded an expense report? You get the idea. All deceptions big and small, some say, are evidence that the land of the free, and home of the brave, is more like the land of greed, home of the depraved. [more]


War (7 Feb) - Why did Colin Powell say of Saddam on February 24, 2001: "He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."? [more]


Interview (6 Feb) - Dr. David Buss is one of the most highly regarded names in the field of evolutionary psychology.  He is so well-known that it is practically impossible to find an evolutionary work that does not in some way allude to him. [more]


Evolution (6 Feb) - According to the Georgia Department of Education, the word evolution is a "controversial buzzword" that should be removed from the state's biology curriculum. In this hour, we'll take a look at science education in schools. Should evolution be out? And what should science class teach us about the age and origins of the universe? Join NPR's Ira Flatow for a look at new challenges to teaching evolution in public schools. [more]


Pain (5 Feb) - Pain hurts less when it is inflicted by a woman, researchers have found. Students were asked to put their fingers in a clamp which was tightened until the pain was unbearable. Researchers from the University of Westminster found that people allowed women to turn the clamp much further than men. [more]


Sex - mass media (5 Feb) - Janet Jackson's two seconds of bare flesh at the Super Bowl have launched a new rocket in the culture wars. The heads of CBS and MTV say they were shocked, shocked to find nudity had made its way into the Superbowl. The media moguls are repenting, making amends, kicking Janet out of the Grammies and even editing out a scene from ER that reveals the breast of an 80 year old woman. [more]


Antidepressants (5 Feb) - The British government, looking at suicide in its drug trials has told its doctors not to medicate children with most antidepressants on the market. The FDA is now doing its own investigation. Anti-depressants. Are they a chance at a better life, or do they raise the risk of losing it? [more]


Science (5 Feb) - A lot of scientific papers are inherently incomprehensible and dull. But cancer researcher Chris McCabe has plans to change all that. [more]


Neanderthals (5 Feb) - NPR's Madeleine Brand talks with Ira Flatow, host of NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday, about the fate of the Neanderthals. The species vanished about 30,000 years ago -- and now scientists think they have finally figured out why. [more]

Depression (4 Aug) - A brain imaging study by the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found that an emotion-regulating brain circuit is overactive in people prone to depression – even when they are not depressed. Researchers discovered the abnormality in brains of those whose depressions relapsed when a key brain chemical messenger was experimentally reduced. [more]


Biology (4 Aug) - Women who believe they are going to live for a long time are more likely to give birth to sons than less optimistic women, a new study suggests. Researchers reached the strange conclusion after completing a survey of British women who had recently become mothers. They found that for every extra year a woman thought she was going to live, the odds of her firstborn being a boy increased significantly. [more] [more]


Complex systems - consensus (4 Aug) - A month before the fall of the Berlin Wall, 70,000 people gathered in the streets of Leipzig, East Germany, on Oct. 9, 1989, to demonstrate against the communist regime and demand democratic reforms. Clearly, no central authority planned this event; so how did all of these people decide to come together on that particular day? [more]


Sex differences (4 Aug) - A University of Toronto researcher has found that differences between men and women in determining spatial orientation may be the result of inner ear size. The study, published online in the journal Perception, examined whether differences in how men and women judge how we orient ourselves in our environment could be attributed to physiological or psychological causes. It found that giving the participants verbal instructions on how to determine their spatial orientation did not eliminate the differences between the sexes. [more]


Genetics - addiction (4 Aug) - Two related genes that help control signaling between brain cells may be central components of the biological machinery that causes cocaine addiction, researchers have found. [more]


Psychoneuroimmunology (3 Aug) - New research in hamsters now suggests that without companionship, wounds on the animals don't heal as fast. Researchers looked at the effect social contact had on wound healing in stressed hamsters. Results showed that skin wounds healed nearly twice as fast in the hamsters paired with a sibling. These animals also produced less of the stress hormone cortisol than unpaired hamsters. [more]


Personality disorders (2 Aug) - An estimated 30.8 million American adults (14.8 percent) meet standard diagnostic criteria for at least one personality disorder as defined in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), according to the results of the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) reported in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. [more]


Adulthood (2 Aug) - Today, adulthood no longer begins when adolescence ends. In the bridge to adulthood, also referred to as early adulthood, many more young people are caught between the demands of employment (e.g., the need to learn advanced job skills) and economic dependence on their family to support them during this transition. [more]


Animal behavior (1 Aug) - Everyone knows not to get between a mother and her offspring. What makes these females unafraid when it comes to protecting their young may be low levels of a peptide, or small piece of protein, released in the brain that normally activates fear and anxiety, according to new research published in the August issue of Behavioral Neuroscience. "We see this fierce protection of offspring is so many animals," says Stephen Gammie, a University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor of zoology and lead author of the recent paper. "There are stories of cats rescuing their kittens from burning buildings and birds swooping down at people when their chicks are on the ground." [more]


Human behavior (1 Aug) - Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich is urging fellow ecologists to join with social scientists to form an international panel that will discuss and recommend changes in the way human beings treat one another and the environment. Ehrlich is scheduled to call for the establishment of a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB) during a speech at the 89th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 2. The goal of MAHB will be to avoid the approaching collision between humanity and its life-support systems, he noted. ''For the first time in human history, global civilization is threatened with collapse,'' said Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford. ''The world therefore needs an ongoing discussion of key ethical issues related to the human predicament in order to help generate the urgently required response.'' [more]


Genetics (1 Aug) - Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids), Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) have made the unexpected discovery that significant differences can exist in the overall content of DNA and genes contained in individual genomes. These findings, which point to possible new explanations for individual uniqueness as well as why disease develops, are published in the September 2004 issue of the scientific journal Nature Genetics (available online August 1, 2004). [more]


Evolutionary psychology (1 Mar) - Perhaps music serves as a mating display or a means of coordinating social interactions. Maybe religiosity serves as a group-level adaptation, allowing some to persevere over others. Some researchers, known generally as evolutionary psychologists, seek rigorous ways to investigate such complex human traits. In so doing, they're pushing the boundaries of scientific explanation and addressing aspects of human behavior once believed to be off-limits for scientists. [more]


Neuroscience (27 Feb) - When a new mom gazes at her baby, it's not just her mood that lights up - it's also a brain region associated with emotion processing, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. [more]


Schizophrenia (26 Feb) - Detecting and treating schizophrenia rapidly, following the onset of a first psychotic episode, improves the patients' response to treatment, according to a study by a Yale researcher. Thomas McGlashan, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, said the length of time between the onset of psychosis and detection and treatment can stretch from several weeks to several years. This time span is a concern because the patient is sick and untreated and because there is some indication that the untreated psychotic state itself may increase the risk of a poor outcome. [more]


Digit ratio (24 Feb) - The next time you're nibbling your lover's fingers, or scoping hands for wedding bands, you might want to pay more attention to length. A McMaster University evolutionary psychologist has found the length ratio of a woman's ring to index finger points to her sexual behaviour -- from fantasies to the number of partners she might have. [more]


Rivalry (22 Feb) - Changes in hormone levels cause many women to be more critical of other women, according to a recent study, believed to be the first of its kind. The study, published in the current Royal Society Biology Letters, supports the theory that evolution drives women to compete with each other for resources. In this case, the resource is desirable, eligible men. Participants in the study included 57 college aged women and 47 men, all of whom were heterosexual. Women were divided into groups based on what stage they were at in their menstrual cycle. [more] and [more]


Taste (22 Feb) - People on diets should be forgiven for moaning that chocolate tastes better when you're hungry. Just missing breakfast makes you more sensitive to sweet and salty tastes, according to research published in BMC Neuroscience. Hunger could increase your ability to taste, by increasing the sensitivity of the taste receptors on your tongue, or by changing the way you perceive the same taste stimuli, the author suggests. [more]


Pain - empathy (20 Feb) - The ability to appreciate other people's agony is achieved by the same parts of the brain that we use to experience pain for ourselves. Nature Science Update, EurekAlert.


Schizophrenia (19 Feb) -  People with a history of the digestive disorder celiac disease are three times more likely to develop schizophrenia than those without the disease, according to a report by Danish researchers and a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The report is published in the February 21, 2004, edition of the British Medical Journal. [more]


Brain evolution (17 Feb) - The human brain may have started evolving its unique characteristics much earlier than has previously been supposed, according to new research. Hominid brains were being reorganised before the growth in brain size thought to have established a gulf between human and ape abilities, it is claimed. The conclusions come from analysis of a small-brained fossil hominid - or human-like primate - from South Africa. The authors report their findings in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol. [more]


Pointing (17 Feb) - New research suggests that pointing enhances understanding In some cultures, pointing is a faux pas, sometimes even insulting. New research is turning this social don't on its head, showing that hand gestures, such as pointing, can enhance the understanding of messages. [more]


Language (15 Feb) - The ability to develop a form of communication that becomes an actual language is apparently innate, new University of Chicago research on the use of gestures among deaf children and experiments with adults shows. [more]


Love (13 Feb) - A new study of young mothers by researchers at University College London (UCL) has shown that romantic and maternal love activate many of the same specific regions of the brain, and lead to a suppression of neural activity associated with critical social assessment of other people and negative emotions. The findings suggest that once one is closely familiar with a person, the need to assess the character and personality of that person is reduced, and bring us closer to explaining why, in neurological terms, 'love makes blind.' [more]


Language and theory of mind (13 Feb) - Psychologists, linguists, cognitive scientists and philosophers discuss about the coevolution of these two uniquely human capacities, their co-dependence and interaction. The conference is organized by the Institut des Sciences Cognitives CNRS, Lyon. Starting from February 2004, a new paper will be put on line and open to discussion every two weeks. [more]


Autism (12 Feb) - Scientists trying to understand and treat autism have discovered that the brains of people with autism function differently than those of normal people when they view pictures of unfamiliar people. However, when people with autism look at a picture of a very familiar face, such as their mother's, their brain activity is similar to that of control subjects. [more]


Sleep - mental health (11 Feb) - A new study finds that the tendency for some children in their early adolescence to sleep less presents a danger to their mental health. The study, in the recent issue of the journal Child Development, says children who get less sleep may develop symptoms of depression and low self-esteem. NPR's Michelle Trudeau reports. [more]


Neuroscience (10 Feb) - Researchers have identified areas of the brain where what we're actually doing (reality) and what we think we're doing (illusion, or perception) are processed. [more]


Sperm competition (8 Feb) - We examine some of the implications of the possibility that the human penis may have evolved to compete with sperm from other males by displacing rival semen from the cervical end of the vagina prior to ejaculation. The semen displacement hypothesis integrates considerable information about genital morphology and human reproductive behavior, and can be used to generate a number of interesting predictions. [more]


Language (7 Feb) - For more than 60 years, scientists have known that a strip of neural tissue that runs ear-to-ear along the brain's surface orchestrates most voluntary movement, from raising a fork to kicking a ball. A new brain-imaging study has revealed that parts of this so-called motor cortex also respond vigorously as people do nothing more than silently read words. [more] and [more]


Babytalk (4 Feb) - Some parents may think it is undignified or detrimental, but babytalk is essential to the full development of a baby's brain, says a researcher at the University of Alberta. [more]


Cognitive performance - genetics (4 Feb) - As the US population ages, there is an increasing effort to understand the underlying mechanisms that contribute to learning and memory. This effort could be of critical importance to scientists trying to decipher how the molecular genetic mechanisms of learning and memory are disrupted or impaired. The results of a new study provide evidence that individual differences in some cognitive functions may have a genetic basis. [more]


Depression (3 Feb) - Twenty-five per cent of females between the ages of 16 to 19 will experience an episode of major depression and smokers are more likely to become depressed, according to a unique study led by a University of Alberta researcher. [more]


Adolescence (2 Feb) - Nine experts at a November symposium spoke on what's driving some young people to abuse substances, court legal trouble, bully peers and attempt suicide. [more]

Lying - Alex Sager reviews Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind by David Livingstone Smith. [review]

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Sexual behavior - George Williamson reviews Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People by Joan Roughgarden. [review]

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Consciousness - Kamuran Godelek reviews The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain by Robert L. Solso. [review]

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Sociobiology - Deborah M. Gordon reviews Why Men Won't Ask for Directions: The Seductions of Sociobiology by Richard C. Francis. [review] [review]

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Sex differences (26 Jul) - The experience I remember best from teaching nine courses at the university level was the occasion when a class discussed a chapter out of a textbook concerning the variations in development between men and women. I found that most of the class believed that "differences" should be placed in scare quotes as they regarded any distinctions as being the result of societal pressure as opposed to the influence of our internal makeups, " writes Bernard Chapin. [more]

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Psychology - Joy Press reviews Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century by Lauren Slater. [review]

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Brain - Health and Science writer Carl Zimmer's new book is Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain-and How it Changed the World. It's about Thomas Willis, the scientist whose research on the workings of the brain during the 17th century became the basis of modern neurology. [review]

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Friends - Alex Clark reviews Urban Tribes: Are Friends the New Family? by Ethan Watters. [review]

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Sibling rivalry - Jonathan Yardley reviews The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why by Dalton Conley. [review]

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Brain - Steven Johnson is author of the new book, Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life. He writes the monthly "Emerging Technology" column for Discover and is contributing editor at Wired. [interview]

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Animal language - Clive D. L. Wynne reviews Animal Talk: Breaking the Codes of Animal Language by Tim Friend. [review]

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Intelligence - Nathan J. Emery reviews Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings by Duane M. Rumbaugh and David A. Washburn. [review]

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Probability theory - Tommaso Toffoli reviews Probability Theory: The Logic of Science by E. T. Jaynes. [review]

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Memory - Joseph E. LeDoux reviews Memory and Emotion: The Making of Lasting Memories by James L. McGaugh. [review]

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Poverty - Eric Stover reviews Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor by Paul Farmer. [review]

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Psychiatry - Matt Lee reviews Narratives in Psychiatry edited by Maurice Greenberg, Suhkwinder Singh Shergill, George Szmukler and Digby Tantam. [review]

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Freedom - Daniel Cohen reviews A Theory of Freedom: From the Psychology to the Politics of Agency by Philip Pettit. [review]

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Intellectual history - Denis Dutton reviews Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 by Charles Murray. [review]

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Philosophy - Neil Levy reviews Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change by Joseph LaPorte. [review]

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Violence - Melvin Konner reviews Evolutionary Psychology and Violence edited by Richard W. Bloom and Nancy Dess. [review]

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The Human Nature Daily Review