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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 3: Issue 102 - 9th July, 2003 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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Archaeology (8 Jul) - Stonehenge is a massive fertility symbol, according to Canadian researchers who believe they have finally cracked the mystery of the ancient monument in southern England. [more]

Jealousy (8 Jul) - The green-eyed monster of jealousy is alive and well - and living in Brazil, according to an international study. In relationships, it is well known than men are mostly jealous about sex, while women are mostly concerned about emotional attachments. Psychologists have conflicting explanations for this, believing it comes either from evolution or from culture. The new cross-cultural research suggests the former is more important. [more]

Probability (8 Jul) - The human brain did not evolve to calculate mathematical probabilities, but it did evolve to ensure our survival. A highly successful survival strategy throughout human evolutionary history, and today, is to base decisions on the immediate past and on the evidence immediately to hand. [more] and [more]

Sleep disorders (8 Jul) - Chemical imbalances in the brain may be partly to blame for some life-disrupting sleep disorders, scientists have found. [more]

Language (8 Jul) - Does language stunt creativity? Brad Evenson investigates. [more]

Napping (4 Jul) - Two new studies suggest that a mid-day nap is more than just an indulgence. One group of researchers reports that napping makes people better learners. Another study says that humans may be genetically programmed to take an afternoon siesta. NPR's Joe Palca reports. [more]

Mate choice (8 Jul) - According to one widely touted premise of the field, men are comparatively more concerned with the physical appearance of their partners, while women tend to fixate on the relative wealth and ambitiousness of their suitors. [more]

Gender differences (6 Jul) - Imagine for a second that no byline is attached to this article. Judging by the words alone, can you figure out if I am a man or a woman? Moshe Koppel can. This summer, a group of computer scientists-including Koppel, a professor at Israeli's Bar-Ilan University-are publishing two papers in which they describe the successful results of a gender-detection experiment. The scholars have developed a computer algorithm that can examine an anonymous text and determine, with accuracy rates of better than 80 percent, whether the author is male or female. [more]

Depression (5 Jul) - New findings suggests that some people with depression might have problems metabolizing the B vitamin folate -- supporting the idea that supplements could help ward off the condition, researchers say. [more]

Neuroscience (3 Jul) - Researchers found the tickle spot on one epileptic woman's brain when they realized that stimulating a specific brain region caused her to feel happy and laugh. The finding strongly suggests that, at least in this woman, laughter and "mirth" are linked to this zone of the brain, the authors note. The brain region, known as the inferior temporal gyrus, has also been linked to language and memory, study author Takeshi Satow, of the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, told Reuters Health. [more]

Eugenics (4 Jul) - One of the most profound and layered questions raised by recent genetic advances is this: Do we as a species still want babies born with genetic disabilities? [more]

Risky behavior (3 Jul) - When it comes to experimenting with tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, boys respond more to peer pressure while girls get the urge from their genes. That's the conclusion of a new study of twins that finds that the motivation for risky behaviour like taking drugs and drinking are different for the sexes. [more]

Embryology (3 Jul) - An experiment that created human "chimeras" by merging male and female embryos in a test tube was condemned yesterday as scientifically vacuous and ethically questionable by leading proponents of research into IVF. [more]

Genetics - "Eggs from foetuses, artificial wombs, dead men's sperm - it's not only the religious right who object to such 'advances'," say Hilary and Steven Rose. [more]

Cannabis (3 Jul) - Very heavy use of cannabis could be a cause of psychosis, according to a leading psychiatrist who believes that society should think carefully about the potential consequences of its increasing use. [more]

Archaeology (2 Jul) -  A cavern resplendent with Aboriginal cave art encompassing 4000 years is being hailed in Australia as the most important find in half a century. The cave was discovered by a backpacker in a remote and almost inaccessible part of Wollemi National Park in New South Wales. [more]

Mental health - Iraq (1 Jul) - Iraqi psychologists visit schools in an effort to assess the mental-health effects of the war on the nation's children. Experts say many children are suffering flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder. NPR's Deborah Amos reports. [more]

Schizophrenia (1 Jul) - People at risk of developing schizophrenia may soon be identified years before they develop any symptoms, psychiatrists have said. [more]

Mate selection (2 Jul) - Women can tell whether a man is attractive and has "good" genes just from a glimpse of his cheek, a study of male sex appeal says. Pernickety females from a range of species, including humans, use clues such as appearance to size up genetic quality before selecting a mate. A study by Prof Morris Gosling and Dr Craig Roberts at the University of Newcastle suggests that a man wears his genes on his skin. [more]

Memory (1 Jul) - Ever been in a spot where you can't put a name to a face or a face to a name? As this ScienCentral News video reports, neuroscientists have more information about what happens in the brain as these memories are made. [more]

Archaeology (1 Jul) - The Inca invented a seven-bit binary code to store information more than 500 years before the invention of the computer, according to the latest research into this still mysterious ancient population. [more]

Itching (1 Jul) - An itch demands a scratch, but science has barely begun to scratch the surface of why an itch itches, and how to make it stop. [more]

Mate choice (1 Jul) - The old adage that opposites attract has been debunked by US scientists. They found that people tend to chose partners who are similar - or at least who they think are similar - to themselves, both in looks and attitude. [more]

Language (30 Jun) - Speaking Chinese may take more brainpower than speaking English, a study suggests. Researchers in Britain have found that people who speak Mandarin Chinese use both sides of their brain to understand the language. This compares to English-language speakers who only need to use one side of their brain. BBC News Online, The Guardian.


Experimental psychology (8 Jul) - Given only a fraction of a second to respond to images of men popping out from behind a garbage dumpster, people were more likely to shoot blacks than whites, even when the men were holding a harmless object such as a flashlight rather than a gun. [more]

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Crime (9 Jul) - Fear of crime may not be as serious a problem as previously imagined by Britain's politicians and policy-makers, according to new research funded by the Economic & Social Research Council. [more]

Memory (8 Jul) - Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have found new support for the age-old advice to "sleep on it." Mice allowed to sleep after being trained remembered what they had learned far better than those deprived of sleep for several hours afterward. [more]

Schizophrenia (9 Jul) - New results identify PPP3CC, located at 8p21.3, as a potential schizophrenia susceptibility gene and support the proposal that alterations in calcineurin signaling contribute to schizophrenia pathogenesis. [more] and [more]

Psychology (7 Jul) - When you nod your head to signal approval or shake your head to show disapproval, it’s not just sending a message to others – you may also be influencing yourself. A new study showed that these simple movements influenced people’s agreement with an editorial they heard while nodding or shaking their head. Researchers found that other body movements – such as writing with a non-dominant hand – can also influence attitudes, even about important issues such as self-esteem. [more]

Mate choice (7 Jul) - Not looks or money but rather life-long fidelity is what most people seek in an ideal mate, according to a Cornell University behavioral study that also confirmed the "likes-attract" theory: We tend to look for the same characteristics in others that we see in ourselves. [more]

Evolutionary biology (7 Jul) - For the first time, scientists have identified a member of the animal kingdom that dies spontaneously during sex. While other animals, such as salmon and mayflies, die shortly after mating, the male Argiope aurantia is the first known species for which mating is an instantaneous trigger for death. [more]

Mental illness (7 Jul) - A single viral protein causes behavioural changes in mice similar to those experienced by people with mental illness, reveals a study by Japanese researchers. [more]

Science - metaphor (3 Jul) - In a perspective article published in the July 4, 2003 issue of the journal Science, Arizona State University biologists and historians of science Matthew Chew and Manfred Laubichler discuss a fundamental problem in the science of ecology - its use of metaphorical language. [more]

Suicide terrorism - The Institut Jean Nicod of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) is organizing a web debate on suicide bombers. From July 1 to 31, two papers, one by the American anthropologist Scott Atran (author of the book "In Gods we Trust", 2002, and of "Genesis of Suicide Terrorism", Science, March 7, 2003), the other by the Turkish sociologist Nilüfer Göle (author of the book "Islam and Modernity", Cambridge UP), are open to discussion by an international panel of leading historians, sociologists, psychologists, economists, political scientists and philosophers from France, United States, Germany, Israel, Palestine, England, Turkey and other countries. [more]

Depression (2 Jul) - Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have completed the first survey of the entire human genome for genes that affect the susceptibility of individuals to developing clinical depression. [more]

Comfort foods (2 Jul) - Perhaps men are from Mars and women from Venus, at least in the eating department. When it comes to foods that bring them psychological comfort, men like hearty meals, while women look for snacks that require little or no preparation, though they may cause pangs of guilt. [more]

Bipolar disorder (1 Jul) - A study led by a UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute researcher challenges standard treatment guidelines for bipolar depression that recommend discontinuing antidepressants within the first six months after symptoms ease. [more]

Smoking (1 Jul) - Some people who find it hard to give up smoking may have a good excuse - it's down to their genetic make-up. Scientists have found that people who carry a version of one particular gene may find it harder to give up their habit. BBC News Online, Health News, New Zealand Herald, The Independent.

Face recognition (1 Jul) - The human brain combines motion and shape information to recognize faces and facial expressions, a new study suggests. That new finding, part of an engineer’s quest to design computers that “see” faces the way humans do, provides more evidence concerning a controversy in cognitive psychology. [more]

Sexual behaviour (1 Jul) -  A new study suggests that men and women might not be as far apart in sexual behaviors as previous research has shown. In many surveys, men typically report engaging in sex at earlier age, more often, and with more sexual partners than do women. However, a new study shows that some reported gender differences might show up because women don’t always answer surveys honestly, but give answers they believe are expected of them. [more]

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Schizophrenia (30 Jun) - Mouse model of schizophrenia could speed identification of new antipsychotic drugs. Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have produced a genetically altered mouse that exhibits behavioral abnormalities that are strikingly similar to those observed in humans with schizophrenia. [more]

Longevity (29 Jun) - Tracing all the genetic changes that flow from a single mutation, UCSF scientists have identified the kinds of genes and systems in the body that ultimately allow a doubling of lifespan in the roundworm, C. elegans. Humans share many of these genes, and the researchers think the new findings offer clues to increasing human youthfulness and longevity as well. [more]


Psychopharmacology - Dr. Samuel Barondes is a professor and director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California. He's also the author of the new book, Better than Prozac: Creating the Next Generation of Psychiatric Drugs. In the book he traces the history and analyzes the effectiveness of the current crop of antidepressants and considers the drugs of the future. [more] [audio]

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Sex differences - Iain McClure reviews The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain by Simon Baron-Cohen.  [more] [review

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Science Wars  - Ion Georgiou reviews Science Wars: Debating Scientific Knowledge and Technology edited by Keith Parsons, Rebecca Long and Michael Sofka. [more] [review]

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Psychiatry - Christian Perring reviews Users and Abusers of Psychiatry: A Critical Look at Psychiatric Practice by Lucy Johnstone.  [more] [review]

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Folk psychology - ethics - Duncan Richter reviews The Importance of Being Understood: Folk Psychology as Ethics by Adam Morton. [more] [review

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Narcissists - David M. Wolf reviews Why Is It Always About You? Saving Yourself from the Narcissists in Your Life by Sandy Hotchkiss. [more] [review

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Human evolution - Ian Tattersall reviews Prehistoric Art: The Symbolic Journey of Humankind by Randall White. [more] [review

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Language - The Evolution of Language conference welcomes substantive contributions relating to the evolution of human language from any relevant discipline, including Anthropology, Genetics, Population Biology, Linguistics, Psychology, Primatology, Ethology, Paleontology, Archaeology, Artificial Life, Mathematical Modelling. Normal standards of academic quality apply. Thus, submitted abstracts should aim to make clear their own substantive claim, relating this to relevant scientific literature, and briefly setting out the method by which the claim is substantiated, the nature of the relevant data, and/or the core of the theoretical argument concerned. [more]

Neuropsychology - Tony Gould reviews Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology by Paul Broks. [more] [review

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Biography - Anthony Daniels reviews FitzRoy: The Remarkable Story of Darwin's Captain and the Invention of the Weather Forecast by John and Mary Gribbin. [review]

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