News in Brain and Behavioural
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Economics - An everyday cliché may have a more accurate take on modern life than Economics 101: money really cannot buy happiness. [more]
Life - Ants and infertile humans are not alive, but parasitic DNA is, according to a new, universal definition of life. [more]
Social constructionism - A simple belief system, founded upon the basic proposition that knowledge is never true per se, but true relative to a culture, a situation, a language, an ideology, or some other social condition. [more]
Psychotherapy - The drive by HMOs to "medicalize" psychotherapy - insisting that practitioners look for a medical disorder such as clinical depression and then dispense a prescribed treatment - will ultimately suffocate psychotherapy through ignorance of how it works, according to Bruce Wampold. [more]
Genetic engineering - The recent announcement that scientists have modified the genes that a person passes on to their offspring has led to a call for the practice to be outlawed. [more] and [audio]. Science.
Genetics - BBC News Online summarizes the evidence on the 'genetics roots of Europe'. [more]
Cognitive science - The Glushko-Samuelson Foundation and the Cognitive Science Society have announced that Geoffrey E. Hinton is the first recipient of the David E. Rumelhart Prize for contemporary contributions to the formal analysis of human cognition. [more]
Homosexuality - Time reports on the controversy surrounding Spitzer's claim that 'highly motivated' homosexuals can become heterosexual. [more]
Synaesthesia - This week a few dozen synesthetes and the psychologists who study them will gather at Princeton University for the first meeting of the American Synesthesia Association--a society devoted to furthering research into the phenomenon in the hopes that it will reveal something about the inner workings of the human mind. [more]
Human nature - Jesse Walker notes that even if ' we can be reduced to genetic inputs and programmed for life. In that case, genetic selection would not violate human nature; it would merely demonstrate that the traditional conservative view of human nature isn’t accurate'. [more]
Sexual selection - Men are natural shoppers whose taste for consumerism predates women's desire to hunt down bargains, according to Geoffrey Miller. [more]
Human genome - Robert Matthews suggests that scientists involved with the Human Genome Project would benefit from the application of Shannon's theorem. [more]
Prehistory - Mysterious Australian rock paintings could be the oldest known depictions of shamans - mystics who leave their bodies during a trance and enter the spirit world. [more]
Genomics - Celera, the company which shared the glory for sequencing the human genome faces claims that its data may be riddled with errors. New Scientist.
Premature puberty - Scientists believe the controversial pesticide DDT is responsible for premature puberty in girls in developing countries. [more]
American Psychological Association - Scott O. Lilienfeld reports on disturbing developments at American Psychologist. [more]
Psychiatry - A mental disorder behind the urge to 'hoard' pets. [more]
Addiction - The easy availability of sexual activities on the Internet has given rise to a disorder that psychologists are calling online sexual addiction. [more]
Genetic engineering - Mary Warnock believes that 'emotion is stopping us embracing the benefits of gene manipulation'. [more]
Primatology - A new study suggests that female chimpanzees do not mate outside the group as much as had been thought. [more]
Science - Steven Weinberg discusses the scope and limits of scientific explanation. [more]
Bipolar disorder - Emily Dickinson may have had a mild form of manic depression, with periods of high poetic creativity coinciding with exuberant periods that bordered on mania. [more]
Divorce - Men are more likely than women to divorce their spouses when the spouse suffers a serious illness such as brain cancer, a new study suggests. [more]
Phobias - Why do spiders, heights, flying, mice or even puppets turn some of us to jelly? Anjana Ahuja reports on phobias and their treatment. [more]
Archaeology - An ancient civilization thrived in Central Asia more than 4,000 years ago and may have developed a written language or at least experimented with a form of proto-writing. Nando Times, New York Times, Discovery.
Creationism - Joe Baker, 19, a senior at Pennridge High School, Philadelphia allegedly finds the teaching of evolutionary theory to be based on fraudulent examples. [more] Background: Nature, HMS Beagle, Salon, David E. Thomas and M. Kim Johnson, Ian Pitchford, The Wedge Strategy, James Still.
Obituary - Dr. Kenneth Mark Colby, a psychiatrist known for his work with artificial intelligence, died on April 20 at his home in Malibu. He was 81. [more]
Bipolar disorder - German and Israeli researchers report that there may be a susceptibility locus for bipolar disorder on the long arm of chromosome 10. [more]
Methadone - Methadone increases the infectivity of HIV and stimulates viral replication. [more]
Antipsychotic drugs - Some antipsychotic drugs seem to be linked to cardiomyopathy and myocarditis in a study showing the potential of Bayesian neural networks in analysing data on drug safety. British Medical Journal.
Origins of life - David Bartel and colleagues have discovered some of the strongest evidence yet to support the RNA world—an era in early evolution when life forms depended on RNA—scientists at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have created an RNA catalyst, or a ribozyme, that possesses some of the key properties needed to sustain life in such a world. EurekAlert, Science.
Cognitive neuroscience - Adam K. Anderson and Elizabeth A Phelps have found that patients with lesions of amygdala shown no enhanced awareness of the presentation of emotionally evocative words. EurekAlert, Nature.
Comparative genomics - Feng-Chi Chen and Wen-Hsiung Li have discovered that humans and chimpanzees are more closely related than thought. [more]
Alcoholism - Some recovering alcoholics with a lengthy abstinence may have a chronically subdued stress system, and their systems are hypersensitive to a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is a key player in the body's stress response. [more]
Divorce - Tall men are more likely to divorce and remarry, usually replacing their first wife with a woman who is at least two years younger and better educated, according to Ulrich Muller, Allan Mazur and colleagues. [more]
Memory - Paul Frankland and colleagues have taken the first step in discovering how the brain, at the molecular and cellular level, converts short-term memories into permanent ones. [more], [more] and [more]
Social psychology - 'The mere presence of a black person's face can cause people to misperceive an object as a weapon,' according to Keith Payne. [more]
Genetics - By moderately raising the temperature of cells, biologists have broken through what was considered an impermeable barrier that kept half the genes in some cells "silent." [more]
Creationism and the brain - A speculative paper by Christopher L. Niebauer. [more]
Violence - People who live in areas where the concentration of lead in the air is high may be more prone to violence, new study findings suggest. [more]
Caste - A study has shown that people in higher ranks of the Indian caste system are more closely related to Europeans than Asians. Ananova, University of Utah Press Release, Genome Research, BioMedNet, Scientific American, Express India.
Dreaming - Predictions of exciting discoveries in dream research are over-optimistic, says Chiara Portas, the British neurologist whose research is being used to back such claims. [more]
Experimental psychology - Jamie Campbell and Qilin Xue have found that math anxiety 'worsens performance in two ways: First, it leads to avoidance, which leads to lower competence; second, it temporarily inhibits working memory capacity, possibly by failure to inhibit attention to intrusive thoughts'. [more] Reuters, UniSci.
Carbon dating - Carbon dating is a mainstay of geology and archaeology - but an enormous peak discovered in the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere between 45 thousand and 11 thousand years ago casts doubt on the biological carbon cycle that underpins the technique. [more]
Education - Ten books based on new research in the brain sciences have broad relevance to educators. [more]
Encyclopedia - You can now search over 1500 abstracts, 4000 authors, biographies and editorial details on the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences website. [more]
Comparative psychology - Jennifer Scheussler discusses Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think by Marc Hauser. [more]
Darwinism - Paul Gross reviews Human Nature after Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction by Janet Radcliffe Richards. [more]
Science and religion - Charles L. Harper reviews Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? The Relationship Between Science and Religion by Michael Ruse, Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring by Arthur Peacocke. [more]
- Anita Manning reviews The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind
Forgets and Remembers
Homosexuality - Pierre Tremblay comments on the social construction of male homosexuality and related suicide problems. [more]
Race - C. Loring Brace explains why racial categories obstruct the understanding of traits. [more]
Futurology - Barbara Boyle Torrey reviews The Ingenuity Gap, by Thomas Homer-Dixon. [more]