News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The Weekly Edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 15 - 26th May, 2001

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Post-traumatic stress disorder - Doctors 'have nothing to gain from claims that the pervasive and interminable personal disaster that is post-traumatic stress disorder is not a disorder,' according to Arieh Y Shalev . [more]

Editor's choice Science publishing - Scientists around the world are in revolt against moves by a powerful group of private corporations to lock decades of publicly funded western scientific research into expensive, subscription-only electronic databases. The Guardian, Public Library of Science.

Human genome - An new exhibition 'highlights the genome's elegance, power and decided air of mystery while playing down the awkward guest's most tiresome features.' [more]

Monkey business - Lionel Tiger argues that 'extremism in the service of understanding normality is surely a virtue. [more]

Obituary - James David Ebert, a research biologist who helped upgrade embryology from an adjunct of anatomy to a modern discipline employing genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology, was killed on Tuesday in an automobile collision in Maryland. [more]

Medicine - German scientists say they have taken a step towards gene silencing, the ability to block the action of specific genes in humans that could eventually have immense therapeutic benefits. [more]

Schizophrenia - A New Zealand psychologist says there is evidence to show a link between child abuse and some people who develop schizophrenia later in life. [more] and [audio]

Editor's choice Antipsychotics - The Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) program, a $42.1 million, five-year effort hopes to determine the effectiveness and safety of antipsychotic drugs under real-world conditions for treating people with schizophrenia and those with psychotic and disruptive behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. [more]

Depression - A dose of comedy taken daily for four weeks has now been found to reduce significantly the symptoms of depression. [more]

Sport - Bengt Saltin claims that Kenyan sporting success is genetic. [more]

Moral insanity - The term "moral insanity" is unfamiliar to psychiatrists today, but it was an accepted diagnosis in Europe and America throughout most of the 19th century. [more]

Genetics - Each of us has a "genotype" and a "phenotype." Actually we have several. Genotype simply means our genetic makeup. Phenotype is the physical manifestation of genes, behavior and environment. [more]

Mental health - Clinical depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: over two million Americans suffer from one or a combination of these psychiatric illnesses. Many suffer in silence, in part because of the negative social stigmas attached to a person with a mental illness, according to Winston Pineda. [more]

Molecular biology - Researchers have revealed the workings of a machine - the ribosome - that helps turn genes into flesh and blood. [more]

Sexual dimorphism - Music at work can increase productivity, but Reinhard Leichner says the choice of music depends on whether men or women are doing most of the work. [more] In another study women were found to be ill more often than men even though they live an average of five years longer. [more]. Yet another study has found that the cause of a private plane crash is usually closely related to the gender of its pilot. [more]

Media - Do the political implications that attach to medical breakthroughs affect their reception by the media? [more]

Biochemistry - Roger Kornberg, a  Stanford University biochemist who helped break down the building blocks of life is the 2001 recipient of the Welch Award. [more]

Creationism - According to one creationist 'scientific studies available that reveal that students who are exposed to only evolution in school are more likely to become pregnant, commit murder, and engage in more instances of bullying'. [more]

Education - American students' grasp of math and science pales in comparison to other countries. Why? Because our textbooks are so inaccurate that the Earth might as well be flat. [more]

Cybertherapy - Online counseling is the hottest and certainly the most controversial new trend in therapy, many experts say. [more]

Phobia - The Internet can be a valuable tool in helping the very shy or socially phobic, who need treatment but rarely seek it, says Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo. [more]

Cyborgs - Researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center are in talks with several companies to market a new technology that marries the human nervous system with computers. [more]

Language - New research in Hawaii is making strides in developing a language that will allow humans and dolphins to communicate, based on the clicks and whistles that comprise the foundation of "dolphin-speak." [more]

Alcoholism - Scientists are beginning to unravel the complex relationship between genes and behavior to understand alcohol addiction. The hope is to design treatments to block excessive drinking. [more]

Editor's choice Evolution - The peak of biodiversity may have been 400 million years ago. [more]

National Library of Medicine - Our contemporary understanding of the genetic code would not have been possible without the discoveries of Dr. Marshall Nirenberg. [more]

American Psychological Association - Scott O. Lilienfeld can no longer 'assist an organization, either directly or  indirectly, that has on repeated occasions permitted political considerations to intrude upon science'. [more] Paul Meehl, Michael E. Mills, Dennis McBride. Chronicle of Higher Education.

Neuroscience - When it comes to brainpower among mammals, size does matter, but not just the total mass of gray matter as much as the relative brain volume contributed by each of several key structures within the thinking organ. [more] Earlier reports: Eurekalert, Nature Science Update, Commentary, Nature.

Mental health - Many people with mental health problems use physical exercise to make them feel better, a survey has found. [more]

Conservation - The United Nations Environment Programme has launched a programme to save the world's remaining great apes. [more] Nando Times.

Creationism - 'Intelligent design theory' should not be in the school curriculum. [more]

Editor's choice Homosexuality - In contrast to recent media claims about his views Robert Spitzer argues that 'In reality, change should be seen as complex and on a continuum.  Some people appear able to change self-identity and behavior, but not arousal and fantasies; some can change only self-identity; and only a very few, I suspect, can substantially change all four.' [more] APA Presentation - PDF - WORD, Spitzer's statement - WORD

Genetics - One in every 100 "white" Britons is directly descended from an African or Asian, a new study has found. [more] CNN.

Promiscuity - "Mild polygyny" is the natural condition of the human species, according to Alison Jolly of Princeton University. [more]

Cloning - Leon Kass explains why we should ban cloning now. [more]

Genetics - The American doctor who trumpeted a fertility technique using three genetic parents failed to disclose that along with 15 healthy babies it produced two fetuses with a rare genetic disorder. Experts are horrified because the fault can be passed to future generations. [more] New Scientist.

'Puppy love' - Teenagers in love have a higher risk for depression, alcohol problems and delinquency than teens who do not get romantically involved, finds a Cornell University sociologist. And love-sick girls, especially younger ones, are at an even higher risk for depression than boys. [more]

Surgery - Researchers have found that harnessing the sights and sounds of nature may reduce the pain patients experience while undergoing invasive medical procedures. Reuters, BBC News Online.

Language - Left-handed and ambidextrous people may use a different part of their brain to process language than right-handed folks. [more]

Editor's choice Evolution - A team of scientists from China and the United States has described a tiny fossil creature that could be one of the ancestors of modern mammals. BBC News Online, EurekAlert, New Scientist, Science, Scientific American.

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Hopelessness - Those who lack hope about the future may be at risk of dying prematurely, suggest the results of a study of nearly 800 elderly Americans. [more]

Impulsivity - Scientists at Cambridge University believe they have discovered the part of the brain associated with impulsive behaviour. BBC News Online, audio, Reuters, Nature Science Update, The Telegraph.

Neurology - How is a personality developing? The scientists from the St-Petersburg Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry (Russian Academy of Sciences) have investigated a case which can shed some light on the issue. [more]

Neuroscience - If dendrites can synthesize proteins, they may also have the capacity to modulate the strength of connections between neurons and ultimately influence neural activities, including learning and memory. [more]

Toxicology - Teenagers living near waste incinerators sexually mature later than their peers. [more]

Editor's choice Placebo response - An exhaustive analysis of 114 medical studies published over a 53-year span has concluded in most cases, placebos are no more effective than no treatment at all. [more], New England Journal of Medicine, Opinion, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, Scientific American.

Face recognition - Women beat men hands down when it comes to recognising faces, according to an Internet-based experiment conducted in Sweden. The finding could mean that employers may have to rethink their hiring strategies in hitherto male-dominated industries such as security. [more]

Editor's choice Vision - Neurons in the human visual cortex, a brain center that processes visual information, can respond to patterns of lines too fine for subjects to resolve. [more] and [more]

Ethics - Giovanni A. Fava (University of Bologna), suggests that special interest groups (groups of scientists who share common financial interests) are taking over control of science, and acting to protect corporate interests in medical journals by virtue of their editorial positions. UniSci, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Online.

Neuroscience - Using money as an incentive researchers have found that human neural responses accompanying the anticipation and experience of winning and losing in a laboratory gaming situation were similar to those noted in animals responding to tactile or gustatory stimuli or to euphoria-inducing drugs. This suggests that the same neural circuitry is involved in the highs and lows of winning money, abusing drugs, or anticipating a gastronomical treat. EurekAlert, Neuron, EurekAlert, Ananova, Scientific American.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - Frequent loud snoring that disturbs sleep may be linked to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in some young children. [more]

Memory - Switching off electrical activity in the brain of fruit flies blocks memory recall, but not initial formation of memory. EurekAlert, Nature Science Update, [more] and [more]

Developmental psychology - Young children are socialized by their same-sex peers to conform to typical sex role behavior and the effects are noticeable even within a short time, according to a study involving pre-school and kindergarten children. The results, published in the May issue of Developmental Psychology. EurekAlert.

Primatology - The origins of an early stamp depicting chimpanzee tool use have been revealed. [more]

Neanderthals - They could have been either highly active or poor foragers, but they could not have been both. [more]

Editor's choice Information - The more information people have, the happier the world can be, according to Yi-Cheng Zhang. People and companies benefit socially and economically from having as much data as possible, his calculations show. [more]

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Evolution - Biodiversity evolution, even in small isolated populations, is primarily driven by natural selection, including diversifying, balancing, cyclical, and purifying selective regimes, interacting with, but ultimately overriding, the effects of mutation, migration, and stochasticity. [more]

Animal behaviour - Bees employ 'imprisonment' in the battle against parasites. [more]

Neuroscience - The unique physiological characteristics of amygdala-based plasticity may have important functional implications in behavior. [more] and [more]

Y chromosome - The correlation between Y chromosomes and surnames might one day help the police get their man - but not their woman, according to Mark Jobling. Nature Science Update, Trends in Genetics.

Editor's choice Cognitive neuroscience - A woman who could not tell you whether an orange is orange has led to new insights into how the brain organizes thoughts. [more] and [more]

Addiction - Peter Schmidt has discovered - in contradiction to the prevailing theory - a rise of the number of opiate receptors in the brains of drug addicts. [more]

Neuroscience - Five years of long-haul travel without rest time shrivels parts of the cortex and hippocampus. [more] New Scientist, Times of India, Nature Neuroscience.

Stigmatization - Do the phenomena currently placed under the general rubric of stigma involve a set of distinct psychological systems designed by natural selection to solve specific problems associated with sociality. [more]

Early diet - Researchers are reporting new evidence for the growing importance of aquatic animals in the diets of early modern humans inhabiting Europe between 20,000 and 28,000 years ago. [more] BBC News Online, Scientific American, Proceedings of the National Academy USA.

Editor's choice Primatology - Why do chimpanzees hunt? A new study suggests that 'primary causes will not be found through invoking simple energetic or reproductive considerations.' [more]

Shopping addiction - Philip Shaw reviews Serious Shopping: Essays in Psychotherapy and Consumerism by Ed Adrienne Baker. [more]

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Editor's choice Genetics - Carl Zimmer reviews The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change by Stephen R. Palumbi. [more]

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Evolution - Dylan Evans reviews Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated by Steve Jones. [more]
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Dualism - Could there be anything more preposterous than Descartes' claim that our minds are not the product of our bodily functions? [more]

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Equality - Charles Murray predicts the death of egalitarianism. [more]

Science - Roy Herbert reviews Nine Crazy Ideas in Science by Robert Ehrlich. [more] [excerpt]

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Neuroscience - Michael D. Ehlers and Guoping Feng review Synapses edited by W. Maxwell Cowan, Thomas C. Südhof & Charles F. Stevens. [more]

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Genetics - Peter Lawrence reviews Fly: An Experimental Life by Martin Brookes. [more]

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Consciousness - John C. Marshall reviews A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness by Merlin Donald. [more]

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Botany - Martin Walker reviews The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. [more]

Internet - Cass Sunstein argues that in the Internet age letting people "consume" only the news they want actually imperils the republic. [more] [ebook] [read a chapter]

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Psychopharmacology - Solomon H. Snyder reviews The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness by J. Allan Hobson. [more]

Memes - Dan Sperber's objection to the memetic approach to culture. [more]
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History - Germaine Greer reviews Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill by Lara V. Marks. [more]

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Genetic anthropology - Bryan Sykes tells how he and his colleagues discovered that modern Europeans are descended from only a handful of women - the Seven Daughters of Eve. [more] and [more]

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