News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The Weekly Edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 19 - 23rd June, 2001

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Darwinism - Social scientists' on/off affair with evolutionary biology came under the spotlight last night in London when two of Britain's leading sociologists begged to differ over the importance of Darwin in their work. [more]

Cybertherapy - People using the internet to access a therapist are being warned to take precautions to protect themselves against fraudulent practitioners. [more]

Creationism - Leaders of the Presbyterian Church in America have voted to allow varying interpretations of biblical accounts of creation. [more]

Eating disorders - Japan is one of the world's most style-conscious countries but a growing number of young Japanese women shun fashion magazines and even avoid looking at themselves in the mirror. [more]

Politics - World leaders and senior politicians should be tested regularly for signs of madness, according to James Toole. [more]

Creativity - Everyone has what it takes to be a brilliant inventor by simply recognising society’s rules — and then breaking them. Anjana Ahuja talks to a psychologist who can free your creative urges. [more]

Human Genome - 'Unfortunately, the new focus on the genome has left some people with the impression that DNA's power is perhaps too considerable--that is, that genes are too great a factor in defining who we are', according to Francis S. Collins, Lowell Weiss, and Kathy Hudson. [more]

Artificial intelligence - Our everyday lives could be controlled and coordinated, not just by raw data, but by computers that evolve like living entities. [more]

Editor's choice HBES - Richard Dawkins reflects on the annual meeting of HBES, the Human Behaviour and Evolution Society. [more]

Emotion - Game simulations for the military try to make an ally of emotion. [more]

'Rebirthing' - Imagine four adults, whose combined weight is nearly 10 times your own, wrapping you in a blanket and sitting on you. It is a controversial therapy called rebirthing, used in the US to treat children with behavioural problems. [more]

Human cloning - Advances in therapeutic cloning, using human stem cells to grow tissue, will inevitably lead to the emergence of a cloned human being, insisted a leading US ethicist today. [more]

Psychotherapy - Scientific psychology is often concerned with the outcome of psychotherapy - whether it works, how it works, who is best suited, what problems respond best to what types of treatment, and so on. This research is often obscure and of little interest to anyone but scientists - sometimes not even therapists pay much attention to it. [more]

Hormones - In the past decade, evidence has steadily mounted that estrogen is critical to a woman's mental functioning. It appears to enhance memory and the ability to process verbal information. Numerous studies also have concluded that it reduces a woman's chances of developing Alzheimer's disease. [more]

Sex - Any two people could be connected via a chain of just two or three sexual relationships, says a Swedish study. [more] and [more]

Rehabilitation - Some inmates at the Hennepin County workhouse have embraced a simple idea: Think before you act. "Metacognition," short for cognitive behavioral skills training, has become a mantra for some, a password to a saner life inside and outside of jail walls. [more]

Neuroscience - Two heads are better than one for carrying out many tasks but if the job is to create a map of the structure and function of the human brain - 7,000 heads are even better. [more]

Archaeology - American Indian tribes say the skeleton known as Kennewick Man is an ancient ancestor and should be buried with respect. Anthropologists say he should be studied first. Yahoo, ABC News, CNN, Edmonton Journal, Society for American Archaeology, Umatilla Tribes, NOVA, Tri City Herald, Friends of America's Past, Reuters, The Times, Christian Science Monitor, Nando Times.

Human genome - The Times of India looks at the frantic scramble to patent genes. [more]

Editor's choice Scientific fashion - If the endlessly accelerating pace of scientific research is riding the telecommunications revolution, then why did physicists, historians and philosophers meet here recently at an isolated lodge where cell phones generally do not work and many of the rooms have no phones at all, let alone speedy Internet connections? [more]

Human cloning - Declaring a worldwide ban on human reproductive cloning offers the only hope of preventing scientists attempting to duplicate babies, the UK's Royal Society has warned. [more]

Intelligent design' - One theory, evolution by natural selection, assumes that all life is related by common descent... A second theory proposes that life is the product of design. [more]

Myths - Certain images are so familiar that they are deeply embedded in the collective consciousness of human beings. They have become cultural icons. [more]

Genetics - Attitudes to ethical issues such as abortion and the death penalty are partly determined by genes, researchers claimed yesterday. [more] Scientific American.

Languages - Ever hear someone speak Udihe, Eyak, or Arikapu? Odds are you never will. Among the world's 6,800 languages, half to 90 percent could be extinct by the end of the century. [more] Nando Times, CNN, MSNBC.

Determinism - The publication of "The Heritability of Attitudes: A Study of Twins" raises profound religious and philosophical questions about human freedom and moral responsibility. Commenting on this research are the Rev. Dr. Lindon Eaves, whose own twin research is cited by Olson, by Dr. Ted Peters, author of Playing God: Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom. [more]

Aggression - The Semai people of Malaysia never fight. Whenever two tribe members have a conflict, it is resolved with words. The village leader calls a meeting to discuss the dispute. When the talking finally stops, the village leader makes a ruling. [more]

Homosexuality - Two US sociologists claim gay people's children are more likely to explore homosexual activity than children from straight households. [more]

History - When Darwin's name is mentioned, most people conjure up images of evolution, monkey trials, and church-science controversies, not archaeology and soil science. Archaeology and soil science? Darwin? In fact, surprising as this may seem, Darwin contributed key observations to both fields, near the beginning of his illustrious career and at its very end. [more]

Archaeology - "You are what you eat," was true even in Paleolithic times. By testing the bones of ancient humans, a research team that includes a University of Arizona archaeologist has found that fish dinners became commonplace in central Europe as early as 26,000 years ago. [more]

Primatology - For bonobos, which are among man's closest evolutionary relatives, it is how they act when they grow up that draws the most attention: They have sex a lot. [more]

Neuroscience of religion - Using powerful brain imaging technology, researchers are exploring what mystics call nirvana, and what Christians describe as a state of grace. Scientists are asking whether spirituality can be explained in terms of neural networks, neurotransmitters and brain chemistry. [more]

Nutrition - For better health, eat more like our pre-human ancestors, says an intriguing new study. Here's how. [more]

Bioethics - A team of doctors announced last week the birth of the first baby to have undergone genetic testing as an embryo for a disease that would not appear until later in life, raising concerns about the ethics of parents hand-selecting their children’s traits. [more]

Editor's choice Neuroscience - New results indicate that networks of fast-spiking cells may play a role in the detection and promotion of synchronous activity within the neocortex. [more] and [more]

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Personality disorders - Personality disorders, which encompass a range of diagnoses, affect nearly one in seven Norwegians and are more likely to be found in those who live alone and inside a city, according to a team of psychologists. [more]

Editor's choice Psychology - The need for a coherent world can cause mistaken memories based on "causal inference" errors, with implications for eyewitness testimony. [more]

Psychology - Presenting further proof that jurors are vulnerable to human error, psychologists at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management found significant evidence of a deep bias affecting both students and prospective
jurors. [more]

Genetics - Malaria, still the most lethal infection in humans, would be even more devastating except for a dramatic millennia-old genetic change that protects many people against the worst of the disease. Yahoo, New York Times, CNN.

Infertility - Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol are clearly elevated in the bloodstream of child-bearing-aged women who have stopped menstruating, a senior researcher at the Magee-Womens Research Institute has found. [more]

Feeding - Researchers have used gene therapy to rejuvenate feeding behavior in starving mice. The genetically engineered mice avoided eating because their brains contained a low level of dopamine. [more]

Genetics - Phylogenetic analysis of 28 proposed horizontal gene transfer genes against non-vertebrate sequence databases reveals that most of these genes are present in more anciently derived eukaryotes, and can be explained in terms of descent through common ancestry rather than by a leap from bacteria to vertebrates. [more]

Editor's choice Migraine - The chromosomal location of a new gene for migraine came tantalizingly close to being revealed today at World Congress of Neurology in London. But neurologists will have to wait another two weeks before full disclosure at another meeting, in New York, insisted Michel Ferrari. [more]

Primatology - Does participation in intergroup conflict depend on numerical assessment, range location, or rank for wild chimpanzees? [more]

Animal behaviour - Lactating female chacma baboons, Papio cynocephalus ursinus, maintain close associations, or `friendships', with particular males that may protect infants from sexually selected infanticide by a newly immigrated alpha male. [more]

Evolutionary psychology - What's the secret of sexual success? Well, according to a psychologist in the US, it's ovulation. When women are ovulating they feel more attractive, have smaller waists, fewer headaches, and more erotic feelings. [more]

Hormones - Exercise in the evening and at night elicits large increases in the levels of two hormones important for energy metabolism, cortisol and thyrotropin. [more]

Mate choice - Women are attracted to altruistic men, but not vice versa, according to new Canadian research. [more]

Gossip - Most women may be physically weaker than men, but they have a formidable weapon at their disposal: gossip. Nattering to each other in this way could be why women form such strong social bonds, says anthropologist Nicole Hess from the University of California at Santa Barbara. [more]

Rape - A single act of rape may be more than twice as likely to make a woman pregnant as a single act of consensual sex. [more] BBC News Online

Mind - It is suggested that the familiar arguments for computational externalism-which rest on thought experiments and on exegesis of Marr's theories of vision-are unconvincing, but that they can be improved. [more] [table of contents]

Evolutionary psychology - The British throne was an enormous prize, and monarchs were quite prepared to murder their closest kin to secure it. It may seem surprising that a "crown" could spawn such a spectacular trail of carnage. What is astounding, however, is that over a 200-year period, a basic rule of evolutionary biology remained intact - not one king or queen killed enough relatives to wipe out their own genetic inheritance. [more] and [more]

Human evolution - New fossils promote further understanding of morphological variation in East African Plio-Pleistocene hominids. [more]

Human evolution - Are increases in brain size during the Plio-Pleistocene only seen in Homo, and is brain enlargement among Plio-Pleistocene primates confined to hominins? [more]

Editor's choice Consciousness -. E. R. John and coauthors present empirical work on anesthesia together with theoretical explanations at three levels, a neurophysiological account of anesthesia, a neural dynamic account of conscious and unconscious states, and an integrative field theory. [more] [table of contents]

Autism - Using family linkage studies, a genome scan, and a mouse model, researchers have triangulated onto a gene implicated in at least some cases of autism. Called WNT2, the gene is part of a family of genes that influences brain development. [more]

Editor's choice Schizophrenia - Researchers have identified a calcium binding protein that, at increased levels, may be associated with the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. [more] and [more]

Editor's choice Evolution - Why Won't the Group Selection Controversy Go Away? [more]

Neuroscience - Children with closed head injury (CHI) have semantic-pragmatic language problems that include difficulty in understanding and producing both literal and nonliteral statements. [more]

Male infertility - Researchers have discovered a human gene that can be traced back through the mouse to the fly, illuminating a molecular nugget from ancient times that may play a crucial role in male fertility - and infertility. [more]

Alcoholism - Scientists have used gene array technology to compare the brain gene expression of two strains of mice. 41 genes have significant differences in expression, possibly identifying new brain genes and pathways important in the effects of alcohol. [more]

Consciousness - Consciousness is topical, for reasons including its renewed respectability among psychologists, rapid progress in the neuroscience of perception, memory and action, advances in artificial intelligence and dissatisfaction with the dualistic separation of mind and body. [more]

Autism - A new treatment using acupuncture to improve symptoms in children with autism was outlined at a conference yesterday. [more]

Editor's choice Aging - A study of 600 Dutch men and women aged 85 found that the women performed significantly better in mental speed and memory tests. Ananova, The Telegraph, EurekAlert.

Behaviour genetics - Everything from liking rollercoasters to attitudes to the death penalty is influenced by our genes, say researchers. [more]

Depression - Joyce Carol Oates reviews The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon. [more] [first chapter]

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Primatology - Tim Radford reviews The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist by Frans B. M. De Waal. [more]

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Civilization - J. R. McNeill reviews Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature by Felipe Fernández-Armesto. [more]

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Justice - J. B. Schneewind reviews Justice as Fairness: A Restatement by John Rawls. [more] [first chapter]
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Editor's choice Language - Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini reviews Pathways to Language: From Fetus to Adolescent by Kyra Karmiloff, and Annette Karmiloff-Smith. [more]

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Sexual behaviour - Lisa K. Waldner Celibacy, Culture, and Society: The Anthropology of Sexual Abstinence edited by Elisa J. Sobo and Sandra Bell. [more]

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Feminism - Kathryn Hughes reviews Inventing Herself: Claiming a feminist intellectual heritage by Elaine Showalter. [more]

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Humanism - 'Today the idea that all human activity can be explained by the natural sciences appears to many to be self-evidently true,' according to Kenan Malik. [more]

Skepticism - The latest issue of Michael Shermer's E-Skeptic magazine. [more]

Editor's choice Primatology - What if apes had their own culture rather than one their human observers imposed on them? What if they reacted to situations with behavior learned through observation of their elders (culture) rather than with pure genetically coded instinct (nature)? [more] [audio]
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Fatherhood - A new study says one out of four single parents raising kids, is a father. But do single dads get the support they need? On the next Talk of the Nation, Juan Williams talks with all kinds of fathers -- single, married, divorced -- about the changing state of fatherhood. [more] [audio]

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Religion - Everywhere, people have rituals, philosophies and institutions designed to explain what seems unexplainable: aging, death, unforeseen calamities, love. The question is, why? Pascal Boyer has an answer. [more]

Science or ideology - The debate on the biological bases of human characteristics, and especially of cognitive abilities, has been raging in philosophy and biology essentially forever. Massimo Pigliucci gives his view. [more]

Politics - Feminism - Renowned Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi and renowned husband/writer Serhif Hetata are currently facing a law suit to divorce them on the basis of 'hisba'. Lawyer Nabih Al Wahsh has filed the suit against them because of a published interview conducted by Al-Midan newspaper [March 6, 2001] in which Dr. Saadawi has expressed opinions that the lawyer perceived as anti-Islamic. A committee has been formed comprising Egyptian human rights activists, feminists, women's organizations, human rights organizations and individuals to lead the campaign to support Dr. Saadawi and Dr. Hetata. [more]