News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The Weekly Edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 20 - 30th June, 2001

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Mad poets - McLean Hospital, in Massachusetts, was for years America's most literary mental institution, a place that Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton knew well. [more]

Editor's choice Cybersickness - The Internet was made for fakers, says Dr. Marc D. Feldman, a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an expert on Munchausen syndrome and factitious disorder. [more]

Artificial intelligence - For those wondering when artificial intelligence will truly take root, here's a bulletin: it already has. [more]

Postpartum depression - Andrea Yates, the 36-year-old Texan accused of drowning her five children, one by one, in the bath, has focused international attention on a condition affecting one new mother in 10. [more] and [more]

Socialization - South African carers of a boy who was captured from a troop of monkeys more than ten years ago have appealed for expert help to treat the 17-year-old who still cannot talk, has trouble walking and continues to behave like a monkey. [more]

Autism - The number of cases of autism could be four times higher than previously reckoned, warn scientists. [more]

Consciousness - A British scientist studying heart attack patients says he is finding evidence that suggests that consciousness may continue after the brain has stopped functioning and a patient is clinically dead. [more] A comment from Jordan Hughes.

Gulf war syndrome - Tests on a group of British Gulf War veterans have failed to turn up any trace of Gulf War Syndrome, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Friday. [more]

Human cloning - A researcher who had been preparing to work on human cloning has agreed not to attempt an experiment or research until the legality of the effort is determined. [more]

Genetics - Working with a molecular biologist, African-American children in Boston are getting unusually personal lessons in history and science. [more]

Archaeology - A 5,000-year-old Aboriginal site has been damaged during a dam extension project in Tasmania. [more]

Sexual behaviour - Calling on all Americans to engage in frank discussion about sensitive sexual issues, Surgeon General David Satcher, releasing a new report on sexuality, urges Americans to respect a "diversity of sexual values" and says there is no evidence that "abstinence-only" programs are effective. [more]

Happiness - "Money can't buy me love," sang The Beatles, and they may have been right. Researchers say those who look for happiness in the almighty dollar may end up short-changed. [more]

Palaeoanthropology - Australian and Indonesian archaeologists have found fossils believed to belong to this extinct branch of humanity's family tree, Homo erectus, on a remote island that in ancient times was only few hundred kilometres from the Australian mainland. [more]

Editor's choice Bioinformatics - As the biotech sector continues to grow, more and more professionals are needed who can bridge the gap between biological research and software development. The problem is that very few training programs in bioinformatics exist. [more]

Language - Jamaican patois - a loosely structured but popular tongue that traces its roots to the era of slavery and has long competed with English in this Caribbean nation - is making something of a comeback, thanks mostly to 21st century technology. [more]

Consciousness - It's the astonishing growth in real-world artificial-intelligence technology that is forcing thinkers, theologians, philosophers, and the public to reexamine some age-old fundamental philosophical questions with a new vigor and urgency. Is it possible to replicate human consciousness in machines? [more]

Demography - Singapore's birth rate has dropped from an average of 1.96 children per woman in 1988 to below 1.5 in 1999 prompting its  notoriously staid government to sanction an "All-Out Make-Out" campaign. [more]

Haplotype map - That's not a word in most people's vocabulary, but Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, explained why everyone should care what a haplotype is on Wednesday at the Bio2001 conference in San Diego. [more]

Archaeology - Archeologists and surgeons said Tuesday in China a successful brain operation was conducted as early as 5,000 years ago, which they described as the earliest in the Pacific rim and East Asia. [more]

Evolutionary psychology - In what could be a blow to the self-esteem of younger but perhaps less attractive women, men appear to prefer "ageing beauties". [more]

Darwinism - Jim Holt discusses his neo-Darwinian theory of the leisure class. [more]

Genetics - Results of public consultation in the UK on the storage, protection and use of personal genetic information were revealed this morning as unrepresentative and poorly managed, acknowledged Britain's ethics watchdog, the Human Genetics Commission. [more]

Biology - John Maynard Smith, who joined Sussex University in 1965, has been awarded the Kyoto Prize and more than £250,000 for his contribution to science. [more]

Sex - Poor attendance forces China's first-ever sex museum to shut down, but owner hopes a new venue will woo crowds. [more]

Creationism - Next month will mark the 76th anniversary of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" where Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan challenged the issue of teaching evolution or creationism in the classroom. [more]

Sexual behaviour - Sex is less important for middle-aged British women than their European counterparts, a study has shown. [more]

Ethics and gender - In the past, children born intersexed were treated with surgery. Now some doctors believe such treatment may be unnecessary. [more]

Darwinism - "It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that),." says Richard Dawkins. [more]

Archaeology - The Kennewick Man's missing thigh bones may have been found. Detectives cleaning out the Benton County sheriff's office evidence vault Thursday spotted a shoebox-sized container with bones inside. [more]

Feminism - Love her or hate her, Andrea Dworkin a feminist icon, says Louise Armstrong. [more]

Parenting - Its no longer enough to be attentive, loving and caring to children. Parents who want the best for their offspring, say experts, must become amateur therapists. [more]

Shyness - Bashfulness is the latest trait to become a pathology, according to Margaret Talbot. [more]

Schizophrenia - Working memory dysfunction in patients with schizophrenia is caused by a disturbance of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and that this disturbance is selectively associated with cognitive disorganization. [more]

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Math anxiety - People's intrusive worries about math temporarily disrupt mental processes needed for doing arithmetic and drag down math competence, report Mark H. Ashcraft and Elizabeth P. Kirk, both psychologists at Cleveland (Ohio) State University. [more]

Neuroscience - With so much of our modern lives dominated by movies and television, it's easy to think of perception as a continuous, unedited, uncut version of the world around us. But new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that while we are watching the "movies" of our daily lives, the brain is automatically dividing them into smaller, meaningful units. [more]

Hormones - Obesity and anorexia nervosa are associated with hormone differences. [more]

Eating disorders - Brains of patients who have recovered from bulimia nervosa show persistent changes that may offer clues to understanding biological contributions, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. [more]

Editor's choice Suicide - Predicting suicide in psychiatric patients is notoriously difficult but could be made more accurate following pioneering research by the University of Southampton. [more]

Memory - A rose might never smell so sweet as when it connects us with a poignant memory from the past, researchers report. [more]

Editor's choice "Mozart Effect" - New research on the" Mozart Effect", conducted by York University Psychology Prof. William F. Thompson, shows no direct link between listening to the music of Mozart and human performance on tests of spatial ability. [more]

Advertising - Television programs free of sex and violence may be an advertiser's best bet, according to a new Iowa State University study. [more] and [more]

Fatherhood - Expectant mothers aren't the only family members on a hormonal roller coaster, a new study in the June issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows. First-time fathers too undergo hormonal changes before and after their children are born. Scientific American, Ananova, Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Editor's choice Genetics - Every animal was thought to carry at least one backup copy of each of its chromosomes. No longer - researchers have discovered that an entirely female species of mite has only one copy of its chromosomes. Nature Science Update, The Guardian, Science

Dualism and psychiatry - Of all the human professions, psychiatry is most centrally concerned with the relationship of mind and brain. [more]

Editor's choice Genetics - Newly identified "mating genes" in the mustard plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) may provide a powerful tool for understanding of the interactions that foster self-recognition and the evolution of new species. [more]

Cross-cultural psychology - Americans and Chinese recall memories very differently, indicating the impact of cultures on 'self-concept'. [more]

Self-perception - A study of 152 Brown University students found the way in which students viewed themselves greatly affected how they viewed others in their social group. However, when asked directly whether they were “typical,” most responded no. [more]

Experimental psychology - When moving around in the real world, men and women generally use different strategies to get to the same place, cognitive research shows. But in the virtual world, subtle differences in spatial abilities are magnified, and men tend to perform better than women do in navigating computer- generated spaces. [more]

'Genius effect' - The genius effect refers to the tendency for people to exaggerate the ability of (a) a person who outperforms them and (b) a person whom they outperform. It has been argued by the researchers who first demonstrated this phenomenon that it is motivational in nature, but is it? [more]

Newtonian brain - The brain uses an internal model of gravity to supplement sensory information when estimating time-to-contact with an approaching object. [more]

Editor's choice Hippocampal plasticity - A long-lasting increase in the efficacy of synaptic transmission is likely to depend, at least in part, on enhanced transmitter release from the presynaptic neuron. [more]

Amygdala - Two different lateral amygdala cell populations contribute to the initiation and storage of memory. [more]

Fear conditioning & LTP - Associative long-term potentiation in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala is sensitive to stimulus contingency. [more]

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Sexual behaviour - The vast majority of men and women have sexual fantasies about someone other than their spouse or significant other, according to a study published in The Journal of Sex Research. [more]

Editor's choice Judicial reasoning - Patricia Cohen examines Minding the Law by Anthony G. Amsterdam and Jerome S. Bruner. [more]

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Evolution - Joan Smith reviews Evolution's Workshop by Edward J Larson. [more]

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Mentophobia - In his book Animal Minds, Donald Griffin argues that even what we consider some of the lowliest of creatures could be conscious. Is such talk idle speculation, or the stuff of proper scientific enquiry? Griffin explained all to Gail Vines. [more]

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Editor's choice Bioethics - John M. Clark reviews Bioethics: Ancient Themes in Contemporary Issues edited by Mark Kuczewski and Ronald Polansky. [more]

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Primatology - Marc Bekoff and Jane Goodall review Primate Origins of Human Cognition and Behavior edited by Tetsuro Matsuzawa. [more]

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Eating disorders - Eating disorders are more common among girls with type 1 diabetes and may be affected by a girl's relationship with her mother, researchers at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting said Monday. [more]

Primatology - Claudia Dreifus discusses The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist with Frans B. M. De Waal. [more]

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Neuroscience - George J. Augustine reviews Synapses by by W. Maxwell Cowan, Thomas C. Südhof & Charles F. Stevens. [more]

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Neuroscience - Margaret Gunning reviews A User's Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain by John J. Ratey. [more]

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Sex - Kimberly Atkins reviews Sexual Intelligence by Sheree Conrad and Michael Milburn. [more] and [more]

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