News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The Weekly Edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 24 - 28th July, 2001

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Evolution - The new PBS miniseries "Evolution" is outlining the evolution of Charles Darwin's effect on western culture. [more]

Ethics - 'The current debate over embryo stem cell research, as well as the debates over patents on life, genetically modified foods, designer babies, and other biotech issues, is beginning to reshape the whole political landscape in ways no one could have imagined just a few years ago,' according to Jeremy Rifkin. [more]

Psychiatry - Four people have died here in the last week because of the heat and all were taking prescription psychiatric drugs, which a medical expert says have the ability to create potentially dangerous body temperature regulation problems. [more]

Human evolution - 'Men have changed rather little in their bodies since they began, although mentally they have shifted beyond recognition,' says Steve Jones. [more]

Palaeoanthropology - Two discoveries could cast new light on man's shared history with our closest relatives. David Derbyshire reports. [more]

Archaeology - Archeologists working at one of Europe's most fruitful dig sites said they'd found evidence of a 200,000-year-old barbecue pit where ancestors of Neanderthal Man used fire to roast deer. [more] and [more]

Development - An interactive toy that encourages young children to share could be the first of a new generation of toys that could turn spoilt brats into civilized people. [more]

Archaeology - Ancient Apocalypse is a new BBC series that investigates the dramatic collapse of great civilisations. Here, the series producer Jessica Cecil relates the climate disaster that struck the Egyptian Old Kingdom. [more] and [more]

Editor's choice Immunology - The switch that prevents the immune system from attacking its own tissue, a life-preserving ability that has long puzzled immunologists, was tentatively revealed today to be the class of cells responsible for triggering attacks on foreign pathogens. [more]

Pheromones - University of Chicago researchers published Wednesday the first images of pheromones acting in the brain, a feat that marks the latest milestone in Dr. Martha K. McClintock's quest to document a human sixth sense based on airborne chemical signals. [more]

Chaos - A Quick & Dirty Guide To Chaos And Complexity Theory:  Three Race Horses & Four Hobby Horses by  Frank Miele. [more]

Genetic engineering - Scientists are taking the first steps toward creating alternative life forms — organisms that use a genetic code different from the one used by all other creatures on earth. [more]

Stammering - Stammering may be caused by irregularities in the structure of the brain. An inability to get one's words out has long been thought to be caused by emotional factors, such as stress. BBC News Online.

Depression - Using the Internet at home doesn't make people more depressed and lonely after all. A new, longer follow-up from a study that linked Web use to poor mental health — heavily publicized three years ago — shows that most bad effects have disappeared. [more]

Dyslexia - Children who have trouble reading may suffer from too much brain symmetry, new research suggests. [more]

Palaeoanthropology - The face of what has sometimes been described as Europe's oldest human being has appeared to the world in three dimensions for the first time. [more]

Public understanding of science - Some scientific images leave a deep imprint in the public mind. How accurate are those images? [more]

Editor's choice Animal behaviour - Amid all the panting, a dog at play makes a distinctive, breathy exhalation that can trigger playfulness in other dogs, says a Nevada researcher. Yes, it might be the dog version of a laugh. [more]

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Communication - Cell phones and e-mail may have become common forms of communication in the 21st century, but centuries of evolution have made face-to-face communication man’s preferred method, says Dr. Ned Kock. [more]

Editor's choice Animal behaviour - Because most cooperative societies are despotic, it has been difficult to test models of egalitarianism. Female African lions demonstrate a unique form of plural breeding in which companions consistently produce similar numbers of surviving offspring. Science, Scientific American.

Multitasking - New scientific studies reveal the hidden costs of multitasking, key findings as technology increasingly tempts people to do more than one thing (and increasingly, more than one complicated thing) at a time. [more]

Memory - A study, "Persistence of Visual Memory for Scenes," authored by David Melcher, a graduate fellow in the department of psychology of Rutgers' Faculty of Arts and Sciences-New Brunswick, counters current thinking that visual memory is generally poor and that people quickly forget the details of what they have seen. [more]

Face recognition - People have been found to remember faces of their own race better than they remember faces of other races. Now researchers may have uncovered the changes in the brain that underlie that phenomenon. Reuters, Nature Science Update.

Anti-social behaviour - Children who display antisocial behaviour cost society 10 times more than those with no problems and are at high risk of lifelong social exclusion, concludes a study in this week's British Medical Journal. [more] and [more]

Pain - Some people just learn about pain all too well. That’s the growing notion among neuroscientists and anesthesiologists, who are finding evidence that chronic, persistent pain, including the phantom pain experienced by many amputees and people with spinal cord injuries, is learned, much like our own memories. [more]

Editor's choice Animal behaviour - Animals can increase their finder's share and total amount consumed from a newly discovered resource by keeping large interindividual distances and by avoiding giving cues about the presence of food (such as food-associated vocalizations) to other animals. [more]

Contraception - A Kinsey study finds that adverse sexual, emotional side effects of birth control pills are related to discontinuation. [more]

Evolutionary psychology - Ian Pitchford defends the research program of evolutionary psychology; particularly the commitment to the concept of 'modularity'. There are also brief sections on developmental systems theory and 'innateness', the confusion surrounding 'exaptations' and 'spandrels', selfishness and inclusive fitness, the evolution of language, sexual dimorphism, and various 'neurofoundational' issues. [more]

Editor's choice Schizophrenia - New results are consistent with the presence of susceptibility gene(s) in chromosomal region 1q32–q42, a result also implied in other recent family studies of schizophrenia. [more]

Genetics - A gene discovered by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill appears to be crucial for female embryo survival. EurekAlert, Nature Science Update, Scientific American, Ananova.

ADHD - In Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception, Thom Hartmann proposes that ADD is a distinctively human way to apprehend the world, a remnant of the hunter-gatherer days when survival, or at least supper, depended on monitoring the environment with a readiness to change plans instantly. [more]

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Genetics - Robert Kanigel reviews The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes. [more]

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Poverty - Poverty, Inequality and Health: An International Perspective by David Leon, Gill Walt and Mind the Gap: Hierarchies, Health and Human Evolution by Richard Wilkinson. [more]

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Suicide - We explored whether suicide victims with senior occupations or higher socioeconomic status, or both, more commonly had mental disorders or psychoses or misused alcohol or drugs than did other people. We also investigated whether the method of suicide was somehow related to the occupation. [more]

Animal consciousness - 'The idea that animals are not conscious--which Donald Griffin so stoutly resists - does not flow from science, though many scientists apparently accept it. It is simply part of the 16th-century thinker René Descartes' notion that human consciousness is unique, flowing from a supernatural soul that is alien to the body', according to Mary Midgley. [more]

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Science and the media - David Appell reviews It Ain't Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality by David Murray, Joel Schwartz and S. Robert Lichter. [more]

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Creationism - 'Time magazine's new ape-man. Publication's latest evolution contention less-than-believable', according to James Perloff. [more] and [more]

Genetics - Andrew Berry reviews The Cooperative Gene: How Mendel's Demon Explains the Evolution of Complex Beings/Mendel's Demon: Gene Justice and the Complexity of Life by Mark Ridley. [more]

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Editor's choice The Cerebellum - Martin Dunitz Publishers, part of the Taylor & Francis Group, is pleased to announce the launch of a major new journal devoted to the science of the cerebellum and its role in ataxia and other medical disorders. [more]

Genetics - Susan Wright reviews The Recombinant DNA Controversy: A Memoir. Science, Politics and the Public Interest 1974–1981 by Donald S. Fredrickson. [more]

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Creationism - WorldNetDaily staff writer and talk-show host Geoff Metcalf interviews James Perloff, acclaimed author of "Tornado in a Junkyard" as well as the in-depth cover story in WorldNet magazine's July issue. [more] Background on Jonathan Wells' Icons of Evolution on which Perloff draws: Nature, HMS Beagle, Salon, David E. Thomas and  M. Kim Johnson, Ian Pitchford, The Wedge Strategy, James Still.
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Palaeoanthropology - Recent evidence suggests that Homo erectus may have had fire 1.6 million years ago (well before "Peking man"). Erectus was a jump in brain size, as well as in tool use, so the use of fire does map reasonably well. [more]