News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 28 - 6th October, 2001
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Toxic tastes - We humans are funny about the things we eat and drink—and the things we don't. The connection between what we put into our mouths and our sense of well being afterward is so powerful that it doesn't take much to make us turn what once may have been a delectable treat into toxic waste. [more]


Darwinism - In a Little Rock, Arkansas, federal courtroom 20 years ago, Michael Ruse sat at ease in the witness box, gazing fixedly at his inquisitor. A relatively obscure university professor from Canada, Ruse had nonetheless made a name for himself as an ardent defender of Darwinism. [more]


Brain fingerprinting - Lawrence Farwell says he has devised a test that will ascertain whether the suspects have criminal knowledge of the terrorist attack by measuring their brainwaves. He calls it "brain fingerprinting." [more] and [more]


Psychiatric news - From the American Psychiatric Association. [more]


Origin of life - Researchers at the US National Radio Astronomy Laboratory say they have discovered evidence of vinyl alcohol in a cloud of dust and gas near the center of the Milky Way, approximately 26,000 light years from Earth. The key compound for chemical reactions is rare in its concentrated form. [more]


Minorities and genomics - Experts hope DNA research may help close a wide health care gap between blacks and whites, but they also worry insurance companies might engage in "genetic profiling" to drive up rates for minorities. [more]


Bioethics - Peter Singer, a Princeton University bioethicist believes parents should be able to euthanize severely disabled infants who are less than a month old. [more] and [more]


Public understanding of science - For too long it has been assumed that the public is largely ignorant of 'difficult' science. Elitist rubbish, says Colin Tudge. All we need is a fourth estate more aware of its importance. [more]


Drugs - In direct-to-consumer advertisements of prescription drugs, statements about drug benefits are often overblown and misleading, according to a report in the October 6th issue of The Lancet. [more]


Editor's choice Eugenics - The April 1998 issue of Life magazine ran a cover story, complete with a double-helix spanning the length of the page, boldly titled "Were You Born That Way?" The subtitle left no doubt about the answer: "Personality, temperament, even life choices. New studies show it's mostly in your genes.", says Garland E. Allen. [more]


Mental health - More than 450 million people worldwide suffer mental or neurological disorders but many governments are failing to tackle the problem, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday. [more]


Neuroscience - A very particular part of the brain responds to images of the human body, finds Roger Highfield. [more]


Primatology - The latest satellite technology is about to be used to help endangered gorillas in east and central Africa. Earth observation satellites will be used to get up to date information on the gorilla habitat. [more]


Darwinism - "In a recent essay in these pages I argued that "intelligent design"—the theory that cells, organs, and organisms betray unmistakable signs of having been fashioned by a divine hand—bears only a parodic relationship to a research-based scientific movement." says Frederick Crews. [more]


Terrorism - "For the first few days, we worried about more commercial airplanes being hijacked and used as missiles. Now we are worried about a new, more deadly threat: bacteria and viruses raining from the sky over populated areas, infecting and killing millions of people", according to Jeremy Rifkin. [more]


Artificial intelligence - Intelligence analysis software being developed in the US could be used to predict future terrorist attacks, claims the research company making it. [more]


Anthropology - Humans lived within the Arctic Circle tens of thousands of years earlier than previously believed, paleontologists from Norway and Russia report. [more]


Sex therapy - "Psychiatrists and other therapists are obligated by medical ethics not to have sex with their patients, but "surrogate partners" are supposed to - and that simple but loaded dichotomy goes to the heart of the little understood yet much maligned therapeutic practice of sex surrogacy." [more]


Depression - Many women of color suffer depression and stress brought on by persistent racism, gender bias, violence, poverty, big family size and social disadvantages. Yet therapy is rare, access to mental health services is poor and the quality is poor. [more]


Feminization -"In ancient times--by which I mean, before 1950--most scholars agreed that women were, as a rule, not quite equal to men. Women were charming but mildly defective," says Leonard Sax. [more]


Editor's choice Terrorism - What makes young Muslim men turn to terrorism? Leaders such as Osama Bin Laden know just how to distil a deadly fuel from their anger, excess energy and religious devotion, writes Lionel Tiger. [more]


Autism - There is no link between a subtype of autism and a vaccine recommended as part of the standard immunization schedule, according to a new report. [more]


Parenting - Poor parenting could make some children more likely to develop asthma, say scientists. [more]


Pain management - Tens of thousands of people whose chronic physical pain is usually kept in check have suffered setbacks since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, according to pain management specialists across the nation. [more]


Medicine - India's health officials are announcing the launch of a project to map the size of the average penis. [more]


Palaeoanthropology - Why the recovery of the Nariokotome boy is good news for his descendants, the human race. [more]


Archaeology - An archaeologist has found a Stone Age axe in sediment around a 17th century wreck in South Africa. The axe is believed to have been dropped between 300,000 and 1.4 million years ago. [more]


Anxiety - People are shopping for a Mercedes, but not a home. Trips are canceled but weddings aren't. 'Don't be worried just because you're worried,' one expert says. [more]


Myth - Contestants on 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' are mythical heroes following in the footsteps of Odysseus and Heracles, two psychologists say. [more]


Archaeology - A Japanese archaeologist is confessing from his hospital bed to planting fake Paleolithic stone tools at 20 sites across the country. Shinichi Fujimura says the fakes even include one which he had claimed was the world's oldest ' two-part man-made tool. [more]


Genetics - Whatever the textbooks say, there are no single-gene diseases, according to the Canadian geneticist who found one of the first such "single genes." [more]


Comparative psychology - Humans might be forgiven a little despair now as the warplanes gather and terrorists hide. But in the animal world, giving in completely to the dark side is out of the question. [more]


Creationism - Richard Dawkins on the activities of "creation scientists". [more] and [more]


Anthropology - In most societies, women tend to move to their mate's communities rather than vice versa. A new study confirms this has left a mark in local gene pools. [more]


Palaeoanthropology - What did our earliest ancestors look like? Tim White's discoveries in Ethiopia are filling the gaps in the human family tree. [more]


'Deep history' - Unlike most budding paleontologists, Andrew Knoll's fascination with fossils didn't lead him to dinosaurs. Instead, he focused on the first stirrings of life -- the evolution of prehistoric bacteria. [more]


Working memory - Working memory is one of the essential components that makes us human. Whether you are performing a complex task such as playing Beethoven on the piano or just looking up a phone number or driving a car, you are drawing on your working memory. A profile of Patricia Goldman-Rakic. [more]


Developmental psychology - 'By showing just how smart babies are, Elizabeth Spelke rewrote the book on infants and their thinking,' says Steven Pinker. [more]


Male roles - The veteran feminist Doris Lessing says she feels sorry for men. So should we all. With no male role models, boys are already at the margins of society by the time they reach primary school. [more]


Psychoanalysis - For people with mental illness and their families, Freudian psychology has been a catastrophic deterrent to society's understanding of serious brain disorders, and it has postponed our human rights for a century. This should never have happened. [more] and [more]


Neuropsychology - Hi-tech maps of the mind show that computer games are damaging brain development and could lead to children being unable to control violent behaviour. [more] and [more]


'Workplace spirituality' - Talk of soul and spirituality is flowing freely in the workplace these days. Many chief executives are unabashedly defining their companies' business missions in moral terms. [more]

Imaging - Functional brain imaging in humans has revealed task-specific increases in brain activity that are associated with various mental activities. In the same studies, mysterious, task-independent decreases have also frequently been encountered. [more]


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Addiction - People take addictive drugs to elevate mood, but with repeated use these drugs produce serious unwanted effects, which can include tolerance to some drug effects, sensitization to others, and an adapted state — dependence — which sets the stage for withdrawal symptoms when drug use stops. [more]


Schizophrenia - The biology of psychosis. Discover magazine looks at the work of Dolores Malaspina [more]


Depression - A history of depression is associated with earlier onset of perimenopause, according to results of a small study presented at the 12th annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society. [more]


Cortical cartography - It has been known for over a century that sensory and motor areas in the mammalian cerebral cortex contain maps whose topography mirrors the physical arrangement in the body of the sensory inputs or the motor outputs. [more - free registration required]


Primatology - Anyone who's ever been in a jungle, visited a zoo, or watched a talk-show host grapple with a guest lemur knows that there's something unique about primates that seems to capture our imagination. [more - free registration required]


Editor's choice PMS - Treatment of premenstrual syndrome with the hormone progesterone or progestogens (a group of drugs similar to progesterone) is unlikely to be effective, despite the continued popularity of these treatments in the United Kingdom and the United States, concludes a study in this week's British Medical Journal. [more]


Editor's choice Language - UK scientists have identified the first gene involved in the development of speech and language. The discovery could unlock the mystery of speech, a uniquely human characteristic. BBC News Online, The Times, The Guardian, New York Times, Nature commentary by Steven Pinker, Nature, Nature Science Update, Science News, The Independent, Newsmax, Wired News, Associated Press, Washington Post, The Telegraph, The Age, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Steven Pinker in BioMedNet News, Philip Lieberman in the New York Times. SMH.com. DISCUSSION: Larry Trask, Larry Gorbet, Tom Schoenemann, Ian Pitchford, Terry Deacon.


Editor's choice Cave art - A new dating of spectacular prehistoric cave paintings reveals them to be much older than previously thought. BBC News Online, Nature, Scientific American, Science.


Editor's choice Genetics - A small fraction of human genes may not possess discernible orthologues within the genomes of model organisms. [more]


Laughter - Humans have many ways to express themselves, but one of the most enjoyable-and mysterious-is laughter. More than a frivolous emotional outburst, laughter has many important functions in human communication, playing major roles in social situations ranging from dates to diplomatic negotiations. [more] and [more]


Child development - Three-year-olds sometimes look to the correct location but give an incorrect verbal answer in a false belief task. We examined whether correct eye gaze among 3- to 5-year-old children indexed unconscious knowledge or low confidence conscious knowledge. [more]


Evolutionary psychology - "Feminism and evolutionary psychology: can they be reconciled?" by Susan Hurley. [more]


Editor's choice Depression - A study of primates' brains suggests an anti-depressant can counter hippocampal shrinkage caused by stress and depression. Nando Times, Yahoo, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Reuters Health.


Politics - Viewers who watched a supposedly real talk show where two political candidates engaged in a hostile, rude debate showed more negative attitudes toward Congress, politicians - and even the American political system -- than did viewers who watched a more courteous debate. [more]


Editor's choice Depression - Ellen Billet and her colleagues have discovered that levels of the chemical phenylethylamine, similar in structure to amphetamines, increase during a workout and could be the main reason why exercise is such a potent antidepressant. The Times, Reuters Health. The 'European Misery League' [more]


ADHD - Children with ADHD often are given medication such as Ritalin to control the inattention, hyperactivity and poor behavior that characterizes the disorder. A Lehigh University research team will introduce alternative strategies with the goal of reducing the use of medication and preventing more serious problems among children 3- to 5-years-old. [more]


Editor's choice Cognitive neuroscience - Cognitive neuroscientists at the University of Wales, Bangor's School of Psychology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences have identified a new area of the human brain that responds specifically when people view images of the human body. [more]


Modularity - Beware the "Scylla and Charybdis of cognitive neuroscience," warned an American psychologist today. Neuroscientists can't agree on whether the brain uses specific regions to distinguish specific objects, or patterns of activity from different regions. [more]


Editor's choice Addiction - A new study, published in the current (October 2001) issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, provides experimental evidence supporting a neurological explanation for why cues as innocent as the sound of ice cubes tinkling in a glass can cause "recovered" addicts to experience dangerous drug cravings. [more]


Editor's choice Genomic imprinting - The IGF2 gene is not imprinted in primates. Imprinting of the IGF2R gene was lost approximately 70 million years ago. This is the first example of a gene that first acquired and then lost, imprinting. [more], [full text, Human Molecular Genetics  - pdf], [full text, Journal of Comparative Zoology - pdf], Genomic Imprinting.


Smoking - Anger or anxiety may trigger the urge to smoke in some people, according to a new study that suggests emotional smokers may have a harder time quitting. The study also found that men are more likely to smoke when they are angry and women are more likely to smoke when they are happy. [more]


Editor's choice Anthropology - A new species ancestral to later European and African hominines should be named to accommodate such a unique fossil specimen. [more]


Economics - A new model of economic fluctuations suggests that a global recession is indeed imminent - probably worse than that of 1990-91 - and that forecasters should have spotted it a year ago. [more]


Editor's choice Cloning - Humans could be technically easier to clone than sheep, cows, pigs and mice because humans possess a genetic benefit that prevents fetal overgrowth, a major obstacle encountered in cloning animals, according to new research by Duke University Medical Center scientists. [more]


Memory - People in their 20s don't usually complain about forgetting names or phone numbers, or having trouble learning something new. But that's when memory and mental energy first start to decline, according to psychologist Denise Park. [more]


Sexual behaviour - Nearly one in three young men who have sex with men had had unprotected anal sex with a man in the past 3 months, and nearly one in five had also had sex with a woman, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta. [more]


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Sociology - A widespread belief among the American public is that schools no longer "teach values" -- or that they only teach values concerned with contemporary interests in cultural diversity. [more]


Editor's choice Neuroscience - Professional musicians use their left brain more than other people when listening to music, a magnetic-resonance study suggests. Musicians, unlike others, may process music much as a language, the result hints. [more]


Genetics - The centromeres of chromosomes -- considered by some to be the genomic equivalent of black holes -- may hold the answers to many scientific questions, according Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Steven Henikoff. [more]

Fundamentalism and terrorism - Under what circumstances and with what rationale do people kill and maim one another and, in particular, innocent people and children, in the name of a higher cause? This has recently occurred in Oklahoma City, Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi, former Yugoslavia and, of course, New York and Washington. [more]


Editor's choice 'Science, Knowledge and Humanity' -  A major series of public debates about the future prospects for human innovation and progress, organized by the London-based Institute of Ideas and New York's Wolfson Center for National Affairs at the New School University. [more]


Editor's choice Psychiatry - Andrew Solomon reviews Out of Its Mind: Psychiatry in Crisis: A Call for Reform by J. Allan Hobson and Jonathan A. Leonard. [more] [first chapter]

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Science - Robert Matthews reviews The One Culture? A conversation about science edited by Jay A. Labinger and Harry Collins. [more]

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Primatology - Adrian Barnett reviews Primate Taxonomy (Smithsonian Series in Comparative Evolutionary Biology) by Colin P. Groves. [more]

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Human evolution - Douglas Palmer reviews Meat-Eating and Human Evolution edited by Craig Stanford and Henry Bunn. [more]
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Religion and science - Jeff Dahms reviews Russell Stannard's The God Experiment - Can Science Prove the Existence of God? [more] Reconciling Science and Religion: The debate in early twentieth-century Britain by Peter Bowler. [more]


Editor's choice Social cognitive neuroscience - Hollywood's Sunset Strip has often been the stomping ground of rising stars and glitterati. It was no different earlier this year, when 250 social psychologists, cognitive neuroscientists, brain mappers, neuropsychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and economists descended on the Hyatt West Hollywood for the inaugural Social Cognitive Neuroscience conference. [more]


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Scientific information - We would like to introduce you to Scirus, a free search engine that locates scientific information on the Internet. Scirus delivers relevant search results because it focuses on scientific information only, indexes complete documents, searches the whole Web including access-controlled sites, and reads non-text files like PDF. [more]


Biology - Peter Medawar (1973) reviews Darwin and His Critics: The Reception of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by the Scientific Community by David L. Hull. [more]


Religion - John Polkinghorne reviews Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer. [more]

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Genome - James Brody reviews Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley. [more]

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