News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 30 - 20th October, 2001

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Editor's choice Psychiatry - The latest news from the American Psychiatric Association. [more]

Ethics - At last, an experiment has proven baboons have abstract reasoning. Will people use theirs now and stop the experiments, asks Erin Tennant. [more]

Archaeology - A Gallic Stonehenge may be a vital link in evolution, finds Sanjida O'Connell. [more]

Computers - IBM has unveiled an ambitious initiative to develop technologies that share the basic biological abilities of living organisms. [more]

Archaeology - Rare Neolithic stone carvings depicting sailing ships, animals and fish have been discovered on the Aegean island of Andros, the Greek Culture Ministry said on Thursday. [more]

Panic - In 1962 at a North Carolina textile factory, a worker reported being bitten by a poisonous insect and becoming sick. Within a week, 62 other workers claimed they too had been bitten, and exhibited symptoms of rashes and nausea. The bug didn't exist. [more]

Mechanical minds - New approaches with enormous potential to radically improve the treatment of brain disorders are being developed. [more]

Depression - Depression is twice as common among adolescent and adult females as among their male counterparts, but the reason why has not yet been fully explained. [more]

Editor's choice Genomics - Why does a worm need nearly as many genes as a man? [more]

Prejudice - Few things have done more harm than the belief on the part of individuals or groups (or tribes or states or nations or churches) that he or she or they are in sole possession of the truth. [more]

"Reason and wildness" - E.O. Wilson, author of ''Consilience,'' influential naturalist, and one of the world's best-known scientists, championed the power of the human mind to escape the limitations of our unaided senses and achieve something approximating objective truth. [more]

Transcranial magnetic stimulation - It seems like voodoo, but altering electrical currents in the brain may help treat depression, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease. [more]

Parenting - Researchers say spoiled children are more likely to have brilliant working careers. [more]

Editor's choice Suicide - Suicides in the German city of Nuremberg plunged 40% in the first 9 months of 2001 compared with a year ago, and at least part of that success can be attributed to a research project designed to detect and treat depression. [more]

Genetic algorithms - Software that simulates genetic evolution can improve the coverage provided by a network of low orbiting satellites. [more]

Artificial intelligence - This week could be designated the week of artificial intelligence. The Loebner prize has been up for grabs over the weekend, IBM and Microsoft are due to make important announcements next week on speech recognition, a conference has been announced on the future of business computing to mark the 50th anniversary of LEO and Captain Cyborg has been hitting the headlines again. [more]

Stress debriefing - A workplace shooting, a terrorist attack: Sometimes crises overwhelm us emotionally, and it's time to turn to emergency health care workers trained in stress debriefing. [more]

Human genetics - Researchers from all over the world are reporting their findings on HIV-resistant gene mutations, language ancestry, gene patenting and more this week at the American Society of Human Genetics' 51st annual meeting in San Diego. [more]

Plasticity - Do genes determine your brain’s abilities, or can you retrain the brain to overcome inherited problems, such as helping a learning-impaired child to read? Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich has proved that special training, targeting specific brain regions, can help some children with dyslexia and other language-related disabilities to learn. [more] and [more]

Genetics - Why do genes causing seriously nasty diseases still lurk in many people's DNA? If the ailments these genes cause are that bad (and they are), you'd think the mighty forces of evolution would have stomped on them and spat 'em out long ago. [more]

Neuroscience - A conversation at a Gratton family picnic several years ago helped lead to a new way of looking at what the brain is doing - using lasers. [more]

Genetics - For decades, scientists have believed that most of the genes on one of a woman's 2 X chromosomes are turned off, with few exceptions. But the number of genes that escape this inactivation is far greater than expected. [more]

Electroconvulsive therapy - Shock treatments find new role in psychiatry - Controversial practice updated as treatment for severe depression. [more] and [more]

Profile - Professor David Perrett, 47, has spent much of his career researching an interest that began with his PhD at Oxford on primate responses to the face. In the late 1980s he started focusing on face perception in humans. [more]

Anxiety - More Americans are taking anti-anxiety drugs in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and new prescriptions for such medications have increased sharply in the New York and Washington areas, according to new data. [more] and [more]

Laughter therapy - With the nation unnerved by terrorist attacks, it's a tough time to be in the laughter business. But Steve Wilson is undeterred. [more]

Editor's choice Memory - Does coming from a family full of "lefties" tend to make a person better at remembering events? The data from two recent experiments answer in the affirmative. What's more, psychologists may finally be able to explain why kids don't remember events until they are about four years old. [more]

Development, genes, and immunity - Hormonal changes during physiological development can alter immune response to viruses and infections. [more]

Sociology - The heavier white working women are, the less money they make, a Cornell University researcher's study concludes. [more] and [more]

ADHD - While some Internet sites advise parents that stimulants have the same effect on children as adults, new research on mice indicates this is not the case. Researchers conclude that further differentiation must be made based on gender. [more]

Autoimmune disorders - Researchers find that hormones and X-chromosomal genes may play a role in gender-specific susceptibility to endocrine disorders. [more]

Addiction - Estrogen appears to counteract the addictive drug’s restriction of blood flow to the brain. These findings may also lead to treatments for age-associated blood flow abnormalities. [more]

Language - Gender and differing rates of brain activity influence the level of reading and language skills for boys and girls. [more]

Nutrition - New research identifies why men and women may differ in food choices. The physiological response of the vagus nerve can dictate taste and digestive reactions to food. A study suggests that gender is a major factor in how the nerve functions. [more]

Aggression - Aggressive behavior in boys and men is not a learned behavior. Reduced levels of a vasoconstrictor triggers physiological processes leading to fighting, biting, and scratching. [more], [more] and [more]

Editor's choice Sexual reproduction - Ever wondered why you bother to have sex? Probably not, but there does appear to be an actual biological basis behind why you are a sexual organism. WebMD, Science, Eurekalert, The Independent, News 24.

Editor's choice Terrorism - The long term psychological implications of a chemical or biological terrorist attack may be more damaging than any acute physical effects. [more]

Editor's choice Psychiatry - Ten years ago, psychiatrists rated black male patients as potentially more violent than white patients. A study in this week's British Medical Journal asks does such racial stereotyping
still occur? [more] and [more]

Editor's choice Epilepsy - A strict high-fat, low-carbohydrate, calorie-restricted diet reduces seizures in children with intractable epilepsy. So concludes the largest and longest trial of an eating plan that was first suggested almost a century ago. [more]

Human genome - A report from this week’s San Diego Meeting of the American Society for Human Genetics, shows the unfolding mouse genome is helping to close gaps in the human genome sequence. [more]

Child development - Pregnant women who cut down their smoking instead of quitting need to reach low levels of exposure in order to improve infant birth weight, a US study team reports in the October 15th issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. [more]

Neuroscience - Growing fat cells and nerve cells in the same dish has produced what is believed to be the first demonstration of two-way communication between the cell types, say Johns Hopkins scientists. [more]

Psychology - Researchers at Texas A&M University conducted a detailed study of challenging outdoor activities and how they can often reduce stress and improve self-confidence and create a positive mental outlook. [more]

Neuroscience - Current efforts to study the genetics of higher functions have been lacking appropriate phenotypes to describe cognition. One of the problems is that many cognitive concepts for which there is a single word (e.g. attention) have been shown to be related to several anatomical networks. [more]

Alcoholism - Previous research found that a gene variant of the neuropeptide Y (NPY) was linked with higher average alcohol consumption. A new study has found a higher prevalence of the NPY variant among social drinkers than among alcoholics. [more]

Sleep - The increase in functional connectivity during post-training rapid-eye-movement sleep suggests that the brain areas reactivated during post-training rapid-eye-movement sleep participate in the optimization of the network that subtends subject's visuo–motor response. [more]

Substance abuse - The Harvard Twin Study of Substance Abuse: What We Have Learned. [more]

Social insects and selfish genes - Ant colonies are often seen as a model for cooperation for the 'greater good'. Yet, if you take a closer look, it becomes clear that it is benefit to the individual (or the 'selfish gene') that drives the system. The ensuing conflicts often result in death – with workers killing their brothers and nephews. [more]

Editor's choice Evolutionary developmental psychology - Like 'evo-devo' more generally, EDP recognizes that selection builds systems that develop in an environment, not phenotypes that are transmitted. The nature of evolutionary dynamics is a function of the nature of development. It is argued that EDP allows a more productive integration of the role of the environment in psychological development into evolutionary psychology than has so far been achieved by EPM. [more]

Editor's choice Antisocial personality disorder - The role of the orbitofrontal cortex. [more]

Connectionism - Connectionism and the Mind: Parallel Processing Dynamics and Evolution edited by William Bechtel and Adele Abrahamsen. [more]
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Editor's choice Terrorism - The School of Social Work at the University at Buffalo has developed a website that offers online information and resources for those who are having personal difficulty coping with the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and its aftermath. [more]

Ethics - D John Doyle reviews Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer. [more]

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Mental illness - Sean A Spence reviews Angelhead: My Brother's Descent into Madness by Greg Bottoms. [more]

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Gesture - First Congress of the International Society for Gesture Studies, University of Texas at Austin, June 5 - 8, 2002. [more]

Language - Language Development: The Essential Readings edited by Elizabeth Bates and Michael Tomasello. [more]
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Biography - Fred Pearce reviews A Life of Sir Francis Galton by Nicholas Wright Gillham. [more]

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Eugenics - Alun Anderson reviews In Our Own Image: Eugenics and the genetic modification of people by David Galton. [more]

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History - Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science by Deborah Cadbury. [more]

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The hand - John F. Soechting reviews The Psychobiology of the Hand edited by Kevin J. Connolly. [more]
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History - Emma Darwin: the inspirational wife of a genius, by Edna Healey. [more]

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Genetics - Geneticists rise to Mendel's defense. [more]

Evolution - The Meaning of Evolution: Evidence of Purpose in Biological and Cultural History. A public lecture and panel discussion with Robert Wright, author of Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny. Thursday, 25 October, 7:00 pm, Emmanuel College Room 001. [more]

Evolutionary psychology - Frank Zoretich looks at The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature by Geoffrey Miller. [more]

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