News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 33 - 10th November, 2001
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Hypochondria - Hypochondria is often the brunt of many jokes, but experts say it is a real and treatable disorder. [more]


Editor's choice Child development - Exposure to environmental pollutants in a mother's blood and breast milk can hinder the development of a baby's brain before and after birth, research shows. BBC News Online, Reuters.



Creationism - Alabama is maintaining its distinction as the only state where biology textbooks include a sticker warning students that evolution is a "controversial theory" they should question. ABC News, Nando Times, New York Times.


Science - The New York Academy of Sciences announced yesterday that its president and chief executive, Rodney W. Nichols, would leave at the end of the year. Mr. Nichols's efforts to reshape the academy, including closing its award-winning magazine The Sciences and putting its elegant headquarters on East 63rd Street up for sale, roiled the institution in recent months. [more]


Season of birth - Sports scientists say boys born during certain months of the year are more likely to become professional footballers. [more]


Posttraumatic stress disorder - The US government has given the go-ahead for an experiment involving the use of the club drug Ecstasy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. [more] and [more] DISCUSSION: Martha E. Shenton, John Brown, Jim Goodwin, Roger Lass, Ian Pitchford.


Parenting - Babies who miss out on regular baths by their father are more likely to grow up with social problems, a survey has revealed. [more] DISCUSSION: Dorothy Tennov.


Editor's choice Mathematics - What is this much-invoked thing called the axiom of choice? Is it really devoid of political significance, as Sokal and Bricmont claim? Or could it turn out to pack an ideological punch beyond the imagination of even the most wild-eyed Left Bank postmodern theorist? [more]


Philosophy - A University of Chicago philosopher has won one of five $1.5 million awards given for the first time to encourage humanities scholarship--chronically in danger of being pushed aside as elitist and impractical in a scientific, money-minded world. [more]


Cognitive neuroscience - Money, drugs and beautiful women appear to have something in common when it comes to young men: The sight of a beautiful woman triggers virtually the same brain response in men as cocaine and cash do. [more]


Psychotherapy - There Are Only Three Kinds of Psychotherapy. Dr. Genova offers the antidote to the complexities of manualized and proceduralized psychotherapy that have arisen in imitation of procedural, technology-driven medicine. Supportive, directive and relational types of therapy and their correlation with various power structures within the doctor-patient relationship are described. [more]


Psychiatry - How can psychiatrists properly define and diagnose culture-bound syndromes? Are folk illnesses truly illnesses, or are they just behavior patterns endemic to a particular culture? [more]


Helplessness - The way stressful events affect the body may depend on whether those subjected to the stress can do anything to change the situation, a new study suggests. [more]


Schizophrenia - Is schizophrenia a retroviral disease? by Chittaranjan Andrade. [more]


Editor's choice Mental health - The notion that people with mental illness can never adequately deal with their problems is false, a report suggests. The mental health charity Mind interviewed people who had been diagnosed with various types of mental illness including depression, schizophrenia, manic depression and post traumatic stress disorder. They found more than half (57%) of the 970 people questioned said they felt they had 'recovered', or were coping with some kind of support. [more]


Posttraumatic stress disorder - The introduction of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into psychiatric nosology has brought about a great deal of insight as well as controversy. Have complex clinical manifestations of PTSD created a need for further clarification of the disorder? [more]


Population - The United Nations says developed countries are not paying their share of controlling world population growth. BBC News Online, Nando Times.


Psychiatry - ''In the Psychiatrist's Chair' with Anthony Clare. [audio]


Language - Is language something we are born with, or is it something we learn in the first few years of life? [more] DISCUSSION: Larry Trask, Timothy Mason, Brain Chandler.


Psychiatry - In identifying the essence of mental disorders, the current focus is on the symptoms, as described in DSM-IV. Are there other valid ways of identification, such as through the study of psychological life and its influences on a patient? [more]


Editor's choice Genetics - Elementary, my dear Watson, the clue is in the genes - or is it? A summary of the lecture delivered yesterday by Annette Karmiloff-Smith, from the Neurocognitive Development Unit at the Institute of Child Health, UCL, at the British Academy. [more]


Trauma - For Elizabeth Bakalar, left, and Zoë Risutto, just hearing an airplane or stepping out of a subway station can be a haunting reminder of Sept. 11. Elizabeth Bakalar and Zoë Risutto both ran for their lives on the morning of Sept. 11, fleeing their office a few blocks from the World Trade Center. [more]


Psychotherapy - A US court says that patients cannot be prosecuted for expressing homicidal thoughts. Counselors praise decision, but some in law enforcement say it stymies them. [more]


Mental health - A plan newly passed by the Senate to broaden health insurance coverage for mental illness has touched off an intense lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill as advocates for the mentally ill try to eliminate restrictions on care. [more]


Memory - Research by German neuroscientists, due out over the weekend, is a "landmark" in understanding how memories are formed in the human brain, says Anthony Wagner, assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [more]


Editor's choice Terrorism - A radically different perspective on the "war against terror" from long-standing critic of Western policy Noam Chomsky. [more]


Mental health - More than one million New Yorkers may need mental health help due to Sept. 11. The staff of Mt. Sinai Medical Center on New York City's Upper East Side, like those at many mental health clinics here these days, is stretched thin. [more]


Psychology of terrorism - Unravelling the causes of civil wars may hold the key to understanding and destroying Al-Qaeda, says Nicholas Lemann. [more]


Newsletter archive - To promote ease of access the Newsletter is now archived at Yahoo.


Parenting - Lydia James, who died last week, wrote Britain's first ever parenting column in The Observer in the 1960s. Here her son, the psychologist and author, pays tribute. [more]


Education - ‘Where are the boys?’’ This, and many other probing questions were discussed at a three-day International Seminar on Learning and Motivation held in Penang recently. [more]


Mental illness - The number of Ugandans suffering from mental disorders and nervous breakdowns has shot up in the recent past because of the endless wars, psychosocial stress and poverty, among others, the Director of Butabika Mental Hospital has said. [more]


Editor's choice Women and creativity - "Every now and then I get a letter from someone who demands that I tell him why no female Shakespeare has emerged. He usually goes on to demonstrate to his own satisfaction that women are no good at anything and will never be any good at anything," writes Germaine Greer. [more]


Science and religion - "Religion is a subcategory of supernaturalism that was formulated during the medieval period with the spurious and dangerous quest to link supernaturalism with scientific knowledge, and this quest has continued," says Jacob Pandian. [more]

Memory - Although people effortlessly remember all sorts of everyday events, scientists are struggling to explain how the brain makes this possible. In two critical brain areas, such memory may hinge more on the timing than on the strength of neural activity, according to a team of neuroscientists. [more]


Language - Familial Handedness and Access to Words, Meaning, and Syntax during Sentence Comprehension. [more]


Editor's choice Violence - Increasing the intensity of treatment does not reduce the level of violence in patients with severe mental illness. British Medical Journal, BMJ Editorial, BBC News Online.


Movement - Max Planck Researchers disprove twenty years old doctrine. Movements are coordinated by way of perception and perceptual imagery, and not in the motoric system. [more]


Depression - A new study shows that a partner's employment status may be more of a factor in depression than once thought. [more]


Editor's choice Beauty - From ancient mythology to modern advertising, the face of a beautiful woman has been regarded as a powerful motivator of men's behavior. Now a group of researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has shown that, while heterosexual men recognize attractiveness in both female and male faces, they will expend effort to increase their viewing of attractive female faces only. Eurekalert, Neuron, Ananova, Neuron (alternative site).


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Experimental psychology - Two British scientists are preparing to take advantage of the popularity of "reality TV" to recreate a notorious psychology experiment in which students played the roles of prisoners and guards. Science.


Memory - Cholesterol plays a crucial role in making sure that the brain works properly. The compound is notorious for clogging up the arteries, leading to heart disease and stroke. BBC News Online, Eurekalert.


Autism - As a part of the inaugural International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) conference, four prominent autism scientists will identify the current level of understanding in the areas of genetics, neuroscience, the incidences (or epidemiological trends) and diagnosis of autism and present a look at where the fields are headed. [more]


Olfaction - Smell is perhaps the most exquisitely sensitive and complex of all the senses, and it has also been the most perplexing for scientists to decipher. Researchers have wondered, for example, how small amounts of a particular chemical can smell enticing, while large amounts of the same chemical are overpowering. Now, researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at Harvard Medical School and colleagues from Japan have solved one of olfactory research’s biggest puzzles: How can the nose – with a relatively small number of olfactory receptors – have the sensitivity to discriminate roughly 10,000 different odors? Press release, Nature


Consciousness - The Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 8, Number 11, November 2001. [more]


Neuroscience - Research on components of the brain's electrical signaling system has answered a basic question about our human evolution, confirming scientific belief that we two-legged, computer-using creatures are descended from prokaryotes -- cellular organisms so primitive and simple that they exist without nuclei or cell walls. [more]


Editor's choice Animal cognition - New studies have revealed that sheep can remember up to 50 sheep faces as well as familiar human faces, such as their shepherd. BBC News Online, Nature, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, CNN.


Eugenics - The eugenics movement was initiated by Sir Francis Galton, a Victorian scientist. [more]


Psychopathy - Violence has been attributed to many causes including mental illness, brain damage, child abuse, and social deprivation. This article provides a brief overview of some recent work on sociopathy and psychopathy and argues that models of violence, and explanations of violent acts such as rape and homicide, need to accommodate the possibility that a large proportion of such acts are committed by individuals whose psychology is very different to that of the general population. [more]


Editor's choice Human evolution - An emerging set of archaeological evidence may answer a key question in the human origins debate by providing proof that not only did early Homo sapiens come "out of Africa," as Homo erectus did, but that they came out fully modern, with fully developed modern behaviors that had evolved much earlier than previously thought. Press release, The Independent, Journal of Human Evolution, BBC News Online, Nando Times, Scientific American.


Editor's choice Archaeology - Researchers using techniques of magnetostratigraphy have determined that a rock formation in Israel called Erk-el-Ahmar is between 1.7 million and 2.0 million years old, making the hominid tools and artifacts discovered there perhaps the oldest in the world outside of Africa. Eurekalert, Map of site, The Oregonian.


Editor's choice Communication - The "costly signaling" hypothesis proposes that animal signals are kept honest by appropriate signal costs. We show that to the contrary, signal cost is unnecessary for honest signaling even when interests conflict. [more]


Consciousness - PSYCHE is soliciting commentaries and articles for a special issue of the journal dedicated to an exploration of the fringe of consciousness and related experiences. [more]


Primatology - The genetic structure of three contiguous wild chimpanzee communities in West Africa was examined to determine the extent to which the community, the mixed-sex social unit of chimpanzees, represents a closed reproductive unit. [more]


Editor's choice Mental imagery - It is generally accepted that there is something special about reasoning that uses mental images. The question of how it is special, however, has never been satisfactorily spelled out, despite over thirty years of research in the post-behaviorist tradition. [more]


Language - Where do spoken words come from? How speakers select appropriate words and prepare them for articulation. [more]


Editor's choice Global warming - Mosquitoes are holing up later as winters get warmer, US ecologists have shown. This is the first genetic adaptation to global warming to be identified. Less flexible animals could face extinction, they warn. Nature Science Update, BioMedNet.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - The popular perception may be that parents clamor to put their children on stimulant medications such as Ritalin at the first sign of hyperactive behavior. But a new University of Florida study has found that many parents actually are quite frightened of drug therapy. [more]


Editor's choice Intelligence - UCLA brain mapping researchers have created the first images to show how an individual’s genes influence their brain structure and intelligence. The team found that the amount of gray matter in the frontal parts of the brain is determined by the genetic make-up of an individual’s parents, and strongly correlates with that individual’s cognitive ability, as measured by intelligence test scores. Eurekalert, Images, Ananova, The Independent, BBC News Online, New York Times, Sky, Reuters, The Daily Californian, New Scientist, Scientific American, National Geographic, Robert Plomin and Stephen M. Kosslyn.



Editor's choice Genius - Canadian scientists looking into the DNA of children with a rare disease called Williams syndrome say it  is possible they have discovered a new genetic mechanism that endows people with special gifts, such as musical talent and mathematical brilliance. [more]


Editor's choice Longevity - Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease may be attenuated through the use of certain drugs, known as synthetic catalytic scavengers of reactive oxygen species. [more]


Consciousness - There are now various approaches to understand where and how in the brain consciousness arises from neural activity, none of which is universally accepted. [more]


Multiple personalities - Toward an Etiology of Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Neurodevelopmental Approach.  Kelly A. Forrest. [more]


Asperger's syndrome - DSM-IV criteria for autistic and Asperger's disorders were applied to 157 children with clinical diagnoses of autism or Asperger's disorder. All children met the DSM-IV criteria for autistic disorder and none met criteria for Asperger's disorder. [more]

Intellectuals - Mark Lilla, a professor at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, recently published "The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics," about how writers and intellectuals have ended up justifying communism, fascism and other tyrannies. Eric Alterman spoke with him. [more]

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Science - Loren Graham reviews The Age of Science  What Scientists Learned in the 20th Century by Gerard Piel. [more]

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Ethics - Jerome Young reviews Ethical Conflicts in Psychology edited by Donald N. Bersoff. [more]

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Philosophy - Talia Welsh The Soul Knows No Bars: Inmates Reflect on Life, Death, and Hope by Drew Leder. [more]
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Terrorism - ASAP (SPSSI's new on-line journal) will publish a special feature on terrorism and its consequences.  The feature which consists of 15 empirical papers by behavioral, cognitive, social, and community psychologists will be published on our web site by the end of November at the latest. [more]


Philosophy - Majid Amini reviews Coherence in Thought and Action by Paul Thagard. [more]

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Editor's choice Genetics - Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith FBA will be live on the Guardian Website on Tuesday November 13th at 3pm to discuss her British Academy lecture: Elementary, my dear Watson, the clue is in the genes . . . or is it? [more]


Psychotherapy - Frances Gillespie reviews Of Mice and Metaphors: Therapeutic Storytelling with Children by Jerrold R. Brandell. [more]

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History - Gale Stokes reviews The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David S. Landes. [more]

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Self - Peter B. Raabe reviews Models of the Self edited by Shaun Gallagher and Jonathan Shear. [more]

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Violence - James Marren reviews Preventing Violence by James Gilligan. [more]

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Work - Michael Kurak reviews Good Work: Where Ethics and Excellence Meet by Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon. [more]
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Therapy - Prem Dana Takada reviews Favourite Counseling and Therapy Homework Assignments: Leading Therapists Share Their Most Creative Strategies by Howard G. Rosenthal. [more]

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History - Stephen Howe reviews Why the West has Won by Victor Davis Hanson. [more]
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Science and Beliefs - From Natural History to Natural Science (1700-1900). St. John's College, University of Durham 12-13 September 2002. This conference seeks to explore the 'beliefs' in Britain that transformed eighteenth century natural  philosophy into nineteenth century natural 'science'. [more]


Bipolar disorder - Anne Philbrow reviews Agents in My Brain: How I Survived Manic Depression by Bill Hannon. [more]

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Emotion - Richard Wollheim reviews Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions by Martha C. Nussbaum. [more]

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Love - Michael Bader reviews A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Richard Lannon and Earl Amini. [more]

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Darwinism - Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? The Relationship Between Science and Religion by Michael Ruse reviewed by John F. Haught, R.D. Kernohan, Stephen J. Pope.

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Consciousness - Josh Weisberg reviews The Significance of Consciousness by Charles Siewert. [more]
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Male, Female - Paul Okami reviews Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences by David C. Geary. [more]

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Rape - Todd K. Shackelford reviews A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion by Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer. [more]

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