News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 37 - 8th December, 2001

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Editor's choice Stress - "We live in a world filled with stress," says Huda Akil, the new president elect of the Society for Neuroscience, and she has made a career understanding how our brain deals with it. [more]

Anthropology - The American Anthropological Association's preliminary report on Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon received its first public hearing Friday -- and its contents proved less controversial than the fact that it was released at all. [more] and [more]. Preliminary Report of the AAA El Dorado Task Force. [more]

"Global consciousness" - Researchers say computers set up to generate random numbers produced a mysterious pattern on September 11. They say it may be evidence of a global consciousness which affected the world around us. [more]

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Human genome - The sequence of the human genome tells us as much about how cells operate as a cookbook describes what people eat. We know which ingredients are used and how they are grouped, but the book doesn’t tell us which recipes are popular, when the meals are served, or how much is eaten. [more]

Gossip - A study into the evolution and effects of gossip found that it was an inherent need in order to maintain our social, psychological and physical well-being and that the mobile phone was the primary way of satisfying that need. [more]

Stress - Men are programmed to react badly under pressure, according to a study. Researchers have discovered that male fetuses release more of the stress hormone cortisol in the womb than females when stressed. [more]

Neuroscience - In contrast to previous findings, researchers have failed to detect signs that adult monkeys continually add new neurons to a region of the brain called the neocortex. [more]

Neuroimaging - A group of brain cartographers is creating the most detailed and sophisticated computer atlas of the human brain ever assembled. [more]

Autism - Autism is a disabling and alienating disorder, cutting sufferers off from normal human contact, but milder forms have probably helped successful scientists and artists to achieve the isolation they need to do their best work. [more]

Mental health - Severe mental illness tears up American families, forcing far too many to choose between treatment for their loved ones and bankruptcy. But many insurers that cover physical diseases such as cancer and kidney stones deny coverage for equally debilitating and hard-wired mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. "All too often," Domenici says, "insurers discriminate against illnesses of the brain." [more]

Addiction - Lines of evidence are converging in support of the popular theory in addiction research: that a common mechanism links intake of different kinds of addictive drugs with the orbitofrontal cortex, which is the seat of compulsive behavior and "go-no-go" decision-making. [more]

Schizophrenia - Mass murderer Edward Charles Allaway says he has recovered completely from schizophrenia and is ready to live a normal life. If so, mental health experts said, he is a rare exception. [more] DISCUSSION: Max Molinaro.

Public understanding of science - Two thirds of Europeans say they are not well informed about scientific issues, and almost half the population doesn't even want to be informed. [more]

Neuroscience - Unexpected and counterintuitive new evidence linking a deficit in adult neurogenesis with enhanced memory may well turn the "new neurons for new memories" hypothesis on its head, says Harvard neurologist Rudolph Tanzi. [more]

Evolution - A profile of Ernst Mayr. [more]

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Mental illness - Psychiatry involves theories of the mind, theories of the causes of mental disorders, classification schemes for those disorders, research about the disorders, proven treatments and research into new treatments, and a number of professions whose job it is to work with or on behalf of people with mental disorders. [more]

Neuroscience - What does your brain look like while it's deciding between buying a bicycle or a camera, taking a warm bath or having dinner, eating a slice of chocolate cake or apple pie? [more]

Left-handedness - Considered evil, awkward, unhygienic or mentally retarded, children who showed signs of left-handedness were beaten. Their left hands were tied behind their backs or slapped with rulers so they would have to use their right hand. [more]

Depression - For years, the buzzword in the treatment of depression has been serotonin, the brain chemical that helps regulate moods. Wildly popular antidepressants such as Prozac were designed to keep serotonin in the bloodstream, often providing impressive relief for many of the 19 million Americans diagnosed with depression. [more]

Neuroscience - Neuroscientists have not found any evidence that adult primates are able to create new neurons in the most sophisticated part of the brain, the neocortex, according to the results of a study published in today's issue of the journal Science. [more]

Social psychology - When it comes to predicting whether or not a heterosexual romantic relationship is going to last, the female partner's friends seem to be particularly astute, according to new study findings. [more]

Neuroscience - For decades, biologists believed that brain cells didn't regenerate. But over the past several years, researchers from a handful of laboratories across the country, including Elizabeth Gould's lab at Princeton University, proved this opinion to be wrong. Indeed, up to 5,000 new cells are generated in the hippocampus every day, says Tracey Shors, behavioral neuroscientist and associate professor at Rutgers University, and a coauthor on this Hot Paper. [more]

Longevity - Two University of California, Davis researchers propose that, among humans and other social species, a long life span is a desirable trait that has developed through the evolutionary process. In fact, their model of longevity suggests that long life spans among social species offer benefits conducive to even longer life spans in successive generations. Extension of the life span is a "self-reinforcing" process, they propose. [more]

Homosexuality - A researcher from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has observed homosexual behavior among orangutans in Sumatra, marking the first time scientists have witnessed this activity among wild populations of these critically endangered great apes. Eurekalert, Ananova.

Editor's choice Schizophrenia - The rate of schizophrenia among people from non-white ethnic groups rises as the proportion of these groups fall in the local population. British Medical Journal, BBC News Online, The Guardian.

Violence - For years researchers have debated whether social exclusion and rejection caused aggressiveness or resulted from it. Now new study findings, as well as anecdotal evidence from the recent series of school shootings across America, suggest that social exclusion or rejection may indeed lead to aggressive behavior, as well as violence. [more]

Mental illness - More than 60 percent of individuals with serious mental illness may not be receiving treatment, and contrary to previous research, the rural mentally ill are more likely to get treatment than their urban counterparts, according to a new study. [more]

Editor's choice Language - Individuals who have been blind from birth use different parts of their brain when reading Braille than those who lost their sight early in life … a difference that sheds new light on the relationship between thought and language. [more]

Depression - Teenagers are notorious for being moody or having "the blues." Research has shown that half of all teenagers experience depression, and at least 5 percent suffer from major depression that interferes with home, school and social life and may lead to suicidal behaviors. [more]

Editor's choice Autism - Autistic preschoolers have larger-than-normal brains, can't distinguish emotions from facial photographs Preschool-age children with autism exhibit no difference in brain activity when they are shown photographs of faces displaying different emotions, and their brains are larger than normal, according to new research at the University of Washington's Autism Center. [more] Children with autism appear to have a higher-than-average risk of epilepsy, suggesting that the two share a common brain abnormality, researchers report. [more]

Development - Babies born small at full term may show different temperament characteristics than normal-weight babies, according to a study that also found that the way a baby's mother responds to this sometimes-troublesome behavior can affect infant development. [more]

Editor's choice Pain - Scientists have found that areas of the brain which respond to feelings of pleasure also react to the sensation of pain. The findings could lead to a better understanding of the effects of pain within the brain and to new ways to diagnose and treat pain. BBC News Online, Eurekalert. DISCUSSION: Timo Jarvilehto.

Editor's choice Archaeology - More than 70,000 years ago, people occupied a cave in a high cliff facing the Indian Ocean at the tip of South Africa. They hunted grysbok, springbok and other game. They ate fish from the waters below them. In body and brain size, these cave dwellers were definitely anatomically modern humans. [more] and [more]

Genetics - Researchers are beginning to understand to what extent our genetic makeup affects our physical abilities. They are also zeroing in on particular genes that might have an influence on sporting prowess. [more]

Memory - Scientists have found that existing memories may be erased in our brain by a process that involves the generation of new neurons. This clearance might be important to “make room” for the acquisition of new memories. The results are reported in today's issue of Neuron. UniSci, Nature Science Update.

Editor's choice Adolescence and evolution - Our early ancestors never went through the awkward age, suggests a new analysis of dental records. Extended youth may have emerged relatively late in human evolution. Nature Science Update, UniSci, Yahoo, BBC News Online, Eurekalert, National Geographic, MSNBC, Discovery, Scientific American, New Scientist.


Ancestry - Your ancestors didn't travel to the New World on the Mayflower? Not listed in Burke's Peerage and Baronetage? No worries, mate. For a couple of hundred bucks, Oxford Ancestors, a new British biotech company, will add cachet to your lineage by extending it back at least 10,000 years. You may be more of a blueblood than you know, a long-lost cousin to royalty. [more]

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Race - Alan Wolfe reviews Race Experts: How Racial Etiquette, Sensitivity Training, and New Age Therapy Hijacked the Civil Rights Revolution by Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn. [more]

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Evolutionary psychology - Human Nature and the Limits of Science. John Dupré on why science can't have all the answers. [more] DISCUSSION: Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair.

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Primatology - Jim Dawson reviews The Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans B. M. de Waal. [more]

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Language - John H. McWhorter reviews The Atoms of Language: The Mind's Hidden Rules of Grammar by Mark C. Baker. [more]

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Psychiatry - Charles C. Engel reviews A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Twentieth Century by Ben Shephard. [more]

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Medicine - Judith L. Rapoport reviews PC, M. D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine by Sally Satel. [more]

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Contraception - Elizabeth Barrett-Connor reviews Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill by Lara Marks. [more]

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Neuroscience - The Brain-Shaped Mind: What the Brain Can Tell Us About the Mind by Naomi Goldblum. [more]

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Antisocial behaviour - Sex Differences In Antisocial Behaviour: Conduct Disorder, Delinquency, and Violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study by Terrie E. Moffitt, Avshalom Caspi, Michael Rutter, and Phil. A. Silva. [more]

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Moral development - Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice by Martin L Hoffman. Contemporary theories have generally focused on either the behavioral, cognitive or emotional dimensions of prosocial moral development. In this volume, these three dimensions are brought together while providing the first comprehensive account of prosocial moral development in children. [more]

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Philosophy - Naturalism, Evolution and Mind by Dennis M. Walsh. This collection of original essays covers a wide range of issues in current naturalized philosophy of mind. [more]
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