News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 1: Issue 38 - 15th December, 2001

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Editor's choice Steven Rose - The son of a Jewish activist in the East End, one of his earliest memories was a violent demonstration by Blackshirts. Science and socialism inspired him and today, as a radical biochemist, he is an opponent of Darwinian fundamentalism. Andrew Brown on Steven Rose, the combative 'Professor Jekyll and Comrade Hyde'. [more]

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Mental health - DuPont has joined forces with the American Psychiatric Association and other leading U.S. employers to launch the National Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, which is designed to address the mental health impact of terrorism, disaster and economic uncertainty in the workplace. [more] and [more]

Co-operation - A fondness for people who are a bit like us may be the reason that good Samaritans exist only in human society, and not in any other, according to a computer simulation. [more]

Depression - Male babies weighing less than 6.5 pounds at birth may be nearly four times more likely to suffer from depression in old age than their peers who were heavier at birth, study findings suggest. [more]

Leadership - Faced with the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, world leaders were expected to act with reason and discipline. Yet government officials, like the rest of society, must also deal with their own emotional and psychological reactions. [more]

Longevity - Scientists have known since the 1930s that they can extend lifespan in laboratory mice and rats by restricting the animals' diets. More recent studies have proven that caloric restriction also prolongs life in fruit flies, nematode worms, yeast and nonhuman primates. The goal of all this research, of course, is to learn how to increase human longevity. [more]

Editor's choice Cloning - A high percentage of cloned monkey embryos that look healthy are really a "gallery of horrors" deep within, says a researcher at Advanced Cell Technology, the company that last month published the first paper on cloned human embryos. [more]

Antidepressants - More than 60people in Britain who say they have become hooked on the anti-depressant Seroxat - a drug in the Prozac class - are exploring the possibility of legal action against the pharmaceutical company which they claim failed to warn doctors that that it could create dependency. [more]

Jurisprudence - A schizophrenic man charged with killing two officers in the Capitol in 1998 lost his case Monday in the Supreme Court when justices refused to consider the constitutionality of forcing mentally ill defendants to take drugs just to make them fit for trial. [more]

Gulf war syndrome - Americans who served in the Gulf War were nearly twice as likely to develop Lou Gehrig's disease as other military personnel, the US government reported today. It was the first time officials acknowledged a scientific link between service in the Gulf and a specific disease. [more]

Editor's choice Human genome - Medical scientists are producing tests and treatments that could make genetic medicine routine within 10 years, a leading researcher said Friday at the University of Michigan. But Francis Collins, a former U-M professor who heads up the federal Human Genome Project, said the discoveries also could lead to job discrimination and disadvantages for people who can't afford the expensive treatments. [more]

Creationism - There is no mention of Noah's Ark in most science museums. No mention of the Tower of Babel, or the Garden of Eden, either. Instead, you get dinosaur replicas, fossils, models of spiraling DNA. [more]

Editor's choice Risk-taking - "When it comes to evolution, survival of the fittest is only half the story. The handicap principle holds that humans make showy and sometimes dangerous displays of courage to increase their status and attract mates," says Richard Conniff. [more]

Transcending equations - Stephen Wolfram has a different vision of science. Enough with equations, he says. Why should we rely on mathematical abstractions to understand the world? [more]

Psychiatric News - All of the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association Psychiatric News, 7 December 2001; Vol. 36, No. 23. [more]

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Emotional intelligence - What enabled Martin Luther King Jr., PhD, to lead one of the most significant civil rights movements in the history of the world? [more]

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - School nurses administer more daily medication for ADHD than for any other chronic health condition. Is this a disquieting trend or a realistic response? [more] An NIMH psychologist spells out the changes sparked by the Surgeon General to improve children's services. [more] and [more] Psychology leaders with a stake in children's health and mental health mapped out APA's priorities for children for the next three to five years. [more]

Prescription privileges - There's no doubt that psychologists will gain the right to prescribe medications, believes APA Past-president Pat DeLeon, PhD, who calls prescription privileges for the profession "a quality-of-care, social issue." [more] DISCUSSION: Tom Greening, Lee B Sechrest, Jim Goodwin.

Stress - At an APA Presidential Miniconvention talk "Gender, stress and health," University of Kansas psychologist Annette L  Stanton, PhD, balanced Will Courtenay's presentation on the link between traditional masculine values and unhealthy behaviors with a look at the female side of the equation. [more] Understanding how psychotropic medications may uniquely affect a woman is a critical part of providing optimal psychological care. [more] During her presentation, Maj. Debra Dunivin, PhD, of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., pointed out several ways mental health disorders differ among women and men. [more]

Futurology - Ask most people and they'll tell you they take the future very seriously. Ask a politician and they'll bore you into the ground with a 50-point action plan. Hopeless, says Richard Slaughter, who's just become president of the World Futures Studies Federation. [more]

Editor's choice Medicine - A new report is advising medical schools to screen their applicants for personality disorders. [more] and [more]

Race - People of different races may not look the same, but they seem to be more closely related than previously thought, according to the results of a genetic study. [more] Congratulations to Howard Freeman for his wonderful comments about race. [more]

Self - Neurologist Antonio Damasio suggests in his book ''Descartes  Error'' that the great French philosopher got it backwards: Not ''I think, therefore I am,'' but rather ''I am, therefore I think.'' Boston Globe, Discourse on the Method by Descartes.

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Violence  - The best way to prevent violence by adolescents is to create strong family connections, said APA Presidential speaker William Pollack. [more]

Men - Do men deserve the rap that they're emotional blunderbusses who can't communicate to save their lives, especially with female partners? [more]

Primatology - Human assumptions that chimpanzees likely share watered-down versions of the human mind has clouded our interpretation of chimpanzee behavior, according to
Daniel Povinelli who presented "Chimpanzees, children and the evolution of the human capacity for explanation" at APA's 2001 Annual Convention. [more]

Editor's choice Psychology - While internationally renowned primatologist Frans de Waal thinks it's inevitable that psychology embrace evolution as a unifying theory for understanding human behavior, he's concerned by the simplistic way many social scientists approach Darwin. [more]

Psychoneuroimmunology - Even though doctors have all but rejected the idea that going out in the winter with wet hair causes colds, many mothers still insist it's a recipe for illness. Those moms may soon have data on their side from some new research linking stress and the immune system. [more]

Marriage - Why is it that married men are physically and mentally healthier than unmarried men, but for women in unhappy marriages, the reverse is true? [more]

Editor's choice Science - Is the "disregard syndrome" a menace to honest science? [more]

Near Death Experiences - The nature of mind-brain relationships and the possibility of life-after-death are some of the most profound issues relating to mankind's place in the universe. The report in today's Lancet by Pim van Lommel and colleagues of near-death experiences (NDEs) in survivors of a cardiac arrest provides intriguing data that are relevant to these issues. The Lancet - Free registration required.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder - Patients with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) exhibit a change in the duration of nocturnal melatonin secretion between winter and summer, investigators report. In contrast, no changes in nocturnal melatonin secretion were observed in healthy controls. [more]

Editor's choice Stress and psychosis - Higher levels of familial risk for psychosis were associated with higher levels of emotional reactivity to daily life stress in a dose-response fashion in this study. Subtle alterations in the way persons interact with their environment may constitute part of the vulnerability for psychotic illness. [more]

Editor's choice Schizophrenia - People born into low social classes are not at increased risk of developing schizophrenia, but they appear to seek treatment at a later age than those in higher social classes, concludes a study in this week's British Medical Journal

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Addiction - Problem drinkers are 23 times more likely to have a gambling problem than individuals who do not have an alcohol problem, according to a study conducted at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions. [more]

Editor's choice Schizophrenia - Gray matter density is decreased in distinct focal areas in the brains of patients with schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorder. The decreased density in the left amygdala is more pronounced in older patients with schizophrenia. [more]

Bipolar disorder - The idea that effective mood stabilization can be achieved through the use of vitamins, trace elements and amino acids is advanced in a study of bipolar adults published in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Eurekalert, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Abuse - One in three of adult male perpetrators of child sexual abuse were themselves previously victims. But no evidence found of cycle of abuse in females. [more]

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Panic and phobia - British investigators observed similar outcomes with significantly less investment of clinician time when patients with phobia or panic disorders used a computer-guided self-help program versus traditional treatment guided by a clinician. [more]

Skilled performance - Psychologists find that over-attention to well-learned performances may make things worse; however, training that way may actually improve performance under pressure. [more]

Depression - Children and adolescents with depression show statistically significant improvements in mood when treated with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram compared with placebo. [more]

Editor's choice Intelligence - When we say that people "know their way around," we really mean they're smart. Now, psychologists have evidence that strong visuospatial skills and working memory may be at least as good as verbal skills and working memory as indicators of general intelligence. [more]

Editor's choice Animal cognition - A species of tool-making crows has surprised scientists by showing it is left-sided. The New Caledonian crow has a left-sided preference when using leaves to catch insects. Ananova, Nature.

Depression - Do blood cancer patients who receive stem cell transplants die earlier if they are depressed? And if so, would treatment for depression lengthen their lives? [more]

Abuse - Women sexually assaulted by their husbands are more likely to inform police sooner than women sexually abused by boyfriends or acquaintances, a new study shows. [more]

Startle reflex - Everyone has experienced the muscle contraction associated with the startle response, a feeling that is most often linked to sounds such as balloons popping or cars backfiring. Yet new studies show that the primary role of the startle reflex is to defend the body against strong impact stimuli, not noises. "Before now, researchers have concentrated on studying the auditory pathways for the startle reflex, so the discovery that startle is best evoked when noises are combined with tactile stimuli is a surprising conclusion," says psychology professor John Yeomans, the lead author of a study published in the November issue of Neuroscience. [more]

Artificial intelligence - A new computer classification system developed by Penn State computer scientists can correctly identify a person's gender – based only on eyes, nose, mouth and voice cues – better than human beings can. Dr. Rajeev Sharma, associate professor of computer science and engineering, says the new system is right nearly 100 percent of the time. Human beings consistently score in the low 90 percents. [more] and [more]

Caregiving - The negative psychological impact of caregiving for a spouse with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia continues for years after the spouse dies, new research suggests. [more]

Editor's choice Primatology - Gorilla females associate permanently with males. What benefit do the females obtain from the association? Where males are larger than females, as in the gorilla, protection from predation is the long-standing answer. However, protection from infanticidal nonfather males is increasingly suggested as a better hypothesis. [more]

Editor's choice Animal cognition - Asian elephants, Elephus maximus, have the greatest volume of cerebral cortex available for cognitive processing of all extant terrestrial animal species. A manifestation of cognitive behaviour is tool use and tool manufacture. Fly switching with branches is a type of tool use previously shown in captive Asian elephants to be effective in repelling flies and to vary in frequency with the intensity of flies. [more]

Genomic imprinting - In a finding that could help scientists better understand the basis of sexual reproduction, researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons have for the first time identified a gene required for establishing the genomic imprinting of maternal genes. [more] and [more]

Editor's choice Racism - evolutionary psychology - A new study says racism is not programmed into the brain but is, in fact, a by-product of human evolution that can be altered. The research suggests that the apparent tendency towards noticing someone's skin colour - which many scientists had thought was inevitable - is actually a changeable feature of brain mechanisms that emerged for another reason: to detect shifting coalitions and alliances. BBC News Online, Yahoo, Reuters, Scientific American, Ananova, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Economist, MSNBC, Discovery

Religion and medicine - A study that appears in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings outlines the importance of religion and spirituality in medicine with many patients, but notes it is difficult to prove that the result is better health from intercessory prayer -- prayer by one or more people on behalf of another. [more]

Depression - An important step has been taken toward identifying safe and effective medications for treating severe depression in children and adolescents, a serious illness that affects about one youth in 20. [more]

Editor's choice Schizophrenia - Schizophrenia is a devastating and mysterious disease that strikes one person in a hundred, but scientists have taken an important step toward identifying the genes that increase individual susceptibility to this severe mental affliction. In the largest study of the relationship between genes and schizophrenia yet undertaken in North America, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers have looked intensively at four specific chromosomes to determine whether they contain genes that contribute to this common mental malady. Eurekalert. U.S. researchers conducting the largest North American study into the heredity of schizophrenia have found that the disease appears to be triggered by different genes in people of different ethnic origins. Globe and Mail.

Depression - Trials carried out by US doctors on an anti-depression 'pacemaker' found the electrical device can significantly improve the mental health of patients. [more] and [more]

Schizophrenia - A new study suggests patients suffering extreme schizophrenia are not being prescribed a drug which could improve their mental health. [more] Scientists believe that identifying the specific genes that cause schizophrenia could a long time off. [more]


Evolution - Paul Raeburn reviews What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr. [more]

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Seasonal Affective Disorder - Leo Sher reviews Seasonal Affective Disorder: Practice and Research edited by Timo Partonen, Andres Magnusson. [more - free registration required]

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Popular science - Jon Turney samples the year in popular science and tries to find out what shape space is and how it all began. [more]

Biography - Peter D Smith reviews Emma Darwin: The Inspirational Wife of a Genius by Edna Healey and Annie's Box by Randal Keynes. [more]

Reference - Bevis Hiller reviews People on People: The Oxford Dictionary of Biographical Quotations edited by Susan Ratcliffe. [more]

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Humour - Hugh Massingberd reviews The Darwin Awards,  II by Wendy Northcutt. [more]

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Psychiatry - Christian Perring reviews Psychiatry in the New Millennium edited by Sidney Weissman, Melvin Sabshin, and Harold Eist. [more]

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Genetics - Bert Gold discusses the Human Genome Project and the number of genes. [more]

CommitmentEvolution and the Capacity for Commitment edited by Randolph M. Nesse. [more] [first chapter]

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Faculty of 1000 - Faculty of 1000 is available free of charge until December 31st 2001, after which the service will be restricted to subscribers. If you or your institution subscribes to Faculty of 1000 before December 31st 2001, we will offer a 20% discount off the price of subscription. [institution] [personal] Faculty of 1000
The papers you need to read. [more]

Antidepressants - Duncan Double reviews The Anti-Depressant Fact Book: What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Luvox by Peter R. Breggin. [more]

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Neuroscience - György Buzsáki reviews The Intact and Sliced Brain by Mircea Steriade. [more]

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History - David Bowman reviews A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis by David M. Friedman. [more]

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Pseudoscience - Michael Cross reviews The Lure of the Edge: Scientific passions, religious beliefs and the pursuit of UFOs by Brenda Denzler. [more]

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Science - Christopher Hamlin reviews Ways of Knowing: A New History of Science, Technology and Medicine by John V. Pickstone. [more]

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Neurology - Richard Camicioli reviews Neurological Eponyms edited by Peter J. Koehler, George W. Bruyn, and John M. S. Pearce. [more]

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Neurotheology - A discussion of Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief by Andrew Newberg, Eugene D'Aquili, and Vince Rause. Part: One, Two, Three, Four, Five.

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Bipolar disorder - Kendell C. Thornton and Monique Thornton review Survival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar Disorder: Innovative parenting and counseling techniques for helping children with bipolar disorder and the conditions that may occur with it by George T. Lynn. [more]

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Race - Anthony Daniels 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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Primatology - Robin McKie reviews The Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans B. M. de Waal. [more]

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Intelligence - William D. Casebeer reviews The Nature of Intelligence edited by Gregory Bock, Jamie Goode, and Kate Webb. [more]

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Ethics - Susannah Rutherglen reviews Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer. [more]

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Childhood - David J. Mullen reviews Myths of Childhood by Joel Paris. [more]

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Darwinism - Joshua Foer reviews A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation by Peter Singer. [more]

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