News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 42 - 19th January, 2002.
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Neanderthals - A sticky fingerprint on a fossilised blob of wood is firing the debate over how intelligent Neanderthals were. The discovery suggests the ancient hunter-gatherers made tools by sticking stone heads to wooden handles with glue. [more]


Editor's choice Afghanistan - The dusty courtyard of a hospital in the bustling Afghan city of Kandahar is home to the only mental health ward in town. [more]


Theatre - anti-psychiatry - Master storyteller Maran, having gained acclaim for his adaptation of Captain Corelli's Mandolin at the Edinburgh Festival in 1999, is eager to explain the myth surrounding the central character, controversial 1960s Scottish psychiatrist, Ronnie D Laing. [more]


Editor's choice Neuroscience - One of the last frontiers of the unexplored left on earth, the living human brain, is yielding up its secrets to a new tool developed in Britain. The revolutionary development allows researchers to see with extraordinary clarity the networks of nerve fibres - "white matter" - which link the different, thinking units of the brain, or "grey matter." [more]


Psychiatry - All of the latest News from the American Psychiatric Association, Psychiatric News 18 January 2002; Vol. 37, No. 2. [more]


Evolutionary psychology - "As humans have evolved, they've learned there are good reasons not to bury an empty coffin," says Robert Sapolsky. [more]


Surprise - The Science of Surprise. Can complexity theory help us understand the real consequences of a convoluted event like September 11? [more]


"Inner Savant" - Are you capable of multiplying 147,631,789 by 23,674 in your head, instantly? Physicist Allan Snyder says you probably can, based on his new theory about the origin of the extraordinary skills of autistic savants. [more]


Editor's choice Faces - It's hard to be a productive member of the human race unless you can recognize faces and facial expressions, so our brains have evolved special circuits for processing facial information. [more]


Depression - prolonged or acute stress and associated over-secretion of stress hormones -such as cortisol -might impair mood centers in the brain, increasing the chances that individuals under stress will become depressed. [more]


Schizophrenia - A classic "nature or nurture" debate has been reignited by research claiming that childhood sexual abuse is often a factor in causing schizophrenia. [more]


Animal instinct - Why do chimps chew on leaves that they clearly find revolting? And why do elephants risk death to extract rocks from a mountain cave in Kenya? Perhaps they know something we don't about staying healthy, says Jerome Burne. [more]


Archaeology - Marine scientists in India say an archaeological site off India's western coast may be up to 9,000 years old. [more]


Mental health - Teenagers from families who eat together appear to have fewer mental health problems, a study has shown. [more]


Cybertherapy - An innovative new computer program called Beating the Blues claims to be able to help patients suffering from depression and anxiety. But can a machine really be a replacement for face-to-face treatment? Steve Boggan investigates. [more]


Dreaming - Research being conducted at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago has provided doctors here with a glimpse into how the dreams of those who are depressed from a recent divorce may contribute to overcoming depression. This research may provide clues as to why some people seem to recover from depression while others languish without showing any improvement. [more] Sleep improves your mood, makes you a better athlete, and helps you remember and understand what you learned during the day. [more]


Editor's choice Smoking - Smokers of Chinese origin may be less likely to develop lung cancer than other people because they take in less nicotine per cigarette, scientists say. [more]


Pre-term births - Babies who are born as little as one to four weeks premature are at risk of suffering mild developmental delays, government researchers announced yesterday. [more]


Editor's choice Psychology databases - Why share psychological data? Aren't there serious obstacles that prevent sharing? And even if we were willing to share in principle, how would we go about doing it in fact? [more]


Peer review - "Many of us have put in our best-faith efforts in writing journal articles or grant proposals, only to receive savage reviews," writes Robert Stenberg. [more]


Adolescence - A conversation with Lynn Ponton: An Expert's Eye on Teenage Sex, Risk and Abuse. [more]


Primatology - Dr. Amy Vedder had been studying mountain gorillas in Rwanda for less than a year, following a tightknit group of about 12 as they roamed along the leafy slopes of the Virunga volcanoes. [more]


Neanderthals - German archaeologists say a substance Neanderthals used as glue may also have been the world's first "chewing gum". [more] and [more]


Editor's choice Ecstasy - Clubbers who take ecstasy are 25% more likely to have a mental health disorder, compared to the general population, a survey has found. BBC News Online, The Guardian.


Editor's choice Neurotheology - With the aid of new technology that allows them to watch the brain in action, a group of scientists — sometimes described as "neurotheologists" — have tried to explain how religious experiences occur and perhaps even why. [more]


Neuroscience - Two Chinese scientists have taken an important step towards understanding how people make decisions when in a dilemma by identifying the "choice-behaviour headquarters" of the fruit fly. [more]


Interview - "Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It is not an area of psychology, like vision, reasoning, or social behavior. It is a way of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic within it," says Leda Cosmides. [more]


Depression - There seems to be a lot of depression going around these days, which shouldn't be surprising, given the stress of the holidays and the continuing psychic fallout of Sept. 11. What is surprising is how many more depressed people are getting treatment--at least compared with 10 years ago. [more]


Profile - E. O. Wilson - The great scientist and conservationist explains the terrorism we insist on overlooking. And space colonies won't help, either. [more]


Domestic violence - Questioning women about domestic violence during antenatal visits could cause more harm than good if not done properly, says a report. [more]


Intelligence - Even neuroscientists aren't smart enough to explain all the individual differences in intelligence. But the latest scientific detective work has turned up some clues. Mental ability seems closely related to the volume of those little gray cells in the brain. And differences in that volume seem to be largely a result of heredity. [more]


Conflict - This is the 10th in a series of interviews with distinguished intellectuals concerning problems in contemporary civilization in relation to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. In this installment, biologist Richard Dawkins, a professor at Oxford University, is interviewed in London. [more]


"Darwin Day" - a campaign has been launched to establish an international day of celebration on 12 February: birthday of Charles Darwin, author of the theory of evolution by natural selection. [more]


Emotion - New research has revealed that women who suppress their emotions can be left with even more angry feelings. [more]

Psychopharmacology - Georgetown University Medical Center is conducting a clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of venlafaxine HCI, marketed as Effexor XR, on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). [more]



Editor's choice Evolutionary psychology - Evolutionary Psychology (EP) is an emerging integrative approach to the study of Human Nature, founded upon evolutionary biological theory and cognitive science. This article evaluates the theoretical foundations and implications of EP from a Scientist-Practitioner perspective. [more]


Editor's choice Perception - Scientists at Tuebingen's Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have carried out experiments that prove for the first time that single nerve cells in the brain are responsible for controlling our perception by drawing on prior experience. [more]


Mammalian evolution - In the 14 December 2001 issue of Science, a team of scientists discuss alternative positions for the root of the placental tree. They report results based on Bayesian and other statistical methods and use a data set that comprises approximately 16,400 base pairs for each of 44 mammals and that includes segments from 22 different genes. "We have resolved the interordinal relationships almost entirely," says Mark S. Springer of the University of California, Riverside, a member of the team. "Based on molecular clocks, we found that the deepest split occurs between Afrotheria and other placentals at ~103 million years, a date that coincides with a major plate tectonic separation." [more]


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Editor's choice Stress - Eran Meshorer and colleagues report evidence that even short-term stress can cause lasting physical changes in the brain -- findings that help explain the devastating symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Web MD, Science.


Abortion - Depression among women after an unintended first pregnancy is linked to whether they abort or carry to term, conclude researchers from the United States, in this week's British Medical Journal. [more]


Bipolar disorder - An interdisciplinary team headed by the University of Bonn’s Institute of Human Genetics has succeeded in localising a gene which contributes towards the manic depressive disease. [more]


Poverty and affluence - Despite the strong emphasis placed on income in the United States, little is known about the likelihood of an adult experiencing poverty or affluence in their lifetime. Now, a study in the winter issue of Social Science Quarterly finds that Americans have a roughly 50/50 chance of experiencing the American Dream or the American nightmare. [more]


Sexual selection - sexual selection may favour those males that can produce intense displays but which know how to modify these according to the female response. [more]


Development - Learning disabilities and low academic performance among children born at very low birthweight can persist even into young adulthood, according to a study published today in The New England Journal of Medicine. [more]


Neuroscience - Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas are a step closer to defining the function of two proteins involved in neurotransmitter release, which initiates communication between neurons in the brain. [more]


Women and power - A new study by Northeastern University published in the January edition of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin may show that men and women both form dominance hierarchies but act differently when first entering a new group as they seek to understand its power structure. [more]


Editor's choice Women and alcohol - Although women are less likely than men to abuse alcohol, those that do suffer the same kinds of neuropsychological problems as alcoholic men, according to a new study published in the January issue of Neuropsychology. [more]


Editor's choice Language - Debates about the role of language in human thinking are increasingly prominent in the cognitive sciences. There are claims that certain forms of reasoning can only be performed through access to the resources of the language faculty. [more]


Editor's choice Schizophrenia - Some persons with schizophrenia can remember complex sounds, such as intricate bird songs, but not simple words, providing yet more evidence about the complex nature of the mental illness, a study by Yale researchers has found. Yale, Schizophrenia Research.


Eating Disorders - Research has shown that more than half of college women have experienced eating disorder symptoms (although most do not have full-blown anorexia or bulimia). While the cause of eating disorders is still unknown, new research suggests that depression and difficulty expressing one's feelings may be a risk factor for disordered eating in young women with a history of family problems or abuse. UniSci, American Psychological Association.


Editor's choice Altruism - When seeking help from a stranger, ask someone who shares your name: people are more likely to assist a namesake, an e-mail study has revealed. Nature Science Update, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences, Abstract, New Scientist.


Depression - A study of World War II veterans suggests that concussions and other head injuries suffered during early adulthood may significantly raise the risk of depression even decades later. Nando Times, Archives of General Psychiatry.


Longevity - A gene named after one of the Greek Fates seems to indeed hold a person's life in the balance, cutting short one's allotted time on this planet, researchers said on Monday. Yahoo, Eurekalert.


Editor's choice Schizophrenia - People who are abused as children may be more prone to developing schizophrenia, research suggests. BBC News Online, Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, Ananova.


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Editor's choice Intelligence - According to neuro and cognitive scientists, different intellectual abilities are based on neural circuits that require environmental stimulation for development and are open to change. However, intelligence researchers' argue that there is a general factor of intelligence or g, that is highly heritable and defines intelligence as an overall innate ability to perform well on different measures of intelligence, which are not open to change. This debate is reviewed in an analysis of 124 studies of the underlying basis of intelligence in the January issue of Psychological Review published by the American Psychological Association. [more]



Human genetics - Researchers have identified the genetic basis of lactose intolerance, the inability of most adults in the world to digest the principal sugar in milk. The finding, published today in the journal Nature Genetics, may lead to the development of a more accurate test for the condition. New York Times.


Behaviour - A new report from the National Institute of Mental Health (US) - Taking Stock of Risk Factors for Child/Youth Externalizing Behavior Problems. [more - pdf - 1.5MB]

Science - Galen Strawson reviews Science, Truth, and Democracy by Philip Kitcher. [more]

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Editor's choice Anthropology - human evolution - C. Loring Brace reviews The Monkey in the Mirror; Essays on the Science of What Makes Us Human by Ian Tattersall. [more]

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Biography - Sylvia Nasar reviews John Maynard Keynes Volume Three: Fighting for Freedom, 1937-1946 by Robert Skidelsky. [more] [first chapter]


Melancholy - Jennifer Radden reviews The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton. [more]

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Psychiatry - Danny Sullivan reviews Ethics, Culture, and Psychiatry: International Perspectives edited by Ahmad Ukashah, Julio Arboleda-Flórez, and Norman Sartorius. [more]

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Mental health - Danny Sullivan reviews Confidentiality and Mental Health edited by Christopher Cordess. [more]

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Mind - Mazen Maurice Guirguis reviews Matters of the Mind by William Lyons. [more]
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Psychiatry - Christian Perring reviews Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill by Robert Whitaker. [more]

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Consciousness - Adriano Palma reviews The View from Within edited by Franciso J. Varela and Jonathan Shear. [more]

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Consciousness - Valerie Gray Hardcastle reviews The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness by J. Allan Hobson. [more]

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Criminal Justice - Against Retribution: On Michael Moore’s Placing Blame: A General Theory of Criminal Law by Tom Clark. [more]

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The International Foundation for Ethical Research (IFER) is pleased to announce the availability of Graduate Student Fellowships in Alternatives in Scientific Research. IFER is dedicated to the development and implementation of scientifically valid alternatives to the use of animals in research, product testing, and education. Deadline: March 15, 2002. Grants up to $15,000. Renewable. Visit us on our website: www.IFER.org or call 312-427-6025.
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Stress - Ichiro Kawachi reviews Stress and the Heart: Psychosocial Pathways to Coronary Heart Disease edited by Stephen A Stansfeld and Michael G Marmot. [more]

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Cognitive development - Greg Kane reviews Half a Brain Is Enough: The Story of Nico by Antonio M. Battro. [more]

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Menstruation - Bronwen Lichtenstein reviews Regulating Menstruation: Beliefs, Practices, Interpretations edited by Etienne Van De Walle and Elisha P. Renne. [more]
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Editor's choice Language - In a new book, Dr. Mark C. Baker, a linguist at Rutgers University whose dissertation was supervised by Noam Chomsky, says he has discerned the parameters for a remarkably diverse set of languages, especially American-Indian and African tongues. [more]

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - Harlan R. Gephart reviews Assessing Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder by Arthur D. Anastopoulos, PhD, and Terri L. Shelton, PhD. [more]

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