News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 47 - 23rd February, 2002

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Civilisation - A sudden drop in temperatures 5,000 years ago ushered in the modern climate and may have encouraged the development of complex civilisations around the world. [more]

Editor's choice Browse through our Review of the Year and read the latest controversial and thought-provoking articles and reviews in the Human Nature Review.

Sleep - Cramming all night might help you to scrape through exams, but it won't make you clever in the long run. Human and animal experiments are lending new support to a common parental adage: that a good night's sleep is essential to learning. [more]

Sexual abuse - Boys sexually abused at school face more health problems than boys who are not, a survey has revealed. Researchers from Swansea NHS Trust found boy victims of sexual abuse were three times more likely to suffer health problems. [more]

Creationism - One of America's longest-running dramas is being revived in Ohio. There, the state school board is wrestling with whether to give the theory of evolution sole billing in its revised science curriculum, or to make room for an alternative theory called "intelligent design." [more]

Animal behaviour - What can animals teach us about staying healthy? A great deal, argues Cindy Engel. Animals, she says, are constantly self-medicating, eating anything from charcoal to leaves to ward off illness and to treat sickness. [more]

Editor's choice Languages - About half of the world's 6,000 languages are under threat of disappearing under pressure from more dominant tongues or repressive government policies, a new study says. [more]

Child development - Babies as young as 14 months of age are starting to grasp grammatical concepts, according to new research presented here Sunday at the American Academy for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting. [more]

Depression - Researchers have found children and adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) who do not have a family history of the disease have larger brains than MDD patients who have relatives with the condition. [more]

Animal cognition - Scientists have peered into the dreams of rats and discovered they can be as complex as those of humans. Ananova, The Guardian, The Independent.

Editor's choice Neuroscience - Compulsive gambling, attendance at sporting events, vulnerability to telephone scams and exuberant investing in the stock market may not seem to have much in common. But neuroscientists have uncovered a common thread. [more]

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Behaviour genetics - Scientists looking at the role genes play in influencing behaviour have been criticised by campaigners for overstating the implications of their work. [more] and [more]

Memory - The different ways the brain works when it stores memories have been caught on camera. Using modern brain imaging techniques, scientists have recorded the patterns in activity that change depending on whether memories are going to be stored or deleted. [more]

Editor's choice Obesity - The human body is highly adapted to accumulating fat that acts as a vital energy store in lean times. Because of the energy needed for pregnancy and weaning, women are more susceptible to building up fat deposits than men. [more] and [more]

Hypnosis - US scientists have been able to peer inside the brain to watch hypnosis in action. The research could settle a 200-year-old debate about whether hypnosis is a genuine psychological state or stage show gimmickry. The Guardian, The Independent, Ananova.

Obituary - Dr. Arnold Zachary Pfeffer, a New York psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who worked to meld the insights of modern neuroscience with traditional psychoanalytic concepts and started a New York center devoted to that effort, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Manhattan. [more]

Human evolution - supernovae may also play constructive roles in the cosmos - recent scientific research has revealed that these stellar annihilations had a crucial impact on human evolution. [more]

Archaeology - Remains of seven types of edible nuts and nutcrackers found at 780,000-year-old archaeological site. Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University Researchers find evidence showing nuts formed a major part of man's diet 780,000 years ago. [more]

Homosexuality - Homosexuality, at least in female Japanese macaques, serves no function beyond sexual gratification and is simply an evolutionary by-product, suggests Paul Vasey, a Canadian primatologist speaking in London today. [more]

Denied pregnancies - Denied pregnancies are not rare events, according to a study in this week's British Medical Journal.

Preterm births - Low consumption of seafood during early pregnancy is a risk factor for preterm delivery and low birth weight, finds a study in this week's British Medical Journal.

Editor's choice Genetics - The first well-documented genetic difference between humans and our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, was announced here yesterday at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Its most obvious functions have nothing to do with the brain, but rather with the creation of sperm. [more]

Migraine - The aura of basilar migraine may present as visions of little people, animals, or fantastic creatures dancing around a room, investigators report. [more]

Editor's choice Comparative neuroscience - According to a popular view of human cognitive capabilities, much of what sets our species apart from the other primates can be attributed to a disproportionate enlargement of a part of the brain known as the frontal cortex - a new study published by Nature Genetics suggests this view is wrong. Scientific American, InScight.

Traumatic stress - A significant number of Americans are still feeling the mental health effects of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, and large majorities say they are reexamining their priorities in life, a new survey has found. American Psychological Association.

Editor's choice Memory - If you are a loner, you'd better get yourself some friends or else risk losing precious brain cells. That's the suggestion from a study into the brains of songbirds, which found that birds living in large groups have more new neurons and probably a better memory than those living alone. EurekAlert, Ananova.

Social behaviour - Meat - and the cooperation involved in getting it - may be the foundation for modern-day social interactions says a Texas A&M University anthropologist. [more]

Neuropsychiatric disorders - The abrupt onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and tic disorders in children appears to be linked in some cases to acute streptococcal infections and may respond to prompt treatment with antibiotics. [more]

Editor's choice Substance abuse - The contribution of the gene to risk for substance dependence is small, and is detected most easily in studies that use control samples that are screened for all forms of substance dependence. [more]

Editor's choice Bipolar disorder - New data suggest that the GABRA3 polymorphism may confer susceptibility to the genetic etiology of bipolar affective disorder. [more]

Editor's choice Depression - A new study supports the current belief that serotonin closely regulates mood, and supports the notion that subjects with certain genetic markers may have greater vulnerability to experiencing depression. [more]

Longevity - Two dietary supplements straight off the health food store shelf put the spark back into aging rats, and might do the same for aging baby boomers, according to a study at the University of California, Berkeley, and Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute. EurekAlert.

Conservation - Scientists have discovered that the greatest concentration of all primate and carnivore evolutionary history exists within those species found only in the 25 biodiversity hotspots. [more]

Human evolution - anthropologist David Begun and his European colleagues are re-writing the book on the history of great apes and humans, arguing that most of their evolutionary development took place in Eurasia, not Africa. [more]

Sexual behaviour - Treatment for juvenile sexual offenders should take into account their involvement in other crimes, says a new study. [more]

Science - Science is part of our daily lives -- the way we understand the natural world, the technologies we use and the decisions we make about our health and the environment. So why, asks Cornell University researcher Bruce Lewenstein, do most people know so little about science? [more]

Depression - The influence of age on the female/male ratio of treated incidence rates in depression. [more]

Language - human evolution - Desmond Fearnley-Sander reviews The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain by Terrence W. Deacon. [more]

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Autobiography - Druin Burch reviews Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks. [more]

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History - Holly Brubach reviews Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America's Premier Mental Hospital by Alex Beam. [more] [first chapter]

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Biography - Barbara Ehrenreich reviews Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix by James B. Watson. [more] [first chapter]

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Biography - Ann Druyan reviews Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution by Randal Keynes. [more]

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Film - Therapists in the movies tend to be mad, bad or brilliant. For proof, see this week's Don't Say a Word. Let's analyse this, says Ryan Gilbey. [more]

Film - Anthony David reviews A Beautiful Mind directed by Ron Howard. [more] and [more]

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