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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 50 - 16th March, 2002

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Sexual behaviour - Experts say our sex lives are too dull and that boring sex is becoming a global problem. [more]

Social phobia - When does shyness become a disorder? [more]

Creationism - Fundamentalist Christians who do not believe in evolution have taken control of a state-funded secondary school in England. [more] The infamous Scopes "monkey" trial of 1925, when a teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was prosecuted for teaching evolutionary theories, sounds like a historical curiosity to most people on this side of the Atlantic. [more] and [more]

Race and psychiatry - Across a wide variety of treatment settings and developmental stages, African American patients receive excess diagnoses of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, as compared with similar white patients. Concurrently, African Americans receive fewer mood disorder diagnoses. [more]

Anxiety - Anxiety disorders often begin in childhood and are associated with significant long-term morbidity. [more] The range of medicinal compounds useful for anxiety disorders has expanded from antidepressants, benzodiazepines and buspirone to include anticonvulsants, some antipsychotics and herbal/alternative compounds. [more]

Nature vs. nurture - "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver," said Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, at last night's launch of a program designed to bridge the gap between science and culture. "It is a totally futile pastime to try to explain uniquely human attributes, like culture, using Darwinism." [more]

Suicide - Suicide is the most common cause of death among young adults in China, according to research. Rates in women are 25% higher than in men, a reversal of the usual pattern where most countries report higher suicide rates among the male population. [more]

Psychology - Psychiatrists vowed to fight back after New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R) signed a bill Wednesday giving psychologists permission to prescribe medications, making his state the first to allow them to do so. [more]

Psychology - Some people, including stock market traders, may be sensitive to chaos. An Australian psychologist asked a randomly selected group of volunteers to predict the next number in a chaotic sequence of numbers. He found a quarter got at least the next two numbers right but he doesn't know why. Ananova, New Scientist.

Science - How many black scientists do you know? Probably not many, says Elizabeth Rasekoala. That's because Western science excludes black people, she claims. Rasekoala is a chemical engineer who runs science clubs for black children across Britain to teach them--and their parents--how to break down the doors of the scientific establishment. [more]

Mental health - Frequent business trips abroad could leave the "home alone" spouse with more than an aching heart, research suggests. [more]

Sexual behaviour - Hong Kong's adults are suffering an increasing deterioration in their sex lives, according to a survey. More than 50% of people asked by the Chinese University of Hong Kong said they had experienced persistent sexual problems in the last year. [more]

Personality - Reduced incidence of Parkinson's disease among smokers has less to do with any neuro-protective agent in tobacco than with the personalities of people who smoke, argues an epidemiologist with evidence from two unusual studies. [more]

Editor's choice History - In a remote corner of Jordan, archaeologists have uncovered a room that may transform the way we think about God. [more]

Anthropology - Anthropologist Helen Fisher argues that romance, marriage and divorce follow predictable patterns as old as the species. The evidence is as near as your local bar. [more]

Creationism - Poor Charles Darwin. He was a kind, gentle soul--decent to a fault, some have said--yet he keeps getting cast as the Antichrist. The latest equation of Darwinism with godlessness comes in Ohio, where some members of the state school board want to downgrade the theory of natural selection in the biology curriculum guidelines. [more]

Editor's choice Roy Porter - A man of prodigious energy - needing only a few hours' sleep a night - the eminent historian and broadcaster Roy Porter, who has died aged 55, seemed to write faster than many people read, and the steady stream of books became an avalanche once he had mastered the computer. The Guardian, The Guardian, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times.

Cinema - British filmmaker Mike Newell (''Donnie Brasco'') has signed on to develop and direct ``Mrs. Darwin,'' a period romance about the woman behind the father of evolution. [more]

Nature vs. nurture - Michael Gurian's assertion that girls are molded primarily by physiology, and very little by culture or how they are raised, is reviving a long-dormant debate over "nature versus nurture." It's a discussion that feminists, if not a broad swath of women in developed countries, thought had been resolved in favor of freedom of choice and unlimited possibilities. [more]

Schizophrenia - The notion that some schizophrenics do recover, and can live out their lives without medication, is increasingly accepted. That inspiring story drew millions of Americans to the recent film ''A Beautiful Mind,'' in which the mathematician John Nash emerges slowly from a fog of delusion. [more]

Genius - Ed Vulliamy in New York tells how a mother's ambitions left her son accused of being a fake prodigy. [more]

Editor's choice Human evolution - Analyses of recently derived human genetic trees by Alan R. Templeton, Ph.D, of Washington University in St Louis, show that there were at least two major waves of human migration out of Africa. DNA evidence suggests also that these wanderers bred with the people they encountered, rather than replaced them, in a "make-love-not-war," scenario. EurekAlert, Nature, Nature Science Update, Japan Times, National Geographic, New York Times, Discovery, Nando Times, Scientific American, MSNBC, Los Angeles Times, Independent, Associated Press, Reuters.

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.

Depression - People who experience nausea may be suffering from anxiety or depression, possible causes that should be investigated before aggressive treatments are begun for gastrointestinal disorders, according to a new study. [more]

Language - If humans are anything like songbirds, a new Florida State University study suggests the old adage "practice makes perfect" may apply to learning a language. [more]

Human genome - What took hundreds of researchers working together for nearly 10 years to complete soon may be accomplished in less than a day. This is the view of University of Houston researchers who have filed a patent on a new process to sequence the human genome. [more]

Editor's choice Early life - New evidence, based on detailed chemical analysis, for it being some of the oldest life on Earth is presented alongside claims that it could be merely an imperfection in a piece of Western Australian rock that just looks a bit like a bacterium. EurekAlert, BBC News Online, Nature, Nature, Nature Science Update, New Scientist, The Guardian, Scientific American, Los Angeles Times.

Neurobiology - People who grow up left-handed have a different, more flexible brain structure than those born to take life by the right hand, say researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, who used twins to study heredity. Seattle Times, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Editor's choice Human genome - In a public renewal of their rivalry over the decoding of the human genome, a group of government-financed researchers say in a new study that a private company could not have completed its work without data from the public researchers. New York Times, Ananova, New Scientist, BBC News Online, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Language and memory - Children may be unable to remember events from their early childhood because they did not have the language skills at the time to fully process and later recall those memories, researchers report. [more]

Alcoholism - Alcoholics, especially those who relapse after frequent attempts to "dry out," are damaging areas of their brain that recognize emotions, a University of Sussex (UK) study suggests. UniSci. Like humans, small primates can acquire a taste for alcohol - and behave in a similar fashion when under its influence, scientists have discovered. The Telegraph.

Antidepressants - New insight into a brain chemical called serotonin has given scientists a more fundamental understanding of how Prozac and certain other prescription antidepressants work. The study results also seem to explain why there is typically a delay before some antidepressants start having a beneficial effect. Reuters, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Editor's choice Sociology - States with larger proportions of African Americans are more likely to have the death penalty on the books than states with smaller black populations, according to a new study. Press release, American Sociological Review.

Editor's choice Grief - Two new studies knock grief work off its theoretical pedestal. Among bereaved spouses tracked for up to 2 years after their partners' death, those who often talked with others and briefly wrote in diaries about their emotions fared no better than their tight-lipped, unexpressive counterparts, according to psychologist Margaret Stroebe of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and her colleagues. [more]

Ecstasy - University of Adelaide researchers have found that ecstasy taken on a few occasions could cause severe damage to brain cells, with the potential to cause future memory loss or psychological problems. [more]

Sleep and behaviour - Children who snore often are nearly twice as likely as other children to have attention and hyperactivity problems, and the link is strong for other sleep problems, a new University of Michigan Health System study finds. The results, published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics, provide some of the most solid evidence ever of a link between sleep problems and behavior. [more] and [more]

Editor's choice Genetics - As scientists piece together the genomes of more and more life forms---from fruit flies to humans---they're finding ample evidence that new genes have often been created through the duplication of existing genes. Of the more than 40,000 genes in the human genome, for example, about 15,000 appear to have been produced by gene duplication. [more]

Personality - Depending on what character traits you desire in a mate, you may want to look at his or her office or bedroom. If you're looking for someone who's extroverted and agreeable, you'd probably do better meeting him or her. But if it's conscientiousness and openness you want, take a look in their bedroom. [more]

Gossip - Recent empirical and theoretical work suggests that reputation was an important mediator of access to resources in ancestral human environments. Reputations were built and maintained by the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about the actions and capabilities of group members-that is, by gossiping. [more]

Digital biology - Carl Zimmer reviews Digital Biology: How Nature Is Transforming Our Technology and Our Lives by Peter J. Bentley. [more]

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Psychology - Robert Hanks reviews The Cradle of Thought: Exploring the Origins of Thinking by Peter Hobson and The Mind Made Flesh: Frontiers of Psychology and Evolution by Nicholas Humphrey. [more] and [more]

Amazon UK

Amazon UK

Science and religion - Freeman J. Dyson reviews The God of Hope and the End of the World by John Polkinghorne. [more]

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Human evolution - Bernard Wood reviews The Monkey in the Mirror by Ian Tattersall. [more] and [more]

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Psychology - James Sage reviews Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential by Richard Restak. [more]

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Editor's choice Language - John Searle reviews Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language by Steven Pinker. [more]

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Editor's choice Environment - Keay Davidson on The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World by Bjorn Lomborg. [more]

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Mechanical life - Edward Platt reviews Living Dolls: A magical history of the quest for mechanical life (US Title: Edison's Eve) by Gaby Wood. [more]

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Fingerprints - David Sharp reviews Fingerprints: murder and the race to uncover the science of identity by Colin Beavan. [more]

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Philosophy - Frederic Raphael reviews A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life by Andre Comte-Sponville. [more]

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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.

Psychiatry - George Graham reviews Out of Its Mind: Psychiatry in Crisis by J. Allan Hobson and Jonathan Leonard. [more]

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Human evolution - Robin McKie reviews The Monkey in the Mirror by Ian Tattersall. [more] and [more]

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