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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 51 - 23rd March, 2002
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Nature vs. nurture - Why do so many foreign-educated scientists hold top research positions in the US? Panelists at a New York briefing on race, genes, and intelligence today suggested a possible reason: Because they tend to come from countries that focus more on curriculum than on standardized testing. [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.
Archive

Altruism - Biologists are helping economists to explain why humans are not always selfish. [more]


Depression - Young women who have feelings of depression are more likely to have unreasonable expectations in their personal relationships, researchers in Canada report. [more]


Evolution - Valuable clues to the pace of evolution have been found in the bones of long-dead penguins recovered from the Antarctic. [more]


Neuroscience - Combining two brain imaging techniques is allowing a team of neuroscientists in Germany to monitor activity at two scales simultaneously, from the whole brain to the synapse, in what they term "localized in vivo spectroscopy." [more]


Fear - "Many claim that 11 September 'changed the world forever', particularly impacting on public perceptions of risk and creating a sense that we live in an ever-more risky world. But it is wrong to blame today's culture of fear on the collapse of the World Trade Centre. Long before 11 September, public panics were widespread - on everything from GM crops to mobile phones, from global warming to foot-and-mouth," writes Frank Furedi. [more]


Editor's choice Evolution - A new study shows that schools and many education programs are failing to provide students with a basic understanding of evolution. [more] "Any science teacher who fails to impart the value of the theory of evolution is failing in their duty as a science teacher. Teachers have a responsibility to educate, not to foster ignorance and superstition," writes Josie Appleton in Spiked Online. [more]


Laughter - We laugh more frequently than we eat, sing or have sex. So why do we know so little about it? David Derbyshire investigates. [more]


Psychopharmacology - Drugs used to treat schizophrenia and depression linger in the brain long after they have left the bloodstream, so brain scans might be a better way than blood analysis to judge the correct dose, leading Canadian researchers said on Tuesday. [more]


Lying - People who think of themselves as being intuitive make worse lie detectors than those who do not trust in a "gut instinct", according to new research. [more]


Editor's choice Phantom pain - One in 10 women who undergo mastectomy will go on to suffer phantom pain in the region of the amputated breast, German researchers today told a conference on cortical plasticity in Schwetzingen, outside Heidelberg. [more]


Bioethics - Dr. Leon R. Kass was trained as a physician and a biochemist but throughout his professional career has been trying to heal a single patient. Now that President Bush has appointed him chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, Dr. Kass is at last in a position to administer, if he chooses, a sharp dose of corrective medicine. [more]


Evolution - "Please will somebody explain to Elizabeth Bennett and all the other confuseniks (Letters, March 19) what "theory" means in the context of science. It does not mean "hypothesis" but the body of methodological tools and data which provide a context for scientific investigation. [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.
Archive

Evil - You can blame Satan for the atrocities of our age, or you can blame social circumstances. But, suggests Jennifer Szalai, the real impetus lies in a dark space at the core of the self. [more]


Genomics - A coalition of 20 top genomic scientists have written a joint letter to Science asking that the journal not publish additional genome-sequence papers without including fully accessible sequence data. [more] As a 23-year-old Harvard medical student, Eugene Chan came up with a bold, even arrogant thought: would it be possible to map any given individual genome swiftly and inexpensively by mimicking the way that DNA naturally acts when it duplicates itself? [more]


Drugs - "We must face the fact that the drugs war is lost Once cannabis is reclassified, we must have a proper debate on all intoxicants," says Colin Blakemore. [more]


IQ - When the French psychologist Alfred Binet developed tests for intelligence to help teachers in Paris schools in 1904, he did not know what he was starting. He designed his simple tests, which would later be given the name Intelligence Quotient or IQ, to make it easier to stream children who were proving disruptive in class. Then, somewhat reluctantly, he set out a scale for looking at the results. [more]

Psychotherapy - In the first issue of the new journal of the World Psychiatric Journal (World Psychiatry), two investigators of the Affective Disorders Program of the Department of Psychology of the University of Bologna, Giovanni A. Fava and Chiara Ruini review the evidence supporting the use of psychotherapy for preventing relapse in depression. [more]


Neurobiology - psychiatry - A Yale researcher tracing a recombinant virus as it entered the brains of laboratory animals found it damaged selective areas and then vanished without a trace, raising questions about possible mental problems caused by undetected viruses. [more]


Cognitive neuroscience - Within about a quarter of a second after we see the outcome of a gamble, our brains have processed whether we've won or lost, according to a University of Michigan study published in the current (March 22) issue of Science. Moreover, choices about the next wager made a few seconds after losses are riskier than choices made after gains, the study found, providing an apparent neurological counterpart of the gambler's fallacy---the misguided belief that a win is bound to follow a string of losses. EurekAlert, Nature Science Update, Ananova, Scientific American.


Deprivation - In the first study to analyze more than a decade of research showing how a family's social environment influences physical and mental health, a team of UCLA scientists found strong evidence that children who grow up in "risky families" often suffer lifelong health problems, including some of society's most common serious ailments, such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression and anxiety disorders, as well as early death. [more]


Archaeology - Ongoing excavations in Russia indicate anatomically modern humans were developing new technologies for survival in the cold, harsh region some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher. [more]


Educational psychology - By early adolescence, it is common for some students to become experts in avoidance strategies -- avoiding asking for help when they need it, withdrawing effort and resisting novel approaches to learning -- in order to deflect attention from low ability. This type of behavior can cause students to fall further behind academically and may eventually lead some to drop out of school. But new research shows that teachers that emphasize learning rather than performance may help prevent this self-destructive behavior. [more]


Editor's choice Human evolution - A million-year-old Homo erectus skull found in Ethiopia indicates that this human ancestor was a single species scattered widely throughout Asia, Europe and Africa, not two separate species, according to an international group of scientists who discovered the skull in 1997. University of California - Berkeley, Images, EurekAlert, Nature Science Update, Nature, Nature, Ananova, Nando Times, Scientific American, San Francisco Chronicle, Science News Online.


Breast feeding - Full-term infants who are born small score an average of 11 points higher on IQ tests if they are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life compared to those who are given formula or solids early on, according to findings published in the March Acta Paediatrica. [more]


Editor's choice Pheromones - Women's perfume laced with synthetic pheromones acts as a sexual magnet and increases the sexual attractiveness of women to men, San Francisco State University researchers conclude in a study appearing in the current issue of the quarterly journal Physiology and Behavior. EurekAlert, Ananova, PubMed, New Scientist.


Evolution - Untangling the branches of evolution's past is a daunting enough task for researchers, but some scientists are now turning their eyes toward the future in a bid to predict evolution's course. [more]


Editor's choice Memory - A controversial study suggesting that the hippocampus is required for the consolidation or filing of memories but not for their lifelong retrieval is set to fan the flames of a long-running debate about the nature of the neural substrate of memory. [more]


Editor's choice Synesthesia - New findings support a model of synesthesia recently advanced by Vilayanur Ramachandran and Edward Hubbard from the University of California, San Diego that is based on an idea that has been around for decades: that synesthesia is caused by a subtle cross-wiring in the brain. EurekAlert, MSNBC.


Editor's choice Neuroscience - Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that a protein called reelin, whose function in the adult brain has long been a mystery, is responsible for directing the migration of neural stem cells to the appropriate location in the brain as it adapts to new information. The results of the study are published in the March 19 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [more]


Stress - Short periods of stress may actually enhance immune responses, even though research has shown that long-term, chronic stress can suppress the immune system. This short-term enhancement is stronger during winter than during summer, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [more]


Cognitive science - In a study of how human emotional states influence higher mental abilities, cognitive neuroscientists at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that watching even just 10 minutes of classic horror films or prime-time television comedies can have a significant short-term influence on areas of the brain critical for reasoning, intelligence, and other types of higher cognition. Press release, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Editor's choice Pain - The human expression of pain in the presence or absence of caregivers, and the detection of pain by observers, arise from evolved propensities. [more]


Gambling - Internet gamblers may be more likely to have a serious gambling problem than other gamblers, say researchers. Eurekalert, BBC News Online.

Editor's choice Grief - Eduardo Keegan reviews The Nature of Grief by John Archer. [more]

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History - race - Brendan O'Neill 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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Human genome - John Bonner reviews The Common Thread by John Sulston, Georgina Ferry. [more]

Amazon UK


Feminism - Christian Perring reviews The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers. [more]

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Schizophrenia - history - Gina Zavota reviews Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland Twentieth Anniversary Edition, Updated and Expanded by Nancy Scheper-Hughes. [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.
Archive

Cognitive science - Keith S. Harris reviews The Mind Doesn't Work That Way by Jerry Fodor. [more]

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Evolutionary psychology - Matt Ridley on Robert Kurzban's review of Alas Poor Darwin. [more]

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Genius - Denis Dutton reviews Origins of Genius: Darwinian Perspectives on Creativity by Dean Keith Simonton. [more]

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This year's Human Nature Review top bestseller so far

Editor's choice Evolution - Mark Ridley reviews The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould. [more] and [more]

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