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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 53 - 6th April, 2002

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Biology - Geoffrey West has developed a theory that can explain scaling laws in animals and plants. He tells Edwin Cartlidge that more of his fellow physicists ought to consider devoting their talents to understanding the biological world. [more]

Nightmares - A sleep disorder, in which sufferers unknowingly act out violent nightmares, could be aggravated by chocolate, scientists warn. [more]

Politics - The facts of the 'Stolen Generations', the countless thousands of Australian Aboriginal children taken permanently from their mothers and placed in remote, state-controlled 're-education' camps, have been suppressed by successive Australian governments. [more]

Depression - Young women struggling with depression often seek emotional support from their boyfriends. However, new research suggests they're not doing themselves any favors. [more]

Psychiatry - All of the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association Psychiatric News 5 April 2002; Vol. 37, No. 7. [more]

Genetics - Contrary to widely held beliefs and longstanding taboos in America, first cousins can have children together without a great risk of birth defects or genetic disease, scientists are reporting today. They say there is no biological reason to discourage cousins from marrying. [more]

Puberty - Unbeknown to many parents, a few hair products - especially some marketed to black people - contain small amounts of hormones that could cause premature sexual development in girls. [more]

Editor's choice Emotion - Emotion research has come of age. It was but an infant in the 1960s when Paul Ekman, of the University of California at San Francisco, started focusing on the expression and physiology of emotion. At the time, Ekman was one of only three emotion researchers in the world. [more] and [more]

Mental health - A first-of-its-kind national survey promises to shed new light on ethnic and racial health disparities. [more]

Depression - Women are more than twice as likely as men to experience major depression, and it's a greater threat to a woman's well-being than serious physical illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes or arthritis. [more]

Sleep - A new poll on sleep habits suggests that millions of Americans are in a bad mood, short-tempered and prone to overeat because they are tired. [more]

Obituary - Neal E. Miller, an experimental psychologist whose conviction that the brain affects human behavior led him to conduct groundbreaking work in biofeedback, died on March 23. He was 92 and lived in a retirement community in Hamden, Conn. [more] and [more]

Mental illness - Only one in three people with experience of mental health problems feel confident in disclosing this on job application forms, according to research. [more]

Editor's choice Race and identity - Is Race Real? How Does Identity Matter? As he leaves Harvard for Princeton, K. Anthony Appiah's scholarship takes a new direction. [more]

PTSD - EMDR uses eye movements to ease patients' emotional distress. Skeptics suggest a placebo effect. [more]

Politics - The little-known nominee for director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) may have earned his position simply by agreeing to go along with the conservative Bush administration's views, some observers contend. That's "ill-informed criticism," protest his defenders, urging the community to "give him a chance." [more]

Human genetics - Scientists have known for years that genetics plays a part in serious mental illnesses. Some believe, for example, that virtually everyone with bipolar disorder has inherited the disease. [more]

Creationism - Religious fundamentalism should not be allowed to interfere with science lessons, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman has warned. [more]

Psychopaths - Scientists believe that psychopaths can be identified by defects in their brains. Does this mean that murderers aren't to blame for their actions and shouldn't be held responsible for their crimes? John Cornwell reports. [more]

Schizophrenia and art - The human mind, so fragile and so susceptible to trauma, pain and despair, also has wonderful recuperative powers and can find a kind of release through the processes of art. [more]

Anthropology - Almost four decades ago, a young anthropologist named Napoleon Chagnon began to study an Amazonian people who had known virtually no contact with the outside world, called the Yanomami. It was a classic case of "Paradise Lost," with outsiders sparking a wave of rapid - and some would say deadly - changes among the Yanomami. Now Chagnon stands accused of cultural crimes, and he has been banned from pursuing his life's work. Who is right, and who's been wronged? Both sides get their say in a fresh examination of the issue. MSNBC, National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure.

Parenting - When dads or other father figures get personally involved, kids do better in school. The finding, says a University of Illinois researcher, suggests that schools should encourage male interaction, especially with at-risk kids. [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.

Science and freedom - Since science inevitably tends to illuminate the causal antecedents of phenomena, including human behavior, it is no surprise that this notion of free will is threatened by advances in neuroscience, biology, and other fields that place behavior in a genetic and environmental context.... [more]

Sperm competition - A new study shows that the volume of the midpiece in individual sperm is significantly greater in primate species in which the females mate with multiple partners, and in which males have larger testes in relation to their body weight, than in those species that mate with only one partner and have relatively small testes. [more]

Genetics - The April issue of Nature Reviews Genetics features a special print and web focus on the Evolution of Sex. [more]

Human evolution - Was Australopithecus ancestral to humans? Were they merely cousins in the evolutionary chain? Or simply a stage between apes and humans? Among various debates about these early hominids is the argument whether or not they could stand and walk upright like people do. William Sanders, a paleontologist at the University of Michigan, has found that Australopithecus shared many, but not all, of the anatomical features that enable humans to walk upright. [more]

Psychology - "My impression of psychological research is that it is conducted by bright, well-trained individuals armed with millions of dollars in research funds and that their work is resulting in massive amounts of data relevant to a wide range of important and interesting issues. There is, however, a component of this process that has become, over the years, the weak link in our goal to understand psychological phenomena: Data analysis," writes Rand R. Wilcox. [more

Sexual abuse - People who experienced unsolicited sexual touching before puberty stand a greater chance of ending up serving jail time as teen-agers or adults, according to research conducted at the University of Houston. [more]

Depression - Patients who felt happier when Schiffer's goggles forced them to look right were also more likely to improve when their left brains were ''tickled'' by a magnetic pulse, according to a new study by Schiffer and Alvaro Pascual-Leone, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, published in the March issue of Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, and Behavioral Neurology. Boston Globe, PubMed.

Editor's choice Schizophrenia - Gene expression analysis in schizophrenia: Reproducible up-regulation of several members of the apolipoprotein L family located in a high-susceptibility locus for schizophrenia on chromosome 22. [more]

Editor's choice Brain evolution - Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have found that a pair of recently discovered genes enables the brain of vertebrate animals, including humans, to grow large and complex. [more] New findings provide an empirical link between behavioral innovation, social learning capacities, and brain size in mammals. The ability to learn from others, invent new behaviors, and use tools may have played pivotal roles in primate brain evolution. [more]

Marijuana - Peter Fried and colleagues report that light and former use of marijuana does not appear to have a long-term effect on intelligence, while heavy use appears to be detrimental. [more]

Violence against women - Cost-benefit analyses of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 suggest the legislation, which provided $1.6 billion for various prevention programs over five years, saved $14.8 billion in net social costs that otherwise would have been incurred. [more]

Child development - A new technical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) identifies parents' actions that may amount to psychological maltreatment of children, as well as the consequences of such actions. [more]

Editor's choice Autism - Scientists are closing in on the handful of genes linked to autism - by eliminating those not connected with the condition. BBC News Online, EurekAlert, Molecular Psychiatry.

Medicine - F. Gonzalez-Crussi reviews Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande. [more]

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History - Anthony Campbell reviews The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw by Michael Ruse. [more]

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Medicine - Duncan Double reviews Great Feuds in Medicine by Hal Hellman. [more]

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Primatology - James Brody reviews A Primate's Memoir by Robert Sapolsky. [more]

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Psychiatry - Nathaniel S. Lehrman reviews Out of its Mind; Psychiatry in crisis: A call for reform by J. Allan Hobson and Jonathan A. Leonard. [more]

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Emotion - artificial intelligence - James Hitt reviews Passionate Engines: What Emotions Reveal About Mind and Artificial Intelligence by Craig Delancey. [more]
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Philosophy - Heike Schmidt-Felzmann reviews Philosophy and the Neurosciences: A Reader edited by William Bechtel, Pete Mandik, Jennifer Mundale, and Robert Stufflebeam. [more]

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Science and pseudoscience - Saty Satya-Murti reviews Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction: Where Real Science Ends . . . and Pseudoscience Begins by Charles M. Wynn and Arthur W. Wiggins. [more]

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History - molecular biology - Doris Teichler Zallen reviews Operators and Promoters: The Story of Molecular Biology and Its Creators by Harrison Echols, edited by Carol A. Gross. [more]

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Editor's choice Biotechnology - Nicholas Wade reviews Our Posthuman Future by Francis Fukuyama. [more]

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Addiction - Fred Ashmore reviews Recovery from Addiction: A Practical Guide to Treatment, Self-Help, and Quitting on Your Own by William Cloud and Robert Granfield. [more]

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Evolutionary psychology - A Mind of Her Own: The Evolutionary Psychology of Women by Anne Campbell. [excerpt - pdf]

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