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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 54 - 13th April, 2002

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Evolution - Richard Dawkins discusses 'The Information Challenge'. [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.

Neuroscience - Australian researchers have opened the world's first healthy-brain bank. The healthy brains will provide an invaluable baseline against which to study diseased brain tissue, they say. There are already many brain banks around the world storing samples of diseased tissue. [more]

Editor's choice Sexual behaviour - When the University of Minnesota Press agreed more than a year ago to publish a book called "Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex," it was clear that it would be controversial. [more]

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Eating disorders - Gay men appear to be at greater risk of developing eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, than are heterosexual men, according to researchers. [more]

Cloning - Brown University philosopher Dan W. Brock argues human cloning should not undermine our sense of self. [more]

Depression - Indications are that juvenile-onset and adult-onset major depressive disorder (MDD) may be etiologically distinct, according to researchers in the UK, US, and New Zealand. [more]

'Couch potatoes' - Researchers in New Zealand have discovered people who are couch potatoes could have learnt the lifestyle while in the womb. [more]

Editor's choice Artificial societies - The new science of artificial societies suggests that real ones are both more predictable and more surprising than we thought. Growing long-vanished civilizations and modern-day genocides on computers will probably never enable us to foresee the future in detail-but we might learn to anticipate the kinds of events that lie ahead, and where to look for interventions that might work. [more]

Smoking - A preliminary study of the effects of the antidepressant bupropion on smoking cessation may help identify which smokers are genetically inclined to be more responsive to drug therapy in helping them kick the habit. [more]

Repressed memories - Several years ago, in a widely circulated Peanuts cartoon, Lucy hung out her shingle and offered psychiatric help in recovering repressed memories. She told Charlie Brown: "The fact that you can't remember being abducted by aliens and satanically abused is proof that it  really happened." [more]

Editor's choice The future of humanity - "How beauteous mankind is!" said Miranda in The Tempest. But can natural evolution or our own genetic engineering improve on the present model? By Colin Tudge. [more]

ADHD - Hyperactive children calm down when they're given 'speed', but dosing with fish oils can also alleviate their symptoms. [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.

Mental hospitals - When Annemarie's young son was killed, she was sent to a lunatic asylum and she's been in and out of institutions ever since. She is typical of hundreds of former patients: often troubled but rarely mad, they were treated worse than animals. Now, as the old hospitals close down, they are telling their stories at last. [more]

Anticipation - The End is Where We Start From - As a characteristic of the living, anticipation complements the physicality of existence. It also accounts for significant cognitive characteristics of the human being. [more] and [more]

Sociology - College age women reported talking about sex and sex-related topics with their best friend more than men did in a recent Penn State study and the researchers say these different communications styles could set men and women up for mismatched expectations about conversations with their partner in a romantic relationship. [more]

Child development - The beat begins early in life when it comes to children's choice of instruments: boys favor drums and horns, girls flutes and violins. [more]

Learning - McLean Hospital researchers report in the April 11 Neuron a discovery that could help resolve one of the liveliest controversies in contemporary neuroscience - how the brain changes during learning and memory. [more]

Editor's choice Comparative neuroscience - A team of international researchers from Germany, the Netherlands and San Diego may have shed light on why chimps and humans are so genetically similar (nearly 99 percent of shared DNA sequences), and yet so mentally different. EurekAlert, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ananova, MSNBC, New York Times, BBC News Online, Nature Science Update, ABC News, New ScientistAssociated Press, Reuters

Inbreeding - A team of geneticists, including two from North Carolina State University, has published a paper in Nature that - by comparing amino acid replacements in mustard weed with those in fruit flies - helps verify, at the molecular level, the evolutionary hypothesis that inbreeding is detrimental. [more]

Genomic imprinting - Two Rice University biologists believe social insects like ants and bees could provide clues to why some animals -- including humans -- have developed a curious quality in which the genes of their parents vie in direct competition, waging a kind of biochemical war. [more]

Sexual relationships - Overly medical approaches to sex ignore the social and interpersonal dynamics of relationships, argue researchers in this week's British Medical Journal. [more]

Psychiatry - "Much of the expansion of psychiatry in the past few decades has been based on a biomedical model that encourages drug treatment to be seen as a panacea for multiple problems," says Duncan Double. [more]

Editor's choice Human genetics - Researchers from the University of Chicago have estimated that genetic mutations - the raw material for evolution - occur 5.25 times more often in males than in females. This discovery should lay to rest any doubts raised by recent studies questioning the dominant role males play in producing mutations for molecular evolution. [more]

Editor's choice Crime - A new study provides some of the best evidence to date that low wages and unemployment make less-educated men more likely to turn to crime. [more]

Disease - What is and what is not a disease? The British Medical Journal recently ran a vote on bmj.com to identify "non-diseases". The aim was to prompt a debate on what is and what is not a disease and draw attention to the increasing tendency to classify people' s problems as diseases. [more] Doctors say disorders such as obesity, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome are not diseases. [more]

Editor's choice Depression - The largest clinical trial performed to date on the popular herbal supplement St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has found it to be no more effective than placebo for the treatment of a moderately severe form of major depression. EurekAlert, Journal of the American Medical Association, BBC News Online, Reuters.

Terrorism - A national field experiment by Carnegie Mellon University scientists on American emotions and perceptions of the risk of terrorist threats following September 11 reveals a national psyche influenced in opposite ways by fear and anger. [more]

Human genetics - MitoKor has announced the publication of a large, wide ranging study analyzing the mitochondrial DNA sequences of more than 500 individuals of different ethnic origins in The American Journal of Human Genetics. EurekAlert, MitoKor, Mimotopes.

Editor's choice Mental disorders - Evidence is accumulating that the occurrence of severe psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, may be increasing. [more]

Child development - Pregnant or nursing women may be able to reduce their chances of developing postpartum depression and improve the neurological development of their babies by increasing their consumption of the essential fatty acid DHA, according to David Kyle, Ph.D. [more]

Neuroscience - Duke University Medical Center researchers have discovered the brain region that automatically watches for patterns in sequences of events, even when the pattern emerges by random happenstance. [more]

Genocide - Laura Secor reviews A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power. [more]

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Creationism - Jim Holt reviews Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics edited by Robert Pennock. [more]

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Child development - Lise Eliot reviews The Infant's World by Philippe Rochat. [more]

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Rhetoric - George D. Gopen reviews Shaping Science with Rhetoric: The Cases of Dobzhansky, Schrödinger, and Wilson by Leah Ceccarelli. [more]
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Reductionism - Robert Dorit reviews Lessons from the Living Cell: The Limits of Reductionism by Stephen Rothman. [more]

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Science - Nathaniel C. Comfort reviews Science Fictions: A Scientific Mystery, a Massive Cover-up, and the Dark Legacy of Robert Gallo by John Crewdson. [more]

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History - Daniel J. Kevles reviews A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics by Nicholas Wright Gillham. [more]
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Drug companies - Ray Moynihan reviews Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers are Making You Feel Sick by Lynn Payer. [more]

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Medicine - Richard Smith reviews Limits to Medicine. Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health by Ivan Illich. [more]
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Menopause - Sandra Coney reviews The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause by Germaine Greer. [more]

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Editor's choice Creationism - Kevin Padian and Alan D. Gishlick review Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? by Jonathan Wells. [more - pdf]
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Mental illness - George Graham reviews Creating Mental Illness by Allan V. Horwitz. [more] and [more]
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Politics - Margaret Wertheim reviews The Politics of Excellence: Behind the Nobel Prize in Science by Robert Marc Friedman. [more]

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Extinction - Robert Matthews reviews Guide to the End of the World by Bill McGuire. [more]
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Editor's choice Biology - Bert Gold reviews Genes, Categories, and Species: The Evolutionary and Cognitive Causes of the Species Problem by Jody Hey. [more]

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Biology - John Cornwell reviews The Future of Life by Edward O Wilson. [more]
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Psychology - Steven Rose reviews The Cradle of Thought by Peter Hobson. [more]

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Editor's choice Culture - Philip Collins reviews The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture by Henry Plotkin. [more]

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Social epidemics - Alex Gibbons reviews The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. [more]
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