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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 57 - 4th May, 2002

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Science - Few people in the United States understand the scientific process and many believe in mysterious psychic powers and may be quick to accept phoney science reports, according to a national survey. [more]

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

Editor's choice Pseudoscience - "The odds are stacked when science tries to debate pseudoscience," says Lawrence M. Krauss. [more]

Human genome - Two scientific papers published this week suggest that there might be many more human genes than thought, or at least that the human genome has hidden levels of complexity that are only starting to be revealed. [more]

Editor's choice Human genetics - Coming from a man whose life revolves around the study of genes, this might sound surprising: People are not the sum total of their genes. But J. Craig Venter, former president of Celera Genomics and genome mapper extraordinaire, wants the American public to know that genes are not fate and he's launched a nonprofit organization to prove it. [more]

Happiness - When we talk about being happy, what do we really mean? We know that happiness comes from a variety of sources, depending upon a person's point of view. But according to APS Fellow Daniel Kahneman, people don't know how happy they are because happiness is so relative. [more]

Obituary - Dr. Robert B. Livingston, 83, founding chairman of the department of neurosciences at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, a renowned scientist and activist, died of undisclosed causes Friday at UC San Diego's Thornton Hospital. He had been in declining health for some time. [more]

Primatology - When APS Fellow Dennis Rasmussen first slipped into his high-topped rubber boots over 20 years ago to research Panamanian tamarins, the animal psychologist quickly became captivated by the study of primates in their natural environments. [more]

Education - "A beautiful rainbow" of inner-city high school students - African Americans and Caucasians, Native Americans and Latinos, Asian Americans (primarily Hmongs) - spent a day in the psychophysiology labs on the St  Olaf College campus, 40 miles south of their homes in inner-city Minneapolis. With electroencephalo-grams, they watched how their brains responded when they read something they were interested in, then compared that to the EEG when they read something they didn't care about. [more]

Child abuse - Must a psychologist report past child abuse? [more]

Health - Closing the gap in women's health care. [more]

Science - It's disappointing to conduct a study and find the statistics to be insignificant. But a new journal, the Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis, makes insignificant results somewhat significant by publishing them. [more]

Stress - Tens of thousands of public-school children in New York City are experiencing chronic nightmares, fear of public places, severe anxiety and other mental health problems months after the World Trade Center attack, a study conducted for the Board of Education has found. [more]

Neuroscience - Scientific evidence is finally beginning to support years of clinical research suggesting that exercise is good for the brain, says Carl Cotman, professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine. [more]

Psychiatry - All the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association: Psychiatric News, 3 May 2002; Vol. 37, No. 9. [more]

Risk management - We now live in a risk society, where we are increasingly wary of the consequences of our own actions. This has changed everything, especially the way we conceive security. [more]

Nocebo effect - Ten years ago, researchers stumbled onto a striking finding: Women who believed that they were prone to heart disease were nearly four times as likely to die as women with similar risk factors who didn't hold such fatalistic views. [more]

Editor's choice Darwinism - "Darwin's lament was that nobody seemed to understand that natural selection is a process without purpose - without a preordained outcome and without an active selection process as in 'Man's selection'. I believe that this aspect of Darwin's idea has never become widely understood - and that instead, history and culture have dictated that evolution, as an active conscious selector and an inevitably progressive force, is widely thought to represent natural selection," writes Stuart Hobday. [more]

ADHD - Can 'distraction' be found in the brain's biochemistry? [more]

Placebo effect - New brain-imaging studies show for the first time how and where the placebo effect kindles changes in the brain, renewing interest in the topic. [more]

Editor's choice Racism - An awful chapter in the history of colonialism came to a dignified end yesterday when the remains of an African woman who had been taken to Europe and exhibited as a circus freak was finally handed back to South African officials at a ceremony in Paris. [more]

Archaeology - politics - The ongoing debate over where the first Americans came from has anthropologists battling with Native Americans, white supremacists and the Army Corps of Engineers. [more]

Philosophy - He is thought of as rightwing but is Karl Popper just misunderstood? Roger James on the centenary of a controversial philosopher. [more]

Gene bank - The genetic details of 500,000 people are to be collected and stored in a central UK pool, following the approval of £45m in funding. [more]

Antidepressants - Seroxat is set to overtake Prozac as the world's favourite antidepressant. With 100m prescriptions in more than 100 countries, it is aggressively marketed as the addiction-free answer to our anxieties. But thousands of patients are now saying their dependence on the dream drug has all but destroyed their lives. [more]

Human genome - Clues for using the sequence of the human genome to diagnose and treat diseases may lie in our distant past, says a University of Florida professor. [more]

Development - Mothers who learn to let their babies cry themselves to sleep have better nights and suffer less postnatal depression, research suggests. A report in the British Medical Journal found that teaching mothers "controlled crying" techniques significantly reduced sleep problems. BBC News Online, British Medical Journal.

Mate choice - Female birds that overhear their partner lose a singing contest are more likely to mate sneakily with another male, researchers have found. [more]

Sexual behaviour - The number of 15- to 17-year-old boys having sex in the past decade dropped 8.5 percent, and teens were generally acting more responsibly when it came to sex with rates of pregnancy, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases all falling. [more]

Editor's choice Genetics and alcoholism - Rainer Spanagel of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, reports in the journal Science that mice lacking a gene known only as CRH1 drank more alcohol after an uncomfortable experience than normal mice. The Guardian, BBC News Online, EurekAlert.

Depression - Elderly women with subthreshold depression tend to live longer than those without depression, according to findings reported by investigators at Duke University Medical Center. [more]

Depression - development - Stimulation of young infants with "baby talk" helps foster learning. However, when a mother is depressed, this form of stimulation may be muted enough to affect the infant's development, the results of a small study suggest. [more]

Growth - If you know how big and how warm an animal is, you can work out how long it will take to grow, say researchers. These two factors account for nearly all of the variation in developmental time from plankton to birds. [more]

Aging - Men and women suffer somewhat life-threatening health problems about equally in old age, a Penn State-led study has found; although, the genders differ in the numbers of very life threatening and not-at-all life threatening illnesses that befall them. [more]

Editor's choice Language - The ability to learn a new language is determined by the onset of language experience during early brain development - regardless of the specific form of the language experience. EurekAlert, Nature.

Sexual behaviour - Self-esteem plays an apparent role in the loss of virginity among adolescents, according to a study by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine published in the April 2002 issue of Pediatrics. [more]

Bisexuality - Bisexual people are more likely to have mental health problems than either heterosexual or homosexual adults, a study published on Wednesday found. [more]

Atypical neuroleptics - Younger patients with schizophrenia are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes if they are treated with an atypical neuroleptic drug as opposed to a conventional neuroleptic, data from a Veterans Health Administration study indicate. [more]

Placebo effect - Whether it's a widely prescribed medication or a placebo, a successful treatment for depression must trigger a common pattern of brain activity changes, suggests a team of researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. [more]

Depression - Enough Americans suffer from depression to fill Yankee Stadium 330 times over, and while depression rates continue to rise, people with the illness have reason to be hopeful. A new study shows that doctors are treating the disease more than ever before - thanks in part to the newest category of antidepressant medication. [more]

Bipedalism - During the past 100 years, scientists have tossed around a great many hypotheses about the evolutionary route to bipedalism, to what inspired our prehuman ancestors to stand up straight and amble off on two feet. Now, after an extensive study of evolutionary, anatomical and fossil evidence, a team of paleoanthropologists has narrowed down the number of tenable hypotheses to explain bipedalism and our prehuman ancestors' method of navigating their world before they began walking upright. [more]

Editor's choice Fear - An international team of researchers headed by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have found experimental evidence that the various manifestations of fear in animals are influenced by a specific place or region within the genome. [more]

Editor's choice Development - Babies who look longer at certain objects are counting, not just looking at new shapes and textures, according to a study by Yale University researchers. [more]

Mate choice - Facial attractiveness judgements reflect learning of parental age characteristics. Proceedings of The Royal Society, Abstract.

Editor's choice Evolution - The oldest fossilised footprints ever found on land suggest animals may have emerged from the sea before plants. Ananova, Nature Science Update.

Fertility - Signs of decline in a woman's fertility are detectable even before she reaches 30, according to researchers. UniSci, BBC News Online, San Francisco Chronicle, New Scientist.

Editor's choice Mate choice - Research to be published in the upcoming issue of Proceedings B, a British Royal Society publication, indicates that women tend to be more interested in sex, in particular with men other than their primary romantic partners, when they are ovulating. UniSci, Proceedings B, Ananova, New Scientist, Discovery News.

Editor's choice Autism - Most reports of immunological abnormalities in autistic children have been from this subgroup of affected children, and the authors cite the increasing body of evidence for abnormal immune regulation and autoimmunity in autism. [more]

Language - The emergence of a new paradigm in ape language research. [more]

Adaptationism - Adaptationism is a research strategy that seeks to identify adaptations and the specific selective forces that drove their evolution in past environments. [more]

Feminism - Kay S. Hymowitz reviews Woman's Inhumanity to Woman by Phyllis Chesler. [more]

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Biotechnology - Colin McGinn reviews Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution by Francis Fukuyama. [more] [first chapter]

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Descartes - How Descartes - the author of the Discourse on Method (1637), and a mathematician, dualist, ontologist, cosmologist and supreme rationalist - achieved his status in France is the singular tale told in François Azouvi's fascinating book, Descartes et a France: Histoire d'une passion nationale. [more]

Suicide - Jeremy Hugh Baron reviews The Art of Suicide by Ron M Brown. [more]

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Race - Scott MacEachern reviews The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium by Joseph L. Graves, Jr. [more]

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Science - history - Amy Ione reviews The Establishment of Science in America: 150 Years of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, Michael M. Sokal, and Bruce V. Lewenstein. [more]

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Human evolution - Peter Frost reviews Desolate Landscapes: Ice-Age Settlement in Eastern Europe by John F. Hoffecker. [more]

Desolate Landscapes

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Stress - Roger D. Masters reviews Stress at Work: A Sociological Perspective by Chris L. Peterson. [more]

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

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Biography - Francis A. Neelon reviews Ahead of the Curve: David Baltimore's Life in Science by Shane Crotty. [more]

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Schizophrenia - Lisa Perkins reviews Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers, and Providers. (Fourth Edition) By E. Fuller Torrey. [more]

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History - genetics - Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes by Steve Olson. [more]

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Life - Will Self reviews The Future of Life by Edward O Wilson. [more]

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