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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 58 - 11th May, 2002
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Origin of life - The cherished assumption that life emerged in the oceans has been thrown into doubt. New research shows that primitive cellular membranes assemble more easily in freshwater than in salt water. So although the oldest known fossil organisms were ocean dwellers, life may actually have developed in freshwater ponds. [more]


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Primatology - conservation - In less than 20 years, Sheila Siddle has built the world's largest orphanage for chimpanzees in the backyard of her central African farm. [more]



Human genome - The web helped decode human DNA, and kept it in the public domain, says Kate Mathieson. [more]


Human evolution - Scientific evidence supports the vision that while the earlier Neanderthal people created a male-dominated society, Cro-Magnon tribes developed sexual equality. [more]


Mental illness - More children appear to be screening positive for signs and symptoms of mental illness in the emergency room, and more are being admitted for such disorders, according to two studies released here this week at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies. [more]


Breastfeeding - The longer infants are breast-fed the higher they are likely to score on intelligence tests as adults, a Danish study said today. New York Times, Ananova.


Antidepressants - Prescriptions for antidepressant medications for children and teenagers rose substantially during the 1990s, US researchers have found. [more]


The Social Net - Ten years ago, computer aficionados had the Internet pretty much to themselves Today, their electronic playground has become a grand, weird, unpredictable social experiment. [more]


Science - Most people have framed the cloning controversy as one that pits the promise of cures against religion and the question of when life begins. But there is another, unacknowledged, current running through the discussion: a fear of science, and a corresponding desire to rein it in. [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.
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Depression - The depressed brain seems able to heal itself in the short run, although antidepressants may still be the key to long-term recovery. [more]

Stress - The degree of exposure to the 9/11 attacks (rather than degree of loss) appears to be a significant predictor of distress. Degree of exposure took into account the degree of proximity to the attacks in Washington, DC, New York City and Pennsylvania, the direct presence at the site versus in contact with someone in the buildings or on the planes and watching the events live on TV. Those with no firsthand experience of the attacks reported the least distress. [more]


Editor's choice Lifespan - The lifespans of people in developed nations are increasing at a remarkably constant rate, suggesting that there is no natural limit on life expectancy, said a Duke University researcher in an article in the May 10, 2002, Science. [more]


Reproduction - As more women delay having babies to finish their educations and establish their careers, a University of Michigan researcher identifies an unexpected long-term implication of waiting: likely eventual extinction of the older mother's lineage. [more]


Matriarchy - For the last century, historians, anthropologists and other scholars have searched both human history and the continents to find a matriarchy-a society where the power was in the hands of women, not men. Most have concluded that a genuine matriarchy does not exist, perhaps may never have existed. Anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday disagrees. After years of research among the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, Indonesia, she has accepted that group's own self-labeling, as a "matriarchate," or matriarchy. [more]


Editor's choice Religion - An important aspect of Americans' religious beliefs changed dramatically in the 1990s. The proportion of Americans reporting "no religious preference" doubled from 7 percent to an unprecedented level of 14 percent between 1991 and 2000, and this increase is attributable to changes in both population characteristics and the politicization of religion, according to research by University of California-Berkeley sociologists published in the current issue of the American Sociological Review. [more]


Depression - Depression and anger can make you sick, literally. But a new study at Kansas State University shows that some people take longer to snap out of it -- which can lead to health problems -- while cheerful people tend to stay happy longer. [more]


Anthropology - Award-winning research from a University of Arkansas doctoral student warns anthropologists against inferring too much about ancient activity patterns and lifestyle habits from the evidence found in bones. [more]


Memory - Findings published last week in Proceeding of the National Academy of Science (USA) could lead to a better understanding of how our memory changes with age, according to John Hart. [more]


Editor's choice Childbirth - Giving birth to and raising a son shortens a woman's lifespan by 34 weeks - but raising a daughter extends it by an average of 23 weeks, according to Finnish research. New Scientist, Science.


Mood stabilizers - A review of the use of anticonvulsants in treating the psychiatric symptoms of impulsivity, aggression and agitation. [more]


Addiction - Progress in developing medications and strategies for treating addiction were juxtaposed with the challenges of implementing accessible and effective treatment programs at The State of the Art in Addiction Medicine conference. [more]


Violence - Scientists have accidentally discovered a single gene mutation in mice that can trigger extremely violent behaviour. Ananova, Globe and Mail, Behavioural Brain Research.


Editor's choice Memory - vision - If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture with natural colors may be worth a million, memory-wise. Psychologists have documented that "living color" does more than appeal to the senses. It also boosts memory for scenes in the natural world. [more]

Crime - antisocial conduct - Anthony Walsh reviews Companions in Crime: The Social Aspects of Criminal Conduct by Mark Warr. [more]

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Evolution - Mark Ridley reviews What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr, Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea by Carl Zimmer, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould, and Darwin's Cathedral by David Sloan Wilson. [more]


Editor's choice Science - Edward Rothstein reviews A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram. [more]

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Evolution - Peter D. Smith reviews Of Moths and Men: Intrigue, Tragedy & the Peppered Moth by Judith Hooper. [more]
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Racism - John Dunn reviews Racism: A Short History by George M. Fredrickson. [more]

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Body temperature - John Bonner reviews Body Heat by Mark Blumberg. [more]

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Darwinism - Jerry Coyne reviews Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion by Michael Ruse. [more]
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Torture - Kathryn Walker reviews Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture by John Conroy. [more]

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Psychological disorders - Jayanta Hegde reviews Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders Third Edition edited by David H. Barlow. [more]
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Universal language - Ronald Jump reviews Logic and the Art of Memory: The Quest for a Universal Language by Paolo Rossi. [more]
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Free will - Tim Bayne reviews Neurophilosophy of Free Will by Henrik Walter. [more]
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Homo perfectus - Robert Lee Hotz reviews Our Posthuman Future by Francis Fukuyama, Redesigning Humans by Gregory Stock, and The Future is Now by William Kristol and Eric Cohen. [more]


Will - Stephanie D. Preston reviews Breakdown of Will by George Ainslie. [more]

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