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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 59 - 18th May, 2002

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History - An exhibition celebrating Gregor Mendel, the "father of genetics", opens in a monastery in the Czech city of Brno on Tuesday. [more]

Language - Michael Corballis, a psychologist at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, is the latest proponent of a controversial idea known among language experts as the "gestural theory." In essence, gestural theorists contend that long before early humans spoke they jabbered away with their hands. [more]

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Sex differences - "Men and women display patterns of behavioral and cognitive differences that reflect varying hormonal influences on brain development," says Doreen Kimura. [more]

Consciousness - Are our thoughts made of the distributed kind of electromagnetic field that permeates space and carries the broadcast signal to the TV or radio? [more]

Psychiatry - All of the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association - Psychiatric News 17 May 2002; Vol. 37, No. 10. [more]

Anthropology - "So many of Patrick Tierney's allegations have been refuted that in a court of law, he simply would be dismissed as an unreliable witness," says Kent V. Flannery. [more]

Language - Does language shape our thoughts, or is it the other way around? Sanjida O'Connell reports. [more]

Laughter - Humans don't have a monopoly on laughter, says Silvia Cardoso. A behavioural biologist at the State University of Campinas, Brazil, she says it's a primitive reflex common to most animals: even rats laugh. She tells Sophie Petit-Zeman that too little laughter could have serious consequences for our mental, physical and social well-being. [more]

Sleep - Scientists are closer to understanding the mysterious "circadian" rhythm that governs sleep and wake after an experiment using fruit flies. [more]

Editor's choice Genealogy - "The mathematical study of genealogy indicates that everyone in the world is descended from Nefertiti and Confucius, and everyone of European ancestry is descended from Muhammad and Charlemagne," writes Steve Olson. [more]

Internet - Americans are using the internet to make major life decisions, according to a new study. [more]

Editor's choice Biography - BioMed Central has launched Science Archive, a new multimedia resource consisting of extensive autobiographical video recordings with some of the most important scientists of the last century. [more]

Obituary - Walter A. Rosenblith, one of the first scientists to use computer models to emulate the behavior of the human brain, died on May 1 in Miami Beach. He was 88. [more]

Genetic engineering - The power to genetically enhance future generations could be a boon for humanity - or it could lead to an era of violent rebellion against the emergence of a new 'overclass'. In the final excerpts from his controversial new book, Francis Fukuyama weighs the options and warns of a world in which we may lose sight of what it means to be human. [more]

Personality - A website claims to be able to analyse your character through your favourite colours. [more]

PTSD - People who experience problems sleeping shortly after a traumatic event may be at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Israeli researchers report. [more]

IQ - "The parents who see their bright offspring as status symbols really do need their heads examined," says Carol Sarler. [more]

Addiction - Adrenaline junkies hooked on dangerous sports such as hang-gliding or bungee jumping have the same 'risk-taking' genetic make-up as heroin addicts, according to the latest drugs research carried out for the World Health Organisation. [more]

Editor's choice Face recognition - How good are you at recognizing the faces of monkeys? Chances are, you were very good at six months of age, but by nine months you were only good--or at least fast--at discriminating between faces of people. That's the conclusion of a study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and two English universities, who say it provides evidence that the brain's ability to perceive faces normally narrows as infants develop. EurekAlert, EurekAlert, BBC News Online.

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Sleep - Like sleuths in an endlessly complex Agatha Christie novel, scientists at The Neurosciences Institute have been trying to solve the mystery of why we need to sleep. Now, following a two-year investigation, they have identified two genetic suspects that suggest one day it may be possible to prevent the consequences of sleep deprivation. [more]

Neuroscience - Deciding on hormone-replacement therapy - weighing the far-reaching benefits and risks - can give a woman a headache. Now researchers say estrogen may dictate what problem-solving strategies the brain uses to solve problems. [more]

Emotion - New research suggests that low levels of mu-opioid receptor binding in the limbic system are associated with a stronger than normal response to emotional stimulation. [more]

Editor's choice Cloning - Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have found that the activity of a single gene is a powerful predictor of whether newly cloned mammalian embryos will survive and thrive, but the gene's sporadic expression in cloned mouse embryos casts fresh doubt on prospects for reproductive human cloning. [more]

Mental health - Mental health care of children has a gender-based difference in the primary care setting, according to an article in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. [more]

Editor's choice Hypertension - People's risk for hypertension associated with having a parental history of hypertension may be influenced by observing how their parents handled stress, says researchers who examined relations among numerous behavioral responses and family history of hypertension. [more]

Editor's choice Life - If there are other planets like Earth out there, at least one in three probably harbours life, say two physicists in Australia. If life can arise on planets unlike ours then its more likely even than that. Nature Science Update, Preprint.

Editor's choice Junk DNA - Junk DNA is the Rodney Dangerfield of the genetics world. It makes up nearly half of all human DNA, but many scientists dismiss it as useless gibberish. A new study published online today from the June 2002 issue of Nature Genetics, however, suggests that segments of junk DNA called LINE-1 elements deserve more respect. [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.

Sex-based longevity - Societal and lifestyle issues-not biology-appear to have the greatest influences on whether men or women live longer. [more]

Evolution and obstetrics - The changes in our way of life since modern homo sapiens evolved into a hunter-gatherer ecological niche less than 100 000 years ago have been very profound. [more - free registration required]

Motivation - Linda Mealey reviews Evolutionary Psychology and Motivation edited by Jeffrey A. French, Alan Kamil & Daniel Leger. [more]
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Hypnosis - Phil Baker reviews Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis by Robin Waterfield. [more]

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Neuroscience - Jerry Fodor reviews Synaptic Self: How our brains become who we are by Joseph LeDoux. [more]

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Editor's choice Sexual behaviour - Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn about Sex from Animals by Marlene Zuk. [more]

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Natural History - Sue Armstrong reviews I Have Landed by Stephen Jay Gould. [more]

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Child psychiatry - Margaret E. Hertzig, MD and Theodore Shapiro, MD review Developmental Neuropsychiatry, vols 1 and 2, by James C. Harris, MD. and Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology, 2nd ed, edited by Arnold J Sameroff, PhD, Michael Lewis, PhD, and Suzanne M. Miller, PhD. [more]

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Psychiatry - Robert Michels reviews New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry, vols 1 and 2 edited by Michael G. Gelder, Juan J. Lopez-Ibor, Jr, MD, and Nancy C. Andreason, MD, PhD. [more]

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Psychotherapy - John Rush reviews Comprehensive Guide to Interpersonal Psychotherapy by Myrna M. Weissman, MD, John C. Markowitz, MD, and Gerald L. Klerman, MD. [more]

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Culture - Andy Lock reviews The Evolution of Culture edited by Robin Dunbar, Chris Knight and Camilla Power. [more]

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Human evolution - David P. Barash reviews A Brain For All Seasons by William H. Calvin and The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller. [more]

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Futurology - Neil Levy reviews Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution by Francis Fukuyama. [more]

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Psychology - Robert D. Kaplan reviews The King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership by Arnold M. Ludwig. [more]

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