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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 60 - 1st June, 2002

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Mate choice - New research shows that a woman is most likely to fantasize about someone other than her spouse or current sex partner during the brief period each month when she is ovulating. [more]

Human evolution - In the view of Dr. Richard W. Wrangham, a professor of anthropology at Harvard, the preparing, cooking and sociable eating of food are so central to the human experience that the culinary arts may well be what made us human in the first place. [more]

Civilisation - After three seasons of excavation in northeastern Syria, archaeologists say they are more sure than ever that they have broadened the geography of early civilization. [more]

Rationality - One might agree, in theory, that people should base their economic decisions or judgments on rational expectations and forecasts. But a recent study of hindsight bias--the "I knew it all along" effect--in economic expectations found that people's need to be right is stronger than their ability to be objective. [more]

Emotion and cognition - Conventional wisdom advises us to keep a positive attitude. But new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that may not be so easy, since the interaction between mood and thinking is more complicated than previously believed. [more]

Editor's choice Crime and psychology - Five psychologists show how mental health professionals and police departments can successfully partner. [more] Solving crimes. [more] Revitalizing Boston's police force. [more] Research into practice. [more] Helping mentally ill offenders. [more] On call, 24-7. [more] Police psychology resources. [more] Psychology and policing: a dynamic partnership. [more] Improving the tools to fight terrorism. [more]

Mind-body - The APA's Monitor on Psychology presents a series of articles on the "mind-body connection". [more]

Mate choice - The idea that men are interested in a woman's beauty while women are interested in the size of a man's wallet is overly simplistic, according to new study findings. [more]

Languages - The publication of the book Language in Danger: How Language Loss Threatens Our Future, by Andrew Dalby, coincides with recent gloomy predictions from Manchester University that 90 percent of the world's 5000 languages are likely to disappear by 2050. 'The linguistic equivalent of an ecological disaster is looming', concluded the UK Guardian - following claims that in 50 years' time we will all be speaking English, Hindi, Arabic, Mandarin or Spanish. [more]

Mental illness - The mentally ill are taking charge of their own recovery. But they disagree on what that means. [more]

Editor's choice Comparative genomics - Mice and men share about 97.5 per cent of their working DNA, just one per cent less than chimps and humans. The new estimate is based on the comparison of mouse chromosome 16 with human DNA. Previous estimates had suggested mouse-human differences as high as 15 per cent. [more]

ADHD - About 1.6 million cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been diagnosed in American elementary school children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [more]

Artificial intelligence - "I would like to have a machine or robot which you felt bad about switching off. I want to build a living machine," says Rodney Brooks, Professor of Robotics at MIT. [more]

Religion - A new study claims devout Catholics are more likely to show symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Ananova, BBC News Online, New Scientist.

Culture - "C. L. R. James was one of the great radicals of the twentieth century, an anti-imperialist, a superb historian of black struggles, a Marxist who remained one even when it was no longer fashionable to be so. But today, James' defence of 'Western civilisation' would probably be dismissed as Eurocentric, even racist," writes Kenan Malik. [more]

Language - Analysis of thousands of mitochondrial DNA samples has led Estonian archeogeneticists to the origins of Arabic. Ene Metspalu of the Department of Evolutionary Biology at Tartu University and the Estonian Biocentre in Tartu, claims to have evidence that the Arab-Berber languages of the Near and Middle East came out of East Africa around 10,000 years ago. [more] COMMENT: Professor Larry Trask.

Ethics - Genetics may yet threaten privacy, kill autonomy, make society homogeneous and gut the concept of human nature. But neuroscience could do all of these things first. [more]

Archaeology - What could be the oldest lifelike drawings of human faces have been uncovered in a cave in southern France. [more]

Drugs - Can drugs really stimulate creativity? What is the impact of drugs on the mind? And what role have narcotics and stimulants played in the history of medicine? [audio]

Sexual selection - Are women responsible for the intelligence of the human race because they consistently pick brain over brawn when choosing mates? [more]

Recovered memories - Incest accusations of the recovered-memory craze tore families apart. Now one of its leaders wants to let bygones be bygones. [more]

Biotechnology - Spiked! interview with Francis Fukuyama. [more]

Editor's choice Eugenics - The Bell Curve asserts that those possessing a high IQ constitute a hereditary upper class while their more limited counterparts at the opposite end of the IQ spectrum make up an "underclass." The Bell Curve also analyzes social and economic stratification in America and concludes that the inequality which allegedly exists in this country is attributable to genetically transmitted "ethnic differences." The social and political implications of The Bell Curve's message led to immediate controversy, and the book has generated a tremendous amount of commentary from both scholars and the popular media. At least some of the controversy has been fueled by the history of eugenics in America. [more - PDF]

Editor's choice Obituary - Stephen Jay Gould - Sadly, on Monday, May 20, Stephen Jay Gould the famous American palaeontologist died of cancer. He was 60 and died at his home in New York. Marxist.com, Steven Rose and Steve Jones in The Guardian, Counterpunch, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, The Independent, San Jose Mercury News, Harvard Gazette, Nature, Boston Globe, New York Times, BBC News Online, Reuters, Associated Press, American Museum of Natural History, More on Stephen Jay Gould, Freethought, Overview of the American scientist's life and thought, Louis Proyect, Richard Levins, Memorial Service, Gould's battle against racism, National Center for Science Education, Times Higher Education Supplement, Salon.com.

Marriage - Married men who spend time with their wives and kids have lower testosterone levels than bachelors. The discovery suggests that having less of the hormone could play a part in encouraging men to devote their energies to the family rather than looking for another partner. [more]

Science - Economics may be the dismal science, but these days the news about chemistry, physics and biology is fairly dismal as well. At the end of April, the National Science Foundation released its biannual report on the state of science and to no one's surprise, public understanding and attitudes have been found wanting. [more]

Obituary - "The Lonely Crowd," the book for which David Riesman is best known, was published more than half a century ago. It remains not only the best-selling book by a professional sociologist in American history, but arguably one that has had the widest influence on the nation at large. The work of Mr. Riesman, who died May 10, inevitably raises questions about the claims and limitations of academic sociology today. [more]

Autism - Excess amounts of testosterone in mothers' wombs may cause their babies to suffer autism in later life. This startling theory has been put forward by Cambridge scientists who have discovered that the hormone - which is primarily found in men, but also in low levels in women - is linked to children's abilities to communicate and empathise with others. [more]

Consciousness - For centuries, philosophers have been bedeviled by this question: What makes people aware of themselves, and what gives rise to intention and free will? In other words, what is consciousness? [more]

Neuroscience and society - Research offers new ways to alter brain function but benefits come with social policy questions. [more]

Editor's choice Eating disorders - Exposure to television significantly increases eating disorders in adolescent girls, according to a new study. Ananova, British Journal of Psychiatry, BBC News Online.

Development - Scientists have identified a crucial factor required for the masculinization of the mammalian embryo. [more]

Editor's choice Perception - New research shows that what falls below the horizon line in ambiguous displays is most often seen as 'the figure.' Monitor on Psychology, Press release.

Development - Pregnant women with high anxiety might be passing on future behavioural and emotional problems to their babies, a study has suggested. The Guardian, British Journal of Psychiatry.

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Editor's choice Learning - Neuroscientists have identified a brain cell that changes during operant conditioning, which is a form of reward learning, providing the first look at cellular processes involved in this major, but poorly understood, form of learning. Press Release, Full text - PDF.

Handwriting - Computer scientists at the University at Buffalo have provided the first peer-reviewed scientific validation that each person's handwriting is individual, according to a paper that will be published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in July. [more]

Editor's choice Reward - Delaying gratification while working toward a goal appears to have roots in a specific brain circuit. NIMH scientists have discovered a signal in a brain area involved in motivation that strengthens as a monkey performs a task for which it has been trained to expect a reward. [more]

Memory - Apparently random remembrances, triggered by a sensory cue representing only a portion of the original memory, appear to be dependent on a particular region of the brain-the CA3 region of the hippocampus. [more]

Noise - The clatter and racket from roads, railways and other loud neighborhood noises can harm children's mental health, says a new study in the June issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. [more]

Language - Um ... there're these psychologists, right? And they've, uh, come up with, like, the idea that 'um' and 'uh' are really words, which speakers, um ... use to highlight their conversational problems. Ok? Nature Science Update, Cognition.

Mate choice - Kevin J. McGraw, a biologist at Cornell University, knew what female birds and other animals in crowded, resource-scarce environments look for in their mates: males with potential to materially care for females and their offspring. But what about the human animal? [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.

Stress - Researchers have designed a detection system that could soon help track a soldier's stress level on the battlefield. The advance, which involves the use of the hormone hydrocortisone as a molecular marker. EurekAlert, Ananova.

Fatigue - Mentally fatigued trial subjects search less systematically for solutions than fit colleagues. Such fatigued persons switch to an automatic pilot approach even when this repeatedly leads to the same mistakes. [more]

Addiction - Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have detected differences in areas of the brain in chronic cocaine users. These differences were detected in regions involved in decision making, behavioral inhibition, and emotional reaction to the environment. [more]

Schizophrenia - One of the greatest difficulties in treating schizophrenia has always been helping patients to stay on their medication. Now, that problem is closer to being solved. [more]

Editor's choice Neurochemistry - Dopamine may play role in cue-induced craving distinct from its role regulating reward effects. [more]

Editor's choice Emotion - Deactivating the cerebellum in rats suggests that the structure may also have an important role in remembering powerful emotions. BioMedNet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Editor's choice Evolution - The formation of new species is a gradual and not a sudden process, according to a team of biologists from the UK, France, Australia and the USA. [more]

Archaeology - Archaeology can provide two bodies of information relevant to the understanding of the evolution of human cognition - the timing of developments, and the evolutionary context of these developments. The challenge is methodological. [more]

"Intermittent Explosive Disorder" - People who carry out road rage attacks and impulsive acts of violence may suffer from a brain disorder, a study reports today. Intermittent Explosive Disorder is associated with outbursts of aggression but, until now, there has been no evidence of a brain abnormality. The Telegraph, New Scientist, Reuters.

OCD - Brain researchers at Rigshospital have used radioactive tracers to correlate heightened activity in certain areas of the brain to obsessive-compulsive disorder. [more]

Depression - New depression studies reveal persistent serotonin system abnormality in patients. [more]

Mental health - Findings from a post-Sept. 11, 2001, study by Brown University researchers support the idea that psychiatric patients are at increased risk for experiencing distressing symptoms following national terrorist attacks. [more]

Editor's choice Primatology - tool use - A study of chimpanzees' use of hammers to open nuts in western Africa may provide fresh clues to how tools developed among human ancestors. EurekAlert, Max Planck Society, CNN, Nando Times, Discovery.

Psychotherapy - A new study indicates that cognitive therapy is at least as effective as medication for long-term treatment of severe depression, and it is less expensive. The findings, by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University, undercut opinions now held by many in the psychiatric profession. [more]

Language - It turns out children are not just miniature adults, at least not when it comes to processing words. Neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis used a variety of innovative research methods to identify similarities and differences between adult and pediatric brains when performing certain language exercises. [more]

Editor's choice Homosexuality - Roughly one in seven gay men may owe his sexual orientation to the fact he has older brothers. [more]

Editor's choice Genetics - A  new  study  using mouse  "knockouts" shows that genes that control limb formation in insects have similar functions in mammals. [more]

Evolutionary psychology - After more than 5,000 years of human-feline cohabitation and enough elaborations on "meow!" to fill a dictionary, cats still haven't mastered language. But a Cornell University evolutionary psychology study ---- analyzing people's reactions to feline vocalizations ---- shows that cats know how to get what they want. [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.

Creativity and mental illness - For decades, scientists have known that eminently creative individuals have a much higher rate of manic depression, or bipolar disorder, than does the general population. But few controlled studies have been done to build the link between mental illness and creativity. Now, Stanford researchers Connie Strong and Terence Ketter, MD, have taken the first steps toward exploring the relationship. [more]

Genetic engineering - Steven Rose reviews Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution by Francis Fukuyama. [more]

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Genetic engineering - Brenda Maddox reviews Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future by Gregory Stock. [more]

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Science - Robert Matthews reviews From Certainty to Uncertainty: The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century by F. David Peat. [more]

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Culture - Nick Saunders reviews The Dawn of Human Culture by Richard G. Klein with Blake Edgar. [more]

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Madness - Mary Hager reviews Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill by Robert Whitaker and Madness: A Brief History by Roy Porter. [more] and [more]

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Constructionism - Sean A. Spence reviews Theater of Disorder: Patients, Doctors, and the Construction of Illness by Brant Wenegrat. [more]

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Free will - Tom Clark reviews The Illusion of Free Will by Daniel M. Wegner. [more]

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Philosophy - Nicholas Fearn reviews New British Philosophy edited by  Julian Baggini and Jeremy Stangroom. [more]

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Evolution - David Hawkes reviews The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould. [more] COMMENT: National Center for Science Education, Professor Herbert Gintis.

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Evolutionary psychology - Mark Pagel reviews Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour by Kevin Laland and Gillian Brown. [more]

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Editor's choice Recent reviews in 
The Human Nature Review

Motivation - Linda Mealey reviews Evolutionary Psychology and Motivation edited by Jeffrey A. French, Alan Kamil & Daniel Leger. [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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Crime - antisocial conduct - Anthony Walsh reviews Companions in Crime: The Social Aspects of Criminal Conduct by Mark Warr. [more]

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