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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 62 - 15th June, 2002
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Editor's choice Development - Young children of mothers who experience high anxiety during pregnancy are apparently at risk for behavioural and emotional problems, according to a large, prospective study conducted in the UK. According to the investigators, this finding suggests a direct effect of maternal mood on foetal brain development. [more]



Art - Monet and Picasso get the credit for ending art's obsession with realism and classical beauty. But they had some powerful allies - the cave painters of the stone age. [more]


"Cutters" - Deliberate self-harm became so widely reported in the US in the 90s that it became known as 'the addiction of the decade'. [more]


Antidepressants - Antidepressant medications are some of the most widely advertised and widely prescribed drugs in the country. But there's growing evidence that placebos - sugar pills - can often be just as effective at improving mood, and can even improve brain chemistry. [more]


Cybertherapy - People leaving hospital after being treated for psychological illness in Germany are helping each other to avoid the "revolving door" of relapse and return to residential treatment--via an internet chat room. [more]


Population - The American Association for the Advancement of Science Atlas of Population and Environment is now available on-line. [more]


Statistics - Hands up, all biologists who really understand statistics. There aren't many, judging from a quick survey of biologists and statisticians. [more]


Archaeology - Jewellery isn't just for glamour, says Sanjida O'Connell. Decorating ourselves may really be a statement about status, kinship or even brainpower. [more]


Cloning - The current debate on human cloning hinges upon questions of both moral and practical significance. When does human life begin? When should it be protected by law? And how will embryological research impact the medical field and society in general? [more]


Obituary - "Stephen Jay Gould died on May 20, 2002, after an intense final battle with cancer. He was an extraordinary figure in paleontology and evolutionary biology," writes David Jablonski. [more]


Circumcision - "From a moral perspective, anybody who is horrified by female genital mutilation ought to show equal abhorrence of male genital mutilation," says Robert Darby. [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.
Archive

Memory - Rather than being flushed out, memories are reprocessed and consolidated during sleep, say Belgian researchers who this week revealed a direct link between the type of information learned while awake and the level of brain activation during subsequent rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. [more]


Primatology - conservation - A UK television film says users of mobile telephones and other electronic goods are endangering some African ape populations. The appliances use the mineral coltan, obtained mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo. [more]


Memory - Psychologists may have found a clue to why people tend to have a very hard time remembering things from very early childhood -- a phenomenon known as "childhood amnesia." New research suggests that children can only describe memories of events using words they knew when the experience occurred. [more]


Invaluable free toolbar for scientists, clinicians, and philosophers - Increase your productivity and efficiency by searching multiple resources directly from your Internet Explorer toolbar including PubMed, Scirus, Encarta, Drugs.com, Life Sciences Dictionary, Medical Dictionary and many others. Download your toolbar from our homepage now and customize it here.
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Population - What do we fear most: human extinction or biological overload? Lionel Shriver on the literature of demography. [more]


Human genome - The most accurate vision yet of our genome has been constructed by geneticists in Iceland. [more]


Dreaming - People's taste in books indicates the kind of dreams they have, one of the largest studies into the phenomenon has shown. [more]


Parenthood - A new study shows that fathers find their new babies very satisfying, don't lose as much sleep as mums - and still get more nights out than them. [more]

Disruptive behaviour - Teachers who use competition among students as a way of motivating them to improve their grades may inadvertently increase disruptive behaviour in their classrooms. [more]


Invaluable free toolbar for scientists, clinicians, and philosophers - Increase your productivity and efficiency by searching multiple resources directly from your Internet Explorer toolbar including PubMed, Scirus, Encarta, Drugs.com, Life Sciences Dictionary, Medical Dictionary and many others. Download your toolbar from our homepage now and customize it here.
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Editor's choice Panic and fear - Spontaneous panic is not simply equivalent to fear as shown by symptomatic, physiological, and treatment response differences. [more]


Physical performance - New research distinguishes between learning physical skills and brain activity associated with performing those skills. [more]


Editor's choice Language - While most people rely on one half of the brain, usually the left side, to speak and understand language, some people seem to use both sides of the brain to communicate, researchers report in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience. Yahoo News, Nature Neuroscience.


Addiction - Neuroscientists at UCSF's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center (EGCRC) have discovered that a molecule in neurons boosts the brain's response to alcohol, triggering in minutes chemical changes that maintain an urge to drink alcohol. Blocking the molecule's action might prevent excessive drinking, they conclude. [more] and [more]


Decision-making - We become confused and indecisive if we stand to lose more by making the wrong choice than we could gain by making the right one, two physicists in Israel calculate. The best strategy in such circumstances, say the pair, may actually be to flip a coin. Nature Science Update, Physical Review Letters.


Neuroscience - An unusual collaboration between physicists at the University of California, San Diego and psychologists at Vanderbilt University has revealed how the brains of higher animals and probably humans integrate sensory information and motor control signals in way that allows us to heighten our senses to smell a faint odor, visualize an individual in a crowd, or even discern the sounds of a single instrument in an orchestra. [more]


Editor's choice Autism - Physicians who conducted an independent review of medical research into the controversial measles, mumps and rubella vaccine said on Tuesday they found no evidence it causes autism or bowel disease. Reuters Health, EurekAlert.



Evolution - A significant number of organisms that survived the five greatest mass extinctions in Earth's history subsequently failed to achieve evolutionary success, according to a new study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and conducted by University of Chicago scientist David Jablonski. [more]


Antidepressants - A new UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute study shows for the first time that measurable changes in the front of the brain can predict the effectiveness of an antidepressant within days of treatment - weeks before a patient begins to feel better. [more] and [more]


Lying - Most people lie in everyday conversation when they are trying to appear likable and competent, according to a study conducted by University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert S. Feldman and published in the most recent Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology. [more]


Depression - Depression investigators at The Research Institute of University Hospitals of Cleveland have zeroed in on the neurotransmitter serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates emotion. Their tactics: reduce serotonin levels in each study subject to learn who is vulnerable for developing major depression. [more]


Longevity - A study released yesterday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found what it called "truly remarkable" evidence of the strong role that genetic factors play in longevity. New York Times, BBC News Online, EurekAlert.


Evolution - Even when a trait seems desirable, and indeed is so up to a certain point, in many cases it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Too little and you will miss out on the benefits, but too much and you will find yourself incurring unexpected costs. [more]


Psychological disorders - In his book, The Rationality of Psychological Disorders, Rofé (2000) reviews the three major schools of psychopathology and finds that they lack empirical validation and are unable to account for fundamental theoretical issues. [more]

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Truthfulness - This paper questions the widespread view that verbal communication is governed by a maxim, norm or convention of truthfulness which applies at the level of what is literally meant, or what is said. Pragmatic frameworks based on this view must explain the frequent occurrence and acceptability of loose and figurative uses of language. We argue against existing explanations of these phenomena and provide an alternative account, based on the assumption that verbal communication is governed not by expectations of truthfulness but by expectations of relevance, raised by literal, loose and figurative uses alike. [more]

Evolutionary medicine - Robert S. Corruccini reviews Evolving Health: The Origins of Illness and How the Modern World is Making Us Sick by Noel T. Boaz. [more]

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Multiple fathers - Cultures of Multiple Fathers: The Theory and Practice of Partible Paternity in Lowland South America edited by Stephen Beckerman and Paul Valentine. [more]

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Placebo - Anton J M de Craen reviews The Science of the Placebo: Toward an Interdisciplinary Research Agenda edited by Harry A Guess, Arthur Kleinman, John W Kusek, and Linda W Engel. [more]

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History - Roy Herbert reviews Fossils, Finches and Fuegians: Charles Darwin's adventures and discoveries on the Beagle, 1832-1836 by Richard Keynes. [more]

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Artificial intelligence - Phil Husbands reviews Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us by Rodney Allen Brooks. [more]

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Biophilia - Joan Roughgarden reviews The Future of Life by Edward O. Wilson. [more]

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Language - Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy reviews Foundations of Language: Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution by Ray Jackendoff. [more]

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Language - Paul Bloom reviews The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John McWhorter and The Atoms of Language: The Mind's Hidden Rules of Grammar by Mark C. Baker. [more] and [more]

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Crime - James Brody reviews Biology and Crime by David C. Rowe. [more]

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Evolution - David Jablonski reviews The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould. [more]

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Medicine - Kirk A. Johnson reviews An American Health Dilemma: Race, Medicine, and Health Care in the United States by W. Michael Byrd and Linda A. Clayton. [more]

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Probability - Frederick Butzen reviews The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal by James Franklin. [more]

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Science - Dennis Overbye on A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram. [more] and [more]

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Natural history  - Robin McKie reviews I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould. [more] and [more]

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History - David Greenberg reviews At the End of An Age by John Lukacs. [more]

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