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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
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Volume 2: Issue 63 - 22nd June, 2002 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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Editor's choice Antidepressants - In an editorial in the current issue of the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Dr. Giovanni Fava argues that drug company propaganda, rather than need or clinical evidence, is responsible for the soaring popularity of the newer antidepressants. [more]


Human biology - Thoughts can cause the release of hormones that can bind to DNA turning genes 'on' or 'off.' [more]



Population - Chinese traditions, a tough one-child-per-couple policy and modern medical technology have combined to create a demographic nightmare that threatens China's stability and endangers prospects for greater political freedom in the country with the world's largest population. [more]


Psychiatry - The latest issue of Psychiatric News from the American Psychiatric Association. [more]


Artificial intelligence - Paul Werbos past president, and current guru, for the International Neural Network Society, a group of scientists and computer thinkers who specialize in artificial-intelligence software that code writers hope will one day mimic the human mind. [more]


Neuroscience - Using a novel biopsy technique, Japanese researchers have extracted tissue from the brains of living monkeys as they learn to use tools to show how chemical changes remold the monkey's mental representation of itself. [more]


Placebos - Do placebos work? New research suggests they work surprisingly well - in fact rather better than some conventional drugs. [more]


Anorexia - When a teenage girl develops anorexia, a team of experts usually takes charge of bringing her back to a normal weight, while her parents stand on the sidelines. But a promising and controversial new therapy gives parents the primary responsibility for an anorexic child's recovery. [more]


Anthropology - "The public may think that biology is the primary academic endeavor where evolution rules. However, no field of study has escaped the grasp of evolutionary thought. This is especially true in the study of man, specifically anthropology," writes Gailon Totheroh. [more]


Sociobiology - "Sociobiology is a one-dimensional tyranny that fails to consider our complexities as human beings," according to Hywel Williams. [more]


Neuroscience - New methods and new tracers in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are allowing researchers for the first time to watch entire conversations between neurons, not just the actions of single neurons, according to BioMedNet's latest Special Report. [more]


Editor's choice Pseudoscience - These are some of the things that Paul Kurtz, chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and publisher of the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, does not believe in: parapsychology, holistic cures for animal illnesses, the universal effectiveness of chiropractic, extraterrestrial beings, alternative medicine, Bigfoot and organized religion. [more]


Mental health - Heeding (US) federal recommendations, area physicians keep an eye out for not only the physical, but mental health of their patients. [more] Demand for mental health treatment for young people has reached unprecedented levels, yet cutbacks in several states are making it more difficult than ever to get care, experts say. [more]


Obituary - Marion J. Levy Jr., a scholar of sociology and international affairs who wrote about modernization theory, which seeks to explain why some societies undergo rapid economic development and corresponding social change, died on May 26 in Princeton, N.J., where he lived. He was 83. [more]


Human genetics - Kari Stefansson says he is starting to extract a tremendous prize, made possible by Iceland's tiny, isolated population and its obsessive interest in genealogy: a catalog of the deviant genes that cause the most common human diseases. [more]


Fatherhood - Fathers shower their sons with more attention but also work harder and earn more money after the birth of a boy than they do after the birth of a girl. [more]


Neuroscience - Every known drug of abuse, a wide variety of neurotransmitters and therapeutic agents, all channel into a single protein that "integrates information from all over the brain and provides a meaningful physiological readout," according to Nobel Laureate Paul Greengard. [more]


Musicians and neuroscience - Scientists have found the brains of musicians are larger and more sensitive than others. Scans showed a dramatic difference in one part of the brain between professional and amateur players and non-musicians. Ananova, BBC News Online.


Art - Modern art has often been accused of being meaningless but could this mean it can bring on mental illness? [more]


Aging - We used to think that the male human being could reproduce almost indefinitely. Recently, though, some scientific evidence has come to light suggesting that male fertility may not be as ageless as we thought. [more]

Endocrinology - Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol are clearly elevated in child-bearing-aged women who have stopped menstruating - not only in the bloodstream, but also in the cerebrospinal fluid, a senior researcher at the Magee-Womens Research Institute has found. The study is significant because it shows a definitive link between cortisol levels in circulating blood and those in the fluid that surrounds and bathes the brain and spinal cord. [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. Now with "one-click" web page translation: English - French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic. [more]
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Editor's choice Mental health - A new interdisciplinary journal, The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, is to be published by Dr. Paul Kurtz of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York (founder of the magazine Skeptical Inquirer) and edited by Dr. Scott Lilienfeld of Emory University. This journal's primary mission will be to examine all unsubstantiated and controversial mental health claims in an open-minded fashion, but to insist on high standards of evidence before accepting them. [more]


Cognitive neuroscience - Subjects who score high on a test of extroversion respond differently to pictures of happy faces when compared to subjects with less-outgoing personalities, according to a new brain-imaging study. The difference is apparent in a part of the brain that handles emotional responses, the amygdala. All subjects responded to fearful faces in pretty much the same way. Responses to happy faces, by contrast, varied with a subject's degree of extroversion as determined by a personality test. EurekAlert, BioMedNet, Science, New Scientist.


Human evolution - Our instinctive feel for the ideal projectile could explain the design of hand-grenades, the collecting habits of geologists, the size of handballs and the weight of the imperial pound, says an engineer. Understanding that instinct could illuminate the lives of prehistoric hominids, believes Alan Cannell, who lives in Curitiba, Brazil. Nature Science Update, Journal of Archaeological Science.


Epilepsy and criminality - It has long been believed that people with epilepsy are particularly prone to violence and criminality, but a study in this week's British Medical Journal finds that epilepsy is no more common in prisoners than in the general population. British Medical Journal, EurekAlert.


Language - A new paper by Peter Carruthers explores a variety of different versions of the thesis that natural language is involved in human thinking. It distinguishes amongst strong and weak forms of this thesis, dismissing some as implausibly strong and others as uninterestingly weak. [more]


Editor's choice Development - Complex learning disabilities in multiple academic areas are common in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) children with broadly average intelligence, according to a report in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. [more]


Antipsychotics - Researchers have identified a polymorphism of the 5-hydroxytryptamine 2C (5-HT2C) receptor that is associated with weight gain related to the use of antipsychotic drugs. The finding appears in the June 15th issue of The Lancet. [more]


Editor's choice Genetics - Our current understanding of gene expression, the fundamental process by which proteins are made from the instructions encoded in DNA, is that the process is tightly controlled so that the correct amount of each protein is produced in the right place at the right time. But new research by Paul Spellman and Gerald Rubin of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of California Berkeley indicates that some groups of around 15 genes that just happen to be located next to each other on chromosomes are instead routinely expressed together. [more]


Evolution - Life did not begin with one primordial cell. Instead, there were initially at least three simple types of loosely constructed cellular organizations. They swam in a pool of genes, evolving in a communal way that aided one another in bootstrapping into the three distinct types of cells by sharing their evolutionary inventions. EurekAlert, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA Today, Scientific American.


Editor's choice Emotion - Because people recognize the same emotions across languages and cultures, psychologists have long suspected that a person's ability to perceive basic emotions is innate. However, a new study published in the June 18 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that experience can alter the way people see emotions. EurekAlert, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New York Times.


Editor's choice Psychology - People are more likely to trust others if they have similar faces, according to a new study. Researchers have found people are prepared to put faith in total strangers if they share similar facial features. Ananova, Independent, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences.


Editor's choice Memory - In the first published study to examine the effect of televised sex on memory for commercial messages, researchers at Iowa State University have found that viewers of programs with sexually explicit or violent content were less likely to remember commercials immediately after exposure and even 24 hours later. American Psychological Association, Nature Science Update, Journal of Applied Psychology, New Scientist.

Globalization - Joseph Kahn reviews Globalization and its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz. [more]

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Evolution and religion - Frans B. M. de Waal reviews Darwin’s Cathedral; Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society by David Sloan Wilson. [more]

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Politics - economics - James M. Rossi reviews After Capitalism: From Managerialism to Workplace Democracy by Seymour Melman. [more]

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Psychotherapy - Eduardo Keegan reviews Treating Chronic and Severe Mental Disorders: A Handbook of Empirically Supported Treatments Edited by Stefan G. Hofmann and Martha C. Tompson. [more]

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Sex differences - Dahlia W. Zaidel and Vernon L. Quinsey review Sex and Cognition by Doreen Kimura. [more]

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Mental health - Daniel J. Luchins reviews Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill by Robert Whitaker. [more] and [more]

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Evolution and religion - Lionel Tiger reviews Darwin’s Cathedral; Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society by David Sloan Wilson. [more]

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Evolution - Nicholas Wade investigates the story behind Of Moths and Men: An Evolutionary Tale by Judith Hooper. [more]

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Human evolution - Up from Dragons: The Evolution of Human Intelligence by John R. Skoyles and Dorion Sagan. [more]

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Philosophy - biography - Heller McAlpin reviews Cogito, ergo sum: The Life of René Descartes by Richard Watson. [more]

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Science - George Johnson reviews A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram. [more]

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Evolutionary neurology - Stephanie D. Preston reviews Strange Behavior: Tales of Evolutionary Neurology by Harold Klawans. [more]

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Psychotherapy - Lisa Bortolotti reviews Multiple Identities & False Memories: A Sociocognitive Perspective by Nicholas P. Spanos. [more]

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