News in Brain and Behavioural
NEWS & VIEWS
Nature vs. nurture (22 Sep) - The nature v nurture debate has never been so fierce. Robin McKie and Vanessa Thorpe report on the bitter row between two leading scientists, Steven Pinker and Oliver James. [more] and [more]
Creativity (22 Sep) - Where do creative people get their inspiration? Ted Hughes likened it to fishing, while J G Ballard thinks it has more to do with whisky. Here, psychologist Guy Claxton reveals why we're all more creative than we think. [more]
Internet (22 Sep) - People will soon be given access to knowledge from one of the world's foremost technology institutes for free over the internet, as BBC World ClickOnline's Ian Hardy reports. BBC News Online, MIT's OpenCourseWare.
Human evolution (20 Sep) - A new calculation of the age of many of South Africa's best-known fossils by a team at the University of Witwatersrand has turned the clock of human evolution forward by a million years. Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg), Business Day (Johannesburg), Reuters.
History - literature - (21 Sep) - To Coleridge he was 'the most original-minded man', but Erasmus Darwin's poetry, which saw man's scientific endeavours reflected in nature, was too much for his time. Jenny Uglow urges a revival. [more]
Psychiatry (20 Sep) - All the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association Psychiatric News 20 September 2002; Vol. 37, No. 18. [more]
Science and meaning (19 Sep) - How can we understand our human world, embedded as it is within the physical universe, in such a way that justice is done to both the richness, meaning and value of human life on the one hand, and what modern science tells us about the physical universe on the other hand? [more]
Parenting (17 Sep) - If you think rearing children can be difficult, you're not alone, according to Dr. Edgardo Menvielle, who splits his time between Children's Hospital and NIMH on research related to stress and violence in children, and Dr. Regina Smith James, NIMH special expert in research on attention deficit disorders in youth. [more]
Animal cognition (18 Sep) - Alexandra Morton is about as independent a scientist as you're likely to find. For the past two decades she has been living in remote Echo Bay in British Columbia studying the intricate patterns of sounds killer whales use to communicate. [more]
Suicide (18 Sep) - The suicide rate increases under Conservative governments, research suggests. Australian scientists found the suicide rate in the country increased significantly when a Conservative government was in power. And an analysis of figures in the UK seems to suggest a similar trend. [more] An antidote to panics based on dodgy statistics and dubious arguments. [more]
Mental health (17 Sep) - Eating the right foods can improve mental health, research suggests. A survey of 200 people found 88% reported that changing their diet improved their mental health significantly. [more]
Primatology - When Koko the gorilla signals in American sign language, "Koko again bad," after biting a trainer, is she using language to communicate? When the chimpanzee Yeroen acts as though a wound is much more painful than it really is, is he being intentionally deceptive? [more]
Psychiatry (17 Sep) - Is there really a link between cannabis and psychosis? Robin Murray is in no doubt. [more]
Human nature (17 Sep) - Who should define human nature? When the biologist Edward O. Wilson set out to do so in his 1975 book "Sociobiology," he was assailed by left-wing colleagues who portrayed his description of genetically shaped human behaviors as a threat to the political principles of equal rights and a just society. [more]
Human genetics (16 Sep) - Cultural differences that discourage alcohol misuse among Jews may be backed up by a gene that has much the same effect, say scientists. [more]
Suicide (16 Sep) - People at high-risk of suicide should be identified earlier, under measures announced by the government. [more]
Lies (16 Sep) - The CIA said thanks but no thanks to San Francisco psychologist Paul Ekman when he offered years ago to teach special agents how to read faces to detect deception. Today, the CIA is one of dozens of agencies and companies calling Ekman, who runs the Human Interaction Lab at UC San Francisco. [more]
Fingers - Claudia Hammond examines our fingers - five often overlooked clues to our genetic inheritance, our cultural provenance and our psychological state. BBC Radio Four, Audio: The Thumb, The Forefinger, The Middle Finger, The Ring Finger, The Little Finger.
PAPERS & COMMENTARY
Longevity (20 Sep) - Males suffer more parasitic infections than females, which could help explain why they die earlier, say Scottish researchers. New Scientist, Science, Scientific American, Nature Science Update, Nando Times.
Mental illness (20 Sep) - about a tenth of adults, an estimated 450 million people worldwide, are affected by mental disorders at any one time. [more]
Game theory (13 Sep) - Charismatic leaders and media personalities can be destabilizing influences on social groups, according to various "small-world network" models. This conclusion that seems intuitively consistent with historical events such as civil uprisings and religious movements. Physics News, Physical Review E.
Evolution (19 Sep) - Directional selection is the primary cause of phenotypic diversification. [more]
Out-of-the-body experiences (18 Sep) - Doctors say they have triggered out-of-body experiences in a female patient by stimulating her brain. They believe their work may help to explain mysterious incidents when people report experiences of 'leaving' their body and watching it from above. BBC News Online, Nando Times, Nature, Nature Science Update.
Aggression (17 Sep) - There is a sound neurological basis for the cliché that men are more aggressive than women, according to new findings by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. [more]
Mental health (18 Sep) - Individuals with serious mental disorders have an increased chance of becoming victims of violence because their relationships with others are more likely to provoke conflict, according to a Penn State criminologist. [more]
Development (17 Sep) - How young black children learn about race may affect their cognitive and behavioral development, suggest study results. [more]
Science (17 Sep) - The public's knowledge of topical science issues appears to be only slightly improved by either their education or their consumption of news media, according to interim findings from a research project at Cardiff University, UK. [more]
Alcoholism (16 Sep) - Many individuals who were prenatally exposed to alcohol may not meet the criteria for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but nevertheless suffer from a wide range of neurobehavioral effects such as hyperactivity, learning and memory deficits, attention problems, and reductions in IQ. [more]
Antidepressants - Antidepressants are widely believed to be exceptionally effective medications. The data, however, tell a different story. Kirsch et al. (2002) analyzed the data sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the manufacturers of the six most widely prescribed antidepressants (fluoxetine [Prozac], paroxetine [Paxil], sertraline [Zoloft], venlafaxine [Effexor], nefazodone [Serzone] and citalopram [Celexa]). Their research showed that although the response to antidepressants was substantial, the response to inert placebo was almost as great. [more]
Development (15 Sep) - Children whose mothers are chronically stressed during the first year of their lives are likely to have mental and behavior problems, such as withdrawal or aggression, when they themselves are confronted with difficult situations, according to a study by a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Nando Times, Biological Psychiatry.
REVIEWS & DISCUSSION
Psychedelic drugs - Brian Doherty reviews Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into The Heart of Contemporary Shamanism by Daniel Pinchbeck. [more]
Moral agency - Neil Levy reviews The Biology and Psychology of Moral Agency by William A. Rottschaefer. [more]
Therapy - Roy Sugarman reviews Why Therapy Doesn't Work and What We Should Do About It and The Nature of Unhappiness by David Smail. [more]
Beauty - Megan Whaley reviews Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff. [more]
Human genetics - Anil K. Malhotra reviews Molecular Genetics and the Human Personality edited by Jonathan Benjamin, Richard P. Ebstein, and Robert H. Belmaker. [more]
History - Roy Herbert reviews Of Moths and Men by Judith Hooper. [more]
Evolutionary psychology - Tom Dickins reviews The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture by Henry Plotkin. [more]
Psychiatry - Roy Sugarman reviews The Courtship Dance of the Borderline by Anthony Walker. [more]
Animal behavior - animal rights - Nanelle Barash reviews Minding Animals: Awareness, Emotions and Heart by Marc Bekoff and The Smile of a Dolphin: Remarkable Accounts of Animal Emotions edited by Marc Bekoff. [more]
Anorexia - Anorexia, as Kate Chisholm explains in Hungry Hell, has been with us for centuries. So why don't we understand it better? [more]
Addiction - Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi reviews Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions by Christopher D. Ringwald. [more]
Primates - Ralph L. Holloway reviews The Primate Fossil Record edited by W. C. Hartwig. [more]
Eugenics - Nigel Hunt reviews The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism by Stefan Kühl. [more]
Evolutionary psychology - Neil Levy reviews Evolutionary Psychology: The Ultimate Origins of Human Behavior by Jack A. Palmer and Linda K. Palmer. [more]
Psychotherapy - Judith Eve Lipton reviews The Tao of Equus: A Woman's Journey of Healing and Transformation through the Way of the Horse by Linda Kohanov. [more]
Richard Lewontin - Val Dusek reviews Thinking About Evolution: Historical, Philosophical and Political Perspectives edited by Rama S. Singh, Kostas Krimbas, Diane B. Paul, and John Beatty. [more]