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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 75 - 2nd November, 2002 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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NEWS & VIEWS

Genetics - ethics (1 Nov) - A favourite pair of alternatives among those who write about genetics is "dream or nightmare?". It is a phrase that has appeared in the titles of at least three recent books, and refers, of course, to the prospects that people see in genetic engineering. Are these prospects to be welcomed or feared? [more]


Psychiatry (1 Nov) - All of the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association: Psychiatric News 1 November 2002; Vol. 37, No. 21. [more]


Blank slate (2 Oct) - Caspar Hewett's reflections on the blank slate. [more]


Development (31 Oct) - Researchers at Harvard University have timed babies' ability to retain long-term memories to the period during which certain regions of the brain develop and mature. [more]


Infidelity (30 Oct) - Women with steady partners may still be tempted to sleep around - but mainly on certain days of the month, say researchers. [more]


Human genetics (30 Oct) - A worldwide coalition of scientists launched a broad effort yesterday to understand human genetic variation, vowing to create a new type of gene map that may propel medical research forward by explaining such common ailments as heart attacks, diabetes and obesity. [more]


Flow (29 Oct) - To experience the mental state of flow is to create ecstasy over actions, according to Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, of Claremont Graduate University. [more]


Schizophrenia (28 Oct) - Jerusalem genomics company IDgene Pharmaceuticals has found a genetic link responsible for as many as a fifth of all schizophrenia cases, it was announced on Monday. [more]


Race (28 Oct) - According to George Armelagos, professor of biological anthropology at Emory University, the concept of race is one of the great myths of man and can be thought of as nothing more than a social construct with harmful repercussions attached to it. [more]


Information (29 Oct) - Every physical system registers information, and just by evolving in time, by doing its thing, it changes that information, transforms that information, or, if you like, processes that information. Since Seth Lloyd has been building quantum computers he has come around to thinking about the world in terms of how it processes information. [more] [video]


Paleopathology (29 Oct) - The general health of Native Americans had apparently been deteriorating for centuries before 1492. [more]


Genomic imprinting (29 Oct) - David Haig discusses genomic imprinting, a new phenomenon in molecular biology which is a situation in which a DNA sequence can have conditional behavior depending on whether it is maternally inherited—coming from an egg—or paternally inherited—coming through a sperm. [more] [by David Haig] [video]


Forgetfulness (28 Oct) - Neuroimaging techniques are beginning to shed new light on an old issue. Why is it that some of us age gracefully, in full use of our cognitive functions, while others experience painful loss of memory as they get older? [more]


Depression (22 Oct) - Why do more men commit suicide than women but according to statistics, fewer men suffer from depression? Some psychologists think it's because men's depression isn't diagnosed correctly. In this hour of Talk of the Nation, join Neal Conan for part three of our series on men's health, men and depression. [more] [audio]


Sexual headaches (28 Oct) - Scientists have found that men are more likely than women to be telling the truth if they say: "Not tonight darling, I've got a headache". A team of German researchers has begun to investigate the phenomenon of sexual headaches - a condition known as Orgasmic Cephalgia. BBC News Online.


Virginity and stress (28 Oct) - The earlier a woman has sex, the less stressed she is as an adult, scientists have discovered. When they questioned women about their sexual history and tested them for levels of a stress hormone, they found that the lowest levels were among those who had sex the earliest. A similar but smaller effect was found for men. [more]


Neuroscience (24 Oct) - In this week's Leading Edge Geoff Watts talks to moral philosopher turned neuropsychologist Joshua Greene at Princeton University about his research using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to watch the brain activity of people making different kinds of moral judgements. In one experiment, Greene and his team gave a series of moral dilemmas for subjects placed in the MRI scanner to ponder. There were two categories of moral problem that they were particularly interested in comparing which the team have labelled impersonal and personal respectively. [more] [audio]


"Cognitive divide" (28 Oct) - Developing safe, specific, powerful memory-improving drugs raises many ethical issues about the implications of cognitive enhancement. [more - free registration required]


Sexual behavior (27 Oct) - Britain in 2002 is  saturated in sex. From Pot Noodle ads to your local Ann Summers, sex is everywhere, all the time, in every variation. Tim Adams surveys a society in thrall to the flesh. [more] More than half of Britons have had a one night stand, according to a survey of sexual attitudes and behaviour. And 60% of those questioned for a poll believe prostitution should be legalised. [more]


Serial killers (27 Oct) - A rapid and bizarre change in religious beliefs, especially the delusion of being God, is not rare among serial killers and others who commit violent crimes, according to mental health experts who study extreme criminal behavior. [more]


Lie detection (23 Oct) - Tavis Smiley interviews Drew Richardson of the Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories about a new report by the National Academy of Sciences which questions the effectiveness of polygraph tests. Richardson says that polygraphs should not be used to screen federal employees. [more] [audio] Hastings School of Law Professor David Faigman says the lie detector is so unreliable that it's never caught a spy. [more]


Mental health law (27 Oct) - The proposed Mental Health Bill, and a few spiteful neighbours, could put us all in the asylum. [more] The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has privately told ministers and senior Labour MPs that he has grave concerns about proposed mental health laws described as "draconian" by campaigners. [more]


Eugenics (26 Oct) - James D. Watson, the grand duke of DNA, described one of his greatest fears yesterday to a packed auditorium: that society will be too scared to use genetics to make people as perfect as they can be. [more]


Violence (17 Oct) - NPR's Patricia Neighmond reports on what scientists are trying to learn about the neurochemistry of violent behavior. Brain scans of murderers suggest they have different brain patterns than normal people do, but studies have been somewhat inconclusive. Neighmond looks at what neuroscience is trying to tell us about violence. [more] [audio]

PAPERS & COMMENTARY

Diet (1 Nov) - Grandfathers who overeat might ruin their grandchildren's health, say Swedish researchers. The study suggests that diet, which does not change genes, can nevertheless influence future generations. Nature Science Update, European Journal of Human Genetics, New Scientist.


  BBC News BBC News 24 BBC Newsnight Today, Newshour, The World Today, BBC World Service, NPR Hourly News, Talk of the Nation, Science in Action, Discovery, One Planet, The Material World, Thinking Allowed, Heart and Soul, Case Notes, Health Matters, Everywoman.

 Audio and Video

Neuroimaging - schizophrenia (1 Nov) - Brain images from hundreds of people with schizophrenia at 10 research sites nationwide will be shared in a first-of-its-kind research project funded with $10.9 million from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a branch of the National Institutes of Health. [more]


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Autism - neuroscience (1 Nov) - Secretin may have a role in modulating certain social behavior in humans. [more]


Addiction (1 Nov) - Researchers at Jefferson Medical College have evidence in animals that the young, adolescent brain may be more sensitive to addictive drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines than either the adult or newborn. The work may help someday lead to a better understanding of how the adolescent human brain adapts to such drugs, and provide clues into changes in the brain that occur during drug addiction. [more] and [more]


Addiction (1 Nov) - Smokers with a specific genetic variant may be more vulnerable to cigarette cravings and relapse when trying to quit smoking, a study by researchers from the Tobacco Use Research Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine indicates. [more]


Depression (31 Oct) - A new study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, has identified an apparent 'depression trait marker' in the brain that may explain why recovered patients remain vulnerable to another depressive episode. [more]


Neuroscience (31 Oct) - Professional musicians use a part of the brain previously known only for its role in language, reveals a new study. The finding, to be published next month, adds to a growing body of evidence that music and language skills go hand in hand. [more]


Depression (31 Oct) - Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have made significant progress in identifying the first susceptibility gene for clinical depression, the second leading cause of disability worldwide, possibly providing an important step toward changing the way doctors diagnose and treat major depression that affects nearly 10 percent of the population. [more]


Neuroscience (31 Oct) - Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the University of California, San Francisco have shown that feeding behavior in worms is controlled by neurons that detect adverse or stressful conditions. EurekAlert, Nature Science Update, Nature, Nature.


Fundamentalism (30 Oct) - 'The Origins and Nature of Fundamentalism in Society' by Niccolo Caldararo. The current debate on the nature of fundamentalism is outlined in this paper. Ethnohistorical materials are used to define the origins of this concept and to describe the function and structure of such movements in past societies. The relationship of identity, religion and global economy and hegemony are discussed as formative elements of fundamentalist movements. Some prospects for the future are presented. [more]


Intelligent life (30 Oct) - Ever since Copernicus put the Sun, rather than Earth, at the centre of the Universe, scientists and philosophers have suspected that there's nothing special about our cosmic time and place. But two physicists now suggest otherwise. Nature Science Update, Preprint.


Neuroscience (29 Oct) - Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed computerized atlases and associated tools for visualizing and analyzing two major components of the brain, the cerebral cortex and the cerebellar cortex. [more]


Senescence (29 Oct) - New research supports the mutation theory of senescence which states that aging occurs because genes with deleterious effects and a late age of onset are unopposed by natural selection. [more]


Genetics - evolution (29 Oct) - Researchers in Switzerland report experimental evolution of learning ability in Drosophila melanogaster in fifteen generations. [more]


PTSD (29 Oct) - In monozygotic twins discordant for trauma exposure smaller hippocampi have been found to constitute a risk factor for the development of stress-related psychopathology. [more]


Slavery (28 Oct) - In a study that could create waves in the already controversial slavery reparations debate, Dartmouth economist Bruce Sacerdote has found that the economic disparities slavery created between free blacks and those who were slaves largely dissipated within two generations after emancipation. [more]


Prozac (28 Oct) - The drug Prozac protects a female's learning abilities after a stressful or traumatic event, according to a new research study conducted at Rutgers. [more]


"Neuroethics" (28 Oct) - No area of science is commanding more ethical attention these days than genetics. No other area of science with potential application to plants, animals, and people can match the speed with which new knowledge is being created in genetics. But lurking over in the disciplinary corner--somewhat out of sight of the ethicists' gaze--are the neurosciences. Advances in radiology, psychiatry, neurology, neurosurgery, bioengineering, and psychology are furthering our understanding of animal and human brains almost as quickly as genomics is fueling genetics. [more - free registration required]


Gulf war syndrome (26 Oct) - Regular exercise and a form of group talk therapy can alleviate some symptoms commonly associated with Gulf War veterans' illnesses, according to newly released results of a study involving veterans who report such symptoms. [more]

 

 

REVIEWS & DISCUSSION

Genetics - ethics - Neil Levy review Genes: A Philosophical Inquiry by Gordon Graham. [more] [review]

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Consciousness - Bill Wringe reviews Between Ourselves: Second-person Issues in the Study of Consciousness edited by Evan Thompson. [more] [review]

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Tabula rasa - Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair reviews The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker [more] [by Steven Pinker] [review]

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Human nature - Kenan Malik reviews The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker [more] and Straw Dogs by John Gray. [more]  [review]

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Sexuality - Dinitia Smith reviews How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States by Joanne Meyerowitz. [more] [review]

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Trauma - Derek Summerfield reviews Trauma: Culture, Meaning and Philosophy by Patrick Bracken. [more] [review]

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Child psychiatry - Charles Essex reviews Pathological Child Psychiatry and the Medicalization of Childhood by Sami Timimi. [more] [review]

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History - Paul S. Seaver reviews The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World by Jenny Uglow. [more] [review]

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Biography - Jim Holt reviews Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox. [more] [review] Science Friday speaks to Brenda Maddox. [more] [audio] [more]

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Psychology - "In the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture, an M.I.T. professor says our genes
don't get enough respect" - Michael D. Lemonick reviews The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker [more] [by Steven Pinker] [review]

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