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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 76 - 9th November, 2002 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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NEWS & VIEWS

Human nature (7 Nov) - Human nature is a vexing issue: some argue that we are born as blank slates and our natures are defined by upbringing, experience, culture and the ideas of our time. Others believe that human nature is innate and pre-destined, regardless of time and place. [more] [audio]


  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

Crime (7 Nov) - Spotting crime before it happens may sound like the stuff of sci-fi novels, but researchers at Kingston University are trying to do just that. [more]


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Autism (7 Nov) - There is no link between the measles, mumps and rubella jab and autism, according to the latest research. The Danish study, which looked at over 530,000 children, reinforces previous findings that there is no link between the jab and the condition. [more]


Birth order (6 Nov) - Great creative thinkers like Darwin and Gandhi have one thing in common - they had at least one elder brother or sister. Martin Luther-King, Florence Nightingale and Thomas Jefferson too were not the first born in their families. [more]


Schizophrenia (6 Nov) - Psychiatrists are calling for caution in the move towards licensing cannabis-based medicines. It follows research into a possible link between cannabis use and schizophrenia. [more]


Addiction (6 Nov) - Clues developed by studying the genetic makeup of fruit flies, genetically-engineered mice and rats could lead to medical treatments for alcohol and drug addictions, researchers reported Monday. [more] and [more]


Psychology (5 Nov) - "Kahnemanandtversky." Everybody said it that way. As if the Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky were a single person, and their work, which challenged long-held views of how people formed judgments and made choices, was the product of a single mind. [more]


Creationism (5 Nov ) - The world's largest general scientific organization--the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)--today urged policymakers to oppose teaching "Intelligent Design Theory" within science classrooms, but rather, to keep it separate, in the same way that creationism and other religious teachings are currently handled. [more]


Grandmothers (5 Nov) - For anthropologists and ethnographers of yore, grandmothers were crones, an impediment to "real" research. The renowned ethnographer Charles William Merton Hart, who in the 1920's studied the Tiwi hunter-gatherers of Australia, described the elder females there as "a terrible nuisance" and "physically quite revolting" and in whose company he was distressed to find himself on occasion, yet whose activities did not merit recording or analyzing with anything like the attention he paid the men, the young women, even the children. But for a growing number of evolutionary biologists and cultural anthropologists, grandmothers represent a key to understanding human prehistory, and the particulars of why we are as we are - slow to grow up and start breeding but remarkably fruitful once we get there, empathetic and generous as animals go, and family-focused to a degree hardly seen elsewhere in the primate order. [more]


Human genetics (5 Nov) - Women may be less prone to "geekiness" because of their genes. Research suggests they are genetically programmed to be adept in social situations. [more]



Sexual behavior (4 Nov) - People who say they are satisfied with the sexual aspect of their relationship are also likely to say they are content with the relationship itself, and may feel relatively more love and commitment toward their partner, according to results from a study of unmarried college students. [more]


Environmentalism - Environmentalism is often likened to religion. To its followers it has its indisputable truths, its holy books and its saints and prophets. In this series of 3 programmes Julian Pettifer looks at three very different gurus of the Green movement and assesses their influence both on activists and on society as a whole. [more] Audio: E. F. Schumacher, Petra Kelly, Edward Abbey.


Gulf war syndrome (4 Nov) - A plan by the Department of Veterans Affairs to sharply increase funding for research into Gulf War illnesses marks a turning point in how the government perceives the problem, the leader of a veterans group says. [more]


Autism (4 Nov) - Pictures can help children with autism to learn how to speak and communicate effectively. An educational programme called the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), which was developed in the United States 12 years ago, has helped to transform the lives of thousands of children. [more]


Mental health (1 Nov) - America's system for treating and rehabilitating people with mental illness is in financial and bureaucratic disarray and is plagued by complexities that make it nearly impossible for many patients to receive needed care, according to a report issued Friday by a presidential mental health commission. [more]


Atheism (3 Nov) - Many world conflicts have origins that are "only a hiccup" when one considers the evolution of humans over millions of years, a Waterloo conference on religion and peace was told Saturday. Christopher diCarlo, a lecturer at Wilfrid Laurier and Guelph universities, represented atheism during an afternoon of views on how various religions can hope to achieve world peace. [more]


REVIEWS & DISCUSSION (cont.)

Love - Roy Sugarman reviews The Birth of Pleasure: A New Map of Love  by Carol Gilligan. [more] [review]

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Religion - cognitive science - Jo Nash reviews Cognitive Models and Spiritual Maps: Interdisciplinary Explorations of Religious Experience  edited by Jensine Andersen and Robert K. C. Forman. [more] [review]

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PAPERS & COMMENTARY

Anorexia (7 Nov) - Perfectionism puts adolescent girls with unhealthy eating habits at risk for becoming anorexic and the body imperfections that go along with it as they grow older, a new University of Florida study finds. [more]


Networks (6 Nov) - How do 30,000 genes in our DNA work together to form a large part of who we are? How do one hundred billion neurons operate in our brain? The huge number of factors involved makes such complex networks hard to crack. Now, a study published in the October 25 issue of Science uncovers a strategy for finding the organizing principles of virtually any network - from neural networks to ecological food webs or the Internet. [more]


Consciousness (5 Nov) - How do we learn? At the same time, when learning is conscious, does the brain engage in learning based on experience? Many scientists have believed that the two processes are independent of each other. Now, new research findings published in the current edition of the Journal of Neurophysiology, suggest otherwise. [more]


Memory (5 Nov) - Watching a gory tooth extraction helps people remember unrelated facts, brain researchers have shown. Excitement, they suggest, aids memory formation - students or the elderly could capitalize on this to improve their recall. [more]


IQ (5 Nov) - Many people underscore on IQ tests because the benchmark memory test is inaccurate, a US researcher told the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Orlando, Florida yesterday. Another announced that women's brain size could affect IQ. [more]



Schizophrenia (5 Nov) - Schizophrenics' brain cells may form deviant connections during life, neuroscientists have revealed. The finding adds to clues that the disease, which affects roughly 1 in every 100 people, changes brain structure fundamentally. Nature Science Update, New Scientist.


Sexual behavior (4 Nov) - Research conducted at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) has demonstrated structural brain differences associated with naturally occurring variations in sexual partner preferences. These are the first findings to demonstrate such a correlation in research animals, in this case sheep. The researchers' results confirm and expand upon human studies that compared morphological brain differences between heterosexual men, homosexual men and women. Scientists at Oregon State University and the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, collaborated with OHSU on the research. The investigators' results are being presented on Nov. 4 during the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Orlando, Fla. Domestic rams were used as an animal model for this research because they display distinct, natural variations in sexual attraction, making them valuable in studying the biological basis for sexual partner preference. Previous studies documented that approximately 6 percent to 8 percent of domestic rams court and mate with other rams exclusively. EurekAlert, Reuters, BBC News Online, New Scientist.


Depression (4 Nov) - Based on data from a genetic analysis of dimensions of temperament and mild depression in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, researchers in Japan have found that depression is affected by additive genetic effects that affect dimensions of temperament; those act together with environmental experiences unique to the individual. The authors found presence of mild depression was not related directly to genetic influences. [more]


Memory (4 Nov) - The marginal division (MrD) is a newly identified pan-shaped structure consisting of spindle-shaped neurons in the mammalian brains. The authors verified that the MrD contributes to learning and memory function of the brain in animals and human beings. It proved to be a key linking area among the memory-related structures in the brain. Therefore, the exposure of the structure and function of the MrD is significant for further investigating the mechanism of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. [more]


Aggression - genetics (4 Nov) - Vasopressin, acting through its 1a receptor subtype, is known to affect aggressive behaviors. The vasopressin 1b receptor (V1bR) is also expressed in the brain, but has received much less attention due to a lack of specific drugs. Here we report that mice without the V1bR exhibit markedly reduced aggression and modestly impaired social recognition. [more]


Development (4 Nov) - Adults often believe infants are off in their own world, but a new study indicates they are more tuned into the wider world and what the people around them are doing than previously thought. [more]


Neuroscience (4 Nov) - New research from investigators in the Centre for Neuroscience Studies at Queen's University and the Centre for Brain and Mind at The University of Western Ontario has provided the first neuro-imaging evidence that the brain's frontal lobes play a critical role in planning and choosing actions. [more]


Neuroimaging (5 Nov) - Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have demonstrated that a miniature positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, known as microPET, and the chemical markers used in traditional PET scanning are sensitive enough to pick up subtle differences in neurochemistry between known genetic variants of mice. [more]


Stress - immunology (3 Nov) - Chronic stress not only makes people more vulnerable to catching illnesses but can also impair their immune system's ability to respond to its own anti-inflammatory signals that are triggered by certain hormones, say researchers, possibly altering the course of an inflammatory disease. This finding is reported on in the November issue of Health Psychology. [more]


Bilingualism (4 Nov) - A Dartmouth research team has determined that bilingual children exposed to two languages early in life are not language delayed, nor are they language confused, which fuels the scientific and political debate over when to introduce children to a second language. [more]


Obesity (4 Nov) - A new analysis of a major study of childhood nutrition shows that early sexually-maturing girls are more likely than other girls to be obese, while in boys early developers are less likely to be obese than other males. The analysis, by University of Illinois at Chicago nutritional epidemiologist Dr. Youfa Wang, appears in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics. [more]


Body image (1 Nov) - American college students are much more likely to worry about the way they look and to spend time obsessing over their bodies than their German counterparts, according to a new study. [more]


REVIEWS & DISCUSSION (cont.)

Evolutionary psychology - Mariam Thalos reviews Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues and Applications edited by Charles Crawford and Dennis L. Krebs. [more] [review]

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Evolutionary psychology - Maryanne Fisher reviews A Mind of Her Own: The Evolutionary Psychology of Women by Anne Campbell. [more] [review]

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REVIEWS & DISCUSSION

Religion - Richard Eldridge reviews Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited by Charles Taylor. [more] [review]

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Psychopharmacology - Rachel Cooper reviews The Creation of Psychopharmacology by David Healy. [more] [review]

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Secularization - The idea of secularization is fundamental to contemporary debates over the sociology of religion. As sociologist Steve Bruce puts the issue succinctly, "The basic proposition is that modernization creates problems for religion"; or to quote the social anthropologist Anthony Wallace, "The evolutionary future of religion is extinction." - God is Dead by Steve Bruce. [more] [review]

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Psychology - Steven Johnson reviews The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker [more] [by Steven Pinker] [review]

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Conspiracy culture - Paul McLeary reviews Conspiracy Nation: The Politics of Paranoia in Postwar America edited by Peter Knight. [more] [review]

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Drug companies - Steven D. Findlay reviews Over Dose: The Case Against the Drug Companies by Jay S. Cohen. [more] [review]

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Science and politics - Eric G. Campbell reviews Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion by Daniel S. Greenberg. [more] [review]

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Health policy - Daniel M. Fox reviews Governing Health: The Politics of Health Policy by Carol S. Weissert and William G. Weissert. [more] [review]

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Politics - William Spriggs reviews Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom by Paul Rubin. [more] [review]

Darwinian Politics

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Human evolution - Sandra Blakeslee reviews Liars, Lovers, and Heroes: What the New Brain Science Reveals About How We Become Who We Are by Steven R. Quartz and Terrence Sejnowski. [more] [review]

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Sexual behavior - Nicholas Wade reviews Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation by Olivia Judson. [more] [review]

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Consciousness - For centuries, science and philosophy have grappled with the mystery of our inner life. But, in Consciousness and the Novel argues David Lodge, it is literature that has provided the most accurate record of human consciousness. [more] [review]

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