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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 81 - 14th December, 2002 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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NEWS & VIEWS

Schizophrenia (13 Dec) - The long search for a gene that helps cause schizophrenia may at last be bearing fruit after many false starts and disappointments, scientists are reporting. An errant gene first implicated among schizophrenic patients in Iceland has now turned up in a survey of Scottish patients, too, giving a clear confirmation of the earlier result. [more]



'The age of manipulation' (12 Dec) - In the debate over possible war with Iraq, we ignore the inconvenient reality that we are already at war - with one another. And those who proffer remedies - diversity trainers, multicultural consultants, business etiquette advisers, personnel managers and the like - only make matters worse, by furthering the therapeutic ethos that raises individual self-gratification and self-expression above all other pursuits. [more]

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Archaeology - politics (12 Dec) - Human bones, pieces of skin and bits of hair tucked away in museum display cases and vaults have become the subject of ferocious political battles. Many of these human remains were collected in the nineteenth century, when Western colonial expansion was at its height and there was a lust for scientific enquiry. Today, there are demands that these bones be returned to indigenous groups for reburial. [more]


Profile (10 Dec) - John Rawls, who died on November 24, raised modern political philosophy from the pit of Marxist and linguistic analysis and revived it as a serious subject for citizens of the real world. He believed that answering age-old practical questions about liberty and justice was the proper work of political philosophers. [more]


Spanking (9 Dec) - Steven E. Landsburg looks at the economics of spanking. [more]


Psychology of happiness (8 Dec) - The happiest people surround themselves with family and friends, don't care about keeping up with the Joneses next door, lose themselves in daily activities and, most important, forgive easily. [more]


Profile (11 Dec) - More than any other broadcaster in Britain, and possibly the world, David Attenborough has opened people's eyes to the beauty and complexity of the natural world. In 50 years with the BBC he has presented programmes from some of the remotest places on the planet. He has held some of the top jobs in the corporation but has always come back to his main love: making films about nature. Michael Bond learns his secret of getting the message across. [more]


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Scientific publishing (11 Dec) -  A cunning statistical study has exposed scientists as sloppy reporters. When they write up their work and cite other people's papers, most do not bother to read the original. [more]


Genetics (10 Dec) - The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in Bethesda, Maryland, recently added the dog to its high priority list of organisms to be sequenced once computer capacity becomes available. Canines join a growing group of high priority animals that includes the chimpanzee, chicken, and honeybee. [more]


Homicide (10 Dec) - The rate of infant homicides in the US has more than doubled over the last 30 years, according to a new report by Child Trends, a not-for-profit research organization in Washington, DC. [more]


Human nature (9 Dec) - 'That relentless sceptic Bertrand Russell once announced that "Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions which move with him like flies on a summer day." In a scientifically-driven period of history such as the one we’re in, even more perilous are convictions which purport to deliver certainty as well as comfort. While science is by definition and intent designed to be questioned both by its practitioners and its consumers, it’s clear that the value of its results may be sharply affected by the plausibility of its initial assumptions and how searchingly it evaluates information. The English economist Alfred Marshall observed that "the most reckless theorists are those who allow the facts to speak for themselves,"' says Lionel tiger. [more]


Genetics - human evolution - If humans and chimpanzees are really so similar genetically, why have they turned out to be so different “in the wild”? Is genetic similarity a mismeasure of the species? Is there something else, biologically, that accounts for our obvious differences? Or are chimpanzees and human beings genuinely the close cousins that the genetic counts suggest, making the differences we notice at the level of the organism little more than skin deep? [more]


Stress - Bruce McEwen is a pioneering expert on the ways in which the brain influences the body. He is the author of "The End of Stress As We Know It" (with Elizabeth Norton Lasley, published by Joseph Henry Press). The book examines the response of the body to stress, what happens when the body's stress response turns against us, and how to keep that from happening. Dr. McEwen is head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at Rockefeller University in New York City. [more] [audio]

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REVIEWS & DISCUSSION (cont.)

Masculinity - John W. Miller reviews My Brother's Keeper: What The Social Sciences Do (And Don't) Tell Us About Masculinity by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen. [more] [review]

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Drugs - Simon Ings reviews The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs by Marcus Boon. [more] [review]

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Murder - William Bernet reviews Base Instincts: What Makes Killers Kill? by Jonathan H. Pincus. [more] [review]

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

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PAPERS & COMMENTARY

Fear (13 Dec) - Researchers have discovered the first genetic component of a biochemical pathway in the brain that governs the indelible imprinting of fear-related experiences in memory. [more]


  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

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (13 Dec) - A year's worth of counseling and medication relieved some symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder among a group children, but only children receiving additional biofeedback therapy managed to hold on to these healthy gains after going off the medication, according to a new study. [more]



Animal behavior (12 Dec) - Animals can be a pretty uncooperative lot. While species like lions and prairie dogs cooperate in some cases, scientists seldom know the costs and benefits of cooperative acts in the wild. In particular, scientists have long been interested in situations in which cooperating animals give up something now in order to develop a relationship that pays off in the long run. Experimental studies show, however, that animals don't usually cooperate in these cases; apparently, they are unwilling to pass up an immediate benefit in order to gain more in the long run. Now, experiments with blue jays at the University of Minnesota suggest that animals may be induced to cooperate when their opponent reciprocates by tit-for-tat behavior and rewards accumulate over a sequence of plays. [more]


Body clock (12 Dec) - A group of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) has demonstrated that the gene Opn4, which codes for the protein Melanopsin, is the elusive pigment gene that captures light and keeps your body tuned to a daily cycle--called a circadian rhythm. [more]


Human genetics (9 Dec) - For centuries, explorers and anthropologists have wondered why the people of the Andaman Islands were so fierce and isolated. New genetic research gives a glimpse at how the Andamanese are different from other people, at least biologically. The researchers, led by Erika Hagelberg of the University of Oslo, believe the island people are descendents of Paleolithic humans, who migrated eastward out of Africa during the last ice age. The genes also show that they are more closely related to Asians than to Africans, but that they have a unique genetic make-up. Wired News, Current Biology.


Cognition and culture (26 Nov) - A new study by a University of Arkansas psychologist proposes that beliefs about the afterlife may amount to more than a cultural construct. They may in fact have a biological basis - arising from the human brain's unique ability to comprehend the mental states of other people. In an article published in the November issue of The Journal of Cognition and Culture, assistant professor of psychology Jesse Bering outlines a study in which he demonstrated that even individuals who claim to believe that all consciousness ceases at death were inclined to say that certain psychological states persist. He calls this contradiction the Simulation Constraint Hypothesis of Death Representation. [more]


Music - neuroscience (12 Dec) - Researchers at Dartmouth are getting closer to understanding how some melodies have a tendency to stick in your head or why hearing a particular song can bring back a high school dance. They have found and mapped the area in your brain that processes and tracks music. It's a place that's also active during reasoning and memory retrieval. EurekAlert, The Guardian, New York Times.


Intelligence (12 Dec) - The board games chess and GO take practice, not intellect, brain scans of players suggest. Intelligence areas appear inactive when people puzzle over game strategy. [more]


Bulimia nervosa (11 Dec) - A team of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have linked an area of chromosome 10p to families with a history of bulimia nervosa, providing strong evidence that genes play a determining role in who is susceptible to developing the eating disorder. [more]


Depression (10 Dec) - A well-tolerated drug that blocks nicotine receptors in the brain appears to relieve depression and mood instability in children and adolescents with Tourette's syndrome, a preliminary study by University of South Florida College of Medicine researchers has found. The multicenter, placebo-controlled study of the drug mecamylamine is published in the latest issue of the journal Depression and Anxiety. [more]


Sex differences (10 Dec) - Sure Santa Claus asks boys and girls what toys they want, but, why they want them is a better question. The answer may have to do with a biological pre-wiring that influences boys' and girls' preferences based on the early roles of males and females, says a Texas A&M University psychologist. [more]


Anorexia (10 Dec)  - A defect of the immune system may be to blame for some cases of the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. BBC News Online, Nature Science Update.


Ecstasy and mental health (10 Dec) - Many studies have shown that the club drug Ecstasy can damage brain cells, but a large German study now shows that mental problems often predate Ecstasy use. Researchers suggest caution in interpreting the association. [more]


Memory - The biology of induced memory may involve protein synthesis in the amygdala and the  hippocampus for reconsolidation after retrieval. [more]


Depression (10 Dec) - A new study shows that a team-care approach more than doubles the effectiveness of depression treatment for older adults in general medical settings. The findings appear in the Dec. 11 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. [more]


Juvenile mental health (10 Dec) - Among teens in juvenile detention, nearly two thirds of boys and nearly three quarters of girls have at least one psychiatric disorder, a federally funded study has found. [more]


Psychosis (10 Dec) - Brain scans could help to predict which people at high risk of psychosis will actually go on to develop the disorder, say scientists. BBC News Online, New York Times.


Depression (9 Dec) - A large body of evidence has emerged over several years for an association between depressive disorder and cardiovascular disease. Although many studies have shown that depression increases the risk for coronary artery disease and the mortality rates after myocardial infarction, there is recent support for the assumption that the relation between both disorders may be bi-directional. [more]


Racism (9 Dec) - People in two minds about their attitudes towards ethnic minority groups become more unfavourable when exposed to anti-racism advertising or arguments, according to new research sponsored by the ESRC. [more]


Domestic violence (8 Dec) - A new study suggests that the way abusive men try to manage stress in their relationships and other parts of their lives may be associated with their violent outbursts. [more]


Human genetics (8 Dec) - Scientists have been looking for genes that can explain behavioral disorders for 20 years without much success. According to L. Alison McInnes of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, that may be because they have been concentrating their efforts in the wrong places in the genome. [more]


Anxiety - Most people find caffeine stimulating - Americans alone consume about 350 million cups of coffee daily. But some people find that it makes them anxious instead. A recently completed study sheds new light on the likely reason for this difference. Individuals who have two linked genetic variations are far more likely to end up biting their nails following a jolt of caffeine than those who don't, reported Harriet de Wit of the University of Chicago on Sunday, Dec. 8 at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. [more]

REVIEWS & DISCUSSION

Networks - Prabhakar Raghavan reviews Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks by Mark Buchanan. [more] [review]

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Nature vs. nurture - John Dupré reviews The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker. [more] [by Steven Pinker] [review]

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Autobiography - Daniel J. Kevles reviews Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science by Jon Beckwith. [more] [review]

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Biography - Angela N. H. Creager 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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Biography - Anthony Daniels reviews Charles Darwin: The Power of Place by Janet Browne. [more] [review] A review by Keith Stewart Thomson. [review]

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Sexual behavior - Andrew Petto reviews The Science of Romance: Secrets of the Sexual Brain by Nigel Barber. [more] [review]

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Thinking - Lisa Bortolotti reviews Adaptive Thinking: Rationality in the Real World by Gerd Gigerenzer. [more] [review]

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Psychology - Roy Sugarman reviews Psychology by Lewis Barker. [more] [review]

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Handedness - Nigel Hunt reviews Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures by Chris McManus. [more] [review]

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Consciousness - Jay Tolson reviews Consciousness and the Novel by David Lodge. [more] [review]

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Materialism - Lisa E. Reardon reviews The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser. [more] [review]

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Environmentalism - philosophy - Denis Dutton reviews Skeptical Environmentalism: The Limits of Philosophy and Science by Robert Kirkman. [more] [review]

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Biotechnology - Larry Arnhart reviews Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology by Francis Fukuyama. [more] [review]

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