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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 83 - 19th January, 2003 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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NEWS & VIEWS

Ape culture (19 Jan) - Anyone who has watched much nature television knows that orangutans are by far the handsomest and smartest-looking of the great apes. [more]


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Genetic testing (19 Jan) - Critics want to regulate an American test that may reveal how you will die - and so how to defuse your own genetic timebomb, reports Antony Barnett. [more]


Politics - "The Palestinian Christian is an endangered species. When the modern state of Israel was established there were about 400000 of us. Two years ago the number was down to 80000. Now it's down to 60000. At that rate, in a few years there will be none of us left," writes Abe W. Ata. [more]


Poverty (18 Jan) - The west is accused of "unjustifiable and objectionable" protectionism in its dealings with developing countries, in a report attacking the "shameful" level of global poverty. [more]


Primatology - conservation - Peter Elliot meets up with the team as they attempt to solve a mysterious murder and develop a strategy for the conservation of the western lowland gorilla in Gabon, West Africa. [more] [audio]


Psychiatry (17 Jan) All the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association, Psychiatric News 17 January 2003; Vol. 38, No. 2. [more]


Culture - primatology - It's a reassuring thought: What separates man from beast is culture. Except chimpanzees appear to have what anthropologists define as culture -- the ability to invent seemingly arbitrary new behaviors and pass them along to others. And this week, a team working in Southeast Asia reports in Science magazine that another ape -- the orangutan -- has culture, too. [more] [audio]


Science - Why are so many visionaries ignored? This is a question which confronts fundamental issues about how science and discovery operate. [more] [audio]


Mathematics (16 Jan) - What's the significance of 1.6180339887? It's the "golden ratio" and, arguably, it crops up in more places in art, music and so on than any number except pi. Claude Debussy used it explicitly in his music and Le Corbusier in his architecture. There are claims the number was used by Leonardo da Vinci in the painting of the Mona Lisa, by the Greeks in building the Parthenon and by ancient Egyptians in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. [more]


Pharmacology - One field in which serendipity plays a very large part is medicine - many new drugs have been the result of accidental discoveries. [more] [audio]


Human evolution (14 Jan) - Tubers, scavenging, and women - this might have been the winning combination that spurred human evolution about 2 millions years ago, according to a provocative hypothesis by American anthropologists. [more]


Evolution (15 Jan) - That enduring metaphor for the randomness of evolution, a blind watchmaker that works to no pattern or design, is being challenged by two European chemists. They say that the watchmaker may have been blind, but was guided and constrained by the changing chemistry of the environment, with many inevitable results. [more]


Human genetics (14 Jan) - "Biologists who dress up hi-tech eugenics as a new art form are dangerously deluded," says Jeremy Rifkin. [more]


Flat screen televisions on offer at Amazon.com [more]


Hope and self-interest - Why don't people vote their own self-interest? Every few years the Republicans propose a tax cut, and every few years the Democrats pull out their income distribution charts to show that much of the benefits of the Republican plan go to the richest 1 percent of Americans or thereabouts. And yet every few years a Republican plan wends its way through the legislative process and, with some trims and amendments, passes. The Democrats couldn't even persuade people to oppose the repeal of the estate tax, which is explicitly for the mega-upper class. [more]


Body and mind (12 Jan) - A major mental illness like clinical depression will send biochemical shock waves through the body. But the intimate relationship of body to mind isn't limited to serious disease. Researchers have come to understand that what lies below the neck can also be harmed by less acute kinds of brain disturbances. [more] and [more]


Self-diagnosis (12 Jan) - "To be conscious in these days of Paxil, Prozac and Dr. Phil is to question one's own sanity on an almost weekly basis. Self-diagnosis is a tricky business, especially when it comes to the mind. Still, with all the memoirs of addiction and depression and the countless websites devoted to mental health, it's more tempting than ever to lie down on the couch and ask, "Am I normal?"," says Walter Kirn. [more]


Depression (13 Jan) - US researchers have found that some men with difficult-to-treat depression may have low testosterone levels. What's more, they also found that boosting these levels with the aid of testosterone gel may help treat the depression. [more]


Politics - "Two years ago a project set up by the men who now surround George W Bush said what America needed was "a new Pearl Harbor". Its published aims have, alarmingly, come true," writes John Pilger. [more]

PAPERS & COMMENTARY

SIDS (18 Jan) - Researchers have made great progress against sudden infant death syndrome by identifying behaviors that increase the risk, such as smoking by caregivers and placing babies to sleep on the stomach. Now it seems a baby's genes also might play a role. [more]


  EuroNews BBC News The Feed Room BBC News 24 BBC Newsnight BBC Question Time 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

Violence - mental health - When a patient threatens violence to another person, the responsible mental health care professional faces a decision with potential clinical, ethical and legal consequences. The clinician must first decide whether there is a realistic risk of violence or whether the patient is expressing fantasies or just blowing off steam. [more]


Pregnancy - Despite the widespread, long-standing notion that pregnancy is a time of happiness and emotional well-being, accumulating evidence suggests that pregnancy does not protect women from mental illness. Like their nonpregnant counterparts, pregnant women experience new onset and recurrent mood, anxiety and psychotic disorders. [more]



Birth complications - sex differences (18th Jan) - Women are more likely to encounter complications during labour and delivery when they are having a boy, according to researchers in this week's British Medical Journal. [more]


Evolution (15 Jan) - The lowly stick insect has forced a rethink of one of the key rules of evolution - that complex anatomical features do not disappear and reappear over the course of time. New Scientist.


Sex reversal (15 Jan) - Northwestern University has received a five-year, $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to identify the gene mutations that cause sex reversal, a condition in which individuals have the chromosomes of one sex but the physical attributes of the other, resulting in XY females or XX males. [more]



Depression (15 Jan) - A persistent, long-lasting headache or an endlessly painful back may indicate something more serious than a bad week at the office. A new study finds that people who have major depression are more than twice as likely to have chronic pain when compared to people who have no symptoms of depression. This study could change how depression is diagnosed and treated, say Stanford School of Medicine researchers. [more]


Genomics (15 Jan) - By simply feeding roundworms genetically-modified bacteria, UK scientists have conducted an extraordinary one-by-one analysis of the function of nearly 86 per cent of the worms 20,000 genes. US scientists have put the data to immediate use to search for genes that regulate fat storage. [more]


Cocaine (13 Jan) - Cocaine is traditionally thought to exert its effects on behavior by interacting with dopamine transporters. However, recent research, cofunded by NIDA, has shown that other mechanisms may also mediate the behavioral effects of the drug. The research team led by Dr. Rae Matsumoto from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has demonstrated that interfering with cocaine's access to sigma receptors can block the behavioral and toxic effects of the drug. [more]


Addiction (13 Jan) - Children who start to use alcohol, marijuana or other illicit drugs in their early teen years are more likely to experience psychiatric disorders, especially depression, in their late 20's. [more]


Psychopharmacology (13 Jan) - Smokers diagnosed with schizophrenia had higher smoking cessation rates when treated with bupropion than with a placebo, according to a study led by Dr. Tony George at Yale University. Bupropion is a medication used to help people quit smoking and to treat depression. [more]


Genetics (12 Jan) - Researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research are gaining new insight into the molecular players involved in the process of vertebral column formation in the embryo. [more]


REVIEWS & DISCUSSION (cont.)

Placebo effect - Marek Kohn reviews Placebo: The Belief Effect by Dylan Evans. [review]

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Obesity - Michael Pollan reviews Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser. [more] [review] [chapter] A review by Laura Miller. [review]

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REVIEWS & DISCUSSION

History - Mark Hall reviews The Rhythms of History: A Universal Theory of Civilizations by Stephen Blaha. [more] [review]

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Social science - Jonathon Keats reviews The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker. [more] [by Steven Pinker] [review]

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Psychology - Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair reviews The Origin of Minds: Evolution, Uniqueness and the New Science of the Self by Peggy La Cerra & Roger Bingham. [more] [excerpt] [review]

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Obsessions - The Treatment of Obsessions by Stanley Rachman. [more] [chapter]

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Economics - Daniel Nettle reviews Economics as an evolutionary science: From utility to fitness by Arthur E. Gandolfi, Anna S. Gandolfi and David P. Barash. [more] [review]

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Evolutionary medicine - Keith S. Harris reviews When culture and biology collide: Why we are stressed, depressed, and self-obsessed by Euclid O. Smith. [more] [review]

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Fiction - David P. Barash reviews You're An Animal, Viskovitz! by Alessandro Boffa. [more] [review]

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Commitment - William D. Casebeer reviews Evolution and the Capacity for Commitment edited by Randolph M. Nesse. [more] [review]

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Criminology - history - Tony Walsh reviews Born to Crime: Cesare Lombroso and the Origins of Biological Criminology by Mary Gibson. [more] [review]

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Society - history - Roger Kimball reviews The West and the Rest by Roger Scruton. [more] [review]

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