News in Brain and Behavioural
NEWS & VIEWS
Child abuse (7 Feb) - Most men who were sexually abused as boys do not go on to abuse children themselves, a study suggests. Researchers at the Institute of Child Health in London have found evidence to suggest that just one in eight continues the cycle of abuse. [more]
Psychiatry (7 Feb) - All the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association: Psychiatric Times 7 February 2003; Vol. 38, No. 3. [more]
"Baby talk" (5 Feb) - Women really are better at baby talk than men. When talking in the coochy-coo baby-speak that parents often use with their infants, mothers' utterances are less ambiguous than fathers'. And though it is practically impossible to know what babies make of it all, this suggests that infants may find their mothers easier to understand. New Scientist, BBC News Online.
Sleep (4 Feb) - Sleep is not just for resting, according to new research that suggests the brain uses this apparent down time to process information obtained during the day into more permanent memories. [more]
Making sense (4 Feb) - Seven schoolchildren are swept to their deaths on a skiing trip in Canada. Seven Africans are washed up dead on a beach in Spain. Seven astronauts are lost when the space shuttle breaks up over America. Only one story captures world attention. Why, asks Libby Brooks. [more]
Competence (1 Feb) - The tendency that people have to overrate their abilities fascinates Cornell University social psychologist David Dunning, PhD. "People overestimate themselves," he says, "but more than that, they really seem to believe it. I've been trying to figure out where that certainty of belief comes from." [more]
Human migration (3 Feb) - Early humans approximately 100,000 years ago traveled from Africa to Asia via a southern route that likely passed along the coasts of what are now Pakistan and India, according to researchers at Oxford University. [more]
Human genetics (4 Feb) - Scientists have launched a major international initiative to systematically uncover the function of each of our genes. [more]
Profile (3 Feb) - Nobody could accuse James Dewey Watson of being a bore. The man who co-discovered the DNA double helix is an effusive purveyor of outrageous views, politically incorrect comments and scurrilous gossip. [more]
Vavilov Institute (2 Feb) - One of the world's greatest genetic resources, which survived the Second World War siege of Leningrad in which many of its scientists died, is to be thrown out of its home and risk destruction in order to make room for the luxurious tastes of President Vladimir Putin and his administration. [more]
Genomics (31 Jan) - Ira Flatow talks with Craig Venter about his philosophy and vision for genomics. We'll also find out about his other scientific interests, including a push for alternative energy sources. [more] [audio]
Medicine (31 Jan) - A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association doesn't paint a pretty picture of biomedical research. "Financial relationships among industry, scientific investigators, and academic institutions are widespread," write the study authors. "Conflicts of interest arising from these ties can influence biomedical research in important ways." We'll talk with one of the authors of the paper about such conflicts of interest in the research world. [more] [audio]
Genetics (28 Jan) - Genes work just like computer software, says Richard Dawkins - which is why the luddites don't get it, but their children probably will. [more]
Creationism (1 Feb) - A religious group that believes God literally created the world has brought a legal action against a biology professor, claiming that he refuses to write letters of recommendation for students who do not believe in evolution. [more] A biology professor who insists that his students accept the tenets of human evolution has found himself the subject of Justice Department scrutiny. [more]
Grief (31 Jan) - The death of a child can shorten the life of their parents, particularly mothers, a study suggests. [more]
REVIEWS & DISCUSSION (cont.)
PAPERS & COMMENTARY
Failure (7 Feb) - When men make lame excuses for a poor test performance, women don't buy it, according to research just published by Edward Hirt, a social psychologist at Indiana University Bloomington. Hirt has spent the last 10 years conducting research on this aspect of social psychology that involves the term self-handicapping. The associate professor of psychology is the lead author of "I Know You Self-Handicapped Last Exam: Gender Differences in Reactions to Self-Handicapping" in the current issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. [more]
Autism (6 Feb) - Duke University Medical Center researchers have developed a new statistical genetic "fishing net" that they have cast into a sea of complex genetic data on autistic children to harvest an elusive autism gene. [more]
Neuroscience (6 Feb) - The mind works in mysterious ways, and one Rensselaer researcher and his colleagues have created a computer automation tool to help solve those mysteries, speed understanding of how the brain develops, delve more deeply into brain function at the cellular level, and make more reliable conclusions. [more]
Death (7 Feb) - Jamie Arndt has more than a few ideas about ways people think and behave. He seeks to understand why people work so hard to feel good about themselves. The answer, he believes, can be found in an overriding fear of death. [more]
Genocide (5 Feb) - New research by Brown University historian Omer Bartov calls into question actions of academics throughout the last century. At various times, scholars legitimized and supported acts of ethnic cleansing, genocide and terrorism, Bartov writes in the current International Social Science Journal. [more]
Addiction (5 Feb) - Young girls and women are more easily addicted to drugs and alcohol, have different reasons than boys for abusing substances and may need single-sex treatment programs to beat back their addictions, according to a study released Wednesday. [more]
Male fertility (5 Feb) - Further evidence that men's fertility declines with age is reported today (Thursday 6 February) in Human Reproduction - Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal. A study of 97 healthy non-smoking men aged from 22 to 80 has demonstrated that, as they age, men's semen quality declines. There was a continuous reduction in sperm motility (movement) and semen volume and the proportion of men with abnormal semen volume, sperm concentration and motility increased significantly across the age decades. [more]
Antidepressants - neuroimaging (5 Feb) - The experiences of millions of people have proved that antidepressants work, but only with the advent of sophisticated imaging technology have scientists begun to learn exactly how the medications affect brain structures and circuits to bring relief from depression. [more]
Human Genetics (4 Feb) - Research undertaken by Professor Einar Árnason at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik and published in the January 2003 issue of Annals of Human Genetics highlights the inaccuracy of claims that Icelanders are a 'genetically homogenous' population. EurekAlert.
Meditation (4 Feb) - In a small but highly provocative study, a University of Wisconsin-Madison research team has found, for the first time, that a short program in "mindfulness meditation" produced lasting positive changes in both the brain and the function of the immune system. EurekAlert, New York Times.
Reproduction (3 Feb) - Sperm have a heat-seeking homing device, says Michael Eisenbach of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. The wily cells nuzzle into the warmer climes of a woman's genital tract to find and fertilise a ripe egg. Nature Science Update, Nature Medicine.
Peer review (2 Feb) - Despite its widespread use and costs, little hard evidence exists that peer review improves the quality of published biomedical research, concludes a systematic review from the international Cochrane Collaboration. [more]
Mental health (2 Feb) - College students frequently have more complex problems today than they did over a decade ago, including both the typical or expected college student problems -- difficulties in relationships and developmental issues -- as well as the more severe problems, such as depression, sexual assault and thoughts of suicide. That is the finding of a study involving 13,257 students seeking help at a large Midwestern university counseling center over a 13-year period. EurekAlert, American Psychological Association.
Genetics - development (31 Jan) - An international collaboration of scientists, led by Dr. Guillermo Oliver at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Memphis, TN) has identified a single gene, called Six3, as a crucial factor in the normal development of the vertebrate forebrain -- the part of the brain that is responsible for smell, memory storage, intelligence, and vision, as well as the regulation of body temperature, breathing, and sleep. [more]
REVIEWS & DISCUSSION (cont.)
REVIEWS & DISCUSSION
History - Sanjay A Pai reviews Science: A History 1543-2001 by John Gribbin. [review]
Development (13 Dec) - Barbara Smuts reviews Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection by Deborah Blum. [more] [review] Though the name 'Harry Harlow' isn't well known to most people, the images produced by his research are: the pictures in many psychology texts of captive monkeys seeking comfort from either metal or terry-cloth covered 'artificial mothers.' In this hour, Ira Flatow talks with Deborah Blum, author of "Love at Goon Park,' a new book about Harlow, and with primatologist Frans de Waal. [more] [audio]