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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 88 - 8th March, 2003 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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NEWS & VIEWS

Money and happiness (7 Mar) - "The evidence is clear: our wellbeing depends on cooperation and the public good, not personal enrichment," says Polly Toynbee. [more]



ECT (7 Mar) - People with severe depression may be better off having electric shock therapy than taking medication, a study suggests. [more]


Psychiatry (7 Mar) - All of the latest news from the American Psychiatric Association: Psychiatric News 7 March 2003; Vol. 38, No. 5. [more]


Neanderthals (6 Mar) - Scientists have been pondering the question posed by the Neandertals-who were they, and what happened to them-since the first fossil remains were found in Germany's Neander Valley in 1856. By combining what can be told by fossils and artifacts with what has been learned by geneticists, we're getting closer to answering those questions, said Richard Klein, a paleoanthropologist at Stanford University, California. National Geographic, New York Times.


Magazine and Newspaper Subscriptions Store - For a limited time, Amazon is offering $10 off your next Amazon.com purchase when you spend $35 in Magazine & Newspaper Subscriptions. Best yet, there are over 80,000 titles to choose from, so you're certain to find a title you'll love. [more details]

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Marriage (6 Mar) - A do-it-yourself quiz to test a marriage's chances of surviving has been published by Relate, the marriage guidance service. The quiz, the first undertaken by Relate, is aimed at couples contemplating marriage, but the group emphasises that it is only a guide to the chances of finding marital bliss, not a guarantee. [more]


Oppositional Defiant Disorder (5 Mar) - Children who violently disobey their parents or other adults are often diagnosed with the condition O-D-D [Oppositional Defiant Disorder], but not everyone believes the disorder is for real, Mika Brzezinski reports. [video] Child psychologist Ross Greene, author of ‘The Explosive Child,’ joined the CBS Early Show to support doctors who diagnose O-D-D and to discuss various methods of treatment. [video]


Archaeology (5 Mar) - The ancient hunters of North America - accused of widespread extinctions upon their arrival 11,000 years ago - may have been innocent, says new U.S. research. But an Australian expert said the hunters are still not in the clear. [more]


Happiness (5 Mar) - More than 200 years ago "the pursuit of happiness" was regarded as a key objective of public policy. Jeremy Bentham, fellow utilitarians and the founding fathers of the US all endorsed the principle. If you believe the idea is dead and buried, you are wrong. A slow resurrection has begun. [more]


Lips (4 Mar) - Scientists have found that the size of somebody's lips plays a key role in determining whether they are sexually attractive to other people. [more]


Sociobiology (4 Mar) - "The 'science' of sociobiology exists only to explain why men are within their rights to pursue young hotties," says Zoe Williams. [more]


Genetic apartheid (4 Mar) - Within 20 years newborn babies may be issued with genetic identity cards which spell out their potential future health, a development which may lead to "genetic apartheid" unless the issue is properly debated, the head of Cancer Research UK will warn today. [more] and [more] [video]


History (4 Mar) - In 1953, Enrico Fermi and two of his colleagues at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, John Pasta and Stanislaw Ulam, invented the concept of a "computer experiment." Suddenly the computer became a telescope for the mind, a way of exploring inaccessible processes. [more]


Genetics - ethics (4 Mar) In the future genetic factors may sometimes be cited in mitigation for a crime in a court of law, just as social factors, such as being a victim of cruelty or abuse, already are. [more]


Stress (3 Mar) - There is no single reason that some people deal with intense stress better than others, but scientists delving into the biology of coping believe they've identified one biochemical that helps make a difference. It goes by the prosaic name neuropeptide Y, or NPY. [more]


Self-deception (4 Mar) - Self-deception is a common human enterprise. Our capacity for it seems no more exotic a part of our nature than our capacity to spell. We attribute the state freely to others ("you're kidding yourself"), and come to realise we were in the state ourselves ("I was kidding myself when I said that"). However, when we step back from those confident judgements and try making sense of self-deception, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to do so. [more]


Chronic liars (3 Mar) - The world's con artists and hustlers and philanderers have to lie -- it's how they get by. But the real masters of lying don't need a clear reason. They spin war stories for neighbors, travel adventures for co-workers, romantic fictions for friends. That's why many psychiatrists consider chronic lying as almost always a symptom of a deeper emotional problem, such as delusional thinking, psychopathy or narcissism. [more]


Stupidity (3 Mar) James D. Watson's claim that gene therapy could be used to "cure stupidity" has been dismissed by Australian experts as ludicrous. News.com, New Scientist.


Gender (27 Feb) - Although the two genders are purposefully socialized to be different in all human societies, it turns out that there are some concrete biological and scientific reasons underpinning gender differences. [more]


Science (31 Jan) - There is, alas, no scientific claim so preposterous that a scientist cannot be found to vouch for it. And many such claims end up in a court of law after they have cost some gullible person or corporation a lot of money. How are juries to evaluate them? [more]


Disgust (25 Feb) - Scientists have pinpointed the precise parts of the brain most directly involved in facial recognition of disgust, which will help understand the complex process of facial expression. [more]


Mate choice (2 Mar) - An ageing male flaunting a new Porsche may be the butt of derisive male jokes. But he is far more likely to entice female mates than a younger man with a similar sports car. That is the surprising conclusion of zoologists who believe they have discovered the secret of one of society's most baffling mysteries: the phenomenon by which older males attract young female mates. [more]


Obituary (28 Feb) - Alexander Stokes, who has died aged 83, was the first scientist to work out that the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule was probably helical in shape. [more]

RESEARCH & COMMENTARY

Neuroscience (6 Mar) - UCSF scientists have identified for the first time a molecule that directs neurons to form connections with each other during an animal's early development - creating synapses essential to all behavior. [more]


EuroNews BBC News   Channel Four News (UK) CBC News (Canada) ABC News (Australia) FeedRoom (US) Deutsche Welle RTÉ News (Ireland) CBS News (US) BBC News 24 BBC Newsnight BBC Question Time BBC Radio Player, BBC World Service, Today, Newshour, The World Today, Radio Netherlands, 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 United Nations US Congress UK Parliament.

Audio and Video

Terrorism (7 Mar) - Contemporary suicide terrorists from the Middle East are publicly deemed crazed cowards bent on senseless destruction who thrive in poverty and ignorance. Recent research indicates they have no appreciable psychopathology and are as educated and economically well-off as surrounding populations. A first line of defense is to get the communities from which suicide attackers stem to stop the attacks by learning how to minimize the receptivity of mostly ordinary people to recruiting organizations. [more] and [more] Dr Raj Persaud talks to Dr Andrew Silke Fellow of the University of Leicester Scarman Centre, about the psychology of the suicide bomber. [more] [audio]


Breast augmentation - suicide (7 Mar) - Women who undergo cosmetic surgery for breast augmentation are more likely to commit suicide than women from the general population, finds a study in this week's British Medical Journal. [more]


Decision-making (6 Mar) - The next time you are frustrated by someone who says, "I'm of two minds about this," at least you will know why. The latest research conducted by Kip Smith, an assistant professor of psychology at Kansas State University, may be able to explain why people often can't make up their minds. Smith's current study focuses on which parts of the brain are used in the decision-making process. [more]


Neuroscience (5 Mar) - The brain is constantly compromising as it pieces together information, often ignoring or downplaying small visual changes in the world that do not fit with its expectations. This process - far from being flawed - shows that the brain functions optimally, say University of Toronto researchers. [more]



Primatology (6 Mar) - An ancient relative of the orangutan has been discovered in Thailand. The species is the first fossil ape unearthed in the area where orangutans live today. Nature Science Update, Nature, BBC News Online.


Preventive war (5 Mar) - The Bush administration's claim that it is fighting a preventive war with Iraq now to forestall a more dangerous war later is a virtually unprecedented foreign policy move in American history and even among other nations over the past two centuries, a Penn State political scientist says. "The Bush administration has argued that, if America waits, Saddam Hussein will build more weapons of mass destruction and is likely to give them to assorted terrorists who will use these weapons even if he won't use them himself," says Dr. D. Scott Bennett, associate professor of political science. This poses an almost unparalleled situation for the United States, which has virtually no history of preventive wars, not to mention preemptive strikes, in which the country is in immediate danger of being attacked. [more]


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Addiction - depression (5 Mar) - A study by researchers from the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center suggests that chronic cocaine use may cause damage to brain cells that help produce feelings of pleasure, which may contribute, in part, to the high rates of depression reported among cocaine abusers. [more]


ADHD (5 Mar) - A study by researchers at Harvard University has provided more evidence that using stimulant medications such as methylphenidate to treat children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may reduce their risk of developing drug and alcohol use disorders later in life. [more]


Altruism - kin selection (4 Mar) - Scientists at the University of Helsinki studied Formica fusca, a common ant species and one that is polygynous, meaning its colonies have more than one queen. Using 10 two-queen colonies, the researchers did genetic analysis of queens, workers, eggs and pupae in each colony to see how related they were. [more]


Stonehenge (28 Feb) - The design of Stonehenge, the 4,800-year-old monument in southwestern England, was based on female sexual anatomy, according to a paper in the current Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. [more]


Science - funding (5 Mar) - For most of American history, public support for scientific research has taken its cue from U.S. technology policy, according to research by Vernon Ruttan, retired Regents Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. But, said Ruttan, Vannevar Bush's 1945 report, "Science: The Endless Frontier," began an era of investment in research not tied to specific technological goals. Since then, the scientific community has steadfastly resisted attempts by Congress and presidents to impose economic criteria on the allocation of research resources. [more]


Comparative genomics (3 Mar) - Comparison of human chromosome 21 with chimpanzee, orangutan, rhesus macaque, and woolly monkey DNA sequences have identified a significant number of random genomic rearrangements between human and nonhuman primate DNA. This evidence shows, contrary to popular belief, that genomic rearrangements have occurred frequently during primate genome evolution and are a significant source of variation between humans and chimpanzees as well as other primates. [more]


Distress - development (4 Mar) - Children who experience emotional distress from depression and anxiety are prone to viewing themselves and their world in a negative light - and this thinking leads them to underestimate their abilities, suggest the results of a long-term study of nearly 1,000 elementary school children. [more]


Development - taste (3 Mar) - Children are suckers for tart sweets such as sherbet and cola bottles because sour taste preferences are more intense during childhood, a new study finds. [more]


Anxiety (1 Mar) - Researchers have identified a genetic factor that appears to influence anxiety in women. Combining DNA analysis, recordings of brain activity, and psychological tests, investigators at the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that Caucasian and American Indian women with the same gene variant had similarly high scores on tests that measure anxiety. EurekAlert, BBC News Online.

REVIEWS & DISCUSSION

Sexuality - Rachel Cooper reviews Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebing. [more] [review]

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Schizophrenia - Jack R. Anderson reviews The Early Stages of Schizophrenia edited by Robert B. Zipursky and Charles S. Schulz. [more] [review]

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Consciousness - Paul Gatto reviews Consciousness Evolving edited by James H. Fetzer. [more] [review]

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Genetics - Lloyd A. Wells reviews The Misunderstood Gene by Michel Morange. [more] [review]

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Psychopathology - Peter B. Raabe reviews Origins of Psychopathology: The Phylogenetic and Cultural Basis of Mental Illness by Horacio Fábrega, Jr. [more] [review]

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Wild children (27 Feb) - This week’s Book of the week on Radio 4 is “Savage Girls and Wild Children” by Michael Newton – a history of the feral child. The feral child in myth and legend goes back to Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. [more] [audio] A review by Laura Miller [more]

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Consciousness (26 Feb) - Dr Raj Persaud talks to Adam Zeman, consultant neurologist and senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh about the medical and mystical levels of consciousness.  In his new book A User's Guide To Consciousness, Adam Zeman examines the relationship between the conscious state and the neurological connectors in the brain. [more] [audio]

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Science - Robert Matthews reviews Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science by Peter Atkins. [more] [review]

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Mind - brain - Itiel Dror reviews The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley. [more] [review]

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Emotions - Erica Goode reviews Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain by Antonio Damasio. [more] [review] A review by Neil Levy. [review]

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Human evolution - Carl Zimmer reviews The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey by Spencer Wells. [more] [review]

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Freedom - Galen Strawson reviews Freedom Evolves by Daniel C Dennett. [more] [review

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