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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 2: Issue 90 - 22nd March, 2003 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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NEWS & VIEWS

Genes and God (22 Mar) - The scientists who launched a revolution with the discovery of the structure of DNA in Cambridge 50 years ago have both used the anniversary to mount an attack on religion. [more]



Psychoanalysis (22 Mar) - Sigmund Freud is both revered as a giant of twentieth-century thought and derided by mainstream psychologists and psychiatrists for his lack of scientific rigour. But in recent years, Freud's inspired guesses have been put under systematic scrutiny - and many have been proved to be accurate. Oliver James, a psychologist himself, and the son of psychoanalysts, explains how. [more]


Superstition (18 Mar) - The prospect of war may have triggered a significant increase in superstitious rituals, according to a nationwide survey. [more]


Genes and Nations (22 Mar) - 'Are Today's Macedonians Successors of Alexander the Great? asks the MakNews website. 'Will Genetics Finally Resolve The Greek-Macedonian Dispute?' wonders the Macedonian Herald. Each, in its particular way, is asking the fundamental question of ethnic identity: 'Where do we come from?' And each anticipates that DNA may be the key that will finally unlock ancient truths. As the basis of the latest branch of the heritage industry, DNA is becoming a tool for building nations. [more]


Altruism (21 Mar) - As the world confronts another war waged between human and human, a group of artists, scientists, and other scholars will meet in Paris to decide how we could tell intelligence on other worlds about another side of humanity: our ambition to be an altruistic species. [more]


Race and drugs (17 Mar) - When the biotech company VaxGen released the results of its long-promised AIDS vaccine trials last month, the only conclusion that could be drawn from the large-scale study was that the vaccine had no significant effect. Of the more than 5,300 volunteers, 5.7 percent of those who received the vaccine became infected with HIV, but an eerily similar 5.8 per cent of those who received a placebo also became infected. [more]


Genetics - To mark the 50th anniversary, Scientific American's Editor in Chief John Rennie recently spoke with Watson in his office at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, where he was director for 25 years. [more]


Neurotheology (21 Mar) - According to Horizon (BBC2), our belief in belief is hardwired into our brains, and visions - like that of St Paul on the road to Damascus, on which sects, cults and denominations are founded - can be explained as fits of temporal lobe epilepsy. [more] [more]


Race (20 Mar) - Responding to recent advances in decoding DNA that have thrown light into a murky corner of genetics, two articles in The New England Journal of Medicine today take different views on whether race is a meaningful factor in medicine. [more]


International affairs - A humanitarian disaster is engulfing Africa as cash is poured into the war with Iraq and its aftermath. [more]


Psychotherapy (12 Mar) - Despite the huge growth in the number of psychotherapists, you'd be better off talking to an intelligent friend, says Raj Persaud. [more]


Tools - neuroscience (17 Mar) - While it may not be news to those with a hankering for hardware, new research suggest that tools and other graspable objects may be especially alluring to the human brain. [more]


Language (18 Mar) - Do some of today's languages still hold a whisper of the ancient mother tongue spoken by the first modern humans? Many linguists say language changes far too fast for that to be possible. But a new genetic study underlines the extreme antiquity of a special group of languages, raising the possibility that their distinctive feature was part of the ancestral human mother tongue. [more] [more]


Autism (16 Mar) - Autism, the devastating mental illness that affects thousands of UK children every year, is not a single psychological condition, scientists have discovered. [more]


Skin (18 Mar) - The skin is our only visible organ, and the largest. It indicates our health, protects us from harm, senses both pain and pleasure, and faces more abuses than any other part of the body. In this two-part series, Edi Stark explores its biological functions and psychological significance. [more] [audio] [audio]


Pregnancy (13 Mar) - There is little truth in the widely held idea that pregnancy reduces a woman's mental firepower, research has found. [more]

RESEARCH & COMMENTARY

Depression (21 Mar) - In a new approach to research on minor depression, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a four-year study to determine the safety and effectiveness of St. John's wort, a common herbal supplement, and citalopram, a standard antidepressant, compared to placebo. [more]


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Audio and Video

Marriage - happiness (16 Mar) - In a large longitudinal study that sheds new light on the association between marital status and happiness, researchers have found that people get a boost in life satisfaction from marriage. But the increase in happiness is very small -- approximately one tenth of one point on an 11-point scale -- and is likely due to initial reactions to marriage and then a return to prior levels of happiness. Data from the 15-year study of over 24,000 individuals living in Germany also indicates that most people who get married and stayed married are more satisfied with their lives than their non-married peers long before the marriage occurred. [more]


Smiling (18 Mar) - Women do smile more than men, but when occupying similar work and social roles, the gender differences in the rate of smiling disappear, a Yale researcher has found. [more]


Marriage - endocrinology (17 Mar) - A low-testosterone man newly married to a high-testosterone woman might seem destined to be henpecked but a Penn State study found that such a coupling actually produced a marriage where the wife provided better social support for her mate. [more]


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Sense of smell (18 Mar) - In at least one type of endeavor, humans can't even begin to compete with their best friends. Dogs can be trained to sniff out drugs and explosives or to track down a crime suspect by smell. Why can't we do the same? Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology propose an explanation for this ancient quandary. [more]


Genetics (17 Mar) - Research at the Salk Institute has identified a gene that may link certain pesticides and chemical weaponry to a number of neurological disorders, including the elusive Gulf War syndrome and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). [more]


Binge eating (20 Mar) - A weak gene -- not weak willpower -- makes some binge-eaters stuff themselves, a study suggests. But it also points to possible help: a future pill that might cool their appetites. [more]


Management - evolutionary psychology (15 Mar) - This article will seek to synthesise ideas from organisational and management theory about paradoxes and contradictions with evolutionary psychology to provide an explanation of the many contradictions and paradoxes that surround and permeate public management. [more]



Genetics - human behaviour (15 Mar) - The Nuffield Report on Genetics and Human Behaviour was compiled by a working party consisting of experts in the law, philosophy, medical genetics and other fields, in consultation with professionals in behavioural genetics, public organisations and members of the general public. The novelty of the report is that it is not concerned with diseases and clinical disorders, but with the ethical and legal implications of the study of the genetics of variation within the normal range of behaviour. [more]


Pheromones (14 Mar) - Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have found that exposure to male perspiration has marked psychological and physiological effects on women: It can brighten women's moods, reducing tension and increasing relaxation, and also has a direct effect on the release of luteinizing hormone, which affects the length and timing of the menstrual cycle. [more]

REVIEWS & DISCUSSION

Biography - history - James Brody reviews In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace: A Biographical Study on the Psychology of History by Michael Shermer. [more] [review]

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Childhood - mental illness - Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair reviews Myths of Childhood by Joel Paris. [more] [review]

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Evil - Alan Wolfe reviews Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing by James Waller. [more] [review]

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Darwin - Anthony Daniels reviews Darwin and the Barnacle by Rebecca Stott. [more] [review]

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Women - Kathryn Hughes reviews How Young Ladies Became Girls by Jane H. Hunter. [more] [review]

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Consciousness - Daniel Johnson reviews Consciousness: A User's Guide by Adam Zeman. [more] [review]

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Consciousness - vision - Paul Coates reviews Is The Visual World a Grand Illusion? Edited by Alva NoŽ. [more] [review]

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Environmentalism - Kofi Ankomah reviews Vanishing Borders: Protecting the Planet in the Age of Globalization by Hilary French. [more] [review]

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