News in Brain and Behavioural
NEWS & VIEWS
Human reproduction (27 Mar) - Men can't help acting on impulse, according to the perfume advert, but neither perhaps can their sperm. Geoff Watts will be looking into the suggestion that sperm literally smell their way towards their target, the unfertilized egg. If true, it could help improve fertility treatment, and also lead to new forms of contraception that don't use the hormones found in today's contraceptive pills. [more] [audio]
Archaeology (27 Mar) - Experts have managed to control a mysterious mould that threatened to destroy one of the world's most famous cave paintings. [more]
Cloning (1 Apr) - Michael Shermer argues that the 'Three Laws of Cloning' will protect clones and advance science. [more]
War - propaganda (28 Mar) - Nobody tells the truth in war. But the difference between democracies and dictatorships should be that the former tell more than the latter. Independent, Guardian, Philadelphia Inquirer, Gulf News.
Animal behavior - cognition (27 Mar) - A remarkable colony of inventors has emerged on an isolated Pacific island. They can fashion nifty tools out of materials scavenged from the rain-forest. Being master craftsmen, they can even customise a tool for a given job. Meet the crows of New Caledonia. [more]
Anorexia (27 Mar) - Anorexic women have much higher levels of a mysterious molecule suspected to affect appetite, researchers have shown for the first time. The peptide, called CART, could be a candidate for new appetite-altering drugs, they say. [more]
Intelligence - internet (26 Mar) - By looking for patterns in email traffic, a new technique can quickly identify online communities and the key people in them. The approach could mean terrorists or criminal gangs give themselves away, even if they are communicating in code or only discussing the weather. [more]
'Gulf War Syndrome' (26 Mar) - Soldiers have not been told that about one in 10 of them are almost as sensitive to nerve agents as pigeons. There is now mounting evidence that exposure to minuscule amounts of these chemicals can cause permanent brain damage in susceptible people, and that is exactly what happened 12 years ago when thousands of troops returning from Kuwait started to complain of debilitating symptoms. [more]
Self-harm (26 Mar) - More than one in eight adolescents has deliberately harmed themselves, researchers have found. [more]
Pain - empathy (25 Mar) - New research suggests that people don't just feel bad for you when you stub your toe--their brains actually react a bit as if they were hurt themselves. [more]
Homosexuality (25 Mar) - Gay men and lesbians have gender-bending brains that contribute to their effeminate and "butch" stereotypes, it was claimed today. [more]
Development (25 Mar) - Babies who are tiny at birth are less likely to do well in their GCSE examinations as teenagers, researchers have found. [more]
Creationism (25 Mar) - David Berlinski argues that intelligent design has failed, evolutionary biology has failed, and therefore nobody has a plausible scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth. This is absurd. [more]
Politics - Richard Dawkins argues that a political system that hands a victory to Osama bin Laden is in need of reform. [more]
Happiness (23 Mar) - We are all in search of it, and while some have it, many don't. The pursuit of it was even written into the American Declaration of Independence. We're talking about happiness, surely an ancient and universal human desire, a desire that arose in our brains when we arose on the Ethiopian savannah. But what is it? And more importantly, how do we get it? [more]
RESEARCH & COMMENTARY
Medicine (29 Mar) - Doctors exhibit higher levels of psychological disturbance than people in equivalent professional occupations. British Medical Journal.
Human evolution (28 Mar) - A leading palaeontologist is questioning the heritage of a 3.5-million-year-old fossil skull hailed two years ago as a new human relative. It's just one example, he suggests, of scientists being too quick to give us a bushy family tree. Nature Science Update.
Population (27 Mar) - The natural increase in Europe's population is slowing and may start a steep decline within a few decades, researchers say. EurekAlert, Nando Times, CBC News, Globe and Mail, Guardian, Newsday.
Psychopharmacology (27 Mar) - Important new data published today in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice, show the atypical antipsychotic, Seroquel (quetiapine) to be highly effective and well tolerated in patients with schizophrenia who have had an inadequate response or tolerability issues with their previous antipsychotic treatment. [more]
Human evolution - creativity (26 Mar) - Scientists claim they have found the oldest evidence of human creativity: a 350,000-year-old pink stone axe. The handaxe, which was discovered at an archaeological site in northern Spain, may represent the first funeral rite by human beings. BBC News Online, Pakistan News Service, Daily Times.
Human reproduction (26 Mar) - Nature tries to compensate for the vulnerability of male babies - New research from Italy reveals that mother nature tries very hard to compensate for the fact that male foetuses and newborns are more fragile than females by allowing significantly more boys to be conceived at a time of year when conditions for pregnancy and birth are optimal. EurekAlert, Health24, HealthCentral, The Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald, Ananova, BBC News Online, The Independent.
Evolution (26 Mar) - Fossils recently discovered in Egypt fill one of the gaps in the evolutionary tree of primates and double the known age of one of its main branches. Because there are still so many gaps in the tree, statistical calculations push the origin of primates, including the earliest ancestors of humans, back to about 90 million years ago – at least 20 million years earlier than previously thought. [more]
Suicide terrorism (26 Mar) - Suicide terrorism seems to many to defy logic. Economists find the idea particularly hard to understand in the context of economic theories that are usually based on ideas of self interest: surely self interest must preclude self killing? But now a new research paper by Professor Mark Harrison an economist at the University of Warwick says that the value placed on personal identity by suicide terrorists provides some of the answers. [more]
Parenting (26 Mar) - Children whose mothers are the most depressed, anxious, and report high levels of psychosomatic symptoms are twice as likely to be taken to a doctor when they complain of a stomach ache or abdominal pain than are children whose mothers report the least amount of such mental stress. [more]
Neanderthals (26 Mar) - Neanderthals were not the ham-fisted cavemen often portrayed in cartoons, but instead had at least as much dexterity as modern humans, computer modeling of ancient hand bones shows. New York Times, Nature Science Update, Nature, ABC Australia, New Scientist, National Geographic, South African News, CBC News, Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, Newsday, Globe and Mail.
Alcoholism (25 Mar) - Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) have discovered a new region of the brain involved in chronic alcohol consumption. This research may be used to develop new or improved drugs and therapies aimed at combating alcoholism. The finding also presents a more complete picture of the brain's important role in alcohol abuse. [more]
Pain - sex differences (24 Mar) - A gene associated with red hair and fair skin may also be responsible for how females respond to painkillers, according to a study conducted by lead researcher Jeffrey Mogil, a McGill University psychology professor, and collaborators in the United States. Results of their study are to be released today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. [more]
REVIEWS & DISCUSSION
Bounded rationality - The third Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality in Psychology and Economics will take place from 12 - 20 August at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. The main objectives of the Summer Institute are to introduce students from various fields to the concepts of bounded rationality and to explore its potential as an applied methodology in various contexts. This year there will be a special focus on applications in the field of legal decision making. [more]
Human evolution - The Human Behavior and Evolution Society will hold its 15th annual meeting on the city campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from June 4th-June 8th 2003. Local hosts are Patricia Draper, Raymond Hames, and John Hibbing. The Program Chair is Beverly Strassman (Michigan) and members include Martin Daly (McMaster) and Frank Marlowe (Harvard). Deadline for abstract, poster, and session proposal submission is 1 April. [more]
Human evolution - Julia A. Sherman reviews The Neanderthal's Necklace: In Search of the First Thinkers by Juan Luis Arsuaga [more] and The Speciation of Modern Homo sapiens edited by T. J. Crow. [more] [review]