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News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
Volume 3: Issue 93 - 29th April, 2003 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

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NEWS & VIEWS

Neurotheology (29 Apr) - For years now, one small branch of science has been chipping away at the foundations of religious belief by proposing that "otherworldly" experiences are nothing more than the inner workings of the human brain. [more]


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Decision-making (28 Apr) Jared Diamond asks: 'Why do some societies make disastrous decisions? [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

Meditation (28 Apr) - A new study, accepted for publication soon in Psychosomatic Medicine, is a significant first step in understanding what goes on in the brain during meditation. The study was led by Richard Davidson, director of the laboratory for affective neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. [more]


Iraq - U.S. foreign policy (28 Apr) - "The agenda, as always, begins with trying to find out what is happening in the world, and then doing something about it, as we can, better than anyone else. Few share our privilege, power, and freedom - hence responsibility. That should be another truism," says Noam Chomsky. [more] .


Lying (27 Apr) - From phrenology to polygraphs, criminal investigators have long been obsessed with the idea of 'reading' an individual's expression or character. Paul Ekman, described by Oliver Sacks as the most astute analyst of emotions since Darwin, tracks the history of uncovering truth in gestures, and suggests some methods of his own. [more]


Sexual orientation - politics (24 Apr) - Psychology Prof. Michael Bailey from Northwestern University presented a lecture entitled "Gender Nonconformity and Sexual Orientation" to the Stanford University Psychology Department as part of its regularly scheduled departmental lecture series. [more]

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Synesthaesia (23 Apr) - the mingling of the senses was first studied by Francis Galton and has usually been regarded as an anomaly or even as bogus. Professor Ramachandran demonstrates experimentally that the phenomenon is a genuine sensory effect. [more] [audio] [Q&A] [review]


Art and the brain (16 Apr) - Can we come up with a "Science of Art" and bridge author C. P Snow's "two cultures"? Despite the diversity of artistic styles, are there universal aesthetic principles that cut across cultural boundaries? [more] [audio] [Q&A] [review]


Human evolution (24 Apr) - "African Eve," the female ancestor of all humans, likely hailed from East Africa, according to a recent study. [more]


Crime (27 Apr) - The finest minds have long pondered futuristic solutions to crime. But perhaps the easiest solution is to make fewer things illegal... [more]


Profile (21 Apr) - Geneticist Barbara McClintock, since her death in 1992, has become a feminist hero. She held steady in the male-dominated world of science, earning her first award in 1947 and culminating her career in 1982 with the Nobel Prize. Her observations and discoveries laid the groundwork for modern genetics research. Her theory that the genome constantly changes and regulates itself, derided in her time as being outlandish, has since been proven. [more]


Psychology (27 Apr) - Last month, a quartet of academics published ''What's Wrong With the Rorschach?'' -- attacking a test administered to more than a million people worldwide each year. According to recent surveys by the American Psychological Association, 82 percent of its members ''occasionally'' and 43 percent ''frequently'' use the test, in which subjects speculate about five colored and five black-and-white inkblots. [more]

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History - biology (24 Apr) - The famous 'photograph 51' of DNA that James Watson claims led him and Francis Crick directly to the discovery of the double helix, was not, after all, taken by Rosalind Franklin as is widely held, but by Raymond Gosling, her PhD student at King's College London. [more] Professor Adrian Hayday of King's College London tells the story behind the discovery of DNA's structure in 1953. [more] Stephen Franklin, nephew of Rosalind Franklin, offers a personal account of his aunt's role in discovering the structure of DNA. [more] Scientists risk losing ground in the moral arguments over the future of genetic technology because they are worried about arousing controversy, DNA pioneer James Watson has said. [more] [more] 'Replicating and reshaping DNA: a celebration of the jubilee of the double helix' [more] Nature Science Update looks back at one of the key scientific achievements of the twentieth century, forward to DNA's future, and around at the double helix's place in biology. [more] NPR's Joe Palca has the first in a series of stories marking the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix  the three-dimensional chemical structure of DNA. A half-century ago this week, the British science journal, Nature, published a one-page report by James Watson and Francis Crick, which immediately explained how genetic instructions are passed from one generation to the next. [more] Steve Jones tells the story of the discovery of the structure of DNA. [more] [audio]


Military psychiatry (25 Apr) - As the fighting in Iraq comes to an end, soldiers will return home and try to re-establish their normal routines. How will their war experiences change them? And how can mental health professionals help soldiers put the war behind them? [more]

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Behaviorome (21 Apr) - "One of the most interesting questions that confronts a thinking being is whether people can comprehend the ideas and thoughts of one another. I believe that we can, and I also believe that we have the means to embark upon a project that would culminate in the understanding of all human ideas," writes Darryl Macer. [more]


Population (26 Apr) - The UN recently revised its population projections. Some 6.3 billion people now live on Earth. If fertility rates in relatively poor countries continue to follow the trends set by today's relatively rich countries, we are within shouting distance of the world's maximum population-9-10 billion-to be reached in 2050-2100. [more]


Emotional control (26 Apr) - These are times when destructive emotions like anger, fear and hatred are giving rise to devastating problems throughout the world. While the daily news offers grim reminders of the destructive power of such emotions, the question we must ask is this: What can we do, person by person, to overcome them? [more]


Obituary (25 Apr) - Most psychologists design experiments to test hypotheses. Peter Wason, who has died aged 78, sought always to invent tasks to reveal that thinking was not what it seemed. A pioneer of the study of human reasoning, he rescued the subject from the dark days of behaviourism. [more]


Depression - suicide (24 Apr) - About 1.5 million college students are already diagnosed with depression; no on knows how many other cases have yet to be discovered. Untreated, it can lead to suicide, the third largest killer of people ages 15 to 24. [more]


Obituary (24 Apr) - World renowned for his investigation of the biochemistry of the nervous system and of the function of the mysterious pineal gland in the brain  Sir Bernard Katz, who has died aged 92, was one of the brilliant young German physiologists who sought sanctuary in Britain after Adolf Hitler came into power in his homeland in 1933. [more]


Smiling (22 Apr) - Women, as a rule, smile more than men, but the difference between the sexes disappears depending on the circumstances. [more]


Sleep (21 Apr) - A University of Pennsylvania study has found that people who got even six hours of sleep a night over a two-week period began to perform as poorly on brain-function tests as people who did not sleep at all for two days straight. [more]


Crying (20 Apr) - Men won't blub in real life but put them in a dark cinema... As Americans exit puffy-eyed from the new male weepie Antwone Fisher, Stuart Husband asks what taps the male tear. [more]


Homicide (20 Apr) - Some blame monster movies. Some point to a war connection. Whatever the reason, young Japanese males are the least prone to commit murder among their generation anywhere. [more]


Genetics (18 Apr) - Genetics researchers announced this week that the sequencing of the human genome -- all three billion letters' worth --is a done deal. in this hour of Science Friday, we'll look back on the project, and talk about what completing the human genome project means. What's next for genetics? [more] [audio]


Psychology - autism (17 Apr) - What kind of brain do you have? There really are big differences between the male and female brain, says Simon Baron-Cohen. And they could help explain conditions such as autism. [more]


Human genetics (15 Apr) - Andrew Luck-Baker visits Iceland, to discover what scientists can learn by studying some of the most isolated communities on the planet. It is thought by some scientists that isolated communities have a far less varied gene pool making the search for the genes associated with common disease easier to hunt for. [more] [audio]


Obituary (13 Apr) - Dr. Donald W. Fiske, a psychologist who helped establish the multiple-method approach to social science research and challenged the idea that personalities could be defined with traits that were consistent through time and across situations, died on April 5 at his home in Chicago. He was 86. [more]


Neuroscience (9 Apr) - How does the activity of the 100 billion little wisps of protoplasm - the neurons in your brain - give rise to all the richness of our conscious experience, including the "redness" of red, the painfulness of pain or the exquisite flavour of Marmite or Vindaloo? [more] [audio] [Q&A]


Human genetics (9 Apr) - Governments, popes and presidents should not try to control the use of genetic knowledge, the man who began the DNA revolution said yesterday. [more]


Neuroscience (7 Apr) - Researchers have identified the specific region of the brain that responds to pleasant tastes. Sanjida O'Connell reports on what this tells us about evolution, dieting... and beetroot jelly. [more]


Human genetics (7 Apr) - The world's biggest nature and nurture project expects to begin looking for 500,000 middle-aged people to volunteer a DNA sample and confidential health information in 18 months time. [more]


Profile (6 Apr) - It is exactly 50 years since the maverick researchers James Watson and Francis Crick unravelled the structure of DNA. But solving the mystery of our existence didn't bring Watson the instant fame, money or women he'd always hoped for. Now 75, he tells Tim Adams why practical jokes and being politically incorrect are what life - and science - is all about. [more]


Schizophrenia - addiction (6 Apr) - Stronger cannabis - and users getting stoned to a 'far more debilitating degree' - could lead to a rise in cases of schizophrenia and present the NHS with a much larger bill, a leading drugs expert will warn tomorrow. [more]


Mind (3 Apr) - Until recently, neuroscientists confined themselves to specialized research in well-defined areas. But now they have started to think more broadly and to develop conceptual links across disciplines. The science is filled with a fresh spirit of adventure and discovery. But this also poses a challenge, one spelt out in this Reith lecture series by Professor Ramachandran. [more] [audio] [interactive brain] [brain glossary]


Human evolution (3 Apr) - Paleoanthropology is a discipline that relies heavily on interpreting the differences between specimens. So it would make sense that, if like with the Human Genome Project all the data was held centrally and accessible to all in the field - an "Evo Bank" if you like. [more] [audio] [more]


Psychosurgery (1 Apr) - Brain surgery, in any form, to treat people with psychiatric illness was virtually abandoned after public outcry over the abuse of lobotomies half a century ago. But recent progress in neuroscience is igniting renewed interest in this field. [more] [audio]


Mindfulness (1 Apr) - Several major Eastern philosophies stress the importance of mindfulness, but is there really a mental health benefit to being more conscious and more focused on what's happening in the here and now? In the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, University of Rochester researchers report that individuals who are mindful are more attuned to their emotions and act in ways that are compatible with their values and interests. Mindfulness, which is an enhanced attention to and awareness of the present, can be linked to better mood, higher self-esteem, life satisfaction, and optimism - all signs of positive psychological health. [more]


Primatology - conservation (1 Apr) - The mountain gorillas of Central Africa are some of the most famous animals in the world. They live in the remote forests where Uganda, Rwanda and Congo meet. They are few in number and constantly under threat from poaching and habitat destruction. [more] [audio]

RESEARCH & COMMENTARY

Social behavior - genetics (28 Apr) - What do the brain, ovaries and nose have in common? According to new research from The Rockefeller University, these three organs help orchestrate the complex behavior called social recognition in female mice through the interaction of four genes. [more]


Evolutionary psychology (27 Apr) - We are pleased to announce that a Special Issue of NEL on "Human Ethology and Evolutionary Psychology" is now available. Brief review articles from key figures of the field cover a wide range of topics from the scientific fields of Human Ethology and Evolutionary Psychology. Further one of the contributors has been awarded with the Zdenek-Klein-Award for Human Ethology, under the Auspices of the Neuroendocrinology Letters, together with the "Club of Friends of the Neuroendocrinology Letters" and the International Journal of the Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine. [more] [buy online]


Human evolution (25 Apr) - Scientists taking a fresh look at a celebrated find of apeman remains in South Africa say they are convinced it is around four million years old, a discovery that will reshape our knowledge about the possible forerunners of human beings. ABC News, BBC News Online, Science, EurekAlert.


Language (25 Apr) - An Australian archaeologist has been researching whether early languages spread across ancient continents with farming practices. ABC News, Science.


Sex - temperature (24 Apr) - Testicles might be outside the body because temperature influences the sex of human children. A temperature sensitive gender switch that makes hot sperm male could be a relic from our evolutionary past, argue John McLachlan and Helen Storey, citing evidence that more males are born in hot climates. Nature Science Update, Journal of Theoretical Biology.


Neuroscience (24 Apr) - The way that neurons are linked together in the brain has long fascinated both physicists and biologists. Researchers at the University of Tel-Aviv in Israel have now shown for the first time that neurons can self-organize themselves into electrically active clusters of cells in the laboratory. [more]


Bipolar disorder - schizophrenia (24 Apr) - A research team based at the University of Chicago has traced increased susceptibility to bipolar disorder to two overlapping genes found on the long arm of chromosome 13. The study, published in the May 2003 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, is the first to implicate this gene complex, and the second to tie any gene, to the development of bipolar disorder, which affects 2 million American adults. [more]


Suicide (23 Apr) - White women in North Carolina commit suicide at nearly three times the rate of minority women across the state, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study shows. No one knows why. Some say black women, for example, may have a larger circle of nearby family members and friends to help them through trying times, but study leader Dr. Carol Runyan says she prefers not to speculate. [more]


Memory (22 Apr) - One of the most unusual, yet persistent, problems television broadcasters face is what Tom Grimes calls "unintentional defamation." "This takes place when TV news viewers' memory plays tricks on them and they end up 'remembering' the facts of a TV news story in a way that defames an innocent person portrayed in the news story," said Grimes, the Ross Beach research chair in the A.. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State University. [more]


Neuroscience - cognitive science (21 Apr) - A team of researchers led by cognitive scientist Elizabeth Bates, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, has developed a novel new brain imaging technique that produces maps that “light up” the relationship between the severity of a behavioral deficit and the voxels (similar to pixels in computer images) in the brain that contribute the most to that deficit. [more]


Memory (19 Apr) - Law-enforcement officials typically solicit descriptions of criminals from eyewitnesses, often just after an offense has occurred. It stands to reason that thorough accounts by those who saw what happened will help investigators round up the likeliest suspects. Eyewitnesses can then pick the criminals out of a lineup. When crime-scene interviewing had its first brush with memory research in 1990, however, the results proved disturbing. A series of laboratory studies found that memories for a mock criminal's face were much poorer among eyewitnesses who had described what the perpetrator looked like shortly after seeing him, compared with those who hadn't. [more]


Antisocial lifestyle (19 Apr) - Evidence suggests that an antisocial lifestyle is linked to illness, injury, and premature death, yet while links between deprivation and health have been widely studied, links between antisocial lifestyle and health have been neglected. [more]


Archaeology - art (18 Apr) - If the rock art in the Chauvet cave is 30,000 years old, it is the most ancient example of human art in existence and the implications for the evolution of culture are immense. This date is accepted and celebrated by archaeologists. But could it be wrong? [more]


Archaeology - writing (18 Apr) - Signs carved into 8,600-year-old tortoise shells found in China may be the earliest written words, say archaeologists. [more]


Evolution - genetics (17 Apr) - A gene that stops different species of fruit flies from interbreeding is evolving faster than other genes, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Cambridge in England. The findings may help scientists understand how new species evolve from existing ones. [more]


Endocrinology (16 Apr) - Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have found that the levels of a pituitary hormone that increases testosterone are enhanced after exposure to bright light in the early morning. The findings suggest that light exposure might serve some of the same functions for which people take testosterone and other androgens. [more]


Crime - gambler's fallacy (15 Apr) - They shouldn't bet on it, but convicted crooks do as they commit more crimes under the gambler's delusion that if they were caught once, they won't get nabbed again, a new University of Florida study finds. [more]


Bullying (15 Apr) - Research by Dr. Stephen Joseph a psychologist at the University of Warwick into bullying at Secondary Schools dispels the well-known saying "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me". [more]


Endophenotypes (15 Apr) - Endophenotypes, measurable components unseen by the unaided eye along the pathway between disease and distal genotype, have emerged as an important concept in the study of complex neuropsychiatric diseases. [more]


Evolution (15 Apr) - The process of evolution is generally described as having two parts: random mutation followed by natural selection. But mutations aren't always truly random, either in place or effect. [more]


Endocrinology (15 Apr) - Sex hormones expressed during embryonic development establish the reproductive anatomy and behavior of mammals. In species that give birth to large litters, embryos line up in the uterus like peas in a pod, so that females that develop next to male siblings are exposed to more testosterone than their sisters. They are less successful at mating, but are more aggressive and have larger home territories. These findings may help fill in some gaps in our understanding of environmental influences on health and reproduction. [more]


Kindness (15 Apr) - People are sometimes quite helpful to the strangers they encounter on the street-and sometimes they are not. Importantly, the likelihood of finding a helpful stranger depends strongly on where you are. A study the author conducted several years ago gauged the relative helpfulness one could expect to experience in 36 U.S. cities. More recently he extended that study to 22 foreign cities and found that people in some countries (and cultures) are indeed more helpful than others. [more]


Archaeology - religion (14 Apr) - Archaeologists have found a 4,000-year-old gourd fragment that bears an archaic image of the Staff God – the principal deity in South America during thousands of years. EurekAlert, Nature Science Update, New Scientist.


Human genome (14 Apr) - For some it's the sense of completion. For others it's the importance of getting it right. Either way, the completion of the human genome project in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of DNA's helical structure is attended by many sighs of relief. Nature Science Update, The Guardian, New Scientist.


PTSD (13 Apr) - People who undergo emotional trauma, such as wartime combat, typically have disturbing memories of experiences that can haunt them for the rest of their lives. These intense emotional memories often intrude into their daily lives, interfering with their ability to concentrate and learn new information. Researchers at the University of South Florida and James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital have shown for the first time that a remote, fear-provoking memory disrupts the ability of rats to remember new information - a symptom common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). [more]


Psychology - odor (13 Apr) - Psychologist Rachel S. Herz found that college students stymied by a computer game exhibited their frustration during a later word test when they were in a room with the same scent. Herz will present her study at the annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences. [more]


Reward (12 Apr) - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists working with colleagues at Duke University have discovered that even after dopamine and norepinephrine systems are disrupted in specially modified laboratory animals, cocaine still provides reinforcing "rewards" to animals that ingest it. [more]


Human evolution - neuropathology (11 Apr) - A new study has found genes that offer protection from prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), in populations on four continents. This spread might be an evolutionary response to the dangers of cannibalism. Nature Science Update, EurekAlert.


Human cloning (11 Apr) - Whether or not rogue scientists could clone a human is hotly debated  After 6 years trying, on over 700 monkey eggs, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh says not. Nature Science Update.


Autism (11 Apr) - A revamp of chromosome 7's DNA sequence has brought to light genes associated with autism, several leukaemias and lymphomas. [more]


Reproduction (10 Apr) - The more someone consumes, the fewer children they have, US ecologists have found. This might help to explain the puzzling drop in the birth rates of countries that become technologically developed. [more]


Depression (10 Apr) - We outline a new theoretical model of the evolutionary adaptiveness of minor and major unipolar depression. According to our social navigation / social niche change model, the evolved function of depression is the analysis and eradication of a severe socially imposed mismatch between the depressive's capacities and opportunities for fitness-enhancing activity, where the constraints responsible for the mismatch have a broad or even pervasive basis in the individual's social network. [more]


Addiction (9 Apr) - By applying a novel technique to measure changes in chemicals in the brain instantly, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered what they believe is a major new clue to what causes addictions to cocaine and possibly other drugs including alcohol and tobacco. [more]


Empathy (7 Apr) - UCLA neuroscientists using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are the first to demonstrate that empathetic action, such as mirroring facial expressions, triggers far greater activity in the emotion centers of the brain than mere observation. [more]


Alcoholism (7 Apr) - Chaos theory, which helps scientists understand complex systems such as weather patterns and the stock market, may also help shed light on the dynamics of alcohol abuse, a new study suggests. [more]


Genetics (6 Apr) - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists have used a powerful gene-mapping technique to produce the clearest picture yet of all the genes of an animal - the microscopic worm Caenorhabditis elegans (better known as C. elegans). Scientists believe the same technique may be used to bring the current, somewhat blurry picture of the human genome into sharper focus. [more]


Primatology - conservation (6 Apr) - Scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, Princeton University and other organizations have reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature that a dramatic decline of gorillas and chimpanzees is taking place in western equatorial Africa, the last stronghold for great apes on the continent. [more]


Human evolution (31 Mar) - Move over, man the toolmaker: The idea of men as stone tool producers may need some rechiseling, say University of Florida scientists who found women sometimes are the masters. The research among an Ethiopian group indicates stone tool working is not just a male activity, but rather that women probably had an active part in creating stone tools, one of the most ubiquitous materials found on prehistoric sites. [more]


War (2 Apr) - A statistical analysis of key factors in wars fought over the past nearly 200 years indicates that the Iraqi war will last 2 to 10 months, according to a Penn State political scientist. [more]


Animal cognition (2 Apr) - Coots, the Rodney Dangerfields of the bird world, just might start to get some respect as a result of a new study showing that these common marsh birds are able to recognize and count their own eggs, even in the presence of eggs laid by other birds. [more]


Neurophysiology (1 Apr) - How do we hear when some of us chatter all day? When we sing in the shower, why doesn't the active voice smother the rest of our body's sensory systems? The answer to these questions may be found in the simple male cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus), which sing for hours at over 100 decibels sound pressure levels (dB SPL) in order to attract females. [more]


PTSD (1 Apr) - Posttraumatic stress disorder develops in response to experiencing, witnessing or even learning about a terrifying event. The event--or trauma--is usually life-threatening, or at least capable of producing bodily harm, and it typically involves either interpersonal violence or massive disaster (e.g., rape, assault, torture, terrorism, car or plane crashes, earthquake, tornado, or flood). Traumatic events have in common the ability to elicit intense and immediate fear, helplessness, horror and distress. [more]


Evolutionary psychology (1 Apr) - Are our moral attitudes shaped by culture alone, or does our evolved psychology help generate them? [more]


Bipolar disorder (1 Apr) - After years of frustrating searches for genes that contribute to mental illness, researchers at Johns Hopkins studying families with a severe form of manic depressive illness, called psychotic bipolar disorder, may be one step closer to finding the genetic underpinnings of both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. [more]

REVIEWS & DISCUSSION

Human evolution - culture - John Hawks reviews The Dawn of Human Culture by Richard Klein and Blake Edgar. [more] [review]

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Psychology - Tony Dickinson reviews Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid edited by Robert J. Sternberg. [more] [review]

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Medicine - "enhancement technologies" - Simon Ings reviews Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream by Carl Elliott. [more] [review]

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Human evolution - Douglas Palmer reviews Walking with Cavemen: Eye-to-eye with your ancestors by John Lynch and Louise Barrett. [review]

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Memory - Memory and Dreams: The Creative Human Mind by George Christos. [more] [review]

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Science and religion - Science and Religion: Are They Compatible by Paul Kurtz (Editor) and Barry Karr (Editor). [more] [review]

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Religion - Robert Grant reviews An Intelligent Person's Guide to Religion by John Haldane. [more] [review]

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History - literature - Though William Shakespeare uses the word 'brain' 66 times in his plays, his works hardly read like a neurological review article. Yet, say neurologist Paul Matthews and linguist Jeffrey McQuain, his comprehension of how the brain works is comparable to what is known to modern scientists. [more] [review]

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The Nose - The Nose: A Profile of Sex, Beauty, and Survival by Gabrielle Glaser is a history of the nose and of smell, its science, biology and cultural significance. [more] [audio]

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Thought - culture - Sherry Ortner reviews The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently . . . and Why by Richard E. Nisbett. [more] [review] [first chapter] [audio]

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DNA - Michael Le Page reviews DNA: The Secret of Life by James D. Watson. [more] [review]

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Philosophy - Mike Holderness reviews What Philosophers Think by Julian Baggini and Jeremy Stangroom. [more]  [review]

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Masturbation - history - Emily Eakin reviews Solitary Sex: A History of Masturbation by Thomas Walter Laqueur. [more] [review]

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Human survival - The human race has only a 50/50 chance of surviving another century, says Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, in his latest book - a work as thoughtful as the man who wrote it. [more] [review]

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Gould and God - Jerry Coyne reviews A Devil's Chaplain by Richard Dawkins. [more] [review]

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Archaeology - Shaun de Waal reviews The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams. [more] [review]

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Science - humanities - David Hull reviews The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox: Mending the Gap Between Science and the Humanities by Stephen Jay Gould. [more] [review] A review by Maggie Fox [review]

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Nature vs. nurture - Andrew Berry reviews Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human by Matt Ridley. [more] [review]

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Culture and the innate mind - To what extent are mature cognitive capacities a reflection of particular cultures and to what extent are they a product of innate elements? How do innate elements interact with culture to achieve mature cognitive capacities? How do minds generate and shape cultures? How are cultures processed by minds? [more]


Biotechnology - Natalie Angier reviews Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age by Bill McKibben. [more] [review]

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Society - Ian Stoner reviews Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age by Chris Hables Gray. [more] [review]

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Psychology - Gregory Mott reviews Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema. [more] [review]

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