[Paleopsych] [nibbs-newsletter] Issue 114 - 7 August, 2004

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[nibbs-newsletter] Issue 114 -  7 August, 2004

[I am very, very glad that Ian Pitchford is back with his NIBBS 
newsletter. It's a largely thankless task, but here's thanking him 
profusely now. He also runs the evolutionary-psychology Yahoo! group. I'll 
be forwarding several articles to my various lists in a moment. You can't 
get the articles from this message. Either sign on or go to 
http://human-nature.com/nibbs/ . This gives you a long cumulation going 
back to January. To get just the latest, use 
http://human-nature.com/nibbs/issue114.html .

[Ian, here's hoping you'll put this fact into each newsletter!]

       News in Brain and Behavioural Sciences
       The weekly edition of The Human Nature Daily Review
       Volume 4: Issue 114 -  7 August, 2004 - http://human-nature.com/nibbs/

       If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter send a blank email here.
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       NEWS & VIEWS

       Cymbalta (5 Aug) - Eli Lilly, the drugs firm that brought Prozac to 
the world, yesterday prepared to launch its new antidepressant, Cymbalta, 
after saying the United States food and drug administration had approved 
it for sale in the country. The controversial drug is still being 
considered for European approval. [more]

        Evolution (4 Aug) - Cancer and evolution both occur when genetic 
material changes randomly in ways that may be good or bad. A study in 
Nature magazine this week shows that these changes build up at a much 
quicker rate than anyone thought. The observation was made in tiny worms, 
but could revolutionize thinking about all living organisms. NPR's Joe 
Palca reports. [more]

       Genomics (31 Jul) - "We have 25,000 genes (or recipes for protein 
molecules) which is the same as a mouse, just 6,000 more than a 
microscopic nematode worm and 15,000 fewer than a rice plant. However 
sophisticated our brains are, it is not reflected in our genes," writes 
Matt Ridley. [more]

       Lying (31 Jul) - "Is he lying?" Odds are, you'll never know. 
Although people have been communicating with one another for tens of 
thousands of years, more than 3 decades of psychological research have 
found that most individuals are abysmally poor lie detectors. In the only 
worldwide study of its kind, scientists asked more than 2,000 people from 
nearly 60 countries, "How can you tell when people are lying?" From 
Botswana to Belgium, the number-one answer was the same: Liars avert their 
gaze. [more]

       Law (4 Aug) - Emotions are not intrinsically opposed to reason, for 
they involve pictures of the world and evaluations. But there are some 
emotions whose role in the law has always been more controversial. Disgust 
and shame are two of those. [more]

       Imagination (3 Aug) - The concept of imagination remains one of the 
greatest uncharted territories of psychology. Granted, we can't all paint 
the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but almost all of us have an ability to 
come up with ideas or images. So it's time scientists paid more attention 
to the power of imagination, said Open University senior psychology 
lecturer Dr Ilona Roth. [more]

       Stress (3 Aug) - Levels of a particular hormone may influence a 
person's ability to cope with stress, suggests a study of soldiers put 
through a prisoner of war camp simulation. [more]

       Economics (9 Aug) - For all its intellectual power and its empirical 
success as a creator of wealth, free-market economics rests on a fallacy, 
which economists have politely agreed among themselves to overlook. This 
is the belief that people apply rational calculations to economic 
decisions, ruling their lives by economic models. [more]

        Obituary (29 Jul) - Francis Crick, the British scientist who helped 
discover the double helix structure of DNA has died. He was 88 years old 
and had been battling colon cancer. NPR's Richard Harris offers a 
remembrance. [more]

       History of science (29 Jul) - When great science minds collide, the 
insults traded and the bile spilt has been both personal and scandalous. 
But all too often, the victor's reputation is scrubbed clean by the 
passage of history. William Hartston rakes up some of the muck that has 
always been part and parcel of the nature of scientific practice, but that 
few of us know about. [more]

       Malthusianism (28 Jul) - The world has never been overpopulated with 
humans in any meaningful sense. It seems, though, that it is overpopulated 
with theoretical fears of overpopulation. [more]

       Adulthood (2 Aug) - Today, adulthood no longer begins when 
adolescence ends. In the bridge to adulthood, also referred to as early 
adulthood, many more young people are caught between the demands of 
employment (e.g., the need to learn advanced job skills) and economic 
dependence on their family to support them during this transition. [more]

       Inequality (26 Jul) - Among those committed to understanding the 
mind as the work of natural selection, there is a sense that the time has 
come: we are now beginning to see what we really are. Two major 
propositions have emerged, sustained by a construction boom in Darwinian 
theory and the confidence that supporting data will increasingly be 
delivered in hard genetic currency.  One is that human nature is evolved 
and universal; the other is that variations in personality and mental 
capabilities are substantially inherited. The first speaks of the species 
and the second about individuals. That leaves society - and here a third 
big idea is taking shape. In two words, inequality kills. [more]

        Epigenetics (23 Jul) - A look at the emerging science of 
epigenetics: inherited information that isn't in the form of genes. [more]


       Cognitive science (6 Aug) - For all you budding Kasparovs out there, 
a team of cognitive scientists has worked out how to think like a chess 
grand master. As those attending this week's Cognitive Science Society 
meeting in Chicago, Illinois, were told, the secret is to try to knock 
down your pet theory rather than finding ways to support it - exactly as 
scientists are supposed to do. [more]

       Psychology (6 Aug) - Every mom and dad can tell you that keeping 
children busy helps stave off cries of boredom--and now there is 
scientific backing to prove it. Dr. Anthony Chaston and his research 
colleague, Dr. Alan Kingstone, have proven, once and for all, that time 
really does fly when you're having fun. Or, at least, it flies when your 
attention is engaged. [more]

       Assertiveness (5 Aug) - Assertiveness really is all in the mind. 
Dominant rats have more new nerve cells in a key brain region than their 
subordinates, a study reveals. [more]

       Depression (4 Aug) - A brain imaging study by the NIH's National 
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found that an emotion-regulating 
brain circuit is overactive in people prone to depression - even when they 
are not depressed. Researchers discovered the abnormality in brains of 
those whose depressions relapsed when a key brain chemical messenger was 
experimentally reduced. [more]

       Biology (4 Aug) - Women who believe they are going to live for a 
long time are more likely to give birth to sons than less optimistic 
women, a new study suggests. Researchers reached the strange conclusion 
after completing a survey of British women who had recently become 
mothers. They found that for every extra year a woman thought she was 
going to live, the odds of her firstborn being a boy increased 
significantly. [more] [more]

       Complex systems - consensus (4 Aug) - A month before the fall of the 
Berlin Wall, 70,000 people gathered in the streets of Leipzig, East 
Germany, on Oct. 9, 1989, to demonstrate against the communist regime and 
demand democratic reforms. Clearly, no central authority planned this 
event; so how did all of these people decide to come together on that 
particular day? [more]

       Sex differences (4 Aug) - A University of Toronto researcher has 
found that differences between men and women in determining spatial 
orientation may be the result of inner ear size. The study, published 
online in the journal Perception, examined whether differences in how men 
and women judge how we orient ourselves in our environment could be 
attributed to physiological or psychological causes. It found that giving 
the participants verbal instructions on how to determine their spatial 
orientation did not eliminate the differences between the sexes. [more]

       Genetics - addiction (4 Aug) - Two related genes that help control 
signaling between brain cells may be central components of the biological 
machinery that causes cocaine addiction, researchers have found. [more]

       Psychoneuroimmunology (3 Aug) - New research in hamsters now 
suggests that without companionship, wounds on the animals don't heal as 
fast. Researchers looked at the effect social contact had on wound healing 
in stressed hamsters. Results showed that skin wounds healed nearly twice 
as fast in the hamsters paired with a sibling. These animals also produced 
less of the stress hormone cortisol than unpaired hamsters. [more]

       Personality disorders (2 Aug) - An estimated 30.8 million American 
adults (14.8 percent) meet standard diagnostic criteria for at least one 
personality disorder as defined in the American Psychiatric Association's 
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition 
(DSM-IV), according to the results of the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic 
Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) reported in the current 
issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. [more]

       Animal behavior (1 Aug) - Everyone knows not to get between a mother 
and her offspring. What makes these females unafraid when it comes to 
protecting their young may be low levels of a peptide, or small piece of 
protein, released in the brain that normally activates fear and anxiety, 
according to new research published in the August issue of Behavioral 
Neuroscience. "We see this fierce protection of offspring is so many 
animals," says Stephen Gammie, a University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant 
professor of zoology and lead author of the recent paper. "There are 
stories of cats rescuing their kittens from burning buildings and birds 
swooping down at people when their chicks are on the ground." [more]

       Human behavior (1 Aug) - Stanford University Professor Paul R. 
Ehrlich is urging fellow ecologists to join with social scientists to form 
an international panel that will discuss and recommend changes in the way 
human beings treat one another and the environment. Ehrlich is scheduled 
to call for the establishment of a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior 
(MAHB) during a speech at the 89th annual meeting of the Ecological 
Society of America (ESA) in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 2. The goal of MAHB 
will be to avoid the approaching collision between humanity and its 
life-support systems, he noted. ''For the first time in human history, 
global civilization is threatened with collapse,'' said Ehrlich, the Bing 
Professor of Population Studies at Stanford. ''The world therefore needs 
an ongoing discussion of key ethical issues related to the human 
predicament in order to help generate the urgently required response.'' 

       Genetics (1 Aug) - Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children 
(Sick Kids), Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School 
(HMS) have made the unexpected discovery that significant differences can 
exist in the overall content of DNA and genes contained in individual 
genomes. These findings, which point to possible new explanations for 
individual uniqueness as well as why disease develops, are published in 
the September 2004 issue of the scientific journal Nature Genetics 
(available online August 1, 2004). [more]


       Biography - Ian Sample reviews Extreme Measures: The dark visions 
and bright ideas of Francis Galton by Martin Brookes. [review]

       Lying - Alex Sager reviews Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of 
Deception and the Unconscious Mind by David Livingstone Smith. [review]

       Sexual behavior - George Williamson reviews Evolution's Rainbow: 
Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People by Joan Roughgarden. 

       Consciousness - Kamuran Godelek reviews The Psychology of Art and 
the Evolution of the Conscious Brain by Robert L. Solso. [review]

       Sociobiology - Deborah M. Gordon reviews Why Men Won't Ask for 
Directions: The Seductions of Sociobiology by Richard C. Francis. [review] 

       Sex differences (26 Jul) - The experience I remember best from 
teaching nine courses at the university level was the occasion when a 
class discussed a chapter out of a textbook concerning the variations in 
development between men and women. I found that most of the class believed 
that "differences" should be placed in scare quotes as they regarded any 
distinctions as being the result of societal pressure as opposed to the 
influence of our internal makeups, " writes Bernard Chapin. [more]

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