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December 2004

December 7

Teenagers fail to see the consequences
Research into juveniles' appreciation of ultimate outcomes is being used to support a ban on the US death penalty for under-18s.

Humans can learn to be nice
Upbringing is a key contributor to a person's social responsibility, a new study suggests, reducing the overwhelming role of genetic factors.

Psychotic symptoms more likely with cannabis
Young adults using cannabis increase their risk of developing psychotic symptom in later life, finds a large-scale study.

Chromosomes aged 10 years by stress
Psychological stress acts on a cellular level and can prematurely age a woman's chromosomes, a new study suggests.

November 2004

November 21

Mouse Study Sheds Light on Nicotine's Addictive Power
More than four million people die from smoking-related causes each year, making nicotine addiction a leading cause of preventable mortality worldwide. But nicotine's highly addictive nature makes kicking the smoking habit very difficult. New research identifies brain receptors in mice that may help explain why it's so hard to quit, and help scientists develop new drugs to help smokers butt out.

Stress can make pregnant women miscarry
An overactive immune system can turn on the placenta, but extra doses of a female hormone may save the pregnancy.

Malnutrition In Early Years Leads To Low IQ And Later Antisocial Behavior, USC Study Finds
Malnutrition in the first few years of life leads to antisocial and aggressive behavior throughout childhood and late adolescence, according to a new University of Southern California study.

November 8

There's growing evidence that some mental illnesses may spread in an unexpected way by coughs and sneezes. p.40 (New Scientist, 11/6/2004)

New twist in gay gene debate. (New Scientist, 11/6/2004)

October 2004

October 24

Mental Health Plays Part in Marital Bliss. MONDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDayNews)
Satisfaction with marriage is affected by the mental health of both spouses, says a study in the October issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The study of 774 married couples from seven states in the United States found that each spouse's level of anxiety and depression predicted their own marital satisfaction and that of their spouse as well. The more depressed or anxious either spouse was, the more dissatisfied he or she was with the marriage.

October 10

Pollsters may be aided by test of how judgmental voters are.

September 2004

September 13

Top 10 Myths of Marriage.

Single gene removes gender differences in mice brains
Significant structural differences in male and female brains may result from selective cell death orchestrated by just one gene.

August 2004

August 31

Chaotic homes hamper child development
Growing up in a noisy, disorganised home hinders a child’s developing mind, according to a new study of twins.

Children With ADHD Benefit From Time Outdoors Enjoying Nature
Kids with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) should spend some quality after-school hours and weekend time outdoors enjoying nature.

August 23

Weird links with words and colours in the mind
A strange condition which gives people weird sensory associations relies on the brain - meaning all humans may be able to experience it.

New Research Provides The First Solid Evidence That The Study Of Music Promotes Intellectual Development.

August 17

Codependent No More
When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You addresses the need to be needed. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Assertive rats sprout extra nerve cells.

Switching off key gene turns layabout primates into keen workers.

August 8

Intelligence linked to size of key brain regions.

Medicine, Mind, and Meaning, by Eve A. Wood
In "Medicine, Mind, and Meaning," a step-by-step guide that combines traditional psychiatric approaches and spiritual principles.

New Views On Mind-Body Connection
Studies into placebo effect and empathy suggest how the brain encodes subjective experience.

July 2004

July 25

Good mothers stop monkeys going bad.
Good mothering can abolish the impact of a "bad" gene for aggression, suggests a new study, adding spice to the "nature-versus-nurture" controversy.

Movies Can Raise Or Lower Hormone Levels
A romantic movie or an action-adventure film can send your hormone levels in measurably different directions, according to new research.

July 10

C. Everett Koop on "Medicine, Mind, and Meaning," by Eve A. Wood
C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General and McInerny Professor of Surgery, Dartmouth Medical School, writes the foreward to Medicine, Mind, and Meaning (2004), a new book by noted psychiatrist, professor and speaker, Eve A. Wood. The book is a step-by-step guide that combines traditional psychiatric approaches and spiritual principles. Not typically given to publicly endorsing work, Koop's exception in this case marks the importance and urgency he attaches to this text. Koop writes, "I have seldom been so moved by a book. This is the only healing model that makes sense."

June 2004

June 20

Researchers Make Promiscuous Animals Monogamous By Manipulating Genes. ATLANTA
Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University and Atlanta's Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) have found transferring a single gene, the vasopressin receptor, into the brain's reward center makes a promiscuous male meadow vole monogamous. This finding, which appears in the June 17 issue of Nature, may help better explain the neurobiology of romantic love as well as disorders of the ability to form social bonds, such as autism. In addition, the finding supports previous research linking social bond formation with drug addiction, also associated with the reward center of the brain.

Emory Researchers Study The Effects Of Zen Meditation On The Brain
Zen meditation is an ancient spiritual practice that promotes awareness and presence through the undivided engagement of mind and body. For thousands of years, many religious traditions have made meditation a common practice. Now, researchers at Emory University are looking at the effects of Zen meditation and how the brain functions during meditative states. By determining the brain structures involved in meditation and whose activity is gradually changed in the course of long-term meditative practice, researchers hope this training could one day be used as a complementary treatment for neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Death by Theory
According to attachment theory, certain children must be subjected to physical "confrontation" and "restraint" to release repressed abandonment anger. The process is repeated until the child is exhausted and emotionally reduced to an "infantile" state. Then the parents cradle, rock and bottle-feed him, implementing an "attachment." This is pseudoscientific quackery masquerading as psychological science and, put into practice, it can be deadly.

May 2004

May 2

Cravings reduced in rehab rats
Discovery might help cocaine addicts kick the habit. 22 April 2004.

Alcohol patch trials planned
Drug could help curb excess drinking. 20 April 2004.

April 2004

April 11

Surprises Found In Gene Variation Associated With Schizophrenia
Approximately 2 percent of Caucasians have a gene segment variation that can cause a certain form of schizophrenia.

April 4

The Brain in Love
Most people think of romantic love as a feeling. Helen Fisher, however, views it as a drive so powerful that it can override other drives, such as hunger and thirst, render the most dignified person a fool, or bring rapture to an unassuming wallflower.

Banished Thoughts Resurface in Dreams
"Wishes suppressed during the day assert themselves in dreams," Sigmund Freud wrote more than a century ago. Now new research provides evidence suggesting that not just wishes but all kinds of thoughts we bar from our minds while awake reappear when we sleep.

March 2004

March 28

The Christian philosopher Saint Augustine described two types of evil. "Natural evil" is what happens when a volcano erupts or a storm strikes, while "moral evil" includes all the dreadful things that humans knowingly do to each other. Over the past decade, neuroscientists have found that the brains of impulsive murderers and psychopaths are fundamentally different from those of "normal" people. Those differences extend even to their ability to make choices--to exercise free will. Sean Spence, a British psychologist, asks how we should deal with these findings. For some people, should we move the boundary between what is moral and natural evil?

Parental Support Has Lifelong Benefits MONDAY, March 22 (HealthDayNews)
Abundant parental support during childhood leads to better mental and physical health throughout adulthood, a new study finds. Conversely, a lack of love is associated with depression and chronic health problems, says Benjamin A. Shaw.

March 21

Bible on the brain
MU psychiatrist's book investigates effects of religion on psyche (Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo.).

March 14

The master switch
A brain circuit long considered a no-go area could be the key to a new class of molecule that will revolutionise the treatment of mental illness - including many intractable or poorly treated diseases such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, addiction, anxiety and chronic pain. The compounds, being developed by almost every major pharmaceutical company, are based on glutamate, the brain’s primary neurotransmitter. Glutamate signalling is so pervasive in the brain that interfering with it usually leads to horrendous side effects. But researchers have found promising ways to control it selectively for the first time, so there is now a real prospect of taking control of the brain’s master switch.

Criminals follow laws of statistics
Stopping first crimes is the best way to halt criminality. 3 March 2004.

USC Study Finds Faulty Wiring In Psychopaths.
Psychopaths have physical abnormalities in two key brain structures responsible for functions ranging from fear detection to information processing, a USC clinical neuroscientist has found in two studies that suggest a neuro-developmental basis to the disorder.

February 2004

February 29

I feel your pain
Empathy lights up the same parts of the brain as personal injury. 20 February 2004.

Grieving Children. (HealthDayNews)
When a family member dies, children react differently than adults. Some may act like nothing has changed, others may become more infantile, and certain kids will even blame themselves.

February 22

Lead linked to schizophrenia
Study hints that prenatal toxins can trigger psychiatric disease. 17 February 2004.

Maths predicts chance of divorce
Ignoring nasty comments is secret to long-lasting love. 14 February 2004.

Plenty of books to sort out love, lust
The images of love that are promoted by American culture often don't lead to happiness (The Tennessean).

February 15

The Addicted Brain
New research indicates that chronic drug use induces changes in the structure and function of the system's neurons that last for weeks, months or years after the last fix. These adaptations, perversely, dampen the pleasurable effects of a chronically abused substance yet also increase the cravings that trap the addict in a destructive spiral of escalating use and increased fallout at work and at home. Improved understanding of these neural alterations should help provide better interventions for addiction, so that people who have fallen prey to habit-forming drugs can reclaim their brains and their lives. 

Living Together No Guarantee of Marriage. WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDayNews)
People who live together before marriage are less likely to say "I do" than was previously believed.

February 8

'Mindsight' could explain sixth sense
Some people are aware a scene has changed without being able to identify what the change is, new psychological experiments suggest.

January 2004

January 25

Man Injured After Claiming God Told Him to Enter Lion's Den.

Singing Strengthens Immune System.

January 18

Split personalities probed
Two personas trigger different brain networks. One human brain can have two different personalities dwelling in it, according to a new imaging study - and each personality seems to use its own network of nerves to help recall or suppress memories. Alternative personalities are typically developed by children who suffer severe trauma or abuse. The condition, called multiple personality disorder, or dissociative identity disorder, appears to help people cope by cutting off difficult memories, making them seem as if they happened to someone else. Nature, 9 January 2004

Intelligence (11 Jan)
Intelligence in the workplace is not that different from intelligence at school, according to the results of a meta-analysis of over one hundred studies involving more than 20,000 people. The findings contradict the popular notion that abilities required for success in the real world differ greatly from what is needed to achieve success in the classroom. The results are published in the January issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

January 11

War - genetics (7 Jan)
Research into the aggressive behaviour of male chimpanzees, our closest biological ally, suggests that the urge to go to war is in our DNA and that only women can stop it, says Sanjida O'Connell.

Research Reveals Brain Has Biological Mechanism To Block Unwanted Memories.
For the first time, researchers at Stanford University and the University of Oregon have shown that a biological mechanism exists in the human brain to block unwanted memories. The findings, to be published Jan. 9 in the journal Science, reinforce Sigmund Freud's controversial century-old thesis about the existence of voluntary memory suppression.

January 4

Decoding Schizophrenia
For decades, theories of schizophrenia have focused on a single neurotransmitter: dopamine. In the past few years, though, it has become clear that a disturbance in dopamine levels is just a part of the story and that, for many, the main abnormalities lie elsewhere. In particular, suspicion has fallen on deficiencies in the neurotransmitter glutamate. Scientists now realize that schizophrenia affects virtually all parts of the brain and that, unlike dopamine, which plays an important role only in isolated regions, glutamate is critical virtually everywhere. As a result, investigators are searching for treatments that can reverse the underlying glutamate deficit.

How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions.
Making life changes that last.

How Are The Genders Different?
Georgetown Center Unearthing Core Biological Differences Between Men And Women. Georgetown University Medical Center has officially launched the Center for the Study of Gender Differences in Health, Aging, and more.

Unmaking Memories: Interview with James McGaugh
In the sci-fi thriller Paycheck, an engineer has his memory erased after completing a sensitive job. Scientific spoke with a leading neurobiologist to find out just how close scientists are to controlling recall.