Chairman: Dennis Murphy, 1986
Depression is a common and often debilitating affective disorder. Attempts to develop effective antidepressants have a long history, but many questions remain about the mechanisms of action of such treatments and about the aetiology and pathophysiology of depression itself. Early observations centred attention on central monoamine systems, and animal studies suggested that changes in beta-adrenoceptor responsiveness were a common effect of antidepressant therapies. More recent research has encompassed many different central and peripheral receptors, time-dependent adaptational events at synapses, and the functional significance of changes in neurotransmitter systems in both humans and experimental animals. Such pharmacological studies aimed ultimately at elucidating the neurochemical basis of depression and of promoting new therapeutic approaches, provide the focus of this symposium volume. Many different methods of investigating the links between monoamine systems, depression and antidepressant treatments are described. Recent studies of receptors and of monoamine uptake sites in the brain and the periphery (e.g. in platelets and fibroblasts) are reviewed, with emphasis on alpha and beta adrenoceptors, [3H]imipramine-binding sites and serotonin receptors. The results of monitoring amine metabolites in cerebrospinal fluid and of measuring neuroendocrine, physiological and behavioural responses to pharmacological challenge are presented, providing information on monoaminergic function in depressed patients and experimental animals before, during and after treatment with antidepressant drugs or electroconvulsive shock. Genetic influences on receptor density are also discussed, as is the relevance to human depressive illness of animal models, including stress-induced behavioural depression in rats and responses to social stressors in rhesus monkeys.
This book should be of interest to neuropharmacologists, psychopharmacologists, clinical pharmacologists, behavioural scientists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists.
Chairman: Stuart B. Levy, 1997
Over the last 50 years, the rapid increase in the use of antibiotics, not only in people, but also in animal husbandry and agriculture, has delivered a selection unprecedented in the history of evolution. Consequently, society is facing one of its gravest public health problems-the emergence of infectious bacteria with resistance to many, and in some cases all, available antibiotics. This book brings together a multidisciplinary group of experts to discuss this problem. It begins by examining the origins of resistance and goes on to look at how the use of antibiotics in human medicine and farming/agriculture has selected for resistant bacteria. Separate chapters describe the evolution of resistance determinants and how these are spread both within and between bacterial species. Finally, the book contains discussions on strategies for countering the threat of antibiotic resistance. A major re-thinking of our approach to the treatment of infectious diseases is proposed-that antibiotic resistance should be seen as a problem created by the disruption of normal microbial ecology. To restore efficacy to earlier antibiotics, and to maintain the success of new antibiotics that are introduced, we need to use these drugs in a way that ensures an ecological balance that favours the predominance of susceptible bacteria.
Whether it is asthma, food or pollen allergies, type-1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, or Crohn’s disease, everyone knows someone who suffers from an allergic or autoimmune disorder. And if it appears that the prevalence of these maladies has increased recently, that’s because it has—to levels never before seen in human history. These days no fewer than one in five—and likely more—Americans suffers from one of these ailments. We seem newly, and bafflingly, vulnerable to immune system malfunction. Why? Science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff explains the latest thinking about this problem and explores the remarkable new treatments in the works.
In the past 150 years, improved sanitation, water treatment, and the advent of vaccines and antibiotics have saved countless lives, nearly eradicating diseases that had plagued humanity for millennia. But now, a growing body of evidence suggests that the very steps we took to combat infections also eliminated organisms that kept our bodies in balance. The idea that we have systematically cleaned ourselves to illness challenges deeply entrenched notions about the value of societal hygiene and the harmful nature of microbes. Yet scientists investigating the rampant immune dysfunction in the developed world have inevitably arrived at this conclusion. To address this global “epidemic of absence,” they must restore the human ecosystem.
This groundbreaking book explores the promising but controversial “worm therapy”—deliberate infection with parasitic worms—in development to treat autoimmune disease. It explains why farmers’ children so rarely get hay fever, why allergy is less prevalent in former Eastern Bloc countries, and how one cancer-causing bacterium may be good for us. It probes the link between autism and a dysfunctional immune system. It investigates the newly apparent fetal origins of allergic disease—that a mother’s inflammatory response imprints on her unborn child, tipping the scales toward allergy. In the future, preventive treatment—something as simple as a probiotic—will necessarily begin before birth.
An Epidemic of Absence asks what will happen in developing countries, which, as they become more affluent, have already seen an uptick in allergic disease: Will India end up more allergic than Europe? Velasquez-Manoff also details a controversial underground movement that has coalesced around the treatment of immune-mediated disorders with parasites. Against much of his better judgment, he joins these do-it-yourselfers and reports his surprising results.
An Epidemic of Absence considers the critical immune stimuli we inadvertently lost as we modernized, and the modern ills we may be able to correct by restoring them. At stake is nothing less than our health, and that of our loved ones. Researchers, meanwhile, have the good fortune of living through a paradigm shift, one of those occasional moments in the progress of science when a radically new way of thinking emerges, shakes things up, and suggests new avenues of treatment. You’ll discover that you’re not you at all, but a bustling collection of organisms, an ecosystem whose preservation and integrity require the utmost attention and care.
Informing these insights is a new understanding of how Darwinian processes underlie the brain's development and function as well as its evolution. In contrast to much contemporary neuroscience that treats the brain as no more or less than a computer, Deacon provides a new clarity of vision into the mechanism of mind. It injects a renewed sense of adventure into the experience of being human.
While many members of the scientific community have long held that the growing pains of adolescence are primarily psychological, Barbara Strauch highlights the physical nature of the transformation, offering parents and educators a new perspective on erratic teenage behavior. Using plain language, Strauch draws upon the latest scientific discoveries to make the case that the changes the brain goes through during adolescence are as dramatic and crucial as those that take place in the first two years of life, and that teenagers are not entirely responsible for their sullen, rebellious, and moody ways. Featuring interviews with scientists, teenagers, parents, and teachers, The Primal Teen explores common challenges–why teens go from articulate and mature one day to morose and unreachable the next, why they engage in risky behavior–and offers practical strategies to help manage these formative and often difficult years.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Whether it’s in a cockpit at takeoff or the planning of an offensive war, a romantic relationship or a dispute at the office, there are many opportunities to lie and self-deceive—but deceit and self-deception carry the costs of being alienated from reality and can lead to disaster. So why does deception play such a prominent role in our everyday lives? In short, why do we deceive?
In his bold new work, prominent biological theorist Robert Trivers unflinchingly argues that self-deception evolved in the service of deceit—the better to fool others. We do it for biological reasons—in order to help us survive and procreate. From viruses mimicking host behavior to humans misremembering (sometimes intentionally) the details of a quarrel, science has proven that the deceptive one can always outwit the masses. But we undertake this deception at our own peril.
Trivers has written an ambitious investigation into the evolutionary logic of lying and the costs of leaving it unchecked.
Or did we? Portions of the human brain are also devoted to reading. Children learn to read at a very young age and can seamlessly absorb information even more quickly through reading than through hearing. We know that we didn’t evolve to read because reading is only a few thousand years old.
In "Harnessed," cognitive scientist Mark Changizi demonstrates that human speech has been very specifically “designed” to harness the sounds of nature, sounds we’ve evolved over millions of years to readily understand. Long before humans evolved, mammals have learned to interpret the sounds of nature to understand both threats and opportunities. Our speech—regardless of language—is very clearly based on the sounds of nature.
Even more fascinating, Changizi shows that music itself is based on natural sounds. Music—seemingly one of the most human of inventions—is literally built on sounds and patterns of sound that have existed since the beginning of time.