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>>Is that androstadienone I don't smell?
Can two people really have "good" or "bad" chemistry? Maybe. Chicago researchers have now shown for the first time that airborne chemical signals emitted by other humans have widespread effects on the brain. Suma Jacob, AB'91, PhD'98, MD'01, and Martha McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw distinguished service professor in psychology, exposed ten women to minute amounts of the steroid androstadienone, an odorless chemical produced by men. The women then performed simple computer tasks while receiving glucose intravenously. PET scans revealed how their brains used the glucose. When the chemical signal was present, not only were the brains' olfactory areas active, but so were regions associated with attention, emotions, memory, and sight. McClintock believes the findings, published July 25 in NeuroReport, support the hypothesis that androstadienone modulates how we "process the task at hand."

>>Your son's brain on drugs
Exposure before birth to methamphetamine renders men who take the drug as teens and adults highly susceptible to its brain-damaging effects-possibly hastening the onset of disorders such as Parkinson's disease, warns Alfred Heller, PhD'56, MD'60, professor of neurobiology, pharmacology, and physiology in the August Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Traditionally associated with white, male, blue-collar workers, "meth" has become increasingly popular among young women for its mood-elevating, energy-boosting, and appetite-suppressing effects, a trend that's led researchers to study its effects on users' offspring. Why the effect is greater in males than in females is unclear. It may be connected with the rise in body temperature caused by the drug, which increases temperatures more in males than it does in females. Heller found that the amount of brain damage in exposed mice was closely associated with the increase in body temperature.

>>Don't step on the shells
Careful arrangements of tiny shells-a previously unknown form of ancient Celtic art-were discovered at a site in southern France by Michael Dietler, associate professor in anthropology, and his European colleagues. Ten examples of the 2,000-year-old artwork were found, including a two-and-a-half-foot long image of a horse or donkey. Found on the floors of homes in Lattes, an ancient port settlement five miles south of the modern city of Montpellier, the art was made by the town's Celtic-speaking inhabitants, who had recently been conquered but were not yet dominated by the Romans.

>>Leo Strauss's brain on Plato
For those who missed his lectures the first time, Leo Strauss on Plato's Symposium (Chicago, 2001) takes readers back to the renowned scholar's autumn 1959 course, Plato's Political Philosophy. The first major work by Leo Strauss to appear in print in more than 30 years, the collection reveals Strauss's subtle, sometimes indirect style of analysis. Using commentary as a method to expound the truth, Strauss explores not only the dialogue's meaning and its role in the Platonic corpus, but also topics such as Socrates's character, the nature of eros and its place in human life, and the perennial quarrel between poetry and philosophy and how both relate to piety, politics, and morality.

>>Desegregation has worked
Desegregation plans during the 1970s reduced the high-school dropout rates of African-American students by 1 to 3 percent. So says assistant professor of business Jonathan Guryan in a June 2001 National Bureau of Economic Research paper "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates." Guryan, who analyzed high-school enrollment data for 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds in the 1970 and 1980 censuses, found that desegregation also accounts for about half the decline in dropout rates of black students between 1970 and 1980 but had no effect on the dropout rates of white students. - S.A.S.


  OCTOBER 2001

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