Volume 10, Issue 9 (September, 2006)


Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

Here is what you will find in this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. 2007 AAN Neuroscience Research and Creativity Prizes
4. T. Rex Eyes: Better to See You
5. Smell Critic
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. Support Neuroscience for Kids
9. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in August including:

A. August Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Going Batty in Houston - Rabies on the Rise
C. September Neurocalendar
D. October Neurocalendar
E. Escalators and Children
F. Nicotine in Cigarettes Goes Up
G. Printable copy of "Sam's Brainy Adventure" [PDF Format]
The online version of "Sam's Brainy Adventure" is located at:

In August, 7 new figures were added and 72 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for August is "OR Live - Neurology/Neurosurgery" at:

"OR Live" invites you inside the operating room (the "O.R." )to see real brain surgery. The site currently has videos showing operations for a brain aneurysm, spinal cord problems, brain tumor, epilepsy (temporal lobectomy), and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease. Just select the operation you want to watch from the long list on the site. The videos are available in "Real Player" and/or "Windows Media" formats.

CAUTION: "OR LIVE" is not for the squeamish! The videos show actual surgery being performed.


The American Academy of Neurology, in partnership with the Child Neurology Society and the American Academy of Neurology Foundation, are now sponsoring the Neuroscience Research and Creativity Prizes for secondary school students (grades 9-12). The Neuroscience Research Prize encourages high school students to explore the world of the brain and nervous system through laboratory research. Neuroscience Creativity Prize encourages high school students to be creative in their explorations of the brain and nervous system by demonstrating their knowledge of the scientific method. The objectives are to identify and reward high school students whose scientific skill and talent indicate a potential for scientific contributions in the field of neuroscience and to recognize the efforts of science teachers who have demonstrated support for students interested in neuroscience.

For the Neuroscience Research Prize, three winners will each receive a $1,000 cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to present their projects at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (Boston, MA; April 28 - May 5, 2007). One additional winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize and all-expense paid trip to present his/her project at the Annual Meeting of the Child Neurology Society (Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; October 10 - October 13, 2007). Winners' teachers are also invited to the Annual Meeting, all expenses paid. Certificates are awarded during the Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon. To apply for the Neuroscience Research Prize go to:

For the Neuroscience Creativity Prize, five winners will each receive $100 and a $100 gift card for neuroscience books. Five finalists will each receive a $100 gift card for neuroscience books. To apply for the Neuroscience Creativity prize go to:

For additional information, rules and an application form for these Neuroscience Prizes, please contact Kelly Piatt at the American Academy of Neurology (e-mail: or phone: 651-695-2709).

The deadline for these applications is November 1, 2006.


How good was the vision of Tyrannosaurus rex, the large meat-eating dinosaur? This was a question asked by Dr. Kent A. Stevens, a professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Oregon. The answer might surprise you.

Dr. Stevens built life-sized heads of dinosaurs to estimate the visual abilities of these extinct animals. He estimates that T. rex had excellent depth perception because this dinosaur had a large binocular range (the visual field that is overlapped by two eyes). T. rex also had huge eyes with diameters of 91 to 119 mm (~4 inches). By comparison, human eyes have a diameter of only 24.5 mm (~1 inch). Dr. Stevens calculates that T. rex could see distinct objects from a distance of 6 kilometers (~3.5 miles). By comparison, humans can see distinct objects from a maximum distance of only 1.6 km (1 mile). The visual acuity of T. rex vision is as much as 13 times better than that of people.

These data suggest that T. rex was not a scavenger as many scientists believe. Rather, with its excellent visual abilities, T. rex was likely a skillful hunter.

Reference: Stevens, K.A., Binocular vision in theropod dinosaurs, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 26: 321?330, 2006.


Many newspapers have art critics (vision), restaurant critics (taste) and music critics (hearing). The New York Times is adding a new critic to the mix: a perfume critic (smell)! Author Chandler Burr will write a column in the New York Times style magazine titled "Scent Strip" where he will rate perfumes using a four star system. Mr. Chandler is the author of the book, "The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession" (New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004).

What's next? A touch critic who will evaluate the texture of fabric?


A. "Kandinsky: The Path to Abstraction" is an exhibit by artist Wassily Kandinsky, at the Tate Modern in London until October 1, 2006 and at the Kunstmuseum in Basel (Switzerland) from October 21, 2006, to February 4, 2007. Kandinsky may have had synesthetic abilities, seeing colors when hearing music.

B. The cover story in the latest issue of Scientific American Mind is titled "The Teen Brain." Other stories in this issue include:

Coming to Attention | Should We Operate? | Diversity at Work | Natural High | Violent Pride | Turning Off Depression | Rise of the Modern Mind | Feeling Faint

C. "Not Just Child's Play" by Betsy Streisand (US News and World Report, August 14, 2006) describes how video games are being used to help people who are sick.

D. "How to Spot a Liar" by Jeffrey Kluger and Coco Masters (Time magazine, August 28, 2006) describes how new technologies (brain imaging, eye scans, facial expression analysis) are being used to detect lies.

E. Scientific American has published an on-line special issue titled "21st-Century Medicine" with articles about virtual-reality therapy, tissue engineering, pain control and stem cells.

F. "How Does the Teenage Brain Work" by Kendall Powell (Nature, 442:865-867, 2006).


A. On July 12, 2006, Washington Post and Slate Magazine columnist Michael Kinsley underwent surgery (deep brain stimulation) to treat his Parkinson's disease.

B. Near the threshold for hearing, the eardrum moves only 1,000,000th of an inch. (Source: Sataloff, R.T. and Sataloff, J. The nature of hearing loss, in Occupational Hearing Loss, 3rd edition, Boca Raton [FL]: CRC Press, 2006.)

C. The first surgical treatment of the seizure disorder epilepsy was in 1886. (Source: Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J. H. and Jessell, T.M., Principles of Neural Science, New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.)

D. The first use of Phenobarbital, an anticonvulsant, was in 1912. (Source: Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J. H. and Jessell, T.M., Principles of Neural Science, New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.)

E. Narcolepsy affects between 20-45 people per 100,000 in the US. (Source: Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J. H. and Jessell, T.M., Principles of Neural Science, New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.)


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To remove yourself from this mailing list and stop your subscription to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter, send e-mail to Dr. Eric H. Chudler at:

Your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and the "Neuroscience for Kids" web site are always welcome. If there are any special topics that you would like to see on the web site, just let me know.


Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.