Volume 14, Issue 7 (July, 2010)

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. From Lead to Cadmium
4. Spiders, Spiders Everywhere
5. Pine Cone Brain
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 June including:

A. June Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. July, August, September, October, November, and December Neurocalendars
C. Sniffing Out Drugs: Amphetamines in Exhaled Breath

In June, 4 new figures were added and 37 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for July is "National Geographic Brain" at:

As part of its larger Health and Human Body Web site, National Geographic has created a few interactive pages about the brain. The "Brain Anatomy" section of the site provides users with a quick overview of the major landmarks on the external and internal surfaces of the brain. The "Unhealthy Brain" describes the symptoms and treatments for Alzheimer's disease, stroke and brain tumors. Young kids will like the "Stimulate the Brain" page where they can hear and see how different senses and thoughts affect different parts of the brain.


Lead is a heavy metal that was used in water pipes, building materials, batteries, paint and ceramic glazes. After the health dangers of exposure to lead were discovered, lead was removed from many products. Nevertheless, lead still shows up in places it shouldn't be. For example, lead has been found in children's toys and jewelry. When the presence of lead is discovered, there is usually a recall of the product to protect people.

A new threat from cadmium, another heavy metal, is making the news. Cadmium is very dangerous and when it gets inside the body; it can damage the lungs, liver, kidney and nervous system. Last month, cadmium was found in "Shrek Forever After 3D" drinking glasses that were sold in McDonald's restaurants. If you have one of the 12 million contaminated glasses that were distributed, stop using it immediately and visit or call McDonald's toll-free number (1-800-244-6227) to find out how to return it and get a refund.


Last month as I watched the NBA championship basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, I heard a knock on my door. There standing on the porch was a pest control worker. He told me that he was in the neighborhood taking care of a "spider problem" at a house up the street.

"Spider problem?," I asked, "What kind of a problem?"

The man said that a neighbor was bothered by many spiders that she found in her garage. "I like spiders," I said, "They don't bother me." This apparently was not a response he was familiar with and he was quiet for a few seconds. I didn't say anything either and looked at him as he squirmed a bit. Then he said, "Well, your neighbor also finds some spiders inside her house."

I replied, "This doesn't bother me either. Spiders don't do any damage and the ones I've seen in my house aren't dangerous."

"Well, I can get rid of the spiders at a really good price," he persisted.

He didn't understand. "But I don't want to get rid of the spiders," I responded.

He was quiet again, then thanked me for my time and left.

Everything I said was true: I like spiders, they don't do any damage to my house and the ones I have seen inside my house are not dangerous. Some spiders are dangerous. For example, the black widow spider (black body with red hourglass shape on its underside) carries latrotoxin, a venom that affects the nervous system. Latrotoxin works by causing the release of the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Symptoms of a black widow spider bite include pain, swelling, nausea, sweating and breathing problems. Although people can die from the bite of a black widow spider, most people recover within a few days.

I have seen black widow spiders outside under fences and in a pile of yard debris. When I was a college student working as a summer school recreation director at an elementary school, I found one of these spiders at the bottom of a bucket on the playground. I showed the spider to some of the kids who were on the playground so they could recognize and avoid these spiders if they saw one again. I then called the school custodian who removed the bucket.

Some people are afraid of spiders and may even have a phobia for them (arachnophobia). Certainly, people should give dangerous spiders plenty of respect and distance, but I see nothing wrong with sharing my house with a few eight-legged friends.


Some people see images of celebrities, such as Elvis, on burnt toast or stained walls; others have found potatoes shaped in the forms of famous people. Just when you think you have seen it all, here is another: a pine cone in the shape of a brain! I found this pine cone last month as I was cleaning my yard. Don't believe me? See the pine cone brain for yourself at:

I am not the only one who has found the brain in nature. Covers from the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience have included some interesting brain images on a:

I have also seen the reverse: images of objects embedded in the brain. That's right! By examining the folds and grooves on the external and internal surfaces of the brain, I have found the entire alphabet, a dog, a tree, a butterfly, a heart and a map of the United States. See these at:

It's amazing what you will find if you keep your eyes and mind open.


A. The July 2010 issue of Scientific American MIND is on newsstands. This issue has articles including "Making Connections" by Anthony J. Greene, "When Passion Is The Enemy" by Molly Knight Raskin, "Yearning for Yesterday" by Jochen Gebauer and Constantine Sedikides, "The Mechanics of Mind Reading" by Daniel Bor, "Speaking in Tones" by Diana Deutsch and "Me, Myself and I" by Uwe Herwig.

B. "I've Got a Boy with Autism" by Joe Bargmann (Parade magazine, June 13, 2010) discusses professional golfer Ernie Els and his plans to build a school for kids with autism.

C. "How Babies Think" by Alison Gopnik (Scientific American, July 2010).

D. "The Widening Gyrus" by Charles T. Ambrose (American Scientist, July-August 2010) suggests that the study of concert pianists and their brains may help us understand what it means to be a genius.

E. "Sniffing Out Disease" by Susan McCarthy (Parade magazine, June 20, 2010) discusses how dogs may be used to detect cancer.

F. "Sergey Brins Search for a Parkinson's Cure" By Thomas Goetz (Wired magazine, July 1, 2010) discusses the billionaire Google founder's hunt to cure Parkinson's disease.

G. "A Man of Letters" by Oliver Sacks (The New Yorker, June 28, 2010) describes the symptoms of a man who suffered a stroke in the visual areas on the left side of his brain.

H. The cover story in the double issue of Newsweek magazine (June 28-July 5, 2010) is titled "The Science of Healthy Living." Included in this issue are "This Is Your Brain. Aging." by Sharon Begley and "The Surprising Toll of Sleep Deprivation" by Lawrence J. Epstein.

I. NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS wins the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The journal SCIENCE published an essay I wrote that describes Neuroscience for Kids -- and you newsletter readers are mentioned in my article! Read the press release.


A. In 2050, the total costs of care for people in the US (age 65 and older) with Alzheimer's disease is estimated to be $1.08 trillion per year. (Source: Alzheimer's Association, Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer's Disease: A National Imperative, 2010, online at:

B. The word for brain in Indonesian is "otak."

C. Last month, Olympic gold medalist (figure skating) Scott Hamilton had successful brain surgery to remove a benign tumor.

D. Have you watched any of the 2010 World Cup Soccer matches from South Africa? Did you also hear the constant, buzzing sound coming from your TV? This sound was caused by thousands of soccer fans blowing a horn called a vuvuzela. The intensity of sound blasted from a vuvuzela can exceed 131 dB and a person standing 2 meters away from a vuvuzela can be exposed to a sound intensity of 113 dB. According to the South African National Standard, people within 2 meters of a vuvuzela should not be exposed continuously to the sound for more than one minute or they risk hearing damage! (Source: Swanepoel, D.W., Hall, J.W. and Koekemoer, D., Vuvuzela - good for your team, bad for your ears, S. African Med. Journal, 100:99-100, 2010.)

E. July is Eye Injury Prevention Month.


To ensure that Neuroscience for Kids stays available, we need your help. If you would like to contribute to the funding of Neuroscience for Kids, please visit:

Help Neuroscience for Kids


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.