Volume 15, Issue 7 (July, 2011)

In this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Questions, Questions
4. Celebrity Brain Disorders
5. Knit a Neuron
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. Beware of Lead in American Girl Jewelry

In June, 2 new figures were added and 15 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for July is the "American Speech-Language-Hearing Association" at:

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has 145,000 members whose mission is to help people with communication problems and to study communication science. The ASHA Web site is a great resource not only for professional scientists and clinicians, but also for students and teachers.

Start your exploration of the ASHA Web site by clicking "The Public" on the left side of the opening page. This will bring you to an "Information for the Public" page where you can learn about hearing and balance and some of the disorders associated with these senses. The "Disorders and Diseases" link will bring you to pages that describe various speech problems, many caused by brain disorders, such as apraxia, aphasia and stroke.

If you are interested in a career in communication sciences and disorders and want more information, go back to main entry page of the Web site and click on the "Students" link on the left side. This link will bring you to a page with advice about different jobs in the field. A special section for high school students explains what is needed to pursue a career in this area.

Although some parts of the ASHA Web site are for members only, the site has much to offer everyone including free online issues of the "ASHA Leader" newspaper dating back to 1999.


I visit local classrooms with a presentation about the brain several times each month. Last month I spoke with more than 300 students at an elementary school and two classes at a middle school. I've also been to high school classes when the students are studying the nervous system.

During my presentations, I speak about the anatomy of the brain, the functions of the brain, how to protect the brain, and ways that the brain can be fooled. At the end of my presentations, I always leave time for the students to ask questions. I've found that elementary, middle and high school students have very different types of questions for me.

Often when it is time to ask questions, elementary school students don't ask questions at all. Instead, they tell a story. These stories often start with, "One time I was with my friend..." When these young kids do ask questions, they usually want to know about something that happened to themselves, their friends or their families. Middle school kids often ask questions about sleep and drugs that affect the brain. These students sometimes have misconceptions about how the brain works and I take time clear things up. High school students, especially those in advanced biology classes, want to know how to become a neuroscientist and are curious about the type of classes they should take in high school and what colleges they should attend. Older students also want to know how much money scientists can earn.

All of these students' questions are fair and I answer all of them honestly as best as I can. Sometimes I do not have a good response to a student's question because science has not yet provided a satisfactory answer. For example, if a student asks the seemly simple question, "Why do we dream and what do they mean?", I can provide a few theories, but no definitely correct answer. These open questions are great opportunities to encourage students to get into science: perhaps they will be the ones who will find answers to their own questions.


Neurological problems can affect anyone, but when a celebrity has a brain problem, you can read about it in newspapers and magazines and see it on TV. Sometimes, a famous person with a neurological problem becomes a spokesperson to support research about a particular disorder. For example, actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, has become an advocate for brain research and has set up his own foundation to support Parkinson's disease research. Television personality and talk show host Montel Williams has established a foundation to support multiple sclerosis research. Actress Glenn Close, who has family members with mental illness, is raising awareness about the stigma attached to mental illness.

Unfortunately, two celebrities made headlines last month because of their battle with neurological problems. Saxophone player Clarence Clemons passed away after he suffered a stroke on June 12 and singer Glenn Campbell announced in People magazine that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.


I have made neuron models using beads, candy, pipe cleaners, rope, string, clay, playdough and recyclables, but I have never built them using yarn. However, Dr. Anne Cooke and Dr. Helen Featherstone from Bristol Neuroscience at the University of Bristol have created such models! Drs. Cooke and Featherstone started the "Knit a Neuron" project that encourages people to knit and crochet neurons and to share their creations.

Learn more about the Knit a Neuron project and get patterns and instructions to make your own knitted neurons at:



A. The "Body Worlds & The Brain" exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center (St. Louis, MO) is now open through October 2.

B. "Color-Fest" at the Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA) is now open through September 5.

C. The cover story of the July, 2011, issue of Scientific American is "The Physics of Intelligence" with an inside article "The Limits of Intelligence" by Douglas Fox. This magazine also has the articles titled "Science of a Human: The Battle against Mosquitoes" by John R. Carlson and Allison F. Carey and "Evolution of the Eye" by Trevor D. Lamb.

D. In the July, 2011, National Geographic magazine, you can find "40 Winks" with a table showing the amount of time different animals sleep each day and "New Looks at the Brain" that describes a new imaging method to look at the brain.

E. The July, 2011, issue of Scientific American MIND magazine is on newsstands now. The magazine includes the articles "Baby Power," "How Dads Develop," "Pop Star Psychology," "Thinking By Design," "The Bilingual Advantage," "Strain on the Brain," and "Outsmarting Mortality."


A. The brain reaches approximately 90% of its adult volume by age 6. (Stiles, J. and Jernigan, T.L., The basics of brain development, Neuropsychol Rev. 20: 327-348, 2010.)

B. "Venti"-sized brewed coffee at Starbucks contains 415 mg of caffeine; a maximum strength "No-Doz" pill has only 200 mg of caffeine. (Starbucks' caffeine statistic from a Starbucks Co. pamphlet.)

C. In 2008, headaches were the first-listed diagnosis for over 3 million emergency department (ED) visits (comprising 2.4 percent of all ED visits) and 81,000 inpatient stays (comprising 0.2 percent of all inpatient stays). (Source: Lucado, J., Paez, K., Elixhauser, A. Headaches in U.S. Hospitals and Emergency Departments, 2008, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. May, 2011.)

D. In 2008, migraines were the most common type of headache associated with inpatient stays, comprising 63.1 percent of all hospital stays with headache as a first-listed diagnosis. (Source: Lucado, J., Paez, K., Elixhauser, A. Headaches in U.S. Hospitals and Emergency Departments, 2008, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. May, 2011.)

E. In 2000, an estimated 3.4 million U.S. residents aged older than 40 years were blind or visually impaired (The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group. Causes and prevalence of visual impairment among adults in the United States. Arch Ophthalmol., 122:477-485, 2004.)


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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.