Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.
In this issue:
Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in January including:
A. January Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Neuroscience in the News
The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for February is "Biomedical Picture of the Day" at:
Biomedical Picture of the Day (BPoD) is managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences. Each day, a new image, provided by researchers from around the world, is added to the site where it is displayed and discussed.
A fun game that I made up to play on the BPoD site is what I call Guess the Image. To play, click on the Search the Archive button. This will send you to a page containing images for different months. Now try to guess what each image shows. If you dont know, move your cursor over an image and read the title of the image for a hint. If you still dont know what the image is, click on the title of the image for a full description. You can also play the guessing game with a neuroscience twist: decide if an image shows something related to the nervous system.
I hope you will agree that these images are fascinating not only from a scientific point of view, but they are also beautiful works of art.
The 2017 Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest is now closed and judging has begun. Winners will be contacted by email and sent their prizes. Some of the winning drawings will be published in this newsletter next month.__________________________________________________________
About two years ago I visited my doctor for a regular checkup. Nothing was bothering me, but I hadnt seen a doctor for many years. As part of the exam, the doctor took my blood pressure. Although my resting heart rate was great (about 55 beats/minute), my blood pressure was a little on the high side. The doctor was not too concerned but suggested that I work to lower my blood pressure a bit.
The doctor asked me how much I exercised. I explained that I walked about a mile every day and that I played basketball twice a week. The doctor suggested that I get more exercise and that I buy a blood pressure monitor to track my blood pressure.
Later that day, I ordered a blood pressure monitor and went to the sporting goods store to buy my first pair of running shoes. I started my running routine slowly. The first two weeks, I ran less than half a mile. Gradually, I increased my distance and changed my routes to keep things interesting. I tried wearing headphones to listen to music, but they kept falling off, so I stopped using them. In a couple of months, I was up to running 3 miles a day, four or five times each week. And thats where I am today: 3 miles a day.
In addition to running, I am still walking at least a mile every day. I installed a pedometer app on my phone that counts my steps, and tabulates the distance I walk. In December 2016, I took 107,485 steps that covered 45.80 miles; in January 2017, I took 103,514 steps that covered 44.11 miles. Using the pedometer is a fun way to track my walking and motivates me to get outside so I can increase my numbers.
Since that day two years ago, my blood pressure has dropped about 10 points and Ive lost a little bit of weight. In addition to these benefits, I am likely helping my brain. Many research studies show that aerobic exercise can improve memory, boost concentration, stimulate the release of growth factors, grow new neurons and blood vessels in the brain, and protect the brain from cognitive decline later in life.
I encourage everyone to start an exercise routine. However, please check with your doctor to ensure that you are ready and for some advice about how to begin. Your exercise does not have to be basketball and running; it could be walking or biking or anything else to increase your heart rate. Most recommendations suggest that people should get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. My advice is to start slow, but make exercise a habit.
For more information about exercise and the brain, see my BrainWorks TV episode at:
There is still some space at the later start time (11:15 am) at the University of Washington Brain Awareness Week (BAW) on March 6, 2017. Teachers should complete an application form if they would like to bring their students to the open house; the application form is available online at:
Registration is now open to middle school students for the 2017 Bloomin' Brains Summer Camp. The camp will be held on the University of Washington campus in Seattle from July 10 to July 14, 2017. This will be the fifth year of the summer camp and I am sure students will enjoy the experience.
For more information about the camp and online registration, see:
This camp is sponsored by my Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience program.
A. "Whistled Languages" Reveal How the Brain Processes Information by Julien Meyer (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine, February, 2017).
B. How to Sleep by James Hamblin (THE ATLANTIC, January/February, 2017).
C. What the Octopus Knows by Olivia Judson (THE ATLANTIC, January/February, 2017).
A. Squid, octopus and cuttlefish are sensitive to polarized light. (Source: Shashar, N., Rutledge, P. and Cronin, T., Polarization vision in cuttlefish in a concealed communication channel? J. Exp, Biol. 199:2077-2084, 1996.)
B. The brain of a jaguar weighs about 157 grams. (A human brain weighs about 1,400 grams.)
C. The total surface area of the cerebral cortex is about 2,500 sq. cm in humans, about 6,300 sq. cm in African elephants and about 6 sq. cm in rats.
D. The cerebellum weighs about 142 grams in humans and about 1.9 grams in rabbits. (Source: Sultan, F. and Braitenberg, V. Shapes and sizes of different mammalian cerebella. A study in quantitative comparative neuroanatomy. J. Hirnforsch., 34:79-92, 1993.)
E. The oculomotor nerve contains 25,000-35,000 axons.
Help Neuroscience for Kids
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.