Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.
In this issue:
The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for July is "The Up-Goer Five Text Editor" at:
The month's Site of the Month is not really a neuroscience web site. Rather, it is a site that will help explain neuroscience (or really anything) in simple language. The Up-Goer Five Text Editor asks you to type sentences into a box. As you type, the editor will determine whether you have used the 1,000 most common words in the English language. If you use a word that is not in this list of 1,000 words, then the editor gives you a warning.
You might find it challenging to explain a complex topic using only the 1,000 most common words. It is especially challenging if you try to describe a topic with technical words. For example, you cannot use the word "neuroscience" because it is not on the list; you can use the word "brain," but you cannot use the word "research." Use the text editor to explain something with only the allowed words and then see if someone else can understand what you wrote.
Certainly, I would not give a talk or write a paper using only the 1,000 most common words. However, using the Up-Goer Five Text Editor it is a good way to remind yourself to communicate clearly.
Some readers may remember the May Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter when I mentioned that my TV show "BrainWorks" was nominated for a Northwest Emmy Award. I am happy to say that the show won!
A few weeks after I was notified that BrainWorks was nominated, I received an invitation to attend the black tie awards ceremony. Unfortunately, I did not own a tuxedo or black suit. As a scientist, I have never had an occasion that required a tuxedo or black suit. When I go to conferences, give seminars or teach, I usually just wear slacks, a shirt with no tie, and a jacket. My wife convinced me that a black suit was necessary for the Emmys and that if I had a suit, I could wear it for other events. Therefore, it was off to the department store to find a black suit.
Shopping for clothing is something I try to avoid. However, a large department store had an advertised special discount on suits, so I thought I could get something appropriate to wear without spending too much money. As I browsed through the men's department, I quickly found the suits. I tried on one suit that looked, well, black, and told the salesperson that I would take it. She gave me a strange look and couldn't believe that I would buy the first suit I tried on. I said it fits and its black, so it's the one I want. The salesperson then helped me pick out a white shirt and black tie. I was set for the Emmy awards show.
My wife and I arrived early for the awards show on June 3 at the Fremont Studios in Seattle. We were afraid we would not find parking because 500 people were expected. At 5:30 pm, the crowd was ushered into a large auditorium with round tables seating 10 people each. We were seated at table 36 toward the back of the room. Huge video screens were placed around the room to help people see the front of the stage.
Before the awards were announced, attendees were served dinner. Cara Podenski, an executive producer of BrainWorks, and her husband were at my table. As I waited for dinner, I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me. He turned out to be a film editor for the Seattle Mariners baseball team. His nominated program was in a sports category while mine was in the health/science category so we were not competing against each other. We also got talking about sports-related concussions because he was a hockey player in college and still plays the game recreationally. This turned into a lively conversation about the brain and brain health with everyone at the table joining in.
Soon after dessert was served, the lights went down and the master of ceremonies (comedian Chris Cashman) came to the stage. He had instructions for anyone who won an Emmy: keep your acceptance speech short!
As luck would have it, BrainWorks was in the "Health and Science Program/Series" category that would be announced within the first hour of the show. As each category comes up, the nominees are listed on the large monitors, and then the winner is announced. As the winners make their way to the stage to accept their awards, a short clip from the winning program is played for everyone to see. My heart beat faster and faster as the Health and Science category approached.
Finally, it was time. There on all the monitors were the titles of all of the programs nominated in the Health and Science category. And then I heard: "And the Emmy goes to -- BrainWorks: Exercise and the Brain." A clip from BrainWorks played on the video monitors and Cara and I rushed up to the stage. We were handed our statuettes and then I turned to the microphone to address the crowd. I don't remember my exact words, but I thanked the Dana Foundation, the Dean Witter Foundation and Seattle Children's Hospital for sponsoring the program and thanked the cast and crew of BrainWorks for their hard work. Then I told the audience that because I was a neuroscientist, I studied the brain. I added that I thought it is important that everyone should learn about the brain because it is likely that they will know someone with a neurological disease or disorder. By knowing more about the brain, they might be able to better understand what is happening to their friends and family affected by neurological disorders and take better care of those affected by brain disease.
Following my very brief speech, Cara and I were ushered off stage where we signed a log book and had our photo taken by the official photographer. Then it was back to our seats in the auditorium to think about what just happened.
I am extremely honored to have received the Emmy Award. Creating the BrainWorks programs is really a team effort and everyone involved did a great job. The next episode of BrainWorks will focus on Brain-Computer Interfaces and will start as soon as I secure enough sponsors to fund the program.
You are invited to join Lise Johnson and me at the University of Washington Book Store on July 17 at 7:00 pm. Lise and I will talk about neuroscience and our favorite sections from our book "Brain Bytes. Quick Answers to Quirky Questions about the Brain." The UW Book Store is located at 4326 University Way NE, Seattle, WA.
A. "The Gut-brain connection" is the cover story of the July/August 2017 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND magazine.
B. "Curious about curiosity" by Mario Livio (NATURAL HISTORY magazine, June, 2017).
C. "Why be conscious" by Bob Holmes (NEW SCIENTIST magazine, May 13, 2017).
D. "The web of memories" is the cover story in the July 2017 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.
Five Nobel Prize winning neuroscientists were born in the month of July:
A. Camillo Golgi (born on July 7, 1843).
B. Herbert Spencer Gasser (born on July 5, 1888).
C. Baruch S. Blumberg (born on July 28, 1925).
D. Alfred G. Gilman (born on July 1, 1941).
E. Richard Axel (born July 2, 1946).
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.