Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.
In this issue:
Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in July including:
A. July Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for August is "A neuroscientist explains" at:
The neuroscientist doing the explaining in this month's site of the month is Dr. Daniel Glaser, the director of Science Gallery at King's College London. Dr. Glaser writes short, weekly articles about the brain for The Guardian. Many of the articles are related to current events, such as the July 23, 2017, article focused on the game of Wimbledon tennis champion Roger Federer. Other articles describe the underlying causes of everyday occurrences such as how babies can sleep at festivals and what makes us sweat.
"The Beautiful Brain. The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal" by Eric A. Newman, Alfonso Araque and Janet M. Dubinsky, New York: Abrams, 2017.
I am going to call "The Beautiful Brain" a biograhistosciart book. It's a biography that combines history, science and art to describe the pioneering work of neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal (born May 1, 1852; died October 18, 1934).
The book starts with a description of Cajal's life growing up in a small village in northeastern Spain. For example, although Cajal's father wanted his son to become a doctor, Cajal wanted to be an artist. Cajal did graduate from medical school, but with a laboratory in his house, he turned his attention to what he saw through a microscope. The results of Cajal's observations of the nervous system are detailed in 82 of his drawings in the “The Beautiful Brain.” The book groups the drawings into four sections: Cells of the Brain; Sensory Systems; Neuronal Pathways; Development and Pathology. The detail and precision of the drawings are remarkable. The final section of the book describes modern methods used to study the nervous system.
Each drawing in "The Beautiful Brain" is a work of art, worthy of a place in a museum. In fact, a traveling exhibit will display 80 of Cajal's drawings in several museums over the next two years:
September 5, 2017 to December 3, 2017: Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
January 9, 2018 to March 31, 2018: Grey Art Gallery, New York University New York City, NY
May 2, 2018 to January 1, 2019: MIT Museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
January 27, 2019 to April 7, 2019: Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
If you cannot get to one of these museums to see the drawings in person, I highly recommend you find the book.
One enjoyable part of my job as a professor is being able to travel to different places to learn about the research of other scientists. Last month I was invited to give a presentation at an international conference in Freiburg, Germany. Because I was an invited speaker, the conference organizers paid for all travel expenses including airfare, hotel accommodations and meals. I had never been to Freiburg before so I did not know what to expect. The city is not very large and the University of Freiburg seems to be the focus of much activity.
The conference was filled with fascinating discussions about new technologies that are being used in brain research. My talk focused on the importance of neuroscientists to interact with the public so everyone can understand the work going on in their laboratories. I think my presentation was successful because it generated a good amount of discussion.
My next trip is in November to attend the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C.
Last month, 24 middle school students attended the 5th Annual Bloomin' Brain Summer Camp on the University of Washington campus in Seattle.
Throughout the week of camp, the kids learned about the brain and about how plants make chemicals that affect the nervous system. The kids had the opportunity to see and hold real human brain specimens and built model brains and neurons with pipe cleaners and clay. Every day we went outside to have lunch and play brain games. Field trips to the University of Washington Medicinal Herb Garden, the Herbarium and the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering were also camp favorites.
Camp was made possible by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to the Sowing the Seed of Neuroscience program. Of course, the hard work of program staff (Dr. Kristi Straus, Ms. Jennifer Trygstad, Ms. Brigette Tennis, Neil Chakravarty and Becka Marquard) ensured that the camp was a great success.
Photos from camp are available at:
A. "What Self-Talk Reveals about the Brain" by Charles Fernyhough (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, August, 2017).
B. "Everything Worth Knowing About ... How We Decide" by Adam Piore (DISCOVER magazine, July/August 2017).
C. "Everything Worth Knowing About ... Autism Spectrum Disorder" by Mark Barna (DISCOVER magazine, July/August 2017).
D. "Beyond the Five Senses" by Matthew Hutson (THE ATLANTIC, July/August 2017).
A. Pro Football Hall of Fame player Warren Sapp announced that when he dies, he will donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. (Source: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/warren-sapp-nfl-donate-brain-concussion-cte-research/)
B. 50% of all people will likely develop a mental illness sometime during their life. (Source: Kessler, R.C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K.R. and Walters, E.E., Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 62:593-602, 2005.)
C. Ravens use their memory to plan for the future. (Boeckle, M. and Clayton, N.S., A raven's memories are for the future, Science, 357:126-127, 2017.)
D. Senator John McCain was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
E. Some interesting eyeball sizes (diameters): humans (24 mm), horses/cows (34 mm), ostriches (50 mm), sperm whales (55 mm), swordfish (90 mm), blue whales (150 mm), giant squid (270 mm). (Source: Partridge, J.C., Sensory ecology: Giant eyes for giant predators?, Current Biology, 22:R268-R270, 2012.)
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.