Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.
In this issue:
Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in August including:
A. August Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for September is "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis" at:
With the start of a new National Football League (NFL) season this month, I thought it would be an appropriate time to highlight a web site about concussions. Although the PBS web site "League of Denial" was published in October, 2013, the health issues facing football players are still with us. The FRONTLINE investigation in League of Denial describes how it was discovered that football players were at risk of brain injuries and how the NFL responded to the evidence.
In addition to hosting the 2-hour video program, the web site contains interviews with doctors, players, family members and activists involved in the investigation. Also on the web site is a link to Concussion Watch that details all of the head injuries suffered by NFL players during the 2012-2015 seasons. Concussion Watch allows users to see the number of concussions suffered by specific players as well as the number of concussions for different positions and teams. I found it interesting that wide receivers and cornerbacks suffered more concussions than players in other positions. If you search the site by player and click on a name, you can read about the circumstances about the concussion.
Football will likely not disappear anytime soon. Therefore, it is important that players, families and coaches know the risks, symptoms, and treatments of a sports-related head injury. Visiting "League of Denial" is a good place to learn about these issues.
Last month, public health officials in Seattle, WA, warned that a bat found in a local park (Green Lake Park) tested positive for rabies. Someone caught the bat after it was moved by four teenagers. All of these people who had contact with the bat are at risk of contracting rabies. (A second rabid bat was found five days later a few miles from the location of the first rabid bat.)
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks cells of the nervous system. Rabies is spread through the saliva of an infected animal. People and other animals can get rabies if they are bitten or scratched by an infected animal. Bats and raccoons often carry rabies, but dogs, cats, skunks, foxes, wolves and coyotes can also be infected. After the rabies virus enters the body, it is picked up by peripheral nerves and transported to the brain and spinal cord. The virus multiplies in nerve cells and then spreads to other parts of the body.
Symptoms of rabies usually start within two to eight weeks after a person is bitten. However, in rare cases, it may take more than a year for symptoms to develop. The first signs of rabies may look similar to the flu: fever, headache, nausea, depression, sore throat, stiff muscles, loss of appetite. The part of the body that was bitten or scratch may be painful or itch. After these first symptoms, more serious problems follow: anxiety, convulsions, paralysis, breathing difficulties, coma.
When rabies attacks the central nervous system, it causes encephalitis (brain swelling) and inflammation around brain blood vessels. If rabies goes untreated, it is almost always fatal and there is no cure.
The best way to prevent rabies is to stay away from wild animals and stray dogs and cats. Also, never touch, pet or feed these animals. If someone is bitten or scratched by a wild or stray animal, the wound should be washed with soap and water immediately. A doctor should then be seen to determine the best course of action that might include a series of injections to prevent rabies. If the animal can be quarantined safely, it will be observed for signs of rabies.
King County Public Health, http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/news/2017/August/19-rabid-bat.aspx
CDC, Rabies and Kids: https://www.cdc.gov/rabiesandkids/
"The Beautiful Brain" is a museum exhibit of 80 drawings by neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (born 1852; died 1934). From September 5 to December 3, 2017, the exhibit will be displayed at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in Vancouver, Canada. For more information about the exhibit, see:
Do you have any plans for Saturday, September 23, 2017? If not, why not make some plans to go to a museum? Many museums around the country will be free on September 23 to celebrate Museum Day Live! Just present a Museum Day Live! ticket and walk on in. Find a museum and get your tickets at:
A. "Artificial intelligence becomes more human" is the cover story in the September 2017 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND.
B. "The science of addiction" is the cover story in the September 2017 issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine.
C. "The brain of Ben Barres" by Kenneth Miller (DISCOVER magazine, September, 2017).
A. Approximately 3.4 million people (1.2% of the population) in the United States have epilepsy. (Source: Zack, M.M. and Kobau, R, National and State Estimates of the Numbers of Adults and Children with Active Epilepsy - United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:821-825. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6631a1.)
B. To raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease and rabies, World Alzheimer's Month is this September and World Rabies Day is September 28.
C. In 2015, 47 million people around the world were living with dementia; this number is expected to triple by 2050. (Source: Livingston et al., Dementia prevention, intervention, and care, The Lancet, published online July 20, 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31363-6.)
D. William Shakespeare wrote in King Henry VI, part II Act III, scene
"My brain more busy than the labouring spider
Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies."
E. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that first-year college students living in residence halls should be vaccinated to prevent meningococcal disease. (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/risk-community.html).
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.