Volume 3, Issue 9 (September, 1999)


Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

Here is what you will find in this issue:

1. What's New on the Neuroscience for Kids Web Pages
2. The Neuroscience for Kids Page of the Month
3. My Ancient Dream Journal
4. William Shakespeare, Amateur Neurologist?
5. Neuroscience Prize from the American Academy of Neurology
6. Book Review
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in August. Here are some of them:

A. August Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. September NeuroCalendar
C. Make a Neuron Using Beads
D. New Drug for Children with Epilepsy
E. A Vaccine for Alzheimer's Disease?
F. Please Write! Brain Card
G. Spinal Cord Match-Up
H. Rohypnol
I. Take the Hidden Brain Challenge

In August, 35 new figures were added and 93 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for September is "" at: is a web site that permits users to customize their page with only that information which users request. Neuroscience news, brain facts and trivia, web page and journal article reviews, and illusions are just some of the features you will find here. You can even customize the page with your local weather report and stock quotes. Articles on specific neuroscience topics such as basic neuroanatomy and the human visual system are posted regularly. In late August 1999, launched its new online magazine called "NeuroWire." An article I have written called "Neuroscience Education: Exploring the Inner Unknown" will appear in a future issue of NeuroWire.

Make the connection to!


A few weeks ago my daughter and I were looking through some boxes of my old papers. We came across a "dream journal" I made about 13 years ago. This journal contains all of the dreams I could remember between June 23, 1986 and May 13, 1987. During this time, I kept a notebook and pen on a table next to my bed. Each morning as soon as I woke up, I recorded my dreams. The journal contains descriptions of 351 different dreams. The number of dreams is more than the number of days between June 23 and May 13 because on some days I was able to remember more than one dream.

Looking back on these old records reveals some interesting insights into dreaming. First, I was not able to remember my dreams on 44 nights. I thought that perhaps the day of the week might have influenced my ability to remember my dreams. However, after doing some statistical tests, I found that the day of the week did not have anything to do with my ability to recall my dreams. What did seem to affect my ability to recall dreams was a consistent sleep routine. If I went to sleep at an unusual time, for example if I stayed up late, I had trouble remembering my dreams the next morning.

Although the purpose of dreaming is not known, some people think it is to help the brain create memories. Dreams occur most often during a phase of sleep called "rapid eye movement" or REM sleep. Researchers can monitor a person's brain waves and muscle activity to determine when people are in REM sleep. If people are awakened each time they go into REM sleep and become deprived of REM sleep, they have trouble on memory tests the next day. It is interesting that although dreaming may be important for creating memories, dreams themselves are difficult to remember. If you do not write down your dream immediately, you will find it is very difficult to remember. That's why it is a good idea to have a pen and paper near your bed to record your dreams. Other people think dreaming is a result of the brain trying to make a story out of neuronal signals traveling through the brain during sleep. Reading through my dream journal reminded me just how strange these "dream" stories can be!

If you want to start your own dream journal, all you need is a pen or pencil and some paper. A notebook is a good idea to keep all of the pages together. You can also download a pre-printed dream journal page (in PDF format) from the "Neuroscience for Kids" pages at:

One suggestion: try to include drawings of your dreams. My old dream journal did not contain any illustrations, but my next one will.

For more information on sleep and dreaming, see:

4. William Shakespeare, Amateur Neurologist?

William Shakespeare (born in 1564, died in 1616) is perhaps the most well-known English poet and playwright in the world. Was he also an amateur neurologist? Many of Shakespeare's plays contain characters who appear to be afflicted by neurological disorders. Although he did not use the modern terms for the disorders, Shakespeare was very clear in his descriptions of various neurological symptoms. Here is a list of his plays and the possible neurological disorder affecting a character in the play:

Name of Play.............Neurological Disorder
Trolius and Cressida.....Tremor
Part 2, Henry VI.........Tremor (possibly Parkinson's disease)
Part 2, Henry VI.........Paralysis (possibly due to a stroke)
Measure for Measure......Paralysis
Julius Caesar............Epilepsy ("falling sickness")
King Lear................Dementia and possible schizophrenia
Much Ado About Nothing...Dementia
Twelfth Night............Dementia (possibly hepatic encephalopathy)
Macbeth..................Sleepwalking (somnambulism)
Macbeth..................Sleeptalking (somniloquism)
Henry IV.................Insomnia
Henry IV.................Sleep Apnea
Richard III..............Nightmares

The next time you go to one of Shakespeare's plays or read some of his work, try to find the passages where neurological symptoms are described.


A. Bark N.M., Did Shakespeare know schizophrenia? The case of Poor Mad Tom in King Lear, Brit. J. Psychiat., 146:436-438, 1985.

B. Fogan, L., The neurology of Shakespeare, Arch. Neurol., 46:922-924, 1989.

C. Furman, Y., Wolf, S.M., Rosenfeld, D.S., Shakespeare and sleep disorders, Neurology, 49:1171-1172, 1997.


The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has announced that they will award a prize for the best neuroscience project by a high school student. The winner of the Neuroscience Prize will receive $1,000 and an all expense-paid trip to the AAN Annual meeting in San Diego (April 29-May 6, 2000). The student's teacher also gets a free trip to the meeting. Perhaps you or someone you know would like to enter the competition. You will have to get busy. The submission deadline for projects is December 15, 1999. If this deadline is too soon for you to complete your project or you need to find a research project, perhaps you can enter the next competition in 2000.


States of Mind: New Discoveries About How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are, edited by Roberta Conlan, New York, Dana Press, 1999, 214 pages (ISBN 0471299634)

"States of Mind" is a collection of essays by eight leading neuroscientists. These essays were originally part of a 1997 lecture series sponsored by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Smithsonian Associates. Included in the book are the following:

1. Dr. Steven Hyman, National Institute of Mental Health: genes, environment and mental illness

2. Dr. Jerome Kagan, Harvard University: genes, environment and behavior

3. Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine: manic- depression

4. Dr. Bruce McEwen, Rockefeller University: stress and the brain

5. Dr. Esther Sternberg, National Institute of Mental Health: the brain and the immune system

6. Dr. Joseph LeDoux, New York University: emotions, memories and the brain

7. Dr. Eric Kandel, Columbia University: memory, learning, genes and the brain

8. Dr. J. Allan Hobson, Harvard Medical School: sleep and dreams

Each essay is written in language that high school students should understand. There are several drawings and photographs in each chapter that help illustrate concepts and ideas. Although "States of Mind" could use a few more photographs and drawings to explain various theories and ideas, it is a first-rate introduction to current findings in brain research.


A. "Inside the Teen Brain" was the cover story of the August 9, 1999 issue of US News and World Report. Articles from this magazine are available at:

B. "Making Small Planes Safe" in Newsweek magazine, August 16, 1999. Find out how the sense of touch can help pilots fly safely.

C. "Spicy Hot" in National Geographic World, September, 1999. Read an article about chili peppers and what makes them hot.

D. "Repairing the Damaged Spinal Cord" in Scientific American, September, 1999 (pages 64-73). Find out about new therapies to treat people with spinal cord injuries.


All of the statistics and facts for this month come from "States of Mind: New Discoveries About How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are," edited by Roberta Conlan, New York, Dana Press, 1999, 214 pages (ISBN 0471299634)

A. As many as one in five Americans will be affected by a mental illness sometime in their lives. (p. 9)

B. There are about 3 million miles of axons in the human brain. (p. 12)

C. Of the 31,000 suicides in the United States each year, 60-80% are associated with depression or manic-depression. (p. 54)

D. The economic cost of stress and stress-related disorders in the United States is $200 billion each year. (p. 83)

E. The aplysia ("sea hare") has a nervous system with only 20,000 neurons. (p. 169)


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.

"Neuroscience for Kids" is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center of Research Resources.