Volume 5, Issue 11 (November, 2001)


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. Neuroscience for Kids Page of the Month
3. Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest - Now Open
4. National Epilepsy Month
5. Book Review
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. October Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. December NeuroCalendar
C. Brain Damage in Children with Schizophrenia
D. Multiple Sclerosis
E. The Science of Laughter
F. Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest
G. Fighting Foul Frogs with Caffeine
H. On-line Jigsaw Puzzles
I. Turtles Find Their Way Using Magnetic Fields

In October, 37 new figures were added and 139 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for November is "" at:

Step right into, an on-line resource that shows you what goes on in a neurologist's office. Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, an assistant professor in the Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology at Yale University, has constructed with audio and video clips of a neurological examination. Find out how reflexes, the senses, coordination, and mental status are tested by watching Dr. Blumenfeld perform different diagnostic procedures. Each procedure is described briefly and accompanied by a short video. You will need the free RealVideo plug-in for your browser to see the videos.

Dr. Blumenfeld explains that was designed for students in the health sciences and health care professionals. The explanations for the tests and procedures are detailed and there is plenty of new vocabulary. However, regular users of the Neuroscience for Kids web site should be familiar with much of the material. A less technical explanation of the neurological examination is being developed for


The NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS WRITING CONTEST is now open to students in kindergarten through high school. Use your imagination to create a poem, limerick or haiku about the brain and you might win a prize.

The complete set of rules and the official entry form for the contest are available at:

Here is a summary of the contest rules:

All poems, limericks and haiku must have at least THREE lines and CANNOT be longer than TEN lines. Material that is shorter than three lines or longer than ten lines will not be read. All material must have a neuroscience theme such as brain anatomy (a part of the brain), brain function (memory, language, emotions, movement, etc.), drug abuse or brain health (helmets, brain disorders, etc.). Be creative! Use your brain!

If you are a student in kindergarten to Grade 2: write a poem in any style; it doesn't even have to rhyme.

If you are a student in Grade 3 to Grade 5: write a poem that rhymes. The rhymes can occur in any pattern. For example, lines one and two can rhyme, lines three and four can rhyme, and lines five and six can rhyme or use your imagination and create your own rhyming pattern.

If you are a student in Grade 6 to Grade 8: write a brainy limerick. A limerick has 5 lines: lines one, two and five rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables; lines three and four rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables. Here is an example of a limerick:

The brain is important, that's true,
For all things a person will do,
From reading to writing,
To skiing to biting,
It makes up the person who's you.

If you are a student in Grade 9 to Grade 12: write a brainy haiku (3 lines only). Haiku MUST use the following pattern: 5 syllables in the first line; 7 syllables in the second line; 5 syllables in the third line. Here is an example:

Three pounds of jelly
wobbling around in my skull
and it can do math

Books (from Capstone Press and other publishers) or other prizes will be awarded to at least one winner in each category. There were 29 prize winners for last year's Neuroscience for Kids drawing contest.

Other rules:

A. You must use an entry form for your writing and send it in using "regular mail." Entries that are sent by e-mail will NOT be accepted.

B. Only ONE entry per student.

C. Students may enter by themselves or teachers may make copies of the entry form for their students and return completed entries in a single package.

D. Please download the entry form on the following page:

If you cannot download the entry form, let me know (email: and I will send a form to you by e-mail.


[This article was prepared by Susan Ladd, State Prevention and Education Coordinator in the Florida Department of Health Epilepsy Program.]

In addition to being the month that we honor our veterans, elect new government officials, and eat too much turkey, November is also National Epilepsy Month. Take some time this month to talk with someone who has epilepsy, learn what to do in case someone you are with has a seizure, read a book about someone with epilepsy or learn about epilepsy prevention. Start now by testing your "Epilepsy IQ" with the following "TRUE or FALSE" quiz:

A. A seizure is a short event that happens when neurons in the brain "fire" out of control.

B. There are many kinds of seizures.

C. One out of 10 people has a seizure sometime during his or her life.

D. Epilepsy means that a person has had more than one seizure and the seizures are not caused by a hormone or chemical imbalance, stress, sleep deprivation, or a high fever.

E. Anyone be diagnosed with epilepsy at any time during his or her life.

F. A head injury, some central nervous system infections (such as meningitis or encephalitis), stroke, or lack of oxygen to the brain can lead to epilepsy.

G. A person can swallow his or her tongue during a seizure.


A. True - Epilepsy is caused by an electrical "storm" in the brain. A person having a seizure may lose awareness and may lose control of all or part of his or her body.

B. True - Seizures can range from brief staring spells, to aimless wandering and repeating words, to muscle jerking or a convulsion. Sometimes people may look awake during a seizure, but can't hear or speak or follow directions.

C. True - Hormonal or chemical imbalances, stress, sleep deprivation, and a high fever can all cause a person to have just one seizure. This does NOT mean that the person has epilepsy.

D. True - One out 100 people has epilepsy. That's about 2.5 million Americans!

E. True - However, most of the new cases are in children and seniors.

F. True - But, it is not contagious. You cannot catch epilepsy from someone who has it.

G. False - This is a common myth. You should never put anything in a person's mouth during a seizure.

Epilepsy prevention includes avoiding brain injuries that can cause epilepsy. Here are some things that you can do to reduce your chances of a head injury and epilepsy:

A. Always wear a properly-fitted, fastened helmet when riding a bike, skateboard, or scooter.

B. Always wear your safety belt in the car or other vehicle.

C. Get adequate exercise and eat a healthy diet to prevent stroke and heart attack.

D. Follow safety rules in the pool and on the playground.

E. Stay away from illegal drugs and alcohol.

For more about epilepsy, see:


Unseen Rainbows, Silent Songs: The World Beyond Your Senses by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by Beverly Duncan, New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1995, 40 pages. [ISBN: 0-689-31892-8]
Reading level: Grades 2-5

It's a sunny day in the country. You feel a light breeze on your skin and hear birds singing in the distance. You see fluffy white clouds drift across the blue sky and smell freshly cut grass. That is what you experience. But what about other animals? Do they feel, hear, see and smell the same things that you do? In "Unseen Rainbow, Silent Songs," author Beverly Duncan explores the senses by comparing the abilities of a young boy in the country with those of the animals around him.

During his day in the country, the boy takes in the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside. However, there is much that he does not see, hear and smell. For example, his dog can hear a rabbit far in the distance and an owl can hear a small mouse in the fallen leaves. Bats send out and hear sounds that have frequencies too high for the boy to hear. Many animals can detect other signals that are beyond the reach of humans.

Duncan provides a few specific facts for each sense. Although older readers may want more details about the senses, young readers will find "Unseen Rainbows, Silent Songs" an excellent book that raises many questions about the animals they see every day. For more on the amazing senses of animals, see:


A. "The Secret Life of the Brain" is a new, five-part PBS special that will premier in Winter 2002. For details of this program, see:

B. "Brain Rx: Magnets" by Karen Wright in Discover magazine (November 2001, pages 28-29) describes how altering electrical currents in the brain may help treat depression, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease.

C. "How to Deal with Anxiety," in the October 29, 2001 issue of Time magazine, page 90.


A. Eight Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientists were born in November: Adrian, Sherrington, Moniz, Wald, Lorenz, von Frisch, Schally, and Kandel. For details of the accomplishments of these and other "Noble" neuroscientists, see:

B. Nine out of 10 people are right-handed, 8 out of 10 people are right-footed, 7 out of 10 people are right-eyed and 6 out of 10 people are right-eared. (Statistics from Stanley Coren, The Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness, Free Press, New York, 1992.) To determine your own sidedness, go to:

C. The Snellen Eye Chart (the one with the letter E pointed in different directions) was invented by Dr. Hermann Snellen in 1862.

D. The pupil in the eye of the giant cuttlefish (a squid-like animal) is rectangular. (Statistic from Schwab, I.R., British J. Ophth., 85:109, 2001.)

E. "Neuroptera" is the name of an insect order including the lacewings and antlions. "Neuro" comes from the Greek word for "nerve" and "ptera" comes from word for "wing." These insects were named for the extensive branching of veins on their wings, which reminded early scientists of the patterns made by nerve fibers.


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.