Volume 7, Issue 10 (October, 2003)


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 Site of the Month
3. Support Neuroscience for Kids
4. The Lost Medical Art of Smelling
5. Headgear Approved for Women's World Cup Soccer
6. SfN at the NABT
7. West Nile Virus Reaches New High
8. Media Alert
9. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. September Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. October, November and December Neurocalendars
C. Conjoined Twins: Update
D. Bloodhounds: King of the Trackers
E. Reprint of paper, "A role for neuroscientists in engaging young minds"
F. Tight Ties Tied To Glaucoma Risk
G. Human Brains Become Conditioned to Expect Food
H. Allen Institute for Brain Science

In September, 26 new figures were added and 78 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for October is "Biological Psychology Newslink" at:

The Biological Psychology Newslink web site was created by Dr. S. Marc Breedlove at Michigan State University to supplement the textbook "Biological Psychology." This textbook was written by Dr. Breedlove and his colleages Dr. Mark R. Rosenzweig and Dr. Arnold L. Leiman. The web site offers a massive list of links to recent neuroscience articles on the Internet. Most of these articles are written for the general public (or are press releases intended for science reporters) and are therefore easy to understand.

Visitors can also choose a neuroscience subject from a scroll down menu, or search for a term. Dr. Breedlove has linked to more than 5,000 articles so far. The Biological Psychology Newslink site is a great place to learn about exciting new developments in neuroscience.

I asked Dr. Breedlove to tell us more about his site. He replied:

"I usually add three to five links every day, all of which should be accessible to the lay reader. I think this steady stream of newsworthy articles shows how interesting the topic is, and what an exciting time this is for neuroscience."


I don't like door-to-door salesmen. I quickly end conversations with telephone solicitors. I avoid people selling products outside of supermarkets. Yet I now find myself in an awkward position because Neuroscience for Kids needs help...your help.

For the past six years, Neuroscience for Kids has been supported by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Center for Research Resources (National Institutes of Health). Unfortunately, this funding is coming to an end. Therefore, I must find other ways to support the continued development of the resource and I have contacted the University of Washington Development Office. This office has set up an account where people can make donations to Neuroscience for Kids. If you would like to make a donation, please visit:

Do you have to donate to use the site? Absolutely no! I would like to keep Neuroscience for Kids the free resource it has always been. Any contribution you can make is greatly appreciated. All donations are tax deductible (subject to IRS regulations).


Doctors have expensive brain scanning machines and complicated testing techniques to diagnose a patient's disease. But before they had this fancy equipment and sophisticated methods, many doctors used their nose. That's right! They smelled their patients.

Although our sense of smell is not as sensitive as that of a dog or cat, it is still very useful. Smell contributes to our sense of taste and it can also warn us of danger. For example, mercaptan, a chemical with a strong odor of rotten eggs, is added to natural gas to alert us to a gas leak.

Smelling a patient to diagnose disease is a lost "art" that is rarely used by doctors today. In the past, doctors recognized that certain diseases made the patients give off a distinctive odor. Although body odor was not a foolproof way to diagnose a disease, it did give doctors a clue to what was wrong with a patient. Here are some diseases and the odors that patients might have:

Disease: odor
-------- ----
Typhoid: Freshly baked brown bread
Diphtheria: Sweet
Smallpox: Stench (a foul odor)
Yellow fever: Butcher shop
Scurvy: Putrid (a rotten odor)
Phenylketonuria: Musty; sweaty locker room
Metabolic disorders: Maple syrup
Diabetic ketosis: Fruity aroma; decomposing apples

More information about the sense of smell:

The amazing tracking ability of bloodhounds

The nose knows

Olfaction lesson plan


Some players from several Women's World Cup soccer teams will be wearing padded headbands during the upcoming tournament. The padded headbands are not a fashion statement. Rather, this headgear is being worn to reduce the risk of a concussion when players collide or when their heads hit the ground or goalposts. Approval to wear padded headbands during official World Cup games was granted in September, 2003.

More information about soccer, sports, head injuries and the brain:


The annual meeting of the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) will take place this month (October 7-11) in Portland, Oregon. The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will be at this meeting with a booth to point teachers to neuroscience resources for their classrooms. I will be helping in the SfN booth on October 8-10, so if you are at the meeting, make sure to stop by and say "Hello."


It is now official: this year's tally of West Nile Virus (WNV) cases has exceeded last year's. As of September 30, 2003, there were 5722 cases (compared to 4156 cases in 2002) confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bright spot in this news is that it appears that fewer people died this year of WNV: 110 deaths this year so far, compared with 284 deaths last year.

For an updated tally of cases, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's web site at:

Read the latest on WNV at:


A. Cameron, W. and Chudler, E., A role for neuroscientists in engaging young minds, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 4:763-768, 2003. I wrote this paper with a colleague from the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR. We discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for neuroscientists who would like to work with elementary school teachers. Download the entire article at:

B. "They Give Sight to the Blind," by David Kushner in Parade magazine (September 7, 2003) describes the Braille and technological advances that are helping the visually impaired.

C. "Through the Eye of an Octopus" by Eric Scigliano in Discover magazine (October 2003) looks at the intelligence of this invertebrate.

D. The cover story for the September 22, 2003, issue of Newsweek is "Your Child's Health and Safety." This issue features stories on sports injuries ("When Safety is the Name of the Game," page 64), mental illness ("Troubled Souls," page 68), leading causes of injury to children ("What Should We Worry About?" page 72), why kids need sleep ("Why Sleep Matters," page 75) and "New Options for ADHD" (page 77).

E. "Why We Sleep" by Jerome M. Siegel in Scientific American (November 2003).

F. "The Stubborn Scientist Who Unraveled a Mystery of the Night," in Smithsonian magazine, October 2003, pages 92-100, describes the work of Eugene Aserinsky and rapid eye movement (REM) during sleep.

G. "The Bionic Eye," by Jerome Groopman, in The New Yorker, September 29, 2003, pages 50-68; about electronic eye implants.


A. An octopus has receptors for taste on the suckers in its arms. (Source: Hanlon, R.T. and Messenger, J.B., Cephalpod Behavior, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.)

B. Phobias are irrational fears of particular objects or situations. Some unusual phobias are:

aerophobia: fear of the air
chromatophobia: fear of colors
spectrophobia: fear of mirrors
odontophobia: fear of teeth
basiphobia: fear of walking

C. Within the US in 1990, approximately $1.6 billion was used to eliminate or mask underarm odors. (Source: Wyatt, T.D. Pheromones and Animal Behavior. Communication by Smell and Taste. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 295.)

D. The Society for Neuroscience has 32,507 members. (Source: Society for Neuroscience, Neuroscience Quarterly, Summer 2003, page 9.)

E. The rate of fatal alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes among drivers between 16 and 20 years old who use alcohol is more than twice the rate for drivers aged 21 years and older. (Source: Alcohol Alert, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Vol. 59, April 2003.)


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.