Volume 9, Issue 1 (January, 2005)


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 Site
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest - NOW OPEN
4. Super Bowl Sunday - Beware?
5. Happy New Year, and Happy Health History
6. Brain Awareness Week
7. Travel Planning with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
8. High School Student Research Awards and Essay Competition
9. Media Alert
10. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
11. Support Neuroscience for Kids
12. How to Stop Your Subscription



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

A. December Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. January through December 2005 Neurocalendars
C. Pigeons Detect Magnetic Fields
D. Dinosaur Neck Decoded
E. Measuring Your Blind Spot
F. Restless Legs Syndrome
G. New Headrest Regulations to Prevent Whiplash
H. Driving Distractions Take Their Toll
I. Heavy Metals Found in Ayurvedic Medicines

In December, 40 new figures were added and 109 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for January is "Learning Sciences and Brain Research" at:

A new interactive teacher forum has been created by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (OECD/CERI). This web site is for teachers of all levels to join a discussion with scientists on new challenges in teaching and learning.

How much do emotions influence learning? Can adults learn to learn? Which teaching methods could help children with dyslexia and dyscalculia? When should students start learning a second language? Can neuroscientific discoveries improve teaching methods? These are a few of the questions discussed in the forum.

The site also includes extensive resources for teachers, such as brain primers and a section debunking the myths about the brain and learning. I asked Cassandra Davis, the web site editor and research assistant for the project why the "Learning Sciences and Brain Research" web site was created. She replied:

"Teachers across OECD countries receive no basic training on how the brain works. Teachers are at a loss as how to cope with students who have specific 'brain-related' disorders in their classrooms (such as dyslexia and dyscalculia) who are not excluded from the mainstream. On the other hand, teachers are very enthusiastic and ready to hear about how the brain learns, they are open and ready to incorporate new ideas emerging from recent scientific findings into their methods of teaching. It can be said too, that teachers are often ahead of the scientific community in that they have been using teaching props and scaffolding that they know work, but yet would like to have insight as to why and how they work in the brain and get a scientific "stamp of approval" as it were. So in response this, we have launched this interactive space for teachers to learn about the brain and chat with their peers and scientists."



The Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest is now open! Entries must be received by February 1, 2005. The complete set of rules and the official entry form for the contest are available at:


Millions of people will be watching the Super Bowl football game on February 6, 2005. And after the game, millions of people will hit the road, perhaps after watching the game at a friend's or relative's house. Unfortunately, the Super Bowl and driving don't mix.

Dr. Donald Redelmeier and Craig Stewart at the University of Toronto examined the number of driving deaths before, during and after the telecast of 27 Super Bowls (all on Sundays). These numbers were compared to driving deaths that occurred at similar times on Sundays after Super Bowl Sundays.

At times BEFORE the start of a Super Bowl, there was no difference in the number of driving deaths on Super Bowl or non-Super Bowl Sundays. DURING the telecast of the Super Bowl, there was a small, but significant decrease in the number of deaths on Super Bowl Sundays. However, AFTER the Super Bowl, there was a 41% increase in the number of deaths on a Super Bowl Sunday compared to the number of deaths on a non-Super Bowl Sunday.

The researchers believe that alcohol use, inattention and fatigue may be responsible for the increase in traffic deaths on Super Bowl Sundays. They also suggest that:

A. Increased public transportation on Super Sundays may reduce this danger.
B. Hospitals should prepare for extra cases after the Super Bowl.
C. People should avoid unnecessary driving after the Super Bowl.

Reference: Redelmeier, D.A. and Stewart, C.L. Driving fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday, New England Journal of Medicine, 348:368-369, 2003.

Did you know? According to the Sports Illustrated web site, (, approximately 143.6 million people watched at least part of the 2004 Super Bowl game.


By Ellen Kuwana, Neuroscience for Kids Staff Writer

The US Surgeon General Richard Carmona is encouraging families to record their health histories to create a "Family Health Portrait." A free computer program is available to help you build a family tree and to identify common illnesses. For those who prefer pen and paper, you can print out a copy of the information (available in English and Spanish).

Make a New Year's resolution to talk to your family members about their health and medical history. Knowing which diseases run in the family can help younger family members make sure they are screened for these disease or to make beneficial changes in their lifestyles.

For a more detailed description of the project, see:


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is scheduled for March 14-20, 2005. I hope you have plans. You might want to have a neuroscientist visit your class or schedule a brain fair for your school. You can find a neuroscientist for your class at the Society for Neuroscience web site at:

Here at the University of Washington, 300 students will attend the 8th annual BAW Open House. The Open House will feature hands-on, interactive exhibits sponsored by researchers and staff from various university departments and organizations.

Even if you cannot organize a brain fair or a classroom visit by a neuroscientist, you can still participate in BAW with some lessons about the brain and nervous system. Neuroscience for Kids has some "brainy" ideas for a day, a week or a whole month:

In celebration of BAW, send a "brainy" postcard to a friend or family member. See:


By Ellen Kuwana, Neuroscience for Kids Staff Writer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great source for information about many neurological diseases such as West Nile Virus, epilepsy and Lyme disease. Perhaps you did not know, however, that you can check in with the CDC before you take a trip, as the CDC tracks disease outbreaks all over the world. The CDC has unveiled a traveler's health web site,, for people planning a trip abroad.

Four levels of risk are used to describe outbreaks: 1) In the News; 2) Outbreak Notice; 3)Travel Health Precaution and 4) Travel Health Warning. "In the News" applies to sporadic outbreaks; "Outbreak Notice" applies to a confined outbreak. "Travel Health Precaution" is issued when an infection covers a large area or more than one country. The most serious category, "Travel Health Warning," describes an outbreak that is not contained. Nonessential travel to these areas is not recommended. Last year, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) would have warranted a Travel Health Warning.

The "Destinations" web page allows people to retrieve information about a specific region; "Travel Notices" on the right side of the page, lists outbreaks under the four categories described above.

The world is shrinking as more people travel, travel times are getting shorter and business and vacations take people farther from home. Diseases that start in one area of the world can impact life across the globe, as SARS demonstrated last year. This winter, avian flu is a big newsmaker. Keep on top of the world's health by visiting the CDC web site, even if you don't plan to travel soon.

If you are planning a trip out of the country, be sure to inform your doctor 4-8 weeks in advance, in case you need immunizations. Another resource is the travel medicine department at a university; here at the University of Washington, information is available at: (Source: "Health Agency Rates the Risks, by Susan Gilbert, The New York Times, July 11, 2004.)


The American Psychological Association Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (APA TOPSS) and the American Psychological Foundation (APF) are sponsoring two programs for high school students:

A. The APF/APA TOPSS Excellence in High School Student Research Award
B. The APF/APA TOPSS Scholars Essay Competition

For rules and deadlines for these programs, see:


A. "The Drunken Monkey Hypothesis" by Dustin Stephens and Robert Dudley (Natural History, December 2004/January 2005 issue) discusses how the study of fruit-eating animals could provide an understanding of human alcohol abuse.

B. "The Ravages Of Stress" by Michael D. Lemonick (Time magazine, December 6, 2004) discusses the effects of chronic stress on aging.

C. "Is She Hiding Something?" by Mary Duenwald (Discover magazine, January, 2005) about facial expressions and lying; a review of researcher Paul Ekman's work . This issue of Discover magazine also picked several neuroscience-related topics for its "Top 100 Stories" of 2004.

D. "The New Science of Sleep" is the cover story in Time magazine (December 20, 2004).

E. "Steroids and Kids" is the cover story in Newsweek magazine (December, 20, 2004).


A. Bhutan will be the first country to ban the sale of tobacco. (Source: BBC news, "Bhutan to stub out tobacco sales," November 15, 2004,

B. January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for people over 60 in the US. About 3 million people in the US have glaucoma, although up to half may not know it yet, as there are no warning signs. (Source: Parade magazine, January 5, 2003.)

C. There are approximately 6,800 languages spoken in the world today. (Source: Douglas Whalen, President of the Endangered Language Fund, in "Group working to preserve nearly extinct languages," by Fern Shen, The Washington Post, January 2003.)

D. In 1987, only 2.5% of kids and teens were taking at least one psychiatric drug; in 1996, 6.2% were. This rate of use nearly matches that of adults. (Source: Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, in Science News, February 1, 2003, page 77.)

E. Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder were the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs for kids and teens in 1996, followed by antidepressants and anticonvulsants for mood disorders. (Source: Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, in Science News, February 1, 2003, page 77.)


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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.