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Neuroscience For Kids

Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia

A collection of trivia about the brain and nervous system from the archives of the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter. For more trivia about the brain, see brain facts and figures.

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January, 2016

A. "Hungry Brain" is the name of a Chicago jazz club.

B. Prozac, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant drug, was approved by the FDA in 1987.

C. Robert Barany was in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp during World War I when he won the 1914 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the vestibular system.

D. In 2014, 54,070 research doctorate degrees were awarded in the United States. Of these degrees awarded, 8,991 were in the biological/biomedical sciences. (Source: National Science Foundation, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2016/nsf16300/?WT.mc_id=USNSF_178)

E. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month.

February, 2016

A. February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

B. Approximately 3.3 million children in the United States have dizziness and balance problems (Source: Li, C-M., Hoffman, H.J., Ward, B.K., Cohen, H.S., Rine, R.M., Epidemiology of Dizziness and Balance Problems in Children in the United States: A Population-Based Study, J. Pediatrics, published online January 27, 2016, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.12.002)

C. In 2015, players in the National Football League (NFL) suffered from 182 concussions in regular season games. This is up from 115 concussions that occurred during the 2014 season. (Source Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/ct-nfl-concussions-spt-0130-20160129-story.html)

D. Chilean tarantulas have neurotoxins called phrixotoxins that block sodium and potassium channels on neurons.

E. Sweat, carbon dioxide and lactic acid attract mosquitoes.

March, 2016

A. In South Africa, dried and smoked vulture brains are thought to provide visions of the future. (Source: Royte, E., Bloody good, National Geographic, January, 2016.)

B. Approximately 34.8% of the adult population of the United States does not get enough sleep: these people get less than 7 hours of sleep each night. (Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults - United States, 2014, February 19, 2016 / 65(6);137-141.

C. Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist John Eccles was knighted in 1958.

D. Greek philosopher Aristotle said: "Speech is the representation of the mind, and writing is the representation of speech"

E. Approximately 50% of all people in the US over the age of 65 years have cataracts.

April, 2016

A. Retired soccer player Brandi Chastain announced that she will donate her brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation so researchers can learn more about concussions and chronic traumatic encephalography. (Source: Branch, J., "Brandi Chastain to Donate Her Brain for C.T.E. Research," New York Times, March 3, 2016.)

B. The common bluebottle butterfly has at least 15 different types of photoreceptors in its eye. Humans have only three types of photoreceptors. (Source: Chen, P-J., et al., Extreme Spectral Richness in the Eye of the Common Bluebottle Butterfly, Graphium sarpedon, Front. Ecol. Evol., 08 March 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2016.00018.)

C. Approximately 4,000 people die from truck and bus crashes in the United States each year; about 10-20% of these crashes involve fatigued drivers. (Source: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Research Needs on CMV Driver Fatigue, Long-Term Health and Highway Safety, Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21921.)

D. According to US News & World Report, the following universities have the best neuroscience/neurobiology graduate programs: Stanford University (#1), University of California, San Diego (#2), California Institute of Technology (tied #3) and Johns Hopkins University (tied #3). (Source: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools)

E. Sciophobia is the irrational fear of shadows.

May, 2016

A. Using MRI brain scanning methods, researchers have found that more than 40% of retired National Football League players have traumatic brain injuries. (Source: American Academy of Neurology, https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/PressRelease/1453)

B. The eyes of many birds take up about 50% of the volume of their skulls; the eyes of humans take up only 5% of the volume of their skulls (Source: Bonnan, Matthew F., The Bare Bones. An unconventional evolutionary history of the skeleton, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016).

C. The "medulla oblongata" gets its name from Latin words meaning "innermost" (medulla) and "rather long" (oblongata).

D. Scorpions can have as many as 12 eyes.

E. The eyelid has the thinnest skin on the entire body. (Source: Sims, M., Adam's Navel, New York: Viking, 2003)

June, 2016

A. The global market for brain computer interfaces is expected to be $1.23 billion by 2024. (Source: Transparency Market Research, http://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/.)

B. The American Youth Soccer Organization has started the policy recommended by U.S. Soccer to ban heading of the soccer ball for players U-11 and below during practice and in games. The penalty for heading the ball is an indirect free kick. (Source: American Youth Soccer Organization, http://www.ayso.org/.)

C. A single teaspoon of pure caffeine is equivalent to the amount of caffeine in 28 cups of coffee. (Source: Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/SafetyAlertsAdvisories/ucm405787.htm)

D. From 2001 to 2013, an average of 21,101 children (14 years old and young) was treated in emergency departments for nonfatal, playground-related traumatic brain injuries. (Source: Cheng, T.A., Bell, J.M., Haileyesus, T., Gilchrist, J., Sugerman, D.E. and Coronado, V.G., Nonfatal playground-related traumatic brain injuries among children, 2001-2013, Pediatrics, 2016; 137(6):e20152721.)

E. By 2050, about half of the world's population will be nearsighted. (Source: Holden, B.A., et al., Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050, Ophthalmology, 123:1036-1042, 2016.)

July, 2016

A. An elephant brain has about 257 billion neurons; 98% of all of these neurons are found in the cerebellum. (Source: Herculano-Houzel, S., The Human Advantage. A New Understanding of How Our Brain Became Remarkable, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2016.)

B. Pat Summitt, former coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team, passed away last month on June 28, 2016, at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with early onset dementia (Alzheimer's disease).

C. The first line in the song "Shake It Off" by pop singer Taylor Swift is "I stay up too late, got nothing in my brain."

D. Neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934), who won the 1906 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Camillo Golgi, failed twice before becoming a professor of descriptive anatomy in 1883. (Source: Worek, M., Nobel. A Century of Prize Winners, 2nd Edition, Buffalo (NY): Firefly Books, Ltd., 2010.)

E. German neurologist Joachim Bodamer coined the term "prosopagnosia" (face blindness) in 1947.

More trivia from other years:

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