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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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2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998

January, 2017

A. 11.5% of adults in the US report that they take prescription medication for problems with emotions, nerves, or mental health. (Source: Moore, T.J. and Mattison, D.R., Adult Utilization of Psychiatric Drugs and Differences by Sex, Age, and Race, JAMA Intern Med. Published online December 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.7507.)

B. Although Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist David H. Hubel had never taken a biology class in high school or college, he was accepted into medical school at McGill University. (Source:; accessed December 28, 2016.)

C. The pitohui, a bird found in New Guinea, has a neurotoxin called homobatrachotoxin in its skin, feathers, muscles, heart, liver, stomach and intestines. (Source: Science Frontiers,

D. This year Brain Awareness Week will be recognized on March 13-19, 2017. (Source: The Dana Foundation,

E. Singer, songwriter and 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Bob Dylan wrote: Every brain is civilized, Every nerve is analyzed, Everything is criticized when you are in need. (Source: Unbelievable, from the album Under the Red Sky, 1990.)

February, 2017

A. Squid, octopus and cuttlefish are sensitive to polarized light. (Source: Shashar, N., Rutledge, P. and Cronin, T., Polarization vision in cuttlefish in a concealed communication channel? J. Exp, Biol. 199:2077-2084, 1996.)

B. The brain of a jaguar weighs about 157 grams. (A human brain weighs about 1,400 grams.)

C. The total surface area of the cerebral cortex is about 2,500 sq. cm in humans, about 6,300 sq. cm in African elephants and about 6 sq. cm in rats.

D. The cerebellum weighs about 142 grams in humans and about 1.9 grams in rabbits. (Source: Sultan, F. and Braitenberg, V. Shapes and sizes of different mammalian cerebella. A study in quantitative comparative neuroanatomy. J. Hirnforsch., 34:79-92, 1993.)

E. The oculomotor nerve contains 25,000-35,000 axons.

March, 2017

A. The most common motor disability in children is cerebral palsy. (Source: CDC,

B. Worldwide, about 65 million people have epilepsy. (Source: Ambry Genetics,

C. Spaceflight causes anatomical changes in the brains of astronauts; some brain areas increase in size, other areas decrease in size. (Source: Koppelmans, et al., Brain structural plasticity with spaceflight, NPJ Microgravity, 2 (2016), doi:10.1038/s41526-016-0001-9;

D. Natural opioid chemicals in the brain are important for experiencing emotions associated with listening to music. (Source: Mallik et al., Anhedonia to music and mu-opioids: Evidence from the administration of naltrexone, Scientific Reports 7, 41952 (2017), doi:10.1038/srep41952;

E. International Brain Awareness Week is this month, March 13-19, 2017.

April, 2017

A. In the 4th century, medicine made from monkey brains and herbs was thought to increase a persons life span up to 500 years. (Source: Fabry, M., A cure for the ages, TIME magazine, February 27-March 6, 2017.)

B. Using activity monitors, researchers found that two adult female elephants slept only two hours each day. (Source: Gravett, N., et al., (2017), Inactivity/sleep in two wild free-roaming African elephant matriarchs Does large body size make elephants the shortest mammalian sleepers? PLoS ONE 12(3): e0171903. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0171903.)

C. High school student Indrani Das won the $250,000 first prize in the Regeneron Science Talent Search for her research about brain injury. (Source:

D. The human body has approximately 37.2 trillion cells. (About 86 billion of these cells are neurons in the brain.) (Source: Bianconi, E., et al., An estimation of the number of cells in the human body, Ann Hum Biol., 40:463-471, 2013.)

E. When neuroscientist John O'Keefe (2014 Nobel Prize winner) was an undergraduate student at the City College of New York, he took classes during the day and drove a taxi in the evening.

More trivia from other years:

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 |
2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998

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