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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.

May, 2017

A. Sesame Street, the kids TV show, has announced that Julia, its newest Muppet, will have autism. (Source:

B. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving killed 846 people in 2014. (Source:

C. Nobel prize-winning neuroscientists with birthdays in May: Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852), Robert Barany (1876), Julius Axelrod (1912), Bengt Ingemar Samuelsson (1934), Stanley Prusiner (1942), Paul Lauterbur (1929).

D. William Shakespeare (from King Henry VI, part II Act III, scene I) wrote: "My brain more busy than the labouring spider | Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies."

E. Diffusion Tensor Imaging is a method used to visualize the brain's white matter.

June, 2017

A. Edvard Moser, a neuroscientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014, was born on an island off the west of Norway that had only 500 people.

B. An English proverb says: Money spent on brain is never spent in vain.

C. Kaliotoxin is a toxin found in some scorpions; it blocks a neuron's potassium channels.

D. Approximately 300,000 people are infected by Lyme disease in the United States each year. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

E. Complete heterochromia occurs when people (and other animals) have eyes with two different colors.

July, 2017

Five Nobel Prize winning neuroscientists were born in the month of July:

A. Camillo Golgi (born on July 7, 1843).

B. Herbert Spencer Gasser (born on July 5, 1888).

C. Baruch S. Blumberg (born on July 28, 1925).

D. Alfred G. Gilman (born on July 1, 1941).

E. Richard Axel (born July 2, 1946).

August, 2017

A. Pro Football Hall of Fame player Warren Sapp announced that when he dies, he will donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. (Source:

B. 50% of all people will likely develop a mental illness sometime during their life. (Source: Kessler, R.C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K.R. and Walters, E.E., Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 62:593-602, 2005.)

C. Ravens use their memory to plan for the future. (Boeckle, M. and Clayton, N.S., A raven's memories are for the future, Science, 357:126-127, 2017.)

D. Senator John McCain was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.

E. Some interesting eyeball sizes (diameters): humans (24 mm), horses/cows (34 mm), ostriches (50 mm), sperm whales (55 mm), swordfish (90 mm), blue whales (150 mm), giant squid (270 mm). (Source: Partridge, J.C., Sensory ecology: Giant eyes for giant predators?, Current Biology, 22:R268-R270, 2012.)

September, 2017

A. Approximately 3.4 million people (1.2% of the population) in the United States have epilepsy. (Source: Zack, M.M. and Kobau, R, National and State Estimates of the Numbers of Adults and Children with Active Epilepsy -- United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:821-825. DOI:

B. To raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease and rabies, World Alzheimer's Month is this September and World Rabies Day is September 28.

C. In 2015, 47 million people around the world were living with dementia; this number is expected to triple by 2050. (Source: Livingston et al., Dementia prevention, intervention, and care, The Lancet, published online July 20, 2017

D. William Shakespeare wrote in King Henry VI, part II Act III, scene I:

"My brain more busy than the labouring spider
Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies."

E. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that first-year college students living in residence halls should be vaccinated to prevent meningococcal disease. (Source:

A. Although jellyfish do not have a brain, they do appear to sleep. (Source: Nath et al., The jellyfish Cassiopea exhibits a sleep-like state, Current Biology, 27, 1-7, 2017,

B. Actress Kate Walsh was diagnosed with a benign tumor (meningioma) on the left side of her brain (frontal lobe) in 2015. She had surgery to remove the tumor three days after the diagnosis and has made a good recovery.

C. Products found in seaweed may help repair damage caused by traumatic brain injury. (Source:

D. Facebook has started research on a device that would allow people to type words using a brain-computer interface. E. October 1-2, 2017, is Mental Illness Awareness Week (Source:

More trivia from other years:

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

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