you are here: home > links > brain trivia 2002

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.

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

January, 2002

A. In 1921, Hermann Rorschach developed the inkblot test to assess personality.

B. Approximately 80% of the dragonfly brain is devoted to processing visual information (Young, A.M., Small Creatures and Ordinary Places. Essays on Nature, Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2000, 232 pages).

C. In November 2001, a record 28,500 people from all over the world attended the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, California.

D. In 2000, 495 doctorates were awarded in neuroscience; 39.4% of these new PhDs were women (National Science Foundation.)

E. Eagles have more than 1 million photoreceptors per square millimeter in their retinas; humans have 200,000 photoreceptors per square millimeter (Schwab, I.R., Br. J. Ophth., 84:1089, 2000).

February, 2002

An "absolute threshold" is the stimulus intensity a person can detect 50% of the time. This month's brain trivia are examples of absolute thresholds for the five senses. (All statistics from Feldman, R.S., Understanding Psychology, 4th edition, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 98.)

A. Vision: a candle flame, 30 miles away, on a dark, clear night.

B. Hearing: A ticking watch 20 feet away in a quiet place.

C. Taste: A teaspoon of sugar in 2 gallons of water.

D. Smell: a drop of perfume in a three-room apartment.

E. Touch: The wing of a bee falling from 1 centimeter onto your cheek.

March, 2002

A. Each day in the United States, 33 babies are born with permanent hearing loss. (Statistic from Northern, J.L. and Downs, M.P., Hearing in Children, 5th edition, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2002.)

B. Rats will die after two to three weeks of total sleep deprivation. (Rechtschaffen and Bergmann, B.M., Sleep deprivation in the rat: an update of the 1989 paper, Sleep, 25:18-24, 2002.)

C. The National Institutes of Health budget for 2002 is $22.8 billion. The National Science Foundation budget for 2002 is $3.5 billion. (Statistics from .)

D. Average (median) amount of sleep each day by university students:
in 1969 - 7.75 hours
in 1979 - 7.13 hours
in 1989 - 6.75 hours
in 2001 - 6.65 hours

(Statistics from Hicks, R.A., Fernandez, C. and Pellegrini, R.J. The changing sleep habits of university students: an update. Percep. Motor Skills, 93:648, 2001.)

E. On May 13, 1935, World War I hero Colonel T.E. Lawrence (better known as "Lawrence of Arabia") suffered a fractured skull when he lost control of his motocycle. He fell into a coma and died five days later. (Reference: Maartens, N.F., Wills, A.D. and Adams, C.B.T., Lawrence of Arabia, Sir Hugh Cairns, and the origin of motocycle helmets. Neurosurgery, 50:176-180, 2002.)

April, 2002

A. Every year 27 million people in the US benefit from pain relief, sedation and unconsciousness from anesthetics. ("Count to 10", by Lisa Melton, Scientific American, February 2002.

B. Approximately 1 in every 1,000 people in the US has the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis. (Science News, Vol 161, January 5, 2002, page 4.)

C. Between 1987 and 1997, the number of people in the US being treated for depression more than tripled, from 1.8 million to 6.3 million, while those taking antidepressants doubled. (JAMA as quoted in TIME, January 13, 2002 Been Down So Long by Sanjay Gupta, MD.

D. Approximately 600,000 people in the US have a stroke every year, and 167,000 die from it. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. (Statistics from the American Heart Association.)

E. Huntington's disease, an incurable, untreatable inherited illness, affects 30,000 people in the US, slowly killing their brain cells and eroding muscle coordination, memory, judgment, and emotional stability. (Discover magazine, January 2002)

May, 2002

This month's trivia are about the sensory abilities of sharks. (Reference: Creatures of the Deep by Erich Hoyt, Buffalo (NY): Firefly Books, 2001).

A. Sharks have a fantastic sense of smell. Fish extracts with concentrations of only 1 part per 10 billion parts of water can alter a shark's behavior.

B. Sharks can detect electrical fields generated by animals. To detect these fields, sharks use special organs called ampullae of Lorenzini that are located below their eyes.

C. Sharks can detect water movement through a series of pit organs (the lateral line system) located under their skin.

D. Sharks can detect pressure that depresses their skin only eight ten-thousandths of an inch (10 microns).

E. A shark's hearing is similar to that of a whale or dolphin.

June, 2002

This month's trivia all come from The World of Caffeine. The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug by B.A. Weinberg and B.K. Bealer, New York: Routledge, 2001.

A. Worldwide, 120,000 tons of caffeine are consumed each year.

B. In the US, more than 80% of adults consume caffeine on a daily basis.

C. The average daily consumption of caffeine among adults is 200 mg/day.

D. The highest coffee consuming countries are Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Belgium.

E. Women metabolize caffeine about 25% faster than men.

July, 2002

A. Raccoons can smell an acorn buried up to two inches under dry powdery sand. (Reference: Zeveloff, S.J., Raccoons: A Natural History, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002.)

B. Pesticides which disrupt the nervous system are part of the reason why 32 species of frogs have become extinct in the last few decades and 200 species are in decline. (Reference: Newsweek, May 13, 2002.)

C. Botox temporarily paralyzes muscles by interfering with acetylcholine, which transmits nerve signals to muscles. Sales of the wrinkle-softening toxin Botox totalled $309.5 million in 2001. (Reference: Newsweek, May 13, 2002.)

D. In 1999, 30.1% of all traffic accidents resulting in a fatality involved alcohol. (Reference: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)

E. Huntington's disease (HD), an incurable, untreatable inherited illness, affects 30,000 people in the US. HD slowly kills neurons which causes impairment of muscle coordination, memory, judgment, and emotional stability. (Reference: Discover magazine, January, 2002.)

August, 2002

A. At the 2002 USA Memory Championship, Scott Hagwood correctly matched 97 of 99 faces and names after spending 15 minutes studying the pairs. (Source:

B. Another word for sneezing is "sternutation."

C. In the US, 10% of children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause impairment. However, only 20% of these children and adolescents receive mental health services. (Source:

D. The annual salary range for a neurologist is $106,000 to $199,701. The annual salary range for a psychiatrist is $110,000 to $152,008. (Source:

E. Approximately 160 million people in the US wear glasses or contact lenses. (Source: Walker, T.C. and Miller, R.K. 2001 Health Care Business Market Research Handbook, Fifth Edition, Norcross (GA): Richard K. Miller and Associates, Inc., 2001.)

September, 2002

A. Cats can hear sounds in a 10.5 octave range. Humans have a hearing range of about 9.3 octaves. (Source: Bradshaw, J., Behavioral biology, in The Waltham Book of Dog and Cat Behaviour, edited by C. Thorne, Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1992.)

B. In 2001, eight young U.S. football players (7 in high school, 1 in a Pop Warner program [ages 7-16 years old]) died as a direct result of injuries suffered on the field. Of these eight players, six died of brain injuries, 1 died of a fractured neck and one died of a ruptured spleen. (Source: National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research)

C. An estimated 46.5 million people 18 years or older were current smokers in the United States in 2000. (Source:

D. The country with the most neurologists per person is Lithuania where there are approximately 6,240 people for every neurologist. (Source: Bergen, D.C., Training and distribution of neurologists worldwide. J. Neurological Sciences, 198:3-7, 2002.)

E. Americans spend $11 billion each year for glasses and contact lenses. (Source: Walker, T.C. and Miller, R.K. 2001 Health Care Business Market Research Handbook, Fifth edition, Norcross (GA): Richard K. Miller and Associates, Inc., 2001.)

October, 2002

A. The US government this year will spend close to $19 billion treating and preventing drug abuse. (Source: Science, August 2, 2002, page 748.)

B. October 10, 2002, is National Depression Screening Day. (For more information, see:

C. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the US. Three million people in the US suffer from glaucoma. The number one cause of blindness in the US is macular degeneration. (New York Times, 12/25/01 "As Glaucoma Treatment Advances, Vision is Saved.")

D. Percentage of university students who are "dissatisfied" with their sleep:
in 1978 - 24%
in 1988 - 53%
in 2000 - 71%

(Source: Hicks, R.A., Fernandez, C. and Pellegrini, R.J. Striking changes in the sleep satisfication of university students over the last two decades. Percep. Motor Skills, 93:660, 2001.)

E. The "cauda equina" is the name for the collection of spinal nerves at the lower end of the spinal cord. The term "cauda equina" comes from the Latin words meaning "tail of a horse."

November, 2002

A. As people age, their ears get larger. Ear circumference increases on average 0.51 millimeters per year. (Source: "Ear size as a predictor of chronological age," by R. Tan, V. Osman, and G. Tan. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 25: 187, 1997.)

B. The giant squid has the largest eyeball of any living animal. The diameter of the giant squid's eyeball is 25 cm. The diameter of a human's eye is 2.4 cm and that of the blue whale is 15 cm. (Source: Nature, 402:747, 1999.) [Note: The giant squid eyeball is said to be as large as 40 cm in diameter; Hanlon, R.T. and Messenger, J.B., Cephalpod Behavior, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.]

C. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a $933 million budget for research. (Source: Science, August 2, 2002, page 748.)

D. The New Straits Times (August 11, 1997) reported on a "smoking contest" between two young men (ages 19 and 21 year old). These two men wanted to see who could smoke the most cigarettes at a single sitting. The result was tragic: the 19 year old died after smoking 100 cigarettes and the 21 year old was seriously poisoned after smoking 80 cigarettes.

E. All invertebrate taste receptor cells are bipolar primary sensory neurons. (Source: The Neurobiology of Taste and Smell, 2nd edition, edited by Finger, T.E., Silver, W.L. and Restrepo, D., 2000.)

December, 2002

This month's brain trivia concern blindness (all statistics from the World Health Organization).

A. An estimated 180 million people world-wide are visually disabled.

B. Of those 180 million visually disabled people, between 40 and 45 million persons are blind.

C. Every five seconds one person in the world goes blind.

D. One child goes blind every minute.

E. It is estimated that more than seven million people become blind every year

More trivia from other years:

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

return to top of the page

Copyright © 1996-2013, Eric H. Chudler All Rights Reserved.