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A. A sperm whale's click is the loudest sound produced by any organism on the planet. (Source: Discover, December 2003)
B. The esophagus goes right through the brain of an octopus.
C. Neuroanatomist Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1906 Nobel Prize winner) worked as a barber's apprentice and a shoemaker before his career in neuroscience.
D. In 2001, approximately 22.8% of the adults in the US were smokers. In 1993, approximately 25.0% of the adults in the US were smokers. (Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 52:953-956, 2003)
E. The corpus callosum, the fiber tract that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain, is approximately 10 cm long and 1 cm wide. (Source: Aminoff, J. and Daroff, R.B., Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences, Amsterdam: Academic Press, 2003)
A. The area of the brain known as the hippocampus is sometimes called "Ammon's horn." Ammon is a character from Egyptian mythology who had a ram's head and large curved horns similar to the shape of the hippocampus.
B. Morphine, the analgesic (pain reliever) drug from the opium poppy, is named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. Morpheus was the son of the Greek god named Somnus.
C. Eight hours in a smoky bar breathing second-hand smoke is the equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes. (Source: "The Secondhand Smoking Gun," by Rosemary Ellis, The New York Times, October 15, 2003.)
D. Neurophysiologist and Nobel prize winner (1932) Edgar Douglas Adrian was an expert fencer and mountaineer.
E. Cerebral oxygen consumption is 3.5 ml/100g of brain/minute or 49 ml/minute for a whole brain. The energy consumption of the brain is equal to that of a 20 W light bulb. (Source: Aminoff, J. and Daroff, R.B., Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences, Amsterdam: Academic Press, 2003.)
A. Sailors once believed that smelling the bad breath of whales could cause brain disorders. (Reference: Turin, M.S. Aardvarks to Zebras, New York: Citadel Press, 1995.)
B. The human brain uses 15-20% of the body's oxygen supply. The brain of the African elephant nose fish uses 60% of its body's oxygen supply! (Reference: Nilsson, G.E., Brain and body oxygen requirements of Gnathonemus petersii, a fish with an exceptionally large brain. J. Experi. Biol., 199:603-607, 1996.)
C. Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) had cataracts and was almost blind by 1922. He had cataract surgery on his right eye in 1922. (Reference: Stelle, M. and O'Leary, J.P. Monet's cataract surgery. American Surgeon, 67:196-198, 2001.)
D. Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone in 1876, suffered from headaches (probably migraines) that lasted hours to days. (Reference: Doherty, M.J., The headaches of Alexander Graham Bell, Arch. Neurology, 60:1805-1808, 2003.)
E. In 1993, 276 doctoral degrees were awarded in neuroscience.
In 1998, 413 doctoral degrees were awarded in neuroscience.
In 2002, 490 doctoral degrees were awarded in neuroscience.
(Reference: The Scientist, January 19, 2003, page 43.)
A. Approximately 3.3% of snowboarding injuries involve the spinal cord; 1.4% of of skiing injuries involve the spinal cord. (Reference: Yamakawa et al., J. Trauma, 50:1101-1105, 2001.)
B. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 500,000 people in the United States exhibit symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
C. Forty years ago, 42% of adults in the US smoked. Today, approximately 23% do. Surveys report that 70% of smokers want to quit. (Source: "Stub Out that Butt!" in Time, January 19, 2004.)
D. In 2002, almost 11 million precriptions for SSRIs (a type of antidepressants) were written for patients under the age of 18 years (Sources: US FDA and "Antidepressant warnings urged," by Lauran Neergaard, Seattle Times, February 3, 2004.)
E. An octopus has twice as many nerves in its body than it has in its brain. (Source: http://www.cephbase.utmb.edu/.)
A. The venom of some scorpions affects a victim's nervous system. In 2002, scorpions stung 15,687 people in the US and two people died. In Mexico, scorpions sting 100,000 to 200,000 people and kill 400 to 1,000 people each year. (Sources: Watson, W.A. et al., Amer. J. Emer. Med., 21:353-421, 2003; Bradley, W.G. et al., Neurology in Clinical Practice, 4th edition, Philadelphia: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2004.)
B. Approximately 24.5% of people between the ages of 53 and 97 years have an impaired sense of smell. (Source: Murphy et al., JAMA, 288:2307-2312, 2002.)
C. There are 186 million MORE neurons in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain than in the right hemisphere. (Sources: Pakkenberg, B., Pelvig, D., Marner, L., Bundgaard, M.J., Gundersen, H.J.G., Nyengaard, J.R. and Regeur, L. Aging and the human neocortex, Exp. Gerontology, 38:95-99, 2003 and Pakkenberg, B. and Gundersen, H.J.G. Neocortical neuron number in humans: effect of sex and age, J. Comp. Neurology, 384:312-320, 1997.)
D. Forty years ago, 42% of adults in the US smoked. Today, approximately 23% do. Surveys report that 70% of smokers want to quit. (Source: "Stub Out that Butt!" in Time, January 19, 2004.)
E. A severe lack of vitamin A can result in night blindness, the inability to see in low light conditions. (Source: Schiffman, H.R., Sensation and Perception. An Integrated Approach, New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2001.)
A. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 500,000 people in the United States exhibit symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. (Source: CDC, online at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/cfs/info.htm.)
B. Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth, causes tooth and jaw pain in 15-20% of people in the US. (Source: "Relief from the Daily Grind," by Benedict Carey. Published in the Seattle Times, October 19, 2003, page L6.)
C. In the US each year, 1.4 million people have cataract surgery, making it the most common operation according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. In the US, cataracts strike 73% of people between the ages 65-74. (Source: Seattle Times, September 22, 2003, page E6.)
D. In 1921, Austrian scientist Otto Loewi discovered the first neurotransmitter that he named "Vagusstoff." We now call this chemical "acetylcholine."
E. The octopus is color blind. (Source: Schwab, I.R., A well armed predator, Br. J. Ophthalmol., 87:812, 2003.)
A. The average duration of a single blink is 0.1 - 0.4 seconds. (Source: Schiffman, H.R., Sensation and Perception. An Integrated Approach, New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2001.)
B. Oilbirds breed and roost in caves and search for fruit at night. These birds use echolocation to avoid in-flight collisions. Their eyes have the highest density of rod receptors (1 million rods per square millimeter) of any vertebrate eye. The highest density of rod receptors in humans is only 175,000 per square millimeter. (Source: Martin, G., et al., Naturwissenschaften, 91:26-29, 2004.)
C. There are more than two million cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US each year. Most TBIs are caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls, gunshot wounds and sports injuries. Each year there are 500,000 cases of TBI that require hospitalization and 100,000 people with TBI that result in lifelong disabilities. (Source: Gualtieri, C.T., Brain Injury and Mental Retardation: Psychopharmacology and Neuropsychiatry, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002.)
D. The eye of an octopus does not have a cornea. (Source: Schwab, I.R., A well armed predator, Br. J. Ophthalmol., 87:812, 2003.)
E. Panic disorders affect 2.4 million adults in the US each year. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/panicfacts.cfm)
A. The world's smallest vertebrate (animal with a backbone) is the stout infantfish (Schindleria brevipinguis). This fish is found in the coral lagoons in eastern Australia. Infantfish grow to approximately 7-8 mm, live for only two months and do not have any teeth or scales. The only pigment is in their eyes (Source: Science, July 23, 2004).
B. Cataract extractions are the most common surgical procedure performed in the U.S.; each year, approximately 2 million cataract surgeries are performed, improving vision in about 95% of cases (Source: American Optometric Association).
C. Insects can be loud! Cicadas are insects that recently emerged from the ground to fill trees with their noisy songs. Estimated sound levels:
(Source: Time, June 7, 2004)
D. The word "doctor" comes from the Latin word "doceo" that means "to teach."
E. An estimated 20.5 million people in the US older than 40 years have a cataract in either eye. Women have a significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence of cataract than men. It is estimated that 30.1 million people will have cataracts by 2020 (Source: Archives of Ophthalmology, 122:487-494, 2004).
A. The word "pain" comes from the Latin word "poena" that means punishment or penalty.
B. The iris is the circular band of muscles that controls the size of the pupil in the eye. The pigmentation of the iris gives "color" to the eye. The iris was named after the mythological character Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow.
C. The first cervical vertebra (backbone) is also called the atlas. Atlas was one of the Titans in Greek mythology. After a fight with Perseus, Atlas was turned to stone and had to carry the weight of the Earth and heavens on his shoulders. Therefore, the first cervical vertebra was named the atlas because it carries the weight of the head.
D. The upper canine teeth are sometimes called the "eye teeth." They get this name from the false belief of ancient physician/anatomist Galen who thought that a nerve in these teeth came from a nerve that also supplied the eye.
E. An estimated 180 million people worldwide are visually disabled. Of those, between 40 and 45 million persons are blind. Every five seconds one person in the world goes blind. One child goes blind every minute. It is estimated that over seven million people become blind every year. (Source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/releases/pr79/en/)
A. At least 30 million neurons in the entire visual cortex are activated by the single image of a house or face (Source: Levy, I., Hasson, U. and Malach, R., One picture is worth at least a million neurons, Current Biology, 14:996-1001, 2004).
B. The budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has increased from $13.6 billion in fiscal year 1998 to $27.3 billion in fiscal year 2003 (Source: FASEB journal, October 2, 2003).
C. The average amount of time required to attain a PhD in the biomedical sciences is approximately 6.9 years (up from 6 years in 1980) (Source: "Best and worst of times for biomedical scientists," by Ted Agres, The Scientist, October 8, 2003).
D. Almost 50% of the people in the United States wear eyeglasses. The total spent for eyeglasses in the United States is $13 billion (Source: Milder, B. and Rubin, M.L., The Fine Art of Prescribing Glasses Without Making a Spectacle of Yourself, (3rd edition), Gainesville (FL): Triad Publishing Co., 2004).
E. Humans can detect one molecule of green pepper smell when it is mixed in the air with 3 trillion other molecules (Source: Shier, D., Butler, J. and Lewis, R., Hole's Human Anatomy & Physiology, Boston: McGraw Hill, 2004).
A. The first football helmet used during a game was worn when Army played Navy in 1893. (Source: Levy et al., Birth and evolution of the football helmet, Neurosurgery, 55:656-662, 2004.)
B. Aspirin, the commonly used pain reliever, gets its name by combining the "a" from acetyl and "spirin" from "spiraeic acid," the old term for salicylic acid.
C. Central and South American poison frogs produce around 600 chemicals in their skin. The frogs harvest the poison from their diet of ants, mites, millipedes and other arthropods, which are rich in the alkaloid chemicals. Frog poisons may benefit human medicine: the frog chemical epidatidine is 200 times more powerful a painkiller than morphine. (Source: The Dallas Morning News, October 24, 2003.)
D. About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. Nine out of every 10 children who are born deaf are born to parents who can hear. (Source: National Institutes of Health)
E. The word "alcohol" comes from the Arabic "al" and "kohl." Kohl is a powder that was used to paint eyebrows.
A. In 1863, Adolf von Baeyer synthesized barbituric acid, the first barbiturate. He named this chemical after his girlfriend Barbara. (Source: Bunch, B., The History of Science and Technology, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004.)
B. The brain of a worker honeybee weighs only 1 milligram. (Source: Zhang, S. and Srinivansan, M.V., Explorations of cognitive capacity in honeybees: Higher function emerge from a small brain, in F.R. Prete editor, Complex Worlds From Simpler Nervous Systems, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004.)
C. Some snails can sleep for three years. (Source: National Geographic Kids, September, 2004.)
D. A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue. (Source: National Geographic Kids, September, 2004.)
E. Most walruses appear to be right-"handed." Scientists from Greenland and Denmark have observed that 89% of the time, walruses use their right flipper to brush debris off buried clams before eating them. (Source: National Geographic Kids, June, 2004.)
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