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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, 2012

A. Weng Feng, 21 years old, won the 2011 World Memory Championship that was held last month in Guangzhou, China. He broke three world memorization records on his way to his top score. For details of about this event, visit:

http://www.worldmemorychampionship.com/index.asp

B. Psychologist William James was born on January 11, 1842; Nobel Prize-winning scientist Roger Guillemin was also born on January 11 in 1924.

C. 10% of babies develop their tactile corneal reflex in at least one eye at 2 days of age, 25% at 1 week, 50% at 3.5 weeks, 75% at 6 weeks, and 100% at 12 weeks. (Source: Snir, et al., Tactile corneal reflex development in full-term babies, Ophthalmology, 109:526-529, 2002).

D. Cranial nerves IX (glossopharyngeal), X (vagus) and XI (spinal accessory) go through the jugular foramen of the skull.

E. When it is light outside for 24 hrs each day and in temperatures of approximately 0.8 degrees C, Emperor penguins spend 45.1% of the entire 24 hour day asleep. In alternating day/night conditions and in temperatures between -14 degrees C and -17 degrees C, these penguins spend 41.3% of the entire 24 hour day asleep. (Source: Buchet C, Dewasmes G, Le Maho Y., An electrophysiological and behavioral study of sleep in emperor penguins under natural ambient conditions, Physiology and Behavior, 38(3):331-335, 1986.)

February, 2012

A. February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month, Low Vision Awareness Month and Wise Mental Health Consumer Month.

B. The first mental hospital, inspired by a priest's sermon, was founded in Spain in 1409.

C. The brain of a horse weighs about 532 grams.

D. Sea lions can hear frequencies between 100 and 40,000 Hz. Humans can hear frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz.

E. The diameter of the vertebral artery is 2 to 3 mm.

March, 2012

A. Cats cannot taste sweet flavors. (Source: Jef Akst, "Cat Cravings", The Scientist, January, 2012, p. 20.)

B. As of January 13, 2012, India has gone one year without a case of polio. (Source: Science, January 20, 2012, p. 268.)

C. Paedophryne amauenis, a newly discovered frog species found in an eastern New Guinea rainforest, is the world's smallest vertebrate (animal with a backbone). These adult frogs average 7.7 millimeters in length. (Source: Science, January 20, 2012, p. 269.)

D. March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month.

E. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chili pepper has replaced the Bhut Jolokia chili pepper as the world's hottest pepper.

April, 2012

A. The estimated cost of treating Alzheimer's disease in the United States in 2012 is estimated to be $200 billion. (Source: TIME magazine, March 19, 2012, page 14.)

B. The Sydney funnel web spider (Atrax robustus) uses a neurotoxin called robustotoxin to subdue its prey. Robustotoxin works by opening sodium channels on neurons.

C. The adult human brain consumes about 10 kcal/kg/hr or about 280-420 calories per day. (Source: Lieberman, D.E., The Evolution of the Human Head, Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011.)

D. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it estimates 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/CountingAutism/)

E. The word "microscope" was coined by Johannes Faber in 1625.

April, 2012

A. The estimated cost of treating Alzheimer's disease in the United This month's trivia all come from the recent WHO/Alzheimer's Disease International Report titled "Dementia: A Public Health Priority," available at:

http://www.alz.co.uk/sites/default/files/WHO-dementia-a-public-health-priority.pdf

A. The total number of people with dementia worldwide in 2010 is estimated at 35.6 million.

B. The total number of people with dementia is projected to nearly double every 20 years.

C. The total number of people with dementia is expected to be 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050.

D. The total number of new cases of dementia each year worldwide is almost 7.7 million

E. The number of new cases of dementia is estimated to be one every four seconds.

May, 2012

This month's trivia all come from the recent WHO/Alzheimer's Disease International Report titled "Dementia: A Public Health Priority

A. The total number of people with dementia worldwide in 2010 is estimated at 35.6 million.

B. The total number of people with dementia is projected to nearly double every 20 years.

C. The total number of people with dementia is expected to be 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050.

D. The total number of new cases of dementia each year worldwide is almost 7.7 million

E. The number of new cases of dementia is estimated to be one every four seconds.

June, 2012

A. Ants (Brachymyrmex sp.) have brains that are 15% of their total body mass. (Source: Seid, M.A., Castillo, A. and Wcislo, W.T., The allometry of brain miniaturization in ants. Brain Behav Evol., 77:5-13, 2011.)

B. Nitric oxide and carbon monoxide are two gases that work as neurotransmitters.

C. Only about half the number of neurons generated during development survives into adulthood. (Source: Brain Facts, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, D.C., 2012.)

D. June is National Migraine Awarness Month.

E. The brain of a platypus weighs about 9 grams. This is slightly less than the weight of an average rabbit brain (about 10-13 grams), but more than the weight an average squirrel brain (about 7.6 grams).

July, 2012

A. Hibernating arctic ground squirrels can drop their core body temperatures as low as -2.9 degrees centigrade; and they don't freeze. (Source: Barnes, B.M., Freeze avoidance in a mammal: body temperatures below 0C in an arctic hibernator, Science, 244:1593-1595, 1989)

B. The Bicycle Retailer and Industry News publication uses the acronym "BRAIN."

C. Last month, singer Sheryl Crow was diagnosed with a brain tumor called a meningioma. These tumors occur in the meninges, the tissues that surround the brain. For more information about meningiomas, see:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meningioma/DS00901

D. In a recent survey of 337 high school students, researchers found that only 59% of students agreed with the statement "Learning is due to changes in the brain." Only 41% of the students agreed with the statement "Connections between cells in your brain change when you learn something." (Source: Fulop, R.M. and Tanner, K.D., Investigating high school students conceptualizations of the biological basis of learning, Adv. Physiol. Educ. 36:131-142, 2012)

E. The more than 1,000 disorders of the nervous system result in a greater number of hospitalizations than any other disease group, including diseases of the heart and cancer. (Source: Brain Facts, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, D.C., 2012.)

August, 2012

A. The common garter snake is immune to the neurotoxic venom tetrodotoxin. This snake eats newts that contain tetrodotoxin in their skin. (Source: Feldman, C.R., Brodie, Jr., E.D, Brodie III, E.D. and Pfrender, M.E., Constraint shapes convergence in tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channels of snakes, PNAS, 109:4556-4561, 2012.)

B. Neuroscientist Andrew Huxley, who passed away on May 30, 2012, won the 1963 Nobel Prize for his work on how nerve impulses are transmitted. Professor Huxley was knighted in 1974 and was the half-brother of "Brave New World" author Aldous Huxley.

C. An old English proverb states: "Money spent on brain is never spent in vain."

D. Walruses do not sleep for periods lasting 40-84 hours when they are swimming continuously. They alternate these long waking periods by resting on land for 2-19 hours. (Source: Pryaslova, J.P., Lyamin, O.I., Siegel, J.M. and Mukhametov, L.M., Behavioral sleep in the walrus. Behav Brain Res., 201:80-87, 2009.)

E. Humans have three small bones in their middle ears; birds have only one bone. (Source: Birkhead, T., Bird Sense. What It's Like to Be a Bird, New York: Walker & Company, 2012.)

September, 2012

A. 1906 Nobel Prize winner neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal spent two years in Cuba as a military doctor and returned to Spain in 1875 suffering from malaria (Source: Serrano-Castro, P.J. and Garcia-Torrecillas, J.M., Cajal's first steps in scientific research, Neuroscience, 217:1-5, 2012.)

B. Hair cells in the cochlea are replaced in birds, but not in humans. (Source: Birkhead, T., Bird Sense. What It's Like to Be a Bird, New York: Walker & Company, 2012.)

C. The nucleus comprises up to 80 to 90 percent of the volume of small neuron cell bodies in tiny insects. (Plenty of Room at the Bottom? by: Eberhard, William G., Wcislo, William T., American Scientist, May/June 2012, Vol. 100, Issue 3.)

D. The eyes of a human occupy 2% of the face; the eyes of a European starling (a bird) occupy 15% of the face. (Source: Montgomery, S., Birdology, New York: Free Press, 2010.)

E. Wild Bactrian camels can locate water from 50 miles away by smelling bacteria that live in the water. (Source: "Numbers Game: Sniffing Out the Facts," Audubon magazine, May-June 2012.)

October, 2012

A. Sharks (at least the 17 types tested) are completely colorblind because they have only one type of photoreceptor in their eyes. (Source: Hart, N.S., Theiss, S.M., Harahush, B.K. and Collin, S.P., Microspectrophotometric evidence for cone monochromacy in sharks, Naturwissenschaften, 98:193-201, 2011.)

B. The brain of an aardvark weighs about 72 grams.

C. William Shakespeare wrote in "Romeo and Juliet":
True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.

D. The specific gravity of cerebrospinal fluid is 1.007.

E. Some snails have chemosensors called "osphradia" in the mantle cavity. Osphradia are used to detect chemicals in the air or water.

November, 2012

A. In the late 1800s, mechanical massage of the eye was popular way to promote ocular health. (Source: Keeler, R., Singh, A.D. and Dua, H.S., Masseurs: for your eyes only Br J Ophthalmol., 96:1283, 2012.)

B. Greek physician and anatomist Erasistratus (304-250 BC) is considered to be the "father of physiology."

C. The Journal of Physiology was first published in 1878; the American Journal of Physiology was first published in 1898.

D. The sclera is the name of the white part of the eye.

E. Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness in the world. (Source: National Institutes of Health)

December, 2012

A. Epilepsy affects approximately 2.2 million Americans. (Source: Institute of Medicine, Epilepsy Across the Spectrum: Primoting Health and Understanding, March 30 2012, http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2012/Epilepsy-Across-the-Spectrum.aspx

B. American painter Chuck Close is afflicted with face blindness; he cannot recognize face. This is especially interesting because the primary subjects of his paintings are faces!

C. On December 12, 1904, Ivan Pavlov received the Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine. Pavlov received the award for his work about digestion, not for his work about classical conditioning.

D. There are 1,000,000 neurotransmitter vesicles at the neuromuscular junction in frogs. (Source: Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J. H. and Jessell, T.M., Principles of Neural Science, New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.)

E. In 2011, the Society for Neuroscience had 42,576 members.


More trivia from other years:

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