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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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September 1998

A. The cortex gets its name from the Latin word for "bark" (of a tree).

B. There are approximately 100 billion neurons in the human brain.

C. The average human brain weighs about 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms).

D. Unlike humans, the octopus does not have a blind spot.

E. The average length of the adult spinal cord is 45 cm for men and 43 cm for women.

October 1998

A. The skin of an adult human covers about 18-20 square feet (~2 square meters) and weighs about 6 lb (2.7 kg).

B. The sponge is the only multicellular animal without a nervous system.

C. The word "hypnosis" comes from the Greek word meaning "sleep."

D. A butterfly can taste with its feet.

E. In 1965, Randy Gardner set the world record for staying awake: 264 continuous hours (about 11 days). Note: In Biopsychology (by J.P.J. Pinel, Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000, p. 322), the record for time awake is attributed to Mrs. Maureen Weston. She apparently spent 449 hours (18 days, 17 hours) awake in a rocking chair. The Guinness Book of World Records [1990] has the record belonging to Robert McDonald who spent 453 hours, 40 min in a rocking chair.

November 1998

A. The pufferfish, eaten as a delicacy in Japan, contains a potent neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin.

B. Stroke ("brain attack") is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.

C. Information travels in the nerves at speeds up to 268 miles per hour (429 kilometers/hour).

D. The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the heart, not the brain, was the seat of mental processes.

E. The heaviest human brain ever recorded weighed 5 lb., 1.1 oz or about 2.3 kg (statistic from The Guinness Book of World Records, 1997). The average brain weighs about 3 lb (1.4 kg).

December, 1998

A. 193,799 scientific publications used the word "brain" between January 1990 and the present (statistic from a National Library of Medicine Medline search).

B. 400 to 500 ml of cerebrospinal fluid is produced each day.

C. The smallest bone in the human body is the "stapes." This bone, found in the ear, is only 0.25 to 0.33 cm long (0.10 to 0.13 inches) and weighs only 1.9 to 4.3 milligrams.

D. Neurological illnesses affect over 50 million Americans each year (statistic from Brain Facts, Society for Neuroscience, 1997).

E. Some of the oldest cells in the human body are neurons...they last a lifetime.


More trivia from other years:

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