Volume 10, Issue 10 (October, 2006)


Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

Here is what you will find in this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Steve Irwin, "Crocodile Hunter," Killed By Stingray
4. Brainy Places
5. Book Review
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. Support Neuroscience for Kids
9. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in September including:

A. September Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Neuroscience for Kids Treasure Hunt #6
C. November and December Neurocalendars
D. Boxing Knocks Out Brain Cells

In September, 6 new figures were added and 83 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for October is "The Center for Narcolepsy" at:

The Stanford University Sleep Clinic was the first medical clinic to specialize in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. Within the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is The Stanford Center for Narcolepsy. This center was set up to study narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and abnormal REM sleep. Patients with narcolepsy may suddenly collapse when they experience strong emotions.

The Stanford Center for Narcolepsy web site has information about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of narcolepsy. An interesting paper describing the history of narcolepsy research is also available. A unique feature of the web site is the movie section where you can watch videos of dogs with narcolepsy and one video of a 9-year-old boy with narcolepsy. Watch these videos and compare how the symptoms of narcolepsy in the boy and the dogs are similar and different.


Early last month, Steve Irwin, the popular wildlife expert and TV personality, was killed while diving in the waters near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Irwin was filming a show when he swam over the top of a stingray. In an apparent defensive movement, the stingray brought its tail up and punctured Irwin's chest and heart with its barb (spine). Irwin removed the barb, but died soon after.

The largest stingrays in the world live in the oceans near Australia. Some stingrays can grow to lengths of 4.5 m (15 feet) and widths of 2.1 m (7 feet) and weigh up to 325 kg (715 lb). The barbed spine on the stingray tail can be 37 cm (14 in) long and is made of vasodentine and covered with enamel like a tooth. Venom glands are located along the spine. Although little is known about the chemistry of stingray venom, it does contain some serotonin and proteins. The venom affects the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Soon after a sting, a person will feel pain and then a drop in blood pressure. Vomiting and sweating may also occur. Breathing problems may result from direct effects of the venom on respiratory areas of the brain stem. It is likely that Irwin died because of the injury to his heart and not from the toxic effects of the venom.

Irwin will be missed by his family, friends and many fans who enjoyed and respected his work.

Reference: Halstead, B.W., Poisonous and Venomous Marine Animals of the World, Princeton (NJ): The Darwin Press, Inc., 1988.


Isn't the Internet great? Using the Mapquest web site (, I found the following cities with the word "brain" in their name:

Brain, Bourgogne, France
Braina, Serbia
Brainans, France
Brainard, CA, United States
Brainard, IA, United States
Brainard, KY, United States
Brainard, NE, United States
Brainard, NY, United States
Brainard, SD, United States
Brainards, NJ, United States
Brainardsville, NY, United States
Brainerd, KS, United States
Brainerd, MN, United States
Brainerd, TN, United States
Brainerd, Jamaica
Brainerd Center, PA, United States
Brainerd Hills, TN, United States
Brainerd Park, CT, United States
Braintree, MA, United States
Braintree, Essex, England
Braintree Highlands, MA, United States
Braintree Hill, VT, United States
Brainville, France
Brainkofen, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

You can walk on a road named "Brain Street" in the following cities: Monash (Canberra, Australia), Bald Hills (Brisbane, Australia), Ottawa, (Ontario, Canada), Borger (TX, United States), Many (LA, United States), Tamworth (England), and Manjimup (Western Australia).

Do you know of any other cities or roads that use the word "brain"?


"It's All in Your Head: A Guide to Your Brilliant Brain" by Sylvia Funston and Jay Ingram, Toronto (Ontario, CA), 2005, 64 pages, [ISBN: 1-897066-43-0]

Reading level: Grades 3-6

When two accomplished science writers get together, it is likely that they will create a great book. That is exactly what happened when Sylvia Funston and Jay Ingram wrote "It's All In Your Head."

"It's All In Your Head" discusses many brain functions with chapters about the senses, emotions, memory and thinking. With basic information, colorful drawings, and fact boxes, the book is sure to capture the interest of readers. Each chapter has many "Try This" boxes that describe experiments to reinforce concepts discussed in the text. The book ends with a three-page "User's Guide to the Brain" to help readers understand the structure of the brain.


A. "Mercury Rising" by Jeffrey Kluger (TIME magazine, September 1, 2006) discusses the dangers of mercury. This issue of TIME also has an interesting article ("Guess Who's Putting You Under" by Michael D. Lemonick) about the increasing practice of non-anesthesiologists who are administering anesthesia.

B. In "I Feel Good, I Feel Alive" (Newsweek magazine, September 18, 2006), Kitty Dukakis describes how electroconvulsive shock therapy relieved her depression.

C. "Trouble in the Nursery" by Pamela Grim (Discover magazine, September, 2006) shows how doctors tracked down the cause of an infant's seizures by examining the family dog.

D. "By a Whisker" by Adam Summers (Natural History magazine, September, 2006) discusses how rats use their whiskers to collect detailed information about the environment.

E. "Secrets of the Senses" is a new special issue from Scientific American. Included in this issue are articles about synesthesia, phantom limbs, how people who are blind draw, combining biology and engineering, using vision to understand consciousness, studying the lens of the eye to understand neurological disease, and investigating how barn owls hear.

F. The September 24, 2006, issue of Parade magazine (a Sunday newspaper insert) has three neuroscience-related articles: 1) "You Can Get Your Life Back" about a football player's recovery from a stroke; 2) "How Worried Should You Be?" about diseases in the news including rabies, West Nile Virus and Mad Cow Disease and 3) "Real Relief From Headaches" about the causes and treatments for headaches.

G. "Sleep, Snoring and the Blues" by Sanjay Gupta (TIME magazine, October 2, 2006) discusses the relationship between breathing disorders and depression.

H. "Listen: Making Sense of Sound" is a new exhibit opening on October 21, 2006, at the Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA). The 55 exhibits in 5,000 square feet of museum space will take visitors on a journey inside the world of sound.

I. During the last week of September, 2006, the comic strip "For Better Or For Worse" by Lynn Johnson began a storyline where the grandfather suffers a stroke ("brain attack").


A. There are approximately 8,000 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners in the United States. (Source: Valeo, T., Searching for a sharper image, Neurology Now, May/June, 2006.)

B. The word "melancholy" meaning depressed or unhappy comes from the Greek word for black bile.

C. Neurosurgeon Dr. Scott R. Gibbs has constructed a 155,000 cubic foot, 9-story tall hot air balloon shaped like a brain. The balloon was inflated for the first time on March 4, 2001. (Source:

D. Forty million people in the United States have some hearing loss. (Source: Sataloff, R.T. and Sataloff, J. The nature of hearing loss, in Occupational Hearing Loss, 3rd edition, Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press, 2006.)

E. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world record for balancing on one foot is 55 hours and 35 minutes.


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Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.