Volume 10, Issue 12 (December, 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. University of Washington Brain Awareness Week Open House
4. Brain Awareness Week Around the World
5. Book Review
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. E-mail Changes
9. Support Neuroscience for Kids
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in November including:

A. November Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Voice alarms more likely to wake up kids
C. Railroad Workers Exposed to Neurotoxic Chemicals
D. Meningitis Vaccine Supply in Good Shape
E. Exercise for Better Eyesight
F. January and February 2007 Neurocalendars

In November, 7 new figures were added and 40 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for November is "Sumanas, Inc. (neurobiology animations)" at:

Sumanas, Inc., is a multimedia company that creates science education materials. For a publishing company, Sumanas, Inc., developed animations to illustrate neuroscientific concepts. The web site provides animations that describe synaptic transmission, electrical signaling in neurons, receptors, sound transduction and visual pathways in the human brain, receptive fields in the retina, reflex arcs, receptors in the skin, and positron emission tomography (PET).

Each of the animations can be played with a narrator reading the text or in a step-through mode where you can control the panels in a series. Many of the animations have an introduction and a conclusion that summarize the major points of each topic. A short quiz at the end of each animation allows you to check your learning.


Do you want to bring your students (grades 4-12) to the 2007 Brain Awareness Week Open House at the University of Washington in Seattle on Tuesday, March 6, 2007? Applications are now being accepted. Please complete and return the application form (in PDF format or WORD format):


To read about last year's BAW Open House at the University of Washington, please see:

If you cannot download the application form for the Open House, contact Dr. Chudler by e-mail.


Anyone, anywhere can participate in Brain Awareness Week. You don't have to belong to a large university or organization. You can be a small school and celebrate Brain Awareness Week with a brain fair or invite a neuroscientist, neurosurgeon or neurologist to come to your school.

The International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) Public Education Committee has funding available for events outside the United States and Western Europe. You had better hurry though! Funding applications are due on January 31, 2007.


"Brain Tumors" by Arda Darakjian Clark, Farmington Hills (MI): Lucent Books, 2006, 112 pages (ISBN: 1-59018-671-0).

Reading level: middle school students and up

Arda Darakjian Clark has written about one of the most frightening diagnoses a person can hear: brain tumors. Brain tumors occur when cells grow out of control. The tumor forms a mass within the brain that can put pressure on nearby normal tissue and take energy resources away from areas that need them. Although there are treatments for brain tumors, the outcome is often fatal.

Clark starts the book by defining the types of brain tumors and how they grow. She then discusses the symptoms of brain tumors (e.g., headaches, nausea, vomiting, seizures, movement problems) and how they are diagnosed (e.g., with brain imaging methods such as CAT, MRI and by biopsy). The author is careful to point out that other conditions have many of the same symptoms caused by brain tumors.

The remainder of the book focuses on the treatment and care of people with brain tumors. Together with a team of doctors, patients must decide among the treatment options including surgery (removal of the tumor by a neurosurgeon), radiotherapy (damaging the tumor cells with radiation) and chemotherapy (using anticancer drugs to stop tumor growth). A few new therapies are also described. Clark provides a good description of the benefits and disadvantages and possible side effects of each treatment.

I highly recommend this book for people who are researching brain tumors for school projects, who may have a friend or relative with a brain tumor or who just want to learn more about neurological disorders.


A. "Solving the SIDS Mystery" by Nancy Shute (US News and World Report, November 13, 2006) discusses new clues about the cause of sudden infant death syndrome.

B. "Seeking the Neural Code" by Miguel A. L. Nicolelis and Sidarta Ribeiro (Scientific American, December, 2006) discusses how the electrical activity of the brain is translated into information. This issue also has an article by John Hogan titled "The God Experiments" that discusses the search for religion in the brain. Finally, several neuroscientists (John R. Cirrito, Randall J. Bateman and David M. Holtzman, Washington University; Robert P. Hammer, Louisiana State University) made the Scientific American Top 50 Technology Leaders list.

C. John Donoghue, a Neuroscientist at Brown University, was the Discover Magazine runner-up for Scientist of the Year (Discover Magazine, December, 2006). Donoghue studies "mind-computer" systems that may help people who are paralyzed control devices with their thoughts.

D. Discover Magazine (December, 2006) published a list of the "25 Greatest Science Books of All-Time." On this list are several books about the brain including:

i. "De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body)" by Andreas Vesalius (1543) - one of the first illustrated anatomy books; not only about the brain.

ii. "The Mismeasure of Man" by Stephen Jay Gould (1981).

iii. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales" by Oliver Sacks (1985).

E. "Growing Up With Autism" is the cover story of Newsweek magazine (November 27, 2006).


A. 5.3 million people in the US are currently disabled by traumatic brain injury. (Carroll, L., War on the Brain, Neurology Now, 2:12-25, 2006.)

B. Scott Adams, the cartoonist who writes the "Dilbert" comic strip, suffers from spasmodic dysphonia.

C. There are approximately 4,500 neurosurgeons in the United States (one neurosurgeon per 66,000 people). In Africa, there is only one neurosurgeon per 1.4 million people; if Northern Africa and South Africa are excluded, there is only one neurosurgeon per 6 million people in Africa. (Source: Firlik, K., Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside, New York: Random House, 2006.)

D. The ancient Babylonians believed that demons and worms caused toothaches. (Source: Wynbrandt, J., The Excruciating History of Dentistry, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.)

E. Last month, a 10-year-old girl was the first person in Indiana to be diagnosed with rabies since 1959.


Some people change e-mail addresses at the end of the year. If you change your e-mail address and would like to continue to receive the Neuroscience for Kids newsletter, please let me know. If the newsletter bounces back to me because an e-mail address is incorrect or a mailbox is full, then that e-mail address is removed from the mailing list automatically.


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Your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and the "Neuroscience for Kids" web site are always welcome. If there are any special topics that you would like to see on the web site, just let me know.


Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.