Volume 10, Issue 6 (June, 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. Travel Awards to 2006 Society for Neuroscience Meeting
4. Ancient Dentistry
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 May including:

A. May Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. May/June/July/August Neurocalendars
C. Man Survives Nail Gun Injury
D. Rolling Stone Keith Richards Has Brain Surgery
E. Hollywood "Comas"
F. Former Boxing Champion Floyd Patterson Dies

In May, 14 new figures were added and 77 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for June is "The Pharmacology Education Partnership":

The Pharmacology Education Partnership (PEP) is an online interactive resource for high school teachers with tools to teach biology and chemistry. Students learn basic biology and chemistry concepts through topics about cocaine, nicotine, and steroids. The program was produced by a partnership between Duke University Medical Center and the North Carolina School for Science & Math, and was funded with a Science Education Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

When you visit the PEP web site for the first time, you need to fill out a short survey and enter a username and password. Once you finish registering, choose "Teacher," "Student" or "Other" to gain access to the materials. Click on one of the six books (labeled 1-6) in the upper middle part of the screen to navigate through the different modules. Each module has notes for teachers, class activities and a short quiz. The modules can also be downloaded in PDF format.


The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will hold its annual meeting in Atlanta, GA, between October 14-18, 2006. The SfN will support neuroscientist-teacher pairs who have worked together and would like to attend the meeting. The neuroscientist and teacher will both receive complimentary registration to the meeting. The teacher will also receive a $1,000 stipend to help with travel expenses.


Regular dental checkups are a good idea for everyone. The last time I visited my dentist, I was told that one of my teeth had a small crack and that I would need to have it repaired. If I did not have this done, my tooth could break.

A bit of discomfort in the dental chair was better than a broken tooth, so I had the tooth fixed. With modern anesthetics to dull the pain, my experience was not too bad.

Trips to the dentist have not always been so pain-free. Italian anthropologists have recently found teeth that were drilled thousands of years ago before the invention of anesthetics. The researchers discovered 11 drilled molar teeth from nine adults in an ancient graveyard in Pakistan. The teeth are estimated to be 7,500 to 9,000 years old!

The old teeth were drilled to depths of 0.5 to 3.5 mm and each hole was 1.3 to 3.2 mm in diameter. The teeth showed evidence of smoothing that indicated that the drilling was done on living people who continued to use their teeth to chew after they were drilled.

It is highly likely that the unfortunate people who had their teeth drilled thousands of years ago experienced tremendous pain. Nerve fibers inside of the dental pulp are extremely sensitive to heat, touch and chemicals. Anesthetics, such as Novocain, reduce dental pain by blocking the conduction of action potentials into the central nervous system. Although the ancient dentists may have used a variety of drills, I am glad that my dentist has added anesthetics to his bag of dental tricks.

(Reference: Coppa, A, Bondioli, L., Cucina, A, Frayer, D.W, Jarrige, C., Jarrige, J.-F., Quivron, G., Rossi, M., Vidae, M. and Macchiarelli, R., Early Neolithic tradition of dentistry, Nature, 440:755, 2006.)


"You Can't Use Your Brain If You're a Jellyfish" by Fred Ehrlich (illustrations by Amanda Haley), Maplewood (NJ): Blue Apple Books, 2005 [ISBN: 1-59354-090-6].

Reading level: Grade 3-6

The library I use at the University of Washington has many books with impressive titles such as "Principles of Neural Science" and "The Central Nervous System of Vertebrates." These massive textbooks discuss the anatomy and physiology of the brains of different animals in exquisite detail. To someone just beginning to study the nervous system, however, these books are not very useful. It was with great surprise that I discovered a neuroanatomy book at my local public library that young students would enjoy: "You Can't Use Your Brain If You're a Jellyfish" by Dr. Fred Ehrlich.

Dr. Ehlich's book is the only comparative neuroanatomy book for young readers that I have ever seen. He starts the book by discussing which animal has the "best" brain. Ehlich correctly points out that each animal has the proper brain for the things that it does. The brains and abilities of invertebrates (worms, mosquitoes, cockroaches) and vertebrates (birds, cats, dogs, monkeys, apes, humans) are then compared and contrasted.

Poems at the end of each chapter and the many colorful, cartoon illustrations by Amanda Haley reinforce the ideas that Dr. Ehrlich presents. Although the book is not detailed enough to be used for research, it is an excellent introduction to the field of neuroanatomy.


A. Dr. Richard Davidson was selected as one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" (Time, May 8, 2006). Davidson is a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin who has worked with the Dalai Lama to understand how meditation affects the brain.

B. "Inside the Autistic Mind" is the cover story of Time magazine (May 15, 2006. This magazine also has an article about the potential effects of melatonin on sleep.

C. "The Mystery of Dreams" is the cover story of U.S. News and World Report (May 15, 2006).

D. "When Colleges Go On Suicide Watch" by Julie Rawe and Kathleen Kingbury (Time magazine, May 22, 2006) discusses what schools are (and are not) doing for students with mental illness.

E. "Good Vibrations" by Avery Comarow (US News and World Report, May 22, 2006) discusses the high quality of new, small hearing aids.

F. "Health: Can You Really Botox the Blues Away?" discusses using the neurotoxin Botox for depression and "The Little One Said" discusses co-sleeping. Both articles appear in the May 29, 2006, issue of Newsweek magazine.

G. "Toward Better Pain Control" by Allan I. Basbaum and David Julius (Scientific American, June, 2006) discusses advances in pain research and possible new treatments for pain problems.

H. "Dazzling & Dangerous - Venomous Creatures" is a new museum exhibit that opened on May 26, 2006, at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. The exhibit showcases beautiful, but dangerous animals that use venom for survival. Many of these animals, such as the rattlesnake, blue-ringed octopus, poison dart frog and Gila monster, use toxins that attack the nervous system. For details about the exhibit, see:


A. In the United States, at least 300,000 school-age children (4 to 17 years old) have autism. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

B. A total of 34,815 people attended the 2005 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, DC. (Reference: Society for Neuroscience)

C. Approximately 55,200 children in the US are legally blind. (Source:

D. June 4-10, 2006, is National Headache Awareness Week.

E. Otto Loewi, who discovered acetylcholine and won the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, was born on June 3, 1873.


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Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.