Volume 11, Issue 4 (April, 2007)


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
4. Spring has Sprung
5. SfN Neuroscientist-Teacher Partner Travel Awards
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 March including:

A. March Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Alzheimer's Disease and Odor Identification
C. New Electronic Postcards

In March, 10 new figures were added and 55 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for April is "The Plastinated Brain" at:

Plastination is a process that replaces fat and water in tissue with a plastic resin. Tissues that have been plastinated can be preserved for a long time and do not have any smell. The Medical University of Vienna (Austria) Web site has photographs of a variety of tissues. Of course, Neuroscience for Kids is most interested in the plastinated brain.

When you enter "The Plastinated Brain," you can view the surface of the brain, magnetic resonance images (MRIs), and brain slices in different orientations. View each photograph with labels to identify different brain structures or remove the labels and test yourself. The excellent quality of the photographs makes this web site a great neuroanatomy learning tool.


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) was celebrated at the University of Washington with classroom visits by neuroscientists and an open house for 400 elementary, middle and high school students. On March 6, I invited these local students to the University of Washington campus for the 10th annual BAW Open House.

To start the Open House, I led the students through an interactive, multimedia "Brain Assembly" to learn about the nervous system. Students then visited exhibits set up by students and staff from various University of Washington departments and other organizations. Students were connected to a transcranial Doppler machine to measure their brain blood flow (UW Dept. of Anesthesiology). The UW Department of Biological Structure had a comparative neuroanatomy display and the Neurobiology and Behavior Program had an exhibit to test the senses and to learn about neurotoxins that occur in nature. The Pacific Science Center provided many exhibits that they bring out to schools. The DO-IT program, UW Department of Otolaryngology, Cascade College (Portland, OR), UW Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, and the Seattle Hydrocephalus Support Group also provided exhibits.

The Open House was supported by the Hope Heart Institute, Pacific Cascade Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials, and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.

I also visited four schools in March for BAW: Lake Forest Park Elementary School, John Rogers Elementary School, St. Catherine's School and Cougar Mountain Academy. During my visits, I talked about my research, what the brain looks like, how neurons work and how the brain gets fooled. The students had plenty of time to work with hands-on exhibits and demonstrations that I brought to their classrooms.

On March 14, I tried a new BAW activity: a videoconference! Several weeks ago, teachers at Hillsboro Middle School (Kansas) asked if they could arrange a remote presentation during BAW. My office computer has a video camera that can be used for videoconferences. On the day of the videoconference, I could see, hear and talk to the 50 students in Kansas while I was in my office in Seattle! I took them on a tour of the brain using a PowerPoint presentation and then the students asked me some questions that they had prepared. The videoconference was a great way to expand BAW to a community far away from my office in Seattle...and I did not even have to leave my office!

BAW was celebrated all over the world! Here is a small sample of BAW in other places:

Vienna, Austria

Zurich, Switzerland


(submitted by Ellen Kuwana, Neuroscience for Kids Staff Writer, with material from the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site)

Spring has sprung, signaling that it's time for spring cleaning. In addition to putting away winter clothes, now is a perfect time to go through your medicine cabinet and throw out expired items, including expired over-the-counter and prescription medications. Take expired medications directly out to an outside trashcan if you have children in the house, to prevent any child from getting the medicines out of the inside trashcan.

When sorting through attics or basements, consider donating usable items that you no longer need. If you receive used items, especially baby or children's things, be sure to check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for recalls. For example, many children's jewelry contain dangerous levels of lead, a material that can permanently damage the nervous system. (More information about lead poisoning.)

CPSC is launching the new "Drive to 1 Million" initiative. The goal: to sign-up at least 1 million consumers to receive life-saving information electronically through CPSC's e-mail notification project. Receive timely notice of recall information by signing up at -- it's free, and it could save your life or the life of a family member.


Applications for the "Society for Neuroscience-Neuroscientist/Teacher Travel Awards" are due on May 1, 2007. If you are a teacher who has worked with a scientist to bring neuroscience in to your classroom, you are eligible to apply. The travel award will support your attendance at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) 37th annual meeting in San Diego, CA (November 3-7, 2007), the premier venue for cutting-edge neuroscience research.


A. Visit the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California, for the lecture series titled "Mind Matters: Exploring the Animal Mind." There are three talks scheduled:

Saturday, April 28, 2pm - Exploring the Animal Mind: Animal Personality with Dr. Sam Gosling

Saturday, May 5, 2pm - Exploring the Animal Mind: Orangutan Communication with Dr. Rob Shumaker

Saturday, June 9, 1pm - Exploring the Animal Mind: Enriching Animals in Captivity with Kelly Gomez and Mikel Delgado

Visit the Exploratorium Web site for more details about these lectures:

B. The cover story in Newsweek magazine (March 19, 2007) is titled "The Evolution Revolution" and discusses how new findings in brain research and DNA are providing evidence about human origins.

C. The cover story in Newsweek magazine (March 26, 2007) is titled "Exercise and the Brain."

D. "Illusory Color and the Brain" by John S. Werner, Baingio Pinna and Lothar Spillmann (Scientific American, March 2007) discusses color, form and depth perception.

E. Scientific American (April, 2007) has several neuroscience-related articles including:

"Seeking the Connections: Alcoholism and Our Genes" by John I. Nurnberger, Jr. and Laura Jean Bierut; "Just How Smart Are Ravens?" by Bernd Heinrich and Thomas Bugnyar; "A Cure for Rabies?" by Rodney E. Willoughby, Jr.; "The Movies in Our Eyes by Frank Werblin and Botond Roska.


A. Cats are unable to taste sweetness. (Source: Biello, D., Scientific American online, March 8, 2007.)

B. Andrew Bogut, the star seven-foot center for the Milwaukee Bucks National Basketball Association (NBA) team, suffers from migraine. (Source: Wright, G., Shooting hoops, Neurology Now, Jan./Feb., 2007.)

C. The first cervical dorsal spinal nerve and dorsal root ganglia are missing in 50% of all people (Source: Schwartz, E.D. and Flanders, A.E., Spinal Trauma: Imaging, Diagnosis, and Management, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007.)

D. April is National Autism Awareness Month.

E. Even pets (and wild animals) can get Lyme disease. Dogs, cats, horses, mice, cattle, deer, squirrels, opossum and raccoons can be infected. Many wild animals infected by the bacteria that cause Lyme disease do not show any symptoms. Dogs, however, may develop a fever and have pain in the joints. This can cause them to limp when they walk.


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Help Neuroscience for Kids


To remove yourself from this mailing list and stop your subscription to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter, send e-mail to Dr. Eric H. Chudler at:

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.