Volume 11, Issue 8 (August, 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. Hallucinogenic Fish
4. Book Review
5. Media Alert
6. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
7. Support Neuroscience for Kids
8. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in July including:

A. July Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Prozac for Pooches
C. Healthline for Stroke Advice?

In July, 7 new figures were added and 35 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for August is "NeuroAnatomy Web Resources" at:

Dr. Christine Hulette in the Department of Pathology at Duke University Medical Center has developed a fantastic Web site for anyone interested in brain anatomy. The site is divided into eight different sections: 1) blood supply; 2) motor systems; 3) cranial nerves; 4) neurohistology; 5) functional organization; 6) sensory systems; 7) major coverings and 8) other resources. There are many animated graphics that illustrate concepts and test your knowledge about the brain. The "other resources" section of the site contains Dr. Hulette's lecture notes.


Drugs called hallucinogens alter a person's sense of reality and can change a person's mood, thoughts and perceptions. Some of these drugs are found in nature, for example, some mushrooms and plants contain chemicals that can cause hallucinations. Did you know that some fish can also cause hallucinations?

Although rare, ichthyoallyeinotoxism is a form of food poisoning that causes people to have frightening hallucinations and nightmares after eating a particular type of fish. A report in the journal Clinical Toxicology describes the symptoms of two people who ate a meal of "dreamfish."

The first case involved a 40-year-old man who became ill two hours after eating a dish of baked sea bream (Sarpa salpa). The next day he still felt sick, his vision started to blur, his muscles became weak, and he started to see aggressive and screaming animals! At the hospital, the man recovered and his symptoms were gone 36 hours after eating the fish.

A second man (90-years-old) had auditory hallucinations (bird squealing, human screaming) and nightmares after eating sea bream. These symptoms were gone three days after he ate the fish.

The chemical in the fish that causes the hallucinations is unknown and there is no treatment or antidote available. Some researchers believe that a toxic algae may be responsible for the "fishy" effects.

Did you know? In Arabic, sea bream (Sarpa salpa) is known as "the fish that makes dreams."

Reference: de Haro, L. and Pommier, P., Hallucinatory fish poisoning (Ichthyoallyeinotoxism): two case reports from the Western Mediterranean and literature review, Clinical Toxicology, 44:185-188, 2006.


"Sneeze" by Alexandra Siy and Dennis Kunkel, Watertown (MA): Charlesbridge, 2007, 45 pages [ISBN: 978-1-57091-653-3].

Reading level: elementary school students

In their new book, Alexandra Siy and Dennis Kunkel bring you up close and personal with a sneeze. Nine different kids encounter nine different causes of a sneeze:

Lily's sneeze is caused by pollen.
Isaiah's sneeze is caused by pepper.
Sydney's sneeze is caused by dust mites.
Jonnie's sneeze is caused by mold spores.
Savionne's sneeze is caused by dust.
Jeremiah's sneeze is caused by goose down.
Montana's sneeze is caused by a virus.
Leo's sneeze is caused by cat hair.
Cody's sneeze is caused by the sunshine.

Colorful electron micrographs illustrate each of these causes and the text describes how the nervous system is responsible for a sneeze. I asked the authors why they wrote a book about sneezing and here is what Alexandra Siy said:

"Dennis and I are both passionate about creating books for children that explore the science-art connection. We wanted to develop a book series that had a strong human connection to Dennis' images. We discussed many ideas for books using his spectacular electron micrographs, but it was his picture of a mosquito posed on human skin that inspired our collaboration. In a flash, I had the title of a book: MOSQUITO BITE. The story and imagery were a great fit and the book went on to earn several awards. The idea for SNEEZE! was hatched while I was writing MOSQUITO BITE. A mosquito bite is a universal experience--who hasn't been bitten by a mosquito? What other universal experience could we show using electron microscopy? I knew Dennis had fabulous pictures of allergens and other sneeze inducers, as well as imagery that could show the human structures involved in the sneeze reflex. We loved the fact there is a strong human element in both stories, which makes the science accessible for children. SNEEZE!, like MOSQUITO BITE, uses contrasting imagery: Dennis's crisp, full color imagery and my soft, black-and-white photos of children which illustrate the sneeze scenes. It was great fun working on SNEEZE! We hope our readers have as much fun reading the book as we had making it."


A. "How We Get Addicted" is the cover story in TIME magazine (July 16, 2007).

B. "Stop the Decibel Damage" by Bernadine Healy (US News and World Report, July 16, 2007) discusses how loud noises can damage your hearing.

C. "Back From the Dead" by Jerry Adler is the cover story in NEWSWEEK magazine (July 23, 200). The article describes what happens during a cardiac arrest and how the brain responds when it loses it supply of blood.

D. "The Science of Fear" is a new, hands-on exhibit at the California Science Center (Los Angeles, CA) that runs between July 4 - December 31, 2007. The exhibit will continue its tour in Columbus (OH), Boston (MA), St. Paul (MN), Portland (OR), Fort Worth (TX), Phoenix (AZ) and Philadelphia (PA). For more information about this exhibit and its tour schedule, see:

E. The cover story of Scientific American (August, 2007) is titled "Windows on the Mind" by Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik. This article discusses how small movements of the eyes affect how we see and how they may reveal thoughts. This issue also has an article, "The Shark's Electric Sense" by R. Douglas Fields.

F. "America's Caffeine Addiction Keeps Growing" by Anna Kuchment (NEWSWEEK magazine, July 30, 2007).

G. "How Much Do Animals Really Know" by Eugene Linden (PARADE magazine, July 29, 2007).

H. Scientific American recently published a special issue titled "The Early Years" with articles about cognitive development during infancy, childhood and the teenage years. The table of contents of this magazine is located at:


A. Several countries have issued postage stamps with pictures of famous neuroscientists. (See:

B. Nobel Prize winner Antonio Egaz Moniz, who introduced the prefrontal lobotomy, was the Portuguese ambassador to Spain in 1917. (Source: Meyers, M.A., Happy Accidents. Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2007.)

C. Approximately 400 million people around the world have psychiatric and neurologic disorders. (Source: Glannon, W., Bioethics and the Brain, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.)

D. Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have trouble walking and maintaining their balance. Therefore, they may fall more often and break bones. Osteoporosis also puts people with MS at risk for broken bones.

E. Approximately 400,000 Americans acknowledge having MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed. Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals. (


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Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.