Volume 12, Issue 5 (May, 2008)


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. Scientists on New Stamps
4. CBS, the Full Moon and Me
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 April including:

A. April Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. New Autism Research Centers
C. Word Search Puzzle Booklet (PDF)

In April, 12 new figures were added and 32 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for May is "" at:

"Brain Rules" is a new book written by University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University professor Dr. John Medina. The book discusses 12 "rules" for how the brain works and the Web site brings these rules to your computer using photographs, graphs and audio clips. Videos on the site also help explain Dr. Medina's ideas. Click on "Film" to watch an Introduction (1:36 min), Rule #10 about vision (5:02 min) and Rule #8 about Stress (3:11 min). Many more brain rules videos are available on YouTube at:

Here are Dr. Medina's 12 Brain Rules:

Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things.
Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
Rule #8: Stressed brains don't learn the same way.
Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.
Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.



The US Postal Service recently issued a series of stamps honoring four American scientists: physicist John Bardeen, biochemist Gerty Cori, astronomer Edwin Hubble, and chemist Linus Pauling. There were no neuroscientists in this group, but there are several Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientists who are certainly worthy of their own stamp; see:

For more "Neuroscience on Stamps," see:


Several Neuroscience for Kids newsletter readers sent me an email saying that they had seen me on the CBS Sunday Morning news program on April 20, 2008. Yes, that was me. I was interviewed by CBS correspondent Thalia Assuras for my thoughts about the relationship between the full moon and abnormal behavior.

Last year I published a book chapter that reviewed research that looked for relationships between the phase of the moon and abnormal behaviors such as the frequencies of crimes, accidents, emergency room visits, and calls to crisis centers. Although many people believe that the full moon brings out the worst in people, most studies have NOT found that abnormal behavior increases during a full moon.

So, if the data show that there are no changes in behavior when the full moon comes out, why do people still believe that the full moon can influence people. Here are two possibilities:

A. Selective memory: people remember unusual things when they occur on full moon nights, but they do not remember similar unusual events when the moon is not full.

B. A self-fulfilling prophecy: if people believe that the moon will have an effect, they will behave in ways to make it happen and reinforce their belief. For example, last summer in Sussex, England, a police chief put more police on patrol on full moon nights. What do you think would happen to the arrest rate with more police on the street, especially if the police chief told his officers to expect more problems?

So, the full moon does not appear to cause more abnormal behavior. It does, however, change behavior: it causes people to talk about it, newspapers to write about it, and TV shows to report on it.

For a list of studies that have explored relationships between the full moon and behavior, see:

For more information about the full moon and behavior:

Chudler, E.H. The Power of the Full Moon. Running on Empty?, in Tall Tales About the Mind and Brain, 2nd edition, edited by Sergio Della Sala, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2007, pp. 401-410.


"A Walk in the Rain with a Brain" by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. (illustrated by Bill Mayer), New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2004 [ISBN: 0-06-000731-1].

Reading Level: Kindergarten through grade 3

Lucy is a young girl who meets Manfred, a brain who has lost his head. Together, Lucy and Manfred (or "Fred" for short) go on a search for Fred's head. Along the way, Fred teaches Lucy that everyone is smart in their own way and that there is no "best" brain. The last five pages of the book provide a discussion guide for parents and teachers to help children learn about the power and uniqueness of their brains.


A. "Life Cycles" by Austin Murphy (Sports Illustrated, April 7, 2008) tells the story of 17-year-old cyclist Taylor Phinney and his father, Davis Phinney, who has Parkinson's disease.

B. "A New Reason to Frown" by Sharon Begley (Newsweek magazine, April 21, 2008) discusses research that suggests that Botox, a neurotoxin used to smooth out wrinkles in the skin, may travel to the brain.

C. The May 2008 issue of Scientific American has several neuroscience articles including:

i. "Naps for Better Recall" by John Whitfield discusses how naps may improve memory.

ii. "A New Phrenology" by Michael Shermer discusses the problems of using brain imaging methods.

iii. "How Cells Clean House" by Vojo Deretic and Daniel J. Klionsky discuss "autophagy" and how it a malfunction in autophagy might be a cause of disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

iv. "Hooked From the First Cigarette" by Joseph R. DiFranza discusses how addiction to nicotine can happen quickly.

D. The May-June 2008 issue of American Scientist has two neuroscience articles:

i. "The Neglected Side of Parkinson's Disease" by Ted L. Rothstein and C. Warren Olanow discusses the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

ii. "Tip-of-the-Tongue States Yield Language Insights" by Lise Abrams

E. The cover story of the May 2008 issue of WIRED magazine is titled "Get Smarter." The article describes a few ways to improve memory and dispels several myths about intelligence.


A. The American Medical Association supports a ban on boxing because boxers risk brain injuries each time they fight. (Source: American Medical Association,

B. "Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia" is the scientific name for "brain freeze," the headache you sometimes get when you eat something cold.

C. Spanish neuroanatomist Santiago Ramon y Cajal was born on May 1, 1852.

D. Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered the psychoactive drug LSD in 1938, died on April 29, 2008. He was 102 years old.

E. French physiologist, Francois Magendie (born 1783; died 1855) could not read or write when he was 10 years old because he had no formal schooling. (Source: Bynum, W.F. and Bynum, H., editors, Dictionary of Medical Biography, Westport [CT]: Greenwood Press, 2007.)


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Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.