Volume 13, Issue 11 (November, 2009)

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. UW Brain Awareness Week Open House - Registration Open
4. Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest
5. 2009 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting
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 October including:

A. October Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Tetris and the Brain
C. Cell Phones and Crossing the Street
D. 2010 Neuroscience for Kids Poetry Writing Contest
E. 2010 University of Washington Brain Awareness Week
F. 2009 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

In October, 6 new figures were added and 42 pages were modified.



The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for November is "BioEd Online" at:

BioEd Online has many materials for biology teachers and students: slides, videos, powerpoint presentations, classroom lessons, news stories, and courses. The materials cover much more than neuroscience, so you will have to hunt around the web site to find information about the nervous system. The easy navigation set up will help you find what you want quickly.

Current materials about the nervous system discuss topics such as stem cells, neurogenesis, mad cow disease, Alzheimer's disease, autism, sleep and circadian rhythms, food for the brain, and neurons. The slide sets can be used to create your own presentations and the videos could be used to bring experts "into a classroom."

BioEd Online was developed at Baylor College of Medicine in partnership with Texas A&M University.


Do you want to attend the 2010 Brain Awareness Week Open House at the University of Washington in Seattle on Thursday, March 11, 2010? Applications are now being accepted. Please visit the UW Brain Awareness Week Web site for registration materials:

Online registration is available this year! If you have trouble registering, contact me by e-mail (


The 2010 NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS POETRY WRITING CONTEST is now open to students in kindergarten through high school. Use your imagination to create a poem, limerick or haiku about the brain and you might win a prize. The complete set of rules and the official entry form for the contest are available at:

Here is a summary of the contest rules:

All poems, limericks and haiku must have at least THREE lines and CANNOT be longer than TEN lines. Material that is shorter than three lines or longer than ten lines will not be read. All material must have a neuroscience theme such as brain anatomy (a part of the brain), brain function (memory, language, emotions, movement, the senses, etc.), drug abuse or brain health (helmets, brain disorders, etc.). Be creative! Use your brain! Visit the Neuroscience for Kids pages for ideas and information!

If you are a student in kindergarten to Grade 2: write a poem in any style; it doesn't even have to rhyme.

If you are a student in Grade 3 to Grade 5: write a poem that rhymes. The rhymes can occur in any pattern. For example, lines one and two can rhyme, lines three and four can rhyme, and lines five and six can rhyme. Or use your imagination and create your own rhyming pattern.

If you are a student in Grade 6 to Grade 8: write a brainy haiku (3 lines only). A haiku MUST use the following pattern: 5 syllables in the first line; 7 syllables in the second line; 5 syllables in the third line. Here is an example:

Three pounds of jelly
wobbling around in my skull
and it can do math

If you are a student in Grade 9 to Grade 12: write a brainy limerick. A limerick has 5 lines: lines one, two and five rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables; lines three and four rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables. Here is an example of a limerick:

The brain is important, that's true,
For all things a person will do,
From reading to writing,
To skiing to biting,
It makes up the person who's you.

Books or other prizes will be awarded to multiple winners in each category.

Other rules:

A. You must use an entry form for your writing and send it in using "regular mail." Entries that are sent by e-mail will NOT be accepted.

B. Only ONE entry per student. If you cannot download the entry form, let me know (e-mail: and I will send a form to you attached to an e-mail.

C. Students may enter by themselves or teachers may make copies of the entry form for their students and return completed entries in a single package. The contest is open to students in all countries.

Entries must be received by February 1, 2010!


The Society for Neuroscience is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and held its annual meeting in Chicago last month. I joined more than 30,000 neuroscientists at this meeting to hear about the newest findings in brain research and to share my own work.

I started the meeting by attending the "Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society" lecture that has featured the Dalai Lama and architect Frank Gehry in previous years. This year, the lecture was titled "Magic, the Brain, and the Mind" and featured two magicians, Apollo Robbins and Eric Mead. Mead and Robbins both did brief demonstrations of their skills and discussed how they direct attention and misguide their audiences to get their tricks to work. Later that day, I joined other neuroscientists in a poster session that highlighted new neuroscience education projects. This session was followed by the Brain Awareness Week (BAW) meeting where people shared their successes and planned for next year's events. At the BAW meeting, the SfN announced the release of its findings from a Neuroscience Research in Education Summit that took place several months ago. You can read this report at:

The scientific sessions at the annual meeting were filled with thousands of poster presentations; it is impossible to see everything. I make a daily plan to see specific presentations so I don't get overwhelmed. Several blogs that tracked the meeting are available at:

The next SfN annual meeting will be held in San Diego (CA), November 13-17, 2010.

I have posted a few photographs from my trip to meeting at:


A. "Ignoring the Evidence. Why do Psychologists Reject Science" by Sharon Begley (Newsweek magazine, October 12, 2009).

B. "The Body Worlds & the Brain" museum exhibit runs from October 17, 2009 to February 9, 2010 at The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, PA).

C. "The Brain" is a special Fall 2009 issue of Discover magazine.

D. "New Culprits in Chronic Pain" by R. Douglas Fields discusses the role of glial cells in chronic pain (Scientific American, November, 2009).

E. "How a Sugar Pill Can Heal (or Hurt)" by John Cloud (Time magazine, November 2, 2009).

F. A new Scientific American MIND issue (November, 2009) is available on newsstands with articles including "What Does a Smart Brain Look Like?: Inner Views Show How We Think," "Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking That IQ Tests Miss," "Why We Worry," "Alzheimer's Update: New Insights May Speed Therapies," "Secrets of How Meditation Works," and "Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn."

G. "Becoming Human (Part 1)" is a TV program that airs November 3, 2009, on PBS. The program includes a discussion about how the brain has changed over time. For more information about the show, see:


A. The carotid arteries bring most of the blood to the brain. The Parthenon, the ancient Greek temple in Athens, has a marble figure of a centaur (half human, half horse) attempting to kill a soldier by pressing on the carotid arteries. (Source: Barnett, H.J.M., Reflections on the carotid artery: 438 BC to 2009 AD, Stroke, 40:3143-3148, 2009.)

B. Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist Julius Axelrod (born: 1912; died: 2004) was blinded in one eye by an exploding ammonia bottle in 1934.

C. Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer's disease. (Source:

D. The last (bottom) bone of the spinal column is called the coccyx, from the Greek word meaning "cuckoo."

E. The grass pea (Lathyrus sotivus) is a good source of protein and is a common food in Africa and Asia. The peas must be boiled in water for several hours to eliminate a neurotoxin (beta-ODAP) in them. (Source: Barceloux DG. Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Toxic Plants, and Venomous Animals. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. pp. 62-66.)


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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.