Volume 13, Issue 4 (April, 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. 2009 Brain Awareness Week
4. Tragedy on the Slopes
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 March including:

A. March Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Spraying Venom: The Spitting Cobra
C. Lead in Toys: Update
D. 2009 UW Brain Awareness Week Open House
F. Oldest Fossilized Brain Found

In March, 10 new figures were added and 104 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for April is "LUMEN Cross-Section Tutorial" at:

The LUMEN Cross-Section Tutorial web site was created by Dr. John A. McNulty (a professor of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy at Loyola University) using images from the Visible Human Project. The Web site consists of images of slices from the human body from the head to the foot.

Of particular importance to people interested in the brain are the photographs, magnetic resonance images (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans for the head and neck. To see these images, enter the site and click on "Head & Neck." This will bring you to a page with a photograph with various lines attached to boxes labeled "Image" - "MRI" - "CT." When you click on one of the boxes, the right side of your display will show a cross section (either a photograph, MRI or CT) at the level of the line.

Each of the cross sections show many numbered lines pointing to various structures. If you click on one of the numbers, the name of the structure will be displayed in the upper left side of your monitor. Try to guess the name of the structure before you click on a number! It's a fun way to learn your way around the brain.


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) was celebrated at the University of Washington with classroom visits by neuroscientists and an open house for 716 elementary, middle and high school students. On March 11, these students came to the 12th Annual University of Washington BAW Open House. To start the Open House, I led the students through an interactive, multimedia "Brain Assembly" to learn about the nervous system. The students attempted to set a new world record for performing the largest model of an action potential. Students then visited exhibits set up by students, faculty and staff from various University of Washington departments and other organizations. 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 UW Student Activities & Union Facilities. Visit the UW BAW Open House web site to see some photographs of the event and video of the action potential model:

I also visited several schools in March for BAW. During my visits, I talked about my research, what the brain looks like, how neurons work and how the brain gets fooled. The students also had plenty of time to work with hands-on activities that I brought to their classrooms.

BAW was celebrated all over the world! Visit the DANA Alliance for Brain Initiative Web site to see what went on during BAW:

Next year, BAW will take place on March 15-21, 2010.


Actress Natasha Richardson died unexpectedly on March 18, 2009, from a head injury she suffered while skiing in Canada. Richardson, who was 45 years old, fell on a beginner ski slope and hit her head. She appeared to be fine immediately after the fall, but an hour later, complained of a headache. The actress was taken to a hospital in Montreal, then flown to Lennox Hospital in New York where she passed away.

The official cause of death has been listed an epidural hematoma. An epidural hematoma occurs when blood collects in the space between the skull and the dura mater. The fall probably broke a blood vessel that caused the bleeding. If the blood puts pressure on areas of the brain important for breathing or heart rate, a person's life can be in danger. If the pressure can be relieved, then the chances that a person will survive are greatly increased.

Natasha Richardson will be missed by her family and many fans.

More information: Natasha Richardson, Internet Movie Database record

Epidural Hematoma

The coverings of the brain (the meninges, including the dura mater) - Neuroscience for Kids


A. "Soldiers' Stress: What Doctors Get Wrong about PTSD" by David Dobbs (Scientific American, April, 2009) discusses how post-traumatic stress disorder may be misdiagnosed. This magazine also has the article "Color Vision: How Our Eyes Reflect Primate Evolution" by Gerald H. Jacobs and Jeremy Nathans.

B. "Buckle Up Your Seatbelt and Behave" by William Ecenbarger (Smithsonian magazine, April, 2009) asks if we take more risks when we feel safe.

C. "How to Tell If You're Poisoning Yourself With Fish" by David Ewing Duncan discusses mercury poisoning and "The Pugnacious Paper That Aims to Turn Neuroscience on Its Head" by Andrew Grant (Discover magazine, April, 2009) discusses what brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) can and cannot do. This magazine also has the article "The New Theory About Why Animals Sleep: to Maintain the Immune System" by Amy Barth.

D. "The Brain, Revealed" by Jonah Lehrer describes the work to map the brain at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and "Total Recall" by Gary Marcus describes Jill Price, a woman with perfect memory (Wired magazine, April, 2009).

E. "BODY WORLDS & The Brain?Our Three Pound Gem" opened on March 5, 2009 and runs through October 4, 2009 at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

F. "The Language of Color" runs through September 6, 2009, at the Harvard Museum of Natural History (Cambridge, MA); for more information see:

G. "Dealing with Brain Injuries" by Jeffrey Kluger (Time magazine, April 6, 2009).

H. The April 2009 issue of Scientific American Mind is on newsstands now. The magazine has articles about humor, memory, personality, health statistics and the influence of room design on work and mood.


A. Fubo, a 42-year-old western lowland gorilla living at the Bronx Zoo, had an brain scan (magnetic resonance image) to help diagnose the reason for his seizures. Damage to his left temporal lobe was found. (Source: Bronx Zoo Press Release, March 26, 2009;

B. Rabies has been found in every state of the US except for Hawaii. (Source: Hawaii Department of Agriculture,

C. Normal body temperature can vary up to two degrees Fahrenheit in a 24-hour period.

D. Perfume makers claim that they can identify as many as 5,000 different types of odorants. (Source: Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 4th Ed., page 625, 2000).

E. "Kaleh pache," a traditional Iranian breakfast dish, is a soup made from cooked sheep's heads, brains and hooves.


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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.