Volume 13, Issue 8 (August, 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. Brain Health: State by State
4. Scentsational Museum
5. I Forgot Day
6. 100th Anniversary of the Lincoln Penny
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. Summer Email Changes
10. Support Neuroscience for Kids
11. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in July including:

A. July Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Fewer Rabies Shots Needed
C. Phineas Gage, Revealed

In July, 9 new figures were added and 30 pages were modified.



The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for August is "Neurobiology of Aging: Parkinson's Disease" at:

More than one million people in the United States have Parkinson's disease and approximately 40,000 new cases of this neurological disorder are diagnosed each year. Although most people with Parkinson's disease are more than 60 years old, it is important that everyone know more about this disorder so we can help friends and family who have this disease. This month's "Site of Month," does just that: it provides valuable information about the causes, symptoms, treatments and current research about Parkinson's disease.

Start your exploration of "Neurobiology of Aging: Parkinson's Disease" by clicking on the "Epidemiology" button to learn about people with Parkinson's disease and the possible genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson's disease. If your computer has its sound on, you can hear each panel of information as it is read to you. The "More Info" button on the right side of each new panel links to the original research papers that discuss each topic.

Next, click on "Etiology" to learn what happens in the brain of a person with Parkinson's disease. There are some excellent photographs and drawings that show the underlying neurological changes that occur. The "Symptoms and Treatments" area of the site discusses movement problems caused by Parkinson's disease. There is an excellent video in that section that shows a patient with Parkinson's disease. Finally, click on "Current Research" to learn about scientists at the University of Southern California who are studying Parkinson's disease (and who developed this Parkinson's disease web site).


How brain healthy is the state you live in? That's a question the "life'sDHA" company tried to answer. Using data from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Alzheimer?s Association, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the company ranked the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 21 brain health factors. The quality of diet, physical health, mental health and social well-being were evaluated to get a picture about a state's population overall brain health.

After the numbers were crunched, the survey determined that the District of Columbia had the best brain health rating. Washington, DC, received the top spot primarily because people ate a lot of fruit and vegetables and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids; people in DC also got a good night's sleep and read a lot of books. Maryland and Washington State came in second and third, respectively, mostly because they also had healthy diets. The lowest ranked states were Alabama and Louisiana.

How did your state do? Find out at:

NOTES: The sponsor of this brain health ranking project was life'sDHA, a company that makes products and supplements with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. Also, it is unclear how each of the 21 brain health factors was weighted in the overall score. Because the company makes products with DHA, they may have given more weight to the consumption foods with DHA and this may have influenced the rankings of different states.


Take your nose on a tour of fragrance at the Le Musee du Parfum in Paris! At the museum you can learn about the history of perfume and discover how perfumes are made. Don't miss the orgue ? parfum (perfume organ). If you can't get to Paris, you can make your own smell museum using a set of small containers and variety of smelly items. Drop a small sample of each item into each container and see if people can guess what it is. Here are some smells to get you started:

lemon | orange peel | cedar wood | perfume soaked cotton | banana | pine needles | chocolate | coffee | dirt | vanilla | garlic | onion | mint | vinegar | rose flowers | saw dust | ginger | peppermint | pencil shavings | potato chips

Le Musee du Parfum:


July 2 was "I FORGOT DAY." Unfortunately, I did not remember to mention it in last month's newsletter!


August 2, 2009, marks the 100th anniversary of the United States minting of the copper Lincoln penny. What does this have to do with neuroscience? Well, in the early 1980s, the formula for making pennies changed by adding zinc. This change caused new pennies to sound different than old pennies when they are dropped on a hard surface. Newer pennies have a tinny, dull sound. Older pennies have a more full, ringing sound. Can you tell the difference? See if you can: get a collection of new and old pennies and drop them. Using the sound of the penny, can you figure out what year the metal was changed?

More information about the Lincoln penny from the US Mint:


A. The July 2009 issue of Scientific American MIND is on newsstands with the following articles: "Fit Body, Fit Mind? Your Workout Makes You Smarter," "Do Parents Matter?," "Why Music Moves Us," "Do ADHD Drugs Take a Toll on the Brain?," "A Patchwork Mind: How Your Parents' Genes Shape Your Brain" and "Can You Be Too Perfect?"

B. "A Long Drink of Water" by Harvey B. Lillywhite (Natural History magazine, July-August, 2009) describes how sea snakes must drink fresh water. Sea snake venom is highly neurotoxic!

C. "Can Brains Be Saved" by Lee Woodruff (Parade magazine, July 12, 2008) discussed new treatments for traumatic brain injury.

D. "What's In A Word?" by Sharon Begley (Newsweek magazine, July 20, 2009) discusses how language shapes thought.

E. "A Biochemical Way to Reduce Drug Side Effects?" by Melinda Wenner (Scientific American magazine, August, 2009).

F. "Brainiac" by Bill Saporito (Time magazine, August 3, 2009) discusses a company that is developing a way to search for information based on the way that the brain works.

G. "What Do Urban Sounds Do to Your Brain?" by Jennifer Barone (Discover magazine, July-August, 2009).


A. In the United States, 3 out of every 1000 children between the age of 6 and 17 have been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009,

B. About 25% of the human brain is involved with vision. (Source: Brain Facts, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, D.C., 2008)

C. The act of chewing repeatedly is called rumination, from the Latin word ruminatio. To ruminate also means to think, reflect, meditate or ponder.

D. Nerve agents that can be used as chemical weapons were first developed as pesticides.

E. In the United States, an estimated 40,000,000 anesthetics are administered each year. (Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists,


Will you be away from school or work and unable to read your e-mail during the summer? Will you be changing e-mail addresses when school starts in August or September? Do you still want to receive the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter? If you will not be able to receive e-mail over the summer or if you will be changing your email address, make sure that you let me know (e-mail: where to send the newsletter. If my e-mail to you bounces back to me because it could not be delivered, your e-mail address will be removed from the mailing list. If this happens to you, just send me an e-mail to resubscribe. Have a good summer!


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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.