Volume 13, Issue 9 (September, 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. A Walk in the Garden
4. Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Edward Kennedy Pass Away
5. Toyota Tapestry Grants for Teachers
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. Fall Email Changes
9. Support Neuroscience for Kids
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in August including:

A. August Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Can It Really Be That Sweet?
C. Do Dogs Catch Yawns?
D. Golden Neuron Award Treasure Hunt #9

In August, 6 new figures were added and 53 pages were modified.



The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for September is "Diseases of the Mind: Highlights of American Psychiatry Through 1900" at:

Attitudes about mental illness and treatment of people who are mentally ill have changed drastically over the past 100 years. A great place to learn about the history of this subject is the "Diseases of the Mind" web site that shows the early days of psychiatry in the United States. The site is mainly a timeline of significant events starting in 1752 and includes short biographies of people who influenced the field of psychiatry. Especially interesting is the section titled "19th Century Psychiatric Debates" that discusses some of the controversies that shaped the treatment of people who are mentally ill. For example, some people favored physically restraining patients while others thought it was not necessary. The role of women in 19th-century American psychiatry is also discussed.

"Diseases of the Mind" was created for the National Library of Medicine and was written by Lucy Ozarin, M.D.


Rhododendron bushes are native to the Pacific Northwest region of the US and I have several of these beautiful plants in my backyard in Seattle. The plants produce colorful blossoms and also a neurotoxin called grayanotoxin. Grayanotoxins bind to sodium channels on nerve cells and prevent the inactivation of these channels when a neuron becomes depolarized. People who have made honey with the nectar of rhododendrons have poisoned themselves. Symptoms of grayanotoxin poisoning include dizziness, weakness, nausea, low blood pressure and slow/irregular heart beat.

Many backyards, in fact, are filled with plants that can heal or hurt. A new book that details common dangerous plants that you may have around your own house is "Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities" by Amy Stewart (Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill [NC], 2009). There are many gardens around the world that specialize in medicinal plants; here are a few:

Chelsea Physic Garden (London, England)

Montreal Botanical Garden (Montreal, Canada)

Mutter Museum (Philadelphia, PA)

UW Medicinal Herb Garden (Seattle, WA)

Palm Beach Gardens Medicinal Garden (Palm Beach, FL)


Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of John F. Kennedy, passed away last month on August 11, 2009; she was 88 years old. Mrs. Shriver had suffered a series of strokes over the past few years and was hospitalized in Massachusetts for several days before she died. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the brother of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and John F. Kennedy, lost his battle with brain cancer and passed away on August 25, 2009; he was 77 years old.

In 1961, Mrs. Shriver proposed the development of a new research center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to focus on child health and human development. Her brother, President John F. Kennedy, supported this idea and the US Congress passed a bill that established the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 1962. On December 21, 2007, Congress passed Public Law 110-154 that officially renamed the Institute as the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Mrs. Shriver was a champion in her efforts to call attention to the problems faced by people with intellectual and development problems. She started the Special Olympics in 1968 and supported research efforts to find cures and treatments for mental and neurological disorders.

Senator Edward Kennedy had worked in the US Congress for 46 years. In May 2008, Kennedy suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with a malignant form of brain cancer. He underwent surgery soon after the diagnosis to remove the tumor but lost the battle with cancer last month.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Eunice Kennedy Shriver: One Woman's Vision


The Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers program is now accepting entries. Perhaps you have a great neuroscience education idea! This program provides grants up to $10,000 to K?12 science teachers. For more information about this opportunity, visit the National Science Teachers Association web site at:

Applications are due on January 18, 2010.


A. The National Hydrocephalus Foundation is organizing a conference for patients, parents, spouses and caregivers. The conference will be held in Anaheim, California, on September 25, 2009. The Foundation is also conducting a new survey about hydrocephalus. For conference information and registration materials and to participate in the survey, see:

B. "Perception Deception" is a new museum exhibition at Questacon Canberra (Australia). The exhibition has more than 40 demonstrations and tests that explore sensation and perception.

C. "These Dogs Might Save Your Life" by Johnny Dodd (People magazine, August 24, 2009) describes how dogs may be able to smell cancer.

D. "The Origin of the Mind" by Marc Hauser (Scientific American, September, 2009) describes how the human mind arose and what distinguishes human mental processes from those of other animals.

E. "The Rehabilitation of Marc Buoniconti" by S.L. Price is the cover story of Sports Illustrated (August 24, 2009). In 1985, Marc Buoniconti suffered a spinal cord injury while making a tackle during a college football game. The injury has left Marc paralyzed, unable to move his arms and his legs.

F. A new issue of Scientific American MIND (September, 2009) is on newsstands with articles including "The Psychology of Pain" by Howard L. Fields, "Why People Experience Pain Differently" by Ingrid Wickelgren, "When Pain Lingers" by Frank Porreca and Theodore Price, "Groups as Therapy?--Socializing and Mental Health" by Jolanda Jetten, Catherine Haslam, S. Alexander Haslam and Nyla R. Branscombe, "A New Vision for Teaching Science" by J. Randy McGinnis and Deborah Roberts-Harris and "Why Don't Babies Talk Like Adults?" by Joshua Hartshorne.

G. "The Placebo Problem" by Steve Silberman (Wired magazine, September, 2009) describes how drug companies are investigating why "sugar pill" are effective in treating pain, anxiety and depression.


A. On a typical day, 34% of the adults in the United States take a nap. (Pew Research Center survey, released July, 2008).

B. World Rabies Day is on September 28, 2009; see:

C. In 2007, adults in the United States spent $33.9 billion on complementary and alternative medicine including buying nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products (e.g., fish oil, glucosamine and Echinace) and visiting acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, practitioners. (Source: Nahin, RL, Barnes PM, Stussman BJ, and Bloom B. Costs of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Frequency of Visits to CAM Practitioners: United States, 2007. National health statistics reports; no 18. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2009)

D. 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,

E. September 13, 2009 marks the 161-year anniversary of the date that Mr. Phineas Gage suffered his unfortunate brain injury. Read more information about Phineas Gage at:


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Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.