Volume 14, Issue 2 (February, 2010)

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. 2010 Brain Awareness Week
4. Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest
5. New Translations
6. Chopstick Accident
7. Sensory Idioms
8. Media Alert
9. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
10. Support Neuroscience for Kids
11. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in January including:

A. January Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. US Sees Increase in Nearsightedness
C. Cadmium Used in Toys?
In January, 8 new figures were added and 48 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for February is the "Howard Hughes Medical Institute Neuroscience Lecture Series" at:

Since 1997, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has featured neuroscience in three of its Holiday Lectures Series: "Making Your Mind: Molecules, Motion, and Memory" (2008), "Learning from Patients: The Science of Medicine" (2003) and "Senses and Sensitivity: Neuronal Alliances for Sight and Sound" (1997). The lectures and discussion sessions are available for each series on the HHMI web site via Flash and RealPlayer.


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is next month! I hope you will participate at your own school or in your neighborhood. For more information about BAW, please visit the Dana Alliance and Society for Neuroscience web sites at: and

Show your BRAINY spirit:


The 2010 NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS POETRY WRITING CONTEST is now closed and judging has begun. Winners will be announced soon.


Sections of the Neuroscience for Kids web site can be read in Spanish, Slovene, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Japanese and Turkish. New translations of the site in Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi and Hindi should be added later this year. Current translations of Neuroscience for Kids are located at:


Last month, news agencies reported about the unfortunate accident suffered by a 14-month-old boy in China. The boy, Li Jingchao, was playing with chopsticks when he fell. One chopstick went through one of his nostrils and ended up 4 millimeters into his brain! A spokesman at a Beijing hospital said that neurosurgeons removed the chopstick without causing too much bleeding. Although young Li developed an infection, he was expected to be released from the hospital in about one week. Let's hope for a speedy, uneventful recovery for Li.

The Mind Hacks web site ( reports that chopstick injuries are not uncommon; there are 13 published reports of such incidents.

Perhaps the safety advice you hear from your parents and teachers should be changed to "Don't run with scissors...or chopsticks."


An idiom is an expression or saying that becomes part of popular culture. Idioms often cannot be understood from the individual words that make up the expression. For example, the expression "I heard it through the grapevine" does not mean "I heard something by listening to a plant that produces grapes." Rather, it means that something was heard through a network of people. English is filled with idioms that spice up language. Here are some idioms that focus on the senses:

A. "I'm all ears" means to pay attention.

B. "Apple of my eye" means that something is greatly valued. This saying may have its origins in the thought that the pupil of the eye is shaped like an apple.

C. "Blind as a bat" means that someone cannot see. This saying has been around since the 1500s, but it is based on the incorrect assumption that bats are blind. Actually, bats have good vision.

D. "Come up smelling like roses" means that a bad situation turned out fine.

E. "Having cold feet" means that someone has lost confidence or is afraid of doing something. This expression has been around since the 1800s and may come from the observation of soldiers running away from battle.

F. "Eyes in the back of the head" means that someone can see what is happening even without looking.

G. "In one ear and out the other" means that someone is not paying attention. Quintilian, a Roman orator in the first century A.D., is credited with coining this expression. In the 13th century, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a variation of the original Latin phrase.

H. "More than meets the eye" means that there is a hidden meaning. This saying was first used in the 1800s by the British.

I. "On the tip of your tongue" means that something is temporarily forgotten and almost remembered. This expression was first used by Daniel Defoe in his book, "Moll Flanders."

J. "Play it by ear" means to do something without much planning.

Reference: Terban, M., Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms, New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1996.


A. "Overcoming Phobias" by Lev Grossman (Time magazine, January 11, 2010).

B. "Workouts for Your Brain" by Bonnie Rochman (Time magazine, January 18, 2010) discusses the controversies about cognitive fitness products. Also, the cover story in this issue is titled "Why Your DNA Isn't Your Destiny" by John Cloud.

C. Charlie Rose Brain Series at:

D. The cover of the Winter 2010 issue of The American Scholar magazine is "Our Mind-Boggling Brain." This magazine features the article "My Brain on My Mind" by Priscilla Long.

E. "'Impossible'" Colors: See Hues That Can't Exist" by Vincent A. Billock and Brian H. Tsou (Scientific American, February, 2010).

F. Public evening conference on "Human Locomotion Sciences, Memory and Cognitive Performance", Friday, March 19, 2010, 8:45 pm, Castagnaro Civic Hall, Castagnaro, Italy. This conference will discuss how exercise may reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.

G. "The Most Dangerous Game" is the cover story of the February 8, 2010 issue of Time magazine. This issue contains articles that discuss brain and spinal cord injuries suffered by football players.

H. "The Depressing News about Antidepressants" is the cover story of the February 8, 2010 issue of Newsweek magazine.


A. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to earn a medical degree, was born on February 3, 1821.

B. February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness Month and Wise Mental Health Consumer Month.

C. The estimated prevalence of mental disorders in children (8 to 15 years old) in the United States: 8.6% have ADHD; 3.7% have depression; 2.1% have conduct disorder; 0.7% have an anxiety disorder and 0.1% have an eating disorder (anorexia or bulimia). (Source: National Institute of Mental Health,

D. The density of receptor cells in the humpback whale cochlea is 2,600 cells/mm; in humans, the density of receptors cells in the cochlea is 1,000 cells/mm. (Source: Branstetter, B.K. and Mercado III, E., Sound localization by cetaceans, International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 19: 26-61, 2006.)

E. Richard Axel, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004, played basketball against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor) when they were both high school students in New York. Abdul-Jabbar scored 54 points, Axel scored 2 points. Abdul-Jabbar went on to play basketball at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and in the National Basketball Association (NBA); Axel became a neuroscientist and Nobel Prize winner. (Source: Autobiography by Richard Axel at:


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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.