Volume 15, Issue 10 (October, 2011)

In this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience
4. Toshiba America Foundation Grants
5. Brain Awareness Video Contest
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 September including:

A. September Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. September, October, November, December NeuroCalendars

In September, 4 new figures were added and 19 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for October is the "Small World Image Gallery" at:

For the past 36 years, the Nikon company has held a contest for people who take photographs using a microscope. The winning photos are then displayed on the Small World Image Gallery web site. Just click on one of the photographs to enlarge it and read a short description about the image.

Although the photographs come from many different subject areas, some of the winning photos feature the nervous system. For example, four of the top 20 winners in the 2010 contest were images of the nervous system. Can you identify these images without looking at their descriptions?

Each colorful photo is suitable for framing. It goes to show that good things come in small packages!


Last month, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a division of the National Institutes of Health) awarded me a new grant to study how plants and herbs affect the nervous system. The main purpose of this project is to work with middle school science teachers to create materials for middle school students to study how chemicals in plants and herbs affect health and behavior.

The project will start by creating extracts from various plants and herbs and then testing them to see how they affect insect behavior and physiology. Of course, the effects of chemicals from some plants and herbs on the nervous system are known. For example, we know that caffeine (from tea leaves and coffee beans) acts as a central nervous stimulant. But there are many other plants and herbs that have not been studied for their effects on the nervous system. One experiment will examine how different plant extracts affect the activity of neurons in the cockroach leg nerve. Other experiments will look at the effects of chemical extracts on water flea heart rate, brine shrimp movement and flat worm regeneration. It is possible that young students will make significant, new scientific discoveries by testing plants that have never been studied previously.

Together, scientists and teachers will develop new classroom materials based on this work. Teachers will come to the University of Washington during the summer to learn how to use the materials and then bring the lessons and activities back to their own classrooms. We will also have a neuroscience summer camp where middle school students will work with the materials.


If you are a middle school or high school science or math teacher with a great idea for a project but do not have the funds to make it happen, then perhaps a Toshiba American Foundation grant is for you! The Toshiba American Foundation is accepting grant applications to provide instructional equipment to make learning more exciting. Grants that ask for less than $5,000 are accepted anytime; the next deadline for grants requesting more than $5,000 is February 1, 2012. Application information and examples of successful projects are available at:


Check out the 2011 Society for Neuroscience Brain Awareness Video Contest entries at:

The videos are very creative! The short films include animation, lectures, demonstrations and even music videos! Although the contest winners have been selected, you can still vote for your favorite videos for the "People's Choice Award" until October 15, 2011.


A. "Teenage Brain" is the cover story in the October, 2011, issue of National Geographic magazine.

B. "A Coach in the Game" by Kelli Anderson (Sports Illustrated, September 5, 2011) discusses Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt and her recent announcement that she has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

C. "The Scent of Your Thoughts" by Deborah Blum (Scientific American, October, 2011) discusses communication through chemical signals.

D. Museum Exhibits:

i) "Balancing Act," the sense of balance is at the Childrens Museum of Memphis (Memphis, TN) from September 17, 2011 to January 15, 2012.

ii) "Bodies Revealed," with preserved human anatomy specimens is at the Lexington Center Museum and Gallery (Lexington, KY) from September 10, 2011 to January 8, 2012.

iii) "Puzzles of the Brain: An Artist's Journey through Amnesia," explores how severe brain damage can influence the life and creativity of an artist, at the Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD) from September 17, 2011 to December 11, 2011.


A. More than half of the 500 million neurons in the nervous system of an octopus are found in its eight legs. (Source: Bagley, K., Octo-philosophy, The Scientist, 25:16-18, 2011.)

B. The box jellyfish (Tripedalia cystophora) has 24 eyes; 4 of these eyes point upwards to look beyond the water surface. (Source: Garm, A., Oskarsson, M. and Nilsson, D-E., Box jellyfish use terrestrial visual cues for navigation, Current Biology, 21:798-803, 2011.)

C. In Europe during the Middle Ages, physicians placed crushed snails on the heads of children with hydrocephalus as a treatment for the disorder. (Reference: Missori, P. and Curr, A., Pharmacological Basis Plastering the Head with Crushed Snails to Treat Pediatric Hydrocephalus: An Ancient Therapy with a Pharmacological Basis, The Neuroscientist, August 25, 2011.)

D. In 2008, migraine was the most common type of headache associated with inpatient stays, comprising 63.1% of all hospital stays with headache as a first-listed diagnosis. (Source: Lucado, J., Paez, K., Elixhauser, A. Headaches in U.S. Hospitals and Emergency Departments, 2008, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. May, 2011.)

E. In the United States, vision problems cost individuals, caregivers and health-care payers an estimated $51.4 billion each year.(Source: (Prevent Blindness America. The economic impact of vision problems., Accessed May 16, 2011.)


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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.