Volume 15, Issue 11 (November, 2011)

In this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest
4. 2012 UW Brain Awareness Week Open House
5. Summer Opportunities in Neural Engineering Research
6. Brain Experiment Contest
8. Future Neuroscientists
9. Media Alert
10. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
11. Support Neuroscience for Kids
12. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in October including:

A. October Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Insecticides for Bed Bugs Making People Sick
C. Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest
D. Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer?

In October, 8 new figures were added and 56 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for November is "Charlie Rose: The Brain Series" at:

TV host Charlie Rose and neuroscientist Dr. Eric Kandel created "The Brain Series" to help people understand the human brain. The episodes discuss a range of topics including the social brain, the developing brain, the anxious brain, the creative brain and the deciding brain with interviews with expert scientists. Each 60 minute episode can be viewed on the series web site.

BONUS SITE OF THE MONTH: Several people mentioned to me that they enjoyed last month's site of the month, the Small World Image Gallery. Another web site with beautiful light and electron microscopy images is Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc. at:


The 2012 NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS POETRY WRITING CONTEST is now open to students in kindergarten through high school, college students, teachers and parents. Use your imagination to create a poem, limerick or haiku about the brain and you might win a prize. The complete set of rules and the official entry form for the contest are available at:

Here is a summary of the contest rules:

All poems, limericks and haiku must have at least THREE lines and CANNOT be longer than TEN lines. Material that is shorter than three lines or longer than ten lines will not be read. All material must have a neuroscience theme such as brain anatomy (a part of the brain), brain function (memory, language, emotions, movement, the senses, etc.), drug abuse or brain health (helmets, brain disorders, etc.). Be creative! Use your brain! Visit the Neuroscience for Kids pages for ideas and information!

- If you are a STUDENT IN KINDERGARTEN TO GRADE 2: write a poem in any style; it doesn't have to rhyme.

- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 3 TO GRADE 5: write a poem that rhymes. The rhymes can occur in any pattern. For example, lines one and two can rhyme, lines three and four can rhyme, and lines five and six can rhyme. Or use your imagination and create your own rhyming pattern.

- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 6 TO GRADE 8: write a brainy haiku (3 lines only). A haiku MUST use the following pattern: 5 syllables in the first line; 7 syllables in the second line; 5 syllables in the third line. Here is an example:

Three pounds of jelly
wobbling around in my skull
and it can do math

- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 9 TO GRADE 12: write a brainy limerick. A limerick has 5 lines: lines one, two and five rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables; lines three and four rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables. Here is an example of a limerick:

The brain is important, that's true,
For all things a person will do,
From reading to writing,
To skiing to biting,
It makes up the person who's you.

- If you are a COLLEGE STUDENT, TEACHER, PARENT OR ANYONE ELSE: write a rhyming poem that explains why it is important to learn about the brain.

Books or other prizes will be awarded to multiple winners in each category.

Other rules:

A. You must use an entry form for your writing and send it in using "regular mail." Entries that are sent by e-mail will NOT be accepted.

B. Only ONE entry per person. If you cannot download the entry form, let me know (e-mail: and I will send a form to you attached to an e-mail.

C. Students may enter by themselves or teachers may make copies of the entry form for their students and return completed entries in a single package. The contest is open to people from all countries.

Entries must be received by February 1, 2012!


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is a yearly event to promote the public and personal benefits of brain research. As part of international BAW at the University of Washington, you are invited to an Open House on Wednesday, March 7, 2012.

The Brain Awareness Week Open House will include an interactive group assembly about the brain and hands-on exhibits that highlight brain research. The Open House will be held at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI; 2700 24th Ave East, Seattle, WA), just south of the University of Washington Seattle campus. Because of the high interest in the Open House and limited space, the number of people who can attend may be restricted. To register for the Open House, please visit:

Students, teachers and chaperones who attend the Open House will get FREE ADMISSION to MOHAI.


Are you a high school student, college undergraduate or middle/high school science teacher looking for something different to do next summer? Would you like to work in a neural engineering laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle? If your answer to these questions is "YES," then a Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) summer research program may be for you.

During the summer of 2012, the CSNE will provide research opportunities for high school students, undergraduate students and precollege science teachers. Students and teachers selected for the program will become lab members and work on a specific project related to neural engineering. Visit the CSNE education web site for more information about the programs and application forms:

By the way, I am the executive director of the CSNE, so if you have any questions about these summer programs, let me know.


The Dana Foundation is sponsoring a "Brain Experiment Contest" for high school students in the United States. The challenge is to design an original human brain-related experiment. You do not actually do the experiment. Rather you write up a research proposal as if you were going to do the experiment.

Use your knowledge about the brain and the scientific method of inquiry to create a strong proposal. Each classroom can submit only one experiment and there is a limit of one submission for each instructor. The winning experiment will receive a $500 prize. The deadline for the competition is January 19, 2012, and the winner will be announced in March, 2012.

For more detailed information about the contest, see the Dana Foundation web site at:

Good luck!


The holiday season is almost here! It's time to get brainy gifts for your friends and family. Visit NEURO4KIDS.COM for that special present:


Last month I met some impressive young students when I visited a local elementary school. These 4th and 5th graders are on their way to becoming the next generation of neuroscientists.

I started my presentation at the school by explaining what I do at the University of Washington (UW) and asking the students where they planned to go to college. Although some of the students wanted to attend the UW, others expressed interest in Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Penn and other top schools. It's great that these kids are already thinking about their future education.

The kids also knew their neuroanatomy! When I showed a photograph of the human brain, they all correctly identified the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and brain stem. This might not seem too difficult, but they also identified the thalamus and hypothalamus and even knew the functions of these areas. I don't know too many 4th and 5th graders who have even heard of the thalamus.

We then turned our attention to the senses and discussed the abilities of different animals. Many of the students knew that butterflies have an excellent chemical sense, that sharks can detect electrical signals and that rattlesnakes have special receptors to detect heat.

These kids still have seven or eight years before they finish high school, but I expect many of them will be making important scientific discoveries in laboratories around the country in the future.


A. "Thought Experiments: Philosophers" by Joshua Knobe (Scientific American, November, 2011) discusses who philosophers are investigating how people perceive the world.

B. Scientific American Mind (November, 2011) is now on newsstands with the articles "Answers in Your Dreams" by Deirdre Barrett, "Unlocking the Lucid Dream" by Ursula Voss, "The Death of Preschool" by Paul Tullis, "Head Shots" by Ann Chin and Sandra Upson, "Shifting Focus" by Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik, "Culture of Shock" by Stephen Reicher and S. Alexander Haslam and "In the Minds of Others" by Keith Oatley.


A. The total cost of brain disorders in Europe for 2010 was estimated to be 798 billion Euros per year (1.06 trillion US dollars per year). (Source: Gustavsson et al., Cost of disorders of the brain in Europe 2010, European Neuropsychopharmacology, 21:718-779, 2011.)

B. Some sharks sense light directly through the skull by the pineal body. (Source: Perrine, D., Sharks and Rays of the World, Stillwater: Voyaguer Press, 1999.)

C. The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial nerve. The word "trigeminal" comes from Latin meaning "three twins."

D. November is Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and Epilepsy Awareness Month.

E. Approximately 795,000 strokes occur in the United States each year. (Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Announcements: World Stroke Day, October 28, 2011, 60(42);1459.)


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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.