Volume 17, Issue 2 (February, 2013)

In this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest
4. Giant Squid Axon vs. Squid Giant Axon
5. Bloomin' Brains Summer Camp
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 January including:

A. January Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Bloomin' Brains Summer Camp

In January, 1 new figure was added and 49 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for February is "Big Picture. Inside the Brain" at:">

(The whole URL above, with no spaces, must be used to access the web site.)

"Big Picture" is a free publication from the Wellcome Trust organization. Published twice a year, Big Picture seeks to bring cutting-edge science into the classroom. The current issue of the magazine, Inside the Brain, focuses on imaging technologies that help scientists understand the brain.

The entire 16-page magazine (Issue 17, Spring 2013) can be downloaded in PDF directly from the main page. The magazine alone is a treasure trove of great images and interesting articles. But don't stop with the magazine. Continue to explore the web site where you will find:

A. Animations - the action potential and whole brain.

B. Articles - additional material about brain imaging and neuroscience.

C. Big Picture App - explore social and ethical questions about the brain. I have not tried the app, so I cannot comment on its value.

D. Games - a fun game where you try to grow an axon. The longest axon I could grow was for a nigrostriatal neuron (16,907 microns).

E. Infographics: high quality fact sheets about neurons and imaging methods.

F. Lesson Ideas: a few ideas to make use of the material in the classrooms.

G. Poster: Inside the Brain Poster (PDF)

H. Videos: access Wellcome Trust video materials about the brain.

Yes, the site has a long URL, but the high quality graphics and text will make your visit worthwhile.


The 2013 Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest is now closed and judging has begun. Winners will be announced in the March Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.


Last month, the first ever video of a giant squid swimming in the open ocean was released to the public. The giant squid (Architeuthis dux) is indeed a giant as it can grow to lengths of 18 meters (59 feet) and weigh up to 455 kg (1000 pounds). These creatures have generated stories about sea monsters and have fascinated marine biologists throughout history.

The words "giant" and "squid" also have a special place in the minds of neuroscientists. In a series of experiments published in the 1950s, scientists Alan L. Hodgkin and Andrew F. Huxley used the giant axon of a squid to show how different ions pass across the membrane of a neuron to create action potentials.

In their experiments, Hodgkin and Huxley inserted an electrode inside the giant axon of a squid. Notice the order of these last five words: "giant axon of a squid." Hodgkin and Huxley did not use axons from a giant squid (Architeuthis dux); rather they used giant axons from the long-finned squid (Loligo forbesi). Although the long-finned squid is much smaller than the giant squid, it has a giant axon (1 mm in diameter) that is used to control muscles that help the squid move.

For their work, Hodgkin and Huxley (along with John Eccles) were awarded the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

For more information about the giant squid and the work of Hodgkin and Huxley, see:


Are you a middle school student interested in a summer "deep dive" into neuroscience and botany? Do you know a middle school student who is? If so, then the Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience free summer day camp is for you. This camp is part of my Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The 2013 "Bloomin' Brains" neuroscience summer day camp will be held on the University of Washington campus July 22-26 from 9 am to 3 pm each day, and supervised by teachers, graduate students, undergraduates and UW faculty. Parents are responsible for providing transportation to and from campus and for providing sack lunches. Campers will have the opportunity to:

- Conduct hands-on science experiments

- Learn about traditional uses of medicinal plants in Native cultures

- Explore the structure and function of the brain

- Visit the Burke Museum, UW Botany Greenhouse, and Medicinal Herb Garden

- Listen to real scientists talk about their careers

- Discover "the art of the brain" by constructing models

- Make a plant extract and tie-dye a shirt

- Research neuroscience at the UW computer lab

For more information about the camp and the application form, please visit:

Discover how much fun science can be!


A. "Worries Over Hillary's Health" by Alice Park discusses concussions and blood clots and "Polio and Politics" by Jeffrey Kluger discusses the challenges of eradicating polio. Both articles are in the January 14, 2013, issue of TIME magazine.

B. Actress ("Blossom") and neuroscience PhD Mayim Bialik will be featured on the PBS web series "The Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers" on February 12:

C. The cover story of the February 2013 issue of Scientific American is "Building Block of Memory." This issue includes the article "Brain Cells for Grandmother" by Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, Itzhak Fried and Christof Koch.

D. "Avian Migration: The Ultimate Red-Eye Flight" by Paul Bartell and Ashli Moore (AMERICAN SCIENTIST, January-February 2013) describes how birds enter a state of sleepless mania when they migrate at night.

E. "Awakening" by Joshua Lang (ATLANTIC magazine, January/February 2013) discusses consciousness and what is known and not known about anesthesia.


A. The aye-aye, a small animal found in Madagascar, is the only primate thought to use echolocation to locate food. (Source:

B. The hagfish is the only known animal that has a skull but no vertebrae (spinal column).

C. Fregoli syndrome is a neurological disorder where people insist that they know other people who they actually do not know.

D. What sound is more unpleasant than scraping nails over a chalkboard? According to a study published in 2008, the sounds of a steel fork scraped across glass and a knife moved along a bottle are both rated as more unpleasant than nails on a chalkboard. (Source: Kumar, S., Forster, H.M., Bailey, P., and Griffiths, T.D., Mapping unpleasantness of sounds to their auditory representation J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 124: 3810-3817, 2008.)

E. The "substantia innominata" is a brain area that is named for the Latin words meaning "unnamed substance."


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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.