Volume 17, Issue 3 (March, 2013)

In this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Neuroscience and Art
4. An Eventful Trip
5. Brain Awareness Week
6. Summer Neuroscience Activities
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. Support Neuroscience for Kids
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in February including:

A. February Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived

In February, 1 new figure were added and 18 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for March is "The Human Brain Project" blog at:

Just a bit more than 1 billion Euros. That's how much the European Commission and other sources will contribute to "The Human Brain Project," a 10 year endeavor to simulate the human brain. Researchers working on the project will focus on three main topics: A) neuroscience, B) medicine and C) computing.

The Human Brain Project web site describes the research plan in great detail. A good place to learn about the project is through a nice seven minute video on the opening page of the site. The video outlines the objectives of the research and interviews several scientists involved with the project.

Not to be outdone, the United States recently announced its own massive project ($3 billion over 10 years) to map the human brain. Details of the the US plan are expected to be released this month.


Judging of the 2013 NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS DRAWING CONTEST is finished and winners have been mailed their prizes. A total of 400 people from 28 states and four countries sent in poems. From the United States, poems arrived from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. From outside the United States, students sent entries from Canada, India and Turkey. The winning drawings are posted at:

To judge the contest, I looked at all 400 drawings and selected finalists for the different grade levels (Kindergarten-grade 2; grade 3-5; grade 6-8; grade 9-12; college students/adults). Winners were chosen by 12 judges who rated the finalists. Check the Neuroscience for Kids web site in November for the start of a new Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest! B. Art Neuraux

Last month I participated in "Art Neuraux," a neuroscience-inspired art contest. The event was organized by graduate students in the University of Washington Neurobiology and Behavior program and held in the Fremont Abbey, not far from the university.

The exhibit started with a welcome from the students and then some introductory remarks from Professor Eb Fetz. Dr. Fetz discussed not only how the brain processes art, but how artists use their knowledge about vision to create their work. Then it was time to explore the gallery. Some artists used paint, some used collage, some used a variety of methods. I contributed five photographs to the exhibit.

It was great to see such variety and creativity from the group. I already have ideas for new art pieces for next year.


Last month my wife and I took a short trip to visit my son who is a college student in Southern California. On the way to the university, we picked up my mother who lives in Los Angeles. Except for the usual LA traffic, the one hour drive to campus was uneventful. This was soon to change.

As we started to walk down the sidewalk, my mom caught her foot on the uneven sidewalk and tripped, falling face first onto the hard concrete, landing on her forehead. As I rushed to her, I could see that she had a large open cut above her right eye and some scrapes on her knees, chin and cheek.

I applied first aid immediately by holding her head still and applying pressure to the gash above her eye. Blood began to run down her face. The cut was quite deep and I could tell it would need stitches. Also, I was unsure if she hit her head. So, I had my son call 911 and within five minutes a fire truck and ambulance met us on the sidewalk. The paramedics first asked my mom some general questions such as her name, her birthday, if she knew what day it was, and if she knew where she was. They also asked if she remembered falling. Never did my mom lose consciousness before or after the fall and she was able to answer all of the paramedic's questions without a problem. Because my mom may have hurt her head and neck, the paramedics put her in a neck collar. Then it was on to a stretcher, into an ambulance and away we went to the emergency room with me in the front seat of the ambulance.

In the emergency room, the doctors asked my mom questions again to determine if she knew who she was, where she was, and why she was in the hospital. The doctors wanted to know why she fell. They asked if she was dizzy, felt weak, or if she had tingling in her arms or legs. They also asked if she had a headache. My mom thought this last question was strange. Of course she had a headache -- she just tripped and landed on her head! The doctors were concerned that perhaps the fall was caused by something other than the sidewalk, for example, by a stroke. She answered "No" to all of the questions (except the one about a headache). My mom was talking to me when she fell and I heard her foot catch on the sidewalk, so I was confident that the sidewalk was the problem, not my mom's brain. But I kept quiet and let the doctors do their job.

As a precaution, the doctors ordered a head CAT scan and back X-rays to ensure that there were no broken facial bones, bleeding under the skull or damage to the vertebrae. All of these tests turned out negative: there were no observable internal injuries.

Finally, it was time to stitch up the cut. I hadn't seen the injury since my mom fell and I didn't take a long look at it because I wanted to apply pressure as soon as possible. When the nurse removed the bandages above my mom's eye, I could see a two-inch long cut. The nurse estimated that the cut would need 20 stitches to close. It turned out that she needed "only" 12 stitches to close the wound.

My mom was alert and talkative the entire time we were in the hospital, even when the stitches were placed. She was mainly worried about me because her unfortunate fall caused us to miss lunch. She kept asking the hospital staff to bring me something to eat. My Mom's worry told me that she would be just fine. Finally, my mom was discharged from the ER wearing a large bandage on her forehead, but we still all went out for an early dinner. My mom still had a good appetite. She'll have a serious black eye for few weeks and she will have to get the stitches taken out in about a week.

As a precaution, the doctors provided some literature for my mom that told her to take it easy for a few days and to watch for symptoms of a delayed, more serious head injury (for example, dizziness, confusion, weakness). We all got a laugh out of the last precaution listed in the literature: "Avoid head injury for the next two weeks."

I hope my Mom avoids head injury for a lot longer than two weeks!


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is this month! If you have an activity planned and would like to share it with Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter readers, write up a short summary and send it to me (email: I'll try to highlight your event in next month's newsletter.


Here at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA), we will have a summer camp for middle school students and a summer workshop for middle school science teachers. Registration for both programs is now open.

The "Bloomin' Brains" Camp for middle school students will take place July 22-26, 2013 from 9 am to 3 pm each day. Students at the camp will conduct experiments from the Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience project and learn about the structure and function of the brain. We will also have field trips to the Burke Museum, UW Botany Greenhouse, Medicinal Herb Garden, the Hyde Herbarium, and UW Farm. For more information and camp registration, see:

The teacher workshop will be held August 12-16, 2013. During the workshop, teachers will work through the Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience curriculum. Teachers who complete the workshop will be able to check out Neuroseeds kits for use in their classrooms during the school year. For more information and workshop registration, see:

Both the camp and the workshop are supported by my Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience grant from the Blueprint for Neuroscience Research and administered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


A. "Rewiring the Brain" is the cover story in the March, 2013, issue of POPULAR SCIENCE magazine.

B. Scientific American MIND (March, 2013) is now on newsstands with articles about mindfulness, the placebo effect, addiction, reward, brain imaging, depression and schizophrenia.

C. "Can Boosting Immunity Make You Smarter?" by Carl Zimmer (DISCOVER magazine, March, 2013).

D. "The Origins of Creativity" by Heather Pringle (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, March, 2013).


A. The skin around the nostrils of the star-nosed moles (Condylura cristata) contains more than 100,000 myelinated nerve fibers. This skin has the highest density of nerve fibers than any other mammalian skin surface. (Source: Gerhold, K.A., Pellegrino, M., Tsunozaki, M., Morita, T., Leitch, D.B., Tsuruda, P.R., Brem, R. B., Catania, K.C. and Bautista, D.M., The Star-Nosed Mole Reveals Clues to the Molecular Basis of Mammalian Touch. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (1): e55001 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055001)

B. The neurotoxin "tetrodotoxin", found in the blue-ringed octopus and some frogs, newts and salamander, is 10 to 100 times more deadly than black widow toxin (NAME) and 10,000 times more deadly than cyanide. (Source: Mather, J.A., Anderson, R.C. and Wood, J.R., Octopus, The Ocean's Intelligent Invertebrate, Portland: Timber Press, Inc., 2010.)

C. The sea robin (a fish) uses it pectoral fins to taste. (Source: Shanor, K. and Kanwal, J., Bats Sing, Mice Giggle, London: Icon Books, 2010.)

D. In the octopus, 60% of its nerve cells are located in its arms. (Source: Mather, J.A., Anderson, R.C. and Wood, J.R., Octopus, The Ocean's Intelligent Invertebrate, Portland: Timber Press, Inc., 2010.)

E. The blue-footed booby, a bird found on the west coasts of Southern California, Mexico, Central America and northern South America, has special air sacs in its skull to protect its brain when diving. (Source: Hearst, M., Unusual Creatures, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2012.)


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Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.