Volume 17, Issue 8 (August, 2013)

In this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Bloomin' Brains Summer Camp
4. Sleep Journal - Results
5. Media Alert
6. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
7. Summer Email Changes
8. Support Neuroscience for Kids
9. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in July including:

A. July Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived

B. September, October, November and December Neurocalendars

In July, 4 new figures and 42 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for August is "Neurotree" at:

Just like some people make a family tree to track their ancestors, neuroscientists have created their own academic family tree. This academic family tree shows the mentors ("parents") and students ("children") of different neuroscientists.

"Neurotree" is easy to navigate: there are only three options from the main page. "Wander the tree" takes you to the ancestry of a random neuroscientist; "Who's New?" lists investigators recently added to the site; "Search" allows you to type in the name of a scientist to find their family tree.

Once inside a family tree, you can click on "parents" or "children" of a person to travel up or down the tree. I like traveling to see the grandparents, great-grandparents and even older relatives of neuroscientists. After you located someone in the tree, click on "Info" to trace their ancestry to the nearest Nobel Prize winner or their oldest ancestor. When you climb up and down the Neurotree you are sure to find some familiar names and famous neuroscientists.


As part of my National Institute of Health funded project, "Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience," 25 middle school students attended the one week Bloomin' Brain Summer Camp at the University of Washington last month.

To start camp, I gave the students an overview of the week and an introduction to the anatomy and physiology of brain. All campers got the opportunity to see and hold a real human brain and spinal cord. We also played the "Brain, Brain, What is a Brain" game where everyone gets an object and they have to list ways that the object is similar to and different from the brain. Campers had lunch outside and then had a guided tour of the University of Washington Medicinal Garden and Botany Greenhouse. The first day ended with campers making their own herbal first aid kit.

The students made plant extractions the second day. These extractions would be used later in the week to test their neuroactive properties. Everyone hiked over the Hyde Herbarium for lunch and a tour. After the hike back from the Herbarium, each camper tie dyed a T-shirt and scarf and took turns dyeing one of my white lab coats.

On day 3 of camp, students discussed the ethics of using animals in research and then tested their extractions on movement of planaria (flatworms). We had lunch outside just south of the university fountain. Before we went back to the lab, campers were divided into four teams for a "Sensory (Hearing) Treasure Hunt." During this treasure hunt, teams explored campus listening and recording different sounds. Teams competed to find sounds that none of the other teams heard. We ended the day by building brain and neuron models from clay, string and pipe cleaners.

We started day 4 outside where campers drew pictures and wrote poems about their own brains and what made their brains special. Back in the lab, campers brought out their extracts again and tested them on the heart rate of Lumbriculus worms. After the lab, we headed back outside for lunch and then a game of "Synaptic Tag." In the afternoon, campers mixed essential oils to create their own unique scents.

The final camp day started with SpikerBoxes. SpikerBoxes are used to record action potentials from the nerve of a cockroach leg. Campers got into pairs and took on the jobs as a surgeon or a recorder. The campers tested their extracts to see if the chemicals cause the neural activity in the nerve to increase or decrease. The students took another hike to visit the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering where I work. I set up many games, demonstrations and activities that the campers used. Finally, after a fun-filled, scientific week, camp came to a close. As a group, we all walked to the area where parents pick up their campers and said our goodbyes.

I am extremely grateful to the Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience staff (Marcia Johnson-Witter, Elischa Saunders, Robert Hall, Brigitte Tennis, Kristi Straus, Kristen Bergsman and Laurie Collins) who worked hard to make the camp a great experience for the kids.

Some of the students asked if they could come back to camp next year, but we will give a new group of kids a chance to explore neuroscience.

If you are interested in seeing the camp in action, please see the Bloomin' Brain Photo Album at:


As I mentioned in last month's newsletter, I have started a sleep journal where I record my dreams each day. Here are some of my results and observations that I have made about my dreams.

Total number of days entered into the journal: 42

Total number of days when no dream was recalled: 2

Total number of days when only one dream was recalled: 28

Total number of days when more than one dream was recalled: 12

Average duration of sleep each night: 7 hours, 20 minutes

* If I did not write down my dream immediately after I woke up, it was likely that I could not remember many details of the dream or I might forget the dream completely.

* I had to be careful to write clearly in my journal. There were a few times when I could not read my own writing.

* Sometimes a "trigger" after I woke up helped me remember my dream. For example, after I woke up, I might see something that reminded me of something that happened during the dream. When this happened, I went to my journal and recorded the dream immediately.

* After a few days, I might not remember a dream I had. However, if I went back to my journal and read about a past dream, the dream seemed more familiar.

* Many items that I saw or used during the day seemed to appear in a dream I had later that night.


A. "The Education of a Bomb Dog" by Joshua Levin (SMITHSONIAN magazine, July-August 2013). This magazine also has a story about new research with stem cells ("Tabula Rasa" by Virginia Hughes) and a report about the identity of the patient named "Monsieur Leborgne" or "Tan," the man who lost his ability to speak after damage to his brain and described by Paul Broca in 1861.

B. "Laughter and the Brain" by Richard Restak (THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR magazine, Summer, 2013).

C. "Stents to Prevent Stroke" by Stephen P. Lownie and David M. Pelz (AMERICAN SCIENTIST, July-August, 2013)

D. The cover story in the August, 2013, issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine is "How Sleep Shapes Memory" by Giulio Tononi and Chiara Cirelli.

E. One-day conference about hydrocephalus for all ages, "Empowering Patients Through Education."

Cost: $15.00; discounted parking rates, discounted room rates at hotel. Location: Sheraton by the Park, Anaheim, CA Time: 8 am - 4 pm (Date in the Fall, 2013, to be determined)

Includes: Education by professionals and patients, breakout sessions, tables of education provided and manned by manufacturers of shunts, other hydrocephalus organizations. Come meet others, learn about hydrocephalus with layman language and descriptions. Sponsored by the National Hydrocephalus Foundation (

F. The August, 2013, issue of Harper's magazine has several articles about sleep and sleep disorders.


A. The word "yoga" comes from Sanskrit meaning "joined together." The word "synapse" comes from the Greek words "syn" and "haptein" that mean "to clasp together."

B. The flower called the "zinna" was named after Johann Gottfried Zinn. Zinn was a professor at Gottingen University who also published a book about the anatomy of the eye.

C. The costs to treat stroke may increase from $71.55 billion in 2010 to $183.13 billion in 2030. (Source: double-by-2030?preview=6648)

D. The Swahili word for brain is "ubongo."

E. "Australopithecus africanus" had a brain volume estimated to be between 454 and 461 ml. (Source: Gunza, P., Weberb, G.W. Hublina, J-J., Endocranial volume of Australopithecus africanus: New CT-based estimates and the effects of missing data and small sample size, Journal of Human Evolution, 63:498-510, 2012.)


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Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.