Volume 2, Issue 10 (October, 1998)


Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

Here is what you will find in this issue:

1. What's New on the Neuroscience for Kids Web Pages
2. The Neuroscience for Kids Page of the Month
3. Society for Neuroscience Meeting Updates
4. "Look Deep Into My Eyes"
5. It's Greek to Me
6. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
7. What's Coming Up In Future Issues
8. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in September. Here are some of them:

A. September Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. How Loud is That Noise Bookmarks
C. Epilepsy
D. New Word Search Puzzles (Blood-Brain-Barrier; Cortex; Language; Sleep)
E. More Visual Illusions added to Vision Experiments and Activities Page
F. Fill-in the Blank Worksheet - The Eye

In September, 23 new figures were added and 61 pages were modified.



The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for October is "PubMed", a journal search service from the National Library of Medicine at:

PubMed opens the door to the research world for everyone. This free service scans approximately 9 million articles in 4,000 biomedical journals for key words or author's name. PubMed searches all the way back to 1966 for matches to your inquiries. If a match is found, PubMed provides the source (journal, volume, page number, date, authors) and often a summary of the work. Further research can be accomplished by clicking on a "[See Related Articles]" button that will retrieve papers similar to the one that was located originally. Of course, you will have to go to a library to find the complete text of each paper, but PubMed will give you an overview of the research that is going on in any field of science.



In early November I will be traveling to Los Angeles to participate in the Annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. I will be presenting two posters: a teaching poster about the "Neuroscience for Kids" web pages and a basic research poster. I will also be leading a workshop to introduce pre-college teachers to resources on the Internet that can be used to teach neuroscience. Teachers who are in the Southern California area can attend the workshop and neuroscience meeting for free! Teachers can get details about attending the workshop and meeting at:

Because you may not be able to attend this meeting, I have thought of a way to get you closer. I could post a daily journal of the events at the meeting on a special page on the Neuroscience for Kids web site. I would take my laptop computer on my trip and post a few paragraphs every day from Los Angeles. The journal page would have a special URL where you could read about what is going on in Los Angeles during the meeting. In a way, I could be your eyes and ears and tell you what I have done at the meeting. I don't know if anyone would be interested in reading such a journal and have not decided if I will create it. I would like to hear from Neuroscience for Kids newsletter readers to see if there is any interest in this "Neuroscience Meeting" journal page. If you have an opinion or comments about this, write to me at: I will let you know what I decide in the November issue of the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.



The year was 1978. I was a 19 year old sophomore at the University of California in San Diego. One Friday night, the University invited a popular local hypnotist to entertain the students after dinner in the cafeteria. He asked for volunteers from the audience and after a little encouragement from my friends, I stepped up onto the stage with about 20 other students. I do not remember the hypnotist's name, but I do remember his face. He was about 40 years old, slightly overweight with huge eyeballs bulging from his head. I had never been hypnotized before and had no idea what to expect.

The hypnotist started the "show" by asking the student volunteers to relax and listen to his voice. He started flapping his arms like a wounded duck, his eyes bulging even further from their sockets.

Soon he told us that it was very cold. We all shivered. When he said that it was hot, we sweated and wiped our brows. Then he suggested that we relax again. The hypnotist asked if any of us knew the words to any songs. I mentioned that I knew the words to "Happy Birthday". However, I wasn't selected to sing for the audience. One student on stage mentioned that he knew a song by the musical group "Earth, Wind and Fire" and soon he was acting as if he was a member of this band. Later in the show I did dance as if I was a prima ballerina in the Bolshoi Ballet.

Why did I do these things? Just what is hypnosis? Franz Mesmer (think "mesmerize") introduced hypnotism to the world in 1774. However, to this day, no agreement has been reached as to how hypnotism works. Some people believe that hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness and a kind of trance. Others believe that hypnosis is nothing more than play acting and pretending. These skeptics believe that the effects of hypnosis are nothing more than a placebo effect. I believe I acted the way I did because I felt relaxed and was part of a show. In other words, being "hypnotized" permitted me to act this way and made my behavior appropriate.

Does hypnosis work for people with problems? In many cases, the answer is yes. Hypnosis can help some people suffering with pain, eating disorders and sleep problems. Does it work for everyone? No. How does it work? No one really knows. Laboratory studies (for example in the journal, "Science", vol. 277, pages 968-971, 1997) show that hypnosis can alter brain function and a person's perception of sensory events.

Let's clear up some of the myths surrounding hypnosis:

Myth: You can be hypnotized without knowing it.
Fact: You CANNOT be hypnotized without knowing it. In fact, for hypnosis to be successful, people must pay attention to the hypnotist.

Myth: When you are hypnotized, you will do anything the hypnotist says.
Fact: Hypnotized people will NOT do anything they do not want to do. People cannot be forced to do things that violate their own social and moral beliefs.

Myth: You are paralyzed while you are hypnotized.
Fact: Hypnotized people can move around easily.

Myth: Being hypnotized is like being asleep.
Fact: You can hear, see and feel everything while hypnotized.

Myth: Hypnotized people will always tell the truth.
Fact: Hypnotized people can lie and say anything they want.

Myth: Hypnotized people will forget everything that happened to them while they were hypnotized.
Fact: Hypnotized people remember what went on while under hypnosis.

There are many questions about hypnosis that remain unanswered. However, one thing is will not see me in the Bolshoi Ballet.



Amygdala. Hippocampus. Glia. Myelin. Raphe. Sounds like Greek to me. Actually, in a way, it is Greek. Each of these neuroscience words comes from the Greek language. Latin has also provided the roots to many "neuro" words. Words like cortex, incus, cerebellum and vagus all have their origin in Latin. The original meaning of these words often describes what the word looks like. For example, "amygdala" comes from the Greek word meaning "almond" because the amygdala, a brain structure important for emotional behavior, is shaped like an almond. In other cases, the original meaning describes how a structure functions. For example, "glia" comes from the Greek word meaning "glue" because one function of glia is to support the physical structure of the brain. Knowing the original meanings of neuroanatomical terms often helps people remember where a structure is located in the brain and what it does. The use of Greek and Latin words helped early scientists communicate beyond the borders of their own countries, just as the Internet does today. Latin is even useful to today's medical students because so many anatomical names have Latin roots. So, do you wonder how hippocampus, myelin and the rest of the words at the start of this paragraph got their names? Here are the Greek and Latin meanings:

[Hippocampus = Sea Horse] [Myelin = Marrow] [Raphe = Seam]

[Cortex = Bark] [Incus = Anvil] [Cerebellum = Little Brain]

[Vagus = Wandering]

For the original meanings of other neuroscience words, see:




A. The skin of an adult human covers about 18-20 square feet (~2 square meters) and weighs about 6 lb (2.7 kg).
B. The sponge is the only multicellular animal without a nervous system.
C. The word "hypnosis" comes from the Greek word meaning "sleep".
D. A butterfly can taste with its feet.
E. In 1965, Randy Gardner set the world record for staying awake: 264 continuous hours (11 days). Note: In Biopsychology (by J.P.J. Pinel, Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000, p. 322), the record for time awake is attributed to Mrs. Maureen Weston. She apparently spent 449 hours (18 days, 17 hours) awake in a rocking chair.



A. What's new to the pages. I will let you know what new features have been added in October.
B. A new Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month."
C. Some of the pages I am currently working on are:
A Virtual Neuroscience Laboratory
AVI "movies"
Neurological and Mental Disorders


To remove yourself from this mailing list and stop your subscription to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter, send e-mail to Dr. Eric H. Chudler at:


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.

"Neuroscience for Kids" is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center of Research Resources.