Volume 4, Issue 2 (February 2000)


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. Brain Awareness Week
4. Winter Sport Safety
5. My, What Big Eyes You Have!
6. Book Review
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. January Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. February NeuroCalendar
C. Dyslexia
D. Olfaction Student Guide/Teacher Guide/Teacher Resource
E. Do Roller Coasters Give You a Pain in the Head?
F. February 2000 Neuroscience "Fact-a-Day" Calendar
G. Michael J. Fox Focusing on Fight Ahead

In January, 29 new figures were added and 86 pages were modified.



The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for February is " BrainWorks" from Discover Magazine at:

"Brainworks" is a feature of the Discover Magazine web site. There are currently four different on-line experiments:

A. Backward masking: how the brain discards some information
B. Neuronal fatigue: what happens when nerve cells get tired
C. Tasting with your nose: the interaction between smell and taste
D. Mystery of the missing lines

From the "Brainworks" page you can explore the entire Discover Magazine web site for articles on many science topics. Keep your eye on "Brainworks" for more experiments in the future.



Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is next month and people around the world are gearing up with activities to focus attention on the nervous system. I hope you have plans for BAW, but if not, here are some ideas:

A. Invite a neuroscientist to visit your school. The Society for Neuroscience maintains a list of neuroscientists who would like to establish a partnership with K-12 teachers and students. Find such a neuroscientist in your state at:

B. Visit a local neuroscience laboratory. It may be possible for you and your class to take a field trip to a neuroscience laboratory.

C. Have a science fair/festival with exhibits about the brain.

D. Send a BAW electronic greeting card to say "hello" or to let people know what you are doing during BAW. Use the Neuroscience for Kids postcard site at:

E. Study the nervous system. You can use the BAW lesson plan for several days of activities:

F. Attend a BAW event near you. Check the BAW calendar for an activity in your area:

G. Set up a display with books about the brain in your class or school library. Decorate the display with artwork or creative writing projects. For some writing projects, see:

H. Teach other students what you know about the brain. Visit a class of younger students with a short presentation about the nervous system. You might want to focus your presentation on a specific topic such as vision, brain health (helmet safety), or neurotransmitters.

Regardless of what you decide to do for BAW, remember one thing...try to enjoy yourself and have fun as you learn more about the most incredible three pounds in the known universe - the brain.



What sport involves a piece of equipment that can move at speeds of 160 km/hour, but weighs only 170 grams? Players of this sport can move at 40 km/hour and weigh about 100 kilograms. Hint: it is a winter sport. The hockey. Ice hockey combines the grace of skating with the aggressiveness of football. The nature of this fast-paced, sometimes violent game also carries the risk of head and brain injury.

Dr. C.R. Honey at the University of British Columbia reviewed the medical literature published between 1966 and 1997 for injuries related to ice hockey. He found that children between the ages of 5 and 17 years suffered between 0 and 2.8 concussions per 1000 player-hours. High school players had about the same incidence of concussions. Concussion rates for university hockey players were as high as 4.2 per 1000 player-hours and those for elite amateurs were as high as 6.6 per 1000 player-hours. There were no data for professional players.

Most concussions occurred during body checking, when one player slams into another. Concussions from being struck by a puck were rare. Although helmets, which are now required during most amateur hockey games, reduce the number of concussions, a better way to decrease head injuries may be to ban body checking for young players. More severe penalties, such as increased time in the penalty box for illegal body checking, may also reduce concussions. Dr. Honey believes it may be more effective for referees to watch players more closely and attempt to stop play before a player receives a concussion.

In addition to helmets, full face shields are required for players in many hockey associations in the United States and Canada. These shields are worn to reduce head and neck injuries. A study to determine if these shields actually work was published last December (J. Amer. Med. Assoc., 1999). Researchers in Canada at the University of Calgary studied 642 university hockey players from 22 teams. During games, players on 11 teams wore full face shields and players on the other 11 teams wore only half face shields.

Although the number of concussions and neck injuries was not different among those players wearing full and half face shields, time on the ice lost due to a concussion was less in those players wearing full face shields. There were also fewer injuries to the face and teeth of those players wearing full face shields.

Ice hockey is no different from other contact sports: protective gear and proper training are required for full enjoyment and safety of the game. And that piece of equipment that travels at 160 km/hour and weighs only 170 grams? It's a hockey puck!


Honey, C.R., Brain injury in ice hockey, Clin. J. Sport Medicine, 8:43-46, 1998.

Benson, B.W., Mohtadi, N.G.H., Rose, M.S. and Meeuwisse, W.H., Head and neck injuries among ice hockey players wearing full face shields vs half face shields, J. Amer. Med. Assoc., 282:2328-2332, 1999.



Scientists reported recently that an extinct marine reptile may have had the largest eyeball of any animal (Nature, 402:747 1999). They estimated that one type of ichthyosaur, a large marine reptile that existed about 90 to 250 million years ago, had an eyeball over 300 mm (almost 1 foot) in diameter. Presumably, the big eye was needed for the animal to see in the dark depths of the ocean. The largest eyeball in any living animal belongs to the elusive giant squid; it has an eyeball with a diameter of about 250 mm. The blue whale has the largest eye of any living vertebrate (150 mm) and the horse and ostrich tie for having the largest eye of any living land animal (50 mm).

For comparison, here are some other eyeball diameters:

California sea lion = 39 mm; Human = 24.5 mm; Cat = 22 mm; Rhesus monkey and Alligator = 20 mm; Rabbit = 18 mm; Pigeon = 12 mm; Guinea pig = 9 mm; Rat, Platypus and Hummingbird = 6 mm; Goldfish = 4 mm


Hughes, A., in The Visual System in Vertebrates (edited by F. Crescitelli), Springer, Berlin, 1977.

Motani, R., Rothschild, B.M. and Wahl, Jr., W. Large eyeballs in diving ichthyosaurs, Nature, 402:747, 1999.

Wallis, G.L. The Vertebrate Eye and its Adaptive Radiation, Bloomfield Hills, Cranbrook, 1942.



"Hello, Red Fox" by Eric Carle 1998, Scholastic, ISBN (ISBN 0-439-16025-1), reviewed by Lynne Bleeker, science teacher.

"Hello, Red Fox" is a delightful book of colorful visual illusions that should interest children and adults. Included in the book is a demonstration of color afterimages: the reader is instructed to stare at a dot in the middle of a red heart, then move his or her gaze over to a dot in the middle of a plain white page. The heart appears green on the white page! It is rather amazing. In the story by Eric Carle, the little frog invites several friends to his birthday party: a red fox, a purple butterfly, an orange cat, a green snake, a yellow bird, a blue fish and a white dog with black spots. The Eric Carle pictures are of a green fox, a yellow butterfly, etc. and the reader must change the color of each picture to match the story. It really is fun!

"Hello, Red Fox" would be a lovely addition to any home or school library. How about giving a copy to your Valentine, along with a bouquet of green roses?!

For more interactive afterimages and an explanation of why afterimages occur, please see the Neuroscience for Kids vision experiment page at:



A. "The Early Origins of Autism" in Scientific American (Feburary 2000).

B. "The Cost of a Brain" by Goran E. Nilsson in Natural History (December 1999/January 2000). Nilsson discusses brain size/body size ratios in terms of energy costs to an animal.

C. "Let Sleeping Dogs Arise" in Discover (February 2000). Discussion of the the discovery for the gene responsible for the sleep disorder called narcolepsy.

D. "Alzheimer's Disease" is the cover story of the January 31, 2000 issue of Newsweek magazine. There are several stories about Alzheimer's disease.



A. Taste buds are not just found on the tongue; they are also found on the palate, pharynx and larynx.

B. The brain of the fly contains 337,856 neurons. (Statistic from Comprehensive Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Vol. 5, edited by G.A. Kerkut and L.I. Gilbert, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1985, p. 307.)

C. Opossums do not have a corpus callosum (the large bundle of axons that connects the right and left cerebral hemispheres).

D. Many spiders have eight eyes.

E. Receptor cells in the taste buds are replaced about once every 10 days.



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.