Volume 4, Issue 7 (July, 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. Sleep Troubles in Elementary School Students
4. News Flash...It's Flash
5. Book Review
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. June Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. July NeuroCalendar
C. Brain Abnormalities in Gulf War Veterans
D. The Eye and Its Connections (Teacher Resources and Student Guide)
E. Shockwave Games (you must have the Shockwave/Flash plug-in for your browser)
F. US EPA Bans Common Pesticide (Chlorpyrifos)
G. New Guidelines for Diagnosing ADHD
H. Ferreting Out the Facts About Visual System Wiring
I. Electronic Neuroscience Postcards

In June, 50 new figures were added and 86 pages were modified.



The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for July is "The Phineas Gage Information Page" at:

The Phineas Gage Information Page is maintained by Dr. Malcolm Macmillan in the School of Psychology at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. "What is a Phineas Gage?" you ask. Actually, Phineas Gage is not a "what." Phineas Gage is a "who." In 1848, railroad foreman Phineas Gage suffered a brain injury when an iron tamping rod was shot accidentally through his head. Phineas had a dramatic personality change after his injury. He went from being a hard-working, capable foreman to a gruff, obnoxious man who could not hold a job. The unfortunate changes in Mr. Gage's personality have provided scientists with important information about the workings of the frontal lobes of the brain and made Phineas quite famous. According to Dr. Macmillan's web site, the accident is mentioned " almost 60% of all textbooks of psychology, neuropsychology, and the neurosciences." The Phineas Gage Information Page is a wonderful resource with original articles, photographs and links that describe this famous accident.


Many studies have examined sleep problems in infants and adults, but relatively little has been written about the sleep patterns and problems in elementary school-aged children. Two new studies focus on sleep in this group of children.

The first new study was by a team of researchers led by Dr. Judith Owens from Rhode Island Hospital. Their research suggests that sleep problems in school-aged children may be more common than previously thought. Dr. Owens and her team surveyed 494 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. They found that these students:

1) slept for an average of about 10 hours each night. 2) went to sleep at about 8:30 pm. 3) woke up at about 7:15 am.

Parents and teachers of these students were also surveyed. About 15% of the parents reported that their children resisted going to sleep and about 13% of them said that their children were anxious about going to sleep. Other sleep problems included waking up at night, sleepwalking, loud snoring, and daytime sleepiness. In all, about 37% of the children had at least one sleep-related problem. Teachers reported that about 10% of the students had trouble staying awake during the day and that 5% of the students were so sleepy that it disrupted school.

The second study comes from a research group in the Department of Psychology at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Scientists monitored the sleep patterns of 140 students in second, fourth and sixth grades by attaching a small, wristwatch-like movement detector to the arm of each child. Sleep was measured on five consecutive school nights.

Perhaps it was no surprise that sixth graders were found to sleep about an hour less than second graders. This occurred because the older students went to sleep later than the younger students. The researchers also found that girls slept longer than boys. About 18% of the students were considered to be poor sleepers because they woke up frequently during the night or woke up and then stayed awake for a long time during the night. It was more common for the older students to report that they were drowsy in the morning. The parents of these older students also reported that their children were more sleepy and tired during the day.

These data suggest that older school-aged children may not be getting the sleep they need and may be at risk of becoming sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation may lead to concentration and memory problems, depression, irritability and stress. As you can imagine, this may lead to difficulties at home and at school. Perhaps older students get less sleep because they have more homework and after school activities than younger students. However, because of its importance to mental health, sleep is not something that should be sacrificed.

Now finish reading this newsletter and then get to sleep!


Owens, J.A., Spirito, A., McGuinn, M. and Nobile, C. Sleep habits and sleep disturbance in elementary school-aged children. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 21:27-36, 2000.

Sadeh, A., Raviv, A. and Gruber, R. Sleep patterns and sleep disruptions in school-aged children. Developmental Psychology, 36:281-301, 2000.

Additional information on sleep in children and teenagers can be found at:


Developing the Neuroscience for Kids web site is challenging. I want to make sure that:

a) the information is accurate and up-to-date, b) the pages are easy to read and navigate, c) the images are attractive and add to the text, and d) people enjoy learning about the brain and want to come back to the site to learn more.

In my opinion, a good web site is more than just the delivery of information. A good web site should have personality and provide people with something that cannot be found in textbooks or on CDs, videos and TV. The Internet provides people with the opportunity to interact with information and to communicate with the people who develop a web site. There are many opportunities for people to interact at Neuroscience for Kids: visitors can choose which topics they want to explore, play on-line games, download worksheets and puzzles, ask questions, send in original material and take on-line tests. I believe that these types of activities encourage people to learn more.

To make Neuroscience for Kids more interactive, I am learning how to create on-line activities using Macromedia's Flash 4.0 software. Flash allows users to interact with objects on the screen and makes it easy to include animation, sound, audio and video on a web site. I have developed a few simple games using this new software at:

To play these games, you must have the Shockwave/Flash plug-in for your browser. Some people are reluctant to download and install the plug-in, but it really is not too difficult. You can download the free Shockwave/Flash plug-in at:


"How Do I Know It's Yucky? And Other Questions About the Senses," by Sharon Cromwell, New York: Heineman Library, 1998, pp. 24, ISBN: 1575721600. Recommended for children 4 to 8. [This book review was written by science writer Mike Selby.]

"How Do I Know It's Yucky?" is one of those rare books that appeals to younger and older children alike. The book's illustrations are bright and cheerful, and the explanations are easy to grasp. Each page of the book engages the reader with an interesting question, starting with the title page. Cromwell has written a basic guided tour of the human nervous system, focusing on topics such as brain messages, receptor cells, and sound waves. The many illustrations and graphics will assist younger readers. Older readers will appreciate fact boxes, labeled diagrams, and a helpful glossary. Using humor to educate has never been a bad thing, and this book has an abundance of it. Although readers may know that they dislike smelly socks, now they will know why.


A. "The Lure Of Ecstasy" in Time Magazine (June 5, 2000) - the recent increased use of the drug Ecstasy.

B. "The Battle to Save Your Memory" in Time Magazine (June 12, 2000) - memory loss and ideas on how to save it.

C. "Super Senses" in National Geographic World (June, 2000) - amazing animal senses.

D. "Mr. Sandman" in Discover Magazine (July, 2000) - short interview with sleep researcher Dr. William Dement.

E. "Tourist in a Taste Lab" in Discover Magazine (July, 2000) - author Patricia Gadsby visits a taste laboratory at Yale University.

F. "Silent Summer" in Discover Magazine (July, 2000) - controversy surrounds the spraying of the neurotoxin "malathion" to control mosquitoes that carry West Nile encephalitis.


A. The vagus nerve, important for controlling heart rate and other internal functions, is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves.

B. About 3% of all people living to the age of 80 will be diagnosed with epilepsy (Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 2000, p. 911).

C. The cerebellum is only 10% of the entire volume of the brain, but contains more than half of all of the neurons in the brain. (Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 2000, p. 833).

D. Humans sleep for 17-18 hours a day at birth, 10-12 hours at age 4 and 7-8.5 hours by age 20 (Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 2000, p. 943).

E. Young adults spend about 20-25% of sleep time in REM sleep (Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 2000, p. 943).


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.