Volume 5, Issue 6 (June, 2001)


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. Take Me Out to The Ball Game
4. Strap on the Inline Skates and Helmet
5. Make Sure the Helmet Fits
6. Elephants have Their Own "E"-mail
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. May Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. July NeuroCalendar
C. Gene Therapy Treatment Used for Alzheimer's Disease

In May, 4 new figures were added and 73 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for June is the Internet Psychology Lab at:

Located at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), the Internet Psychology Lab (IPL) is a collection of interactive, multimedia demonstrations about visual perception, auditory perception and cognition. These topics feature a brief description of the basic principles involved and several demonstrations that users can manipulate. These pages make excellent use of the technology available on the web.


Grilled hot dogs, diving catches, the roar of the crowd...these are some of the smells, sights and sounds signalling the arrival of baseball season. Baseball is a very popular sport in the United States, Central America and Japan. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 4.8 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 years play baseball and softball in the United States. Although baseball is a relatively safe sport, the AAP recently issued a policy statement to review baseball-related injuries and to recommend steps to prevent injuries.

The AAP estimates that in 1995, emergency rooms treated 162,000 baseball, softball and tee-ball injuries to children ages 5 to 14 years old. Although it is rare, children have been killed while playing baseball: between 1973 and 1995, there were 88 baseball-related deaths of children. Most (43%) of these deaths occurred when a ball hit a child in the chest. About 24% of the deaths were caused by a ball striking a child's head. There have also been reports of spine injuries to children who have slid head-first into a base.

To reduce the risk of baseball-related injuries, the AAP recommends:

A. Proper use of safety equipment such as batting helmets, masks, chest protectors (for catchers) and rubber spikes on cleats.

B. Protective fencing around dugouts and benches.

C. Break-away bases and a rule change to eliminate head-first sliding for children younger than 10 years old.

D. Elimination of the on-deck circle.

E. Protective eye gear for batters.

F. Low impact baseballs and softballs.


A. AAP Policy statement -

B. Consumer Product Safety Commission -


While we are on the topic of safety, let's talk about another warm weather activity: inline skating (also called "roller-blading").

The International Inline Skating Association (IISA) estimates that 29.1 million Americans participated in inline skating in 1997. Perhaps you are one of these people. Do you wear protective equipment when you skate? If you don't, perhaps you should. Quoting statistics from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the IISA notes that there were 102,991 injuries to inline skaters in 1996. Although most of the injuries were to the lower arm (13.5%) and wrist (24.2%), there were also injuries to the face (7.1%) and head (4.1%). Inexpensive protective gear can reduce these injuries, but for some reason, people don't use it. In British Columbia, researchers found that a mere 13% of the inline skaters wore helmets and only 25% wore wrist guards. In the US, researchers in Boston observed that only 5.7% of the inline skaters wore helmets, but 60% wore wrist guards.

Perhaps if people were aware of the problems caused by head injuries and of the risks involved with inline skating, they would wear helmets more often. What about your neighborhood? Do skaters wear helmets and other protective gear such as wrist guards? Why do you think people don't wear protective gear when they skate?


A. International Inline Skating Assocation (IISA) web site:

B. Beirness, D.J., Foss, R.D. and Desmond, K.J. Use of protective equipment by in-line skaters: an observational study. Injury Prevention, 7:51-55, 2001.

C. Osberg, J.S. and Stiles, S.C. Safety behavior of in-line skaters. Injury Prevention, 6:229-231, 2000.


By now you are probably tired of me reminding you to wear a helmet. "Wear a helmet, wear a helmet!" It's just that I want to make sure that those three pounds of your brain are protected.

So why not wear a helmet? Helmets are inexpensive, especially compared with the cost of even a minor injury. They are easy to use: pick up the helmet; put the helmet on your head. In addition to slapping on a helmet, though, it is important that the helmet has a good fit.

A study published in 1999 suggested that children who wear helmets with a poor fit while bike riding are TWICE as likely to have a head injury compared with those children whose helmets fit properly. In this study, children between the ages of 2 and 14 years who suffered head injuries while bike riding even though they were wearing a helmet were compared with other helmeted children who suffered non-head injuries while bike riding.

The researchers in this study discovered that children who had head injuries were wearing helmets that were too large for their heads. Boys wore their helmets incorrectly more often than girls. Also, children between the ages of 2 and 9 years more frequently wore ill-fitting helmets compared with older children.

So, I'll say it again, "Wear your helmet" and I'll add, "Make sure it fits!"

Did you know? You should NEVER wear a bike helmet when you play on playground equipment. Some children have been injured or killed when parts of the helmet caught in the equipment. For more on this warning, see:


Rivara, F.P., Astley, S.J., Clarren, S.K., Thompson, D.C. and Thompson, R.S. Fit of bicycle safety helmets and risk of head injuries in children. Injury Prevention, 5:194-197, 1999.

For tips on getting a proper helmet fit, see:


When we think of the "e" in e-mail, we think of "electronic." However, humans may not be the only ones with the ability to communicate over long distances. Researchers have found that elephants may communicate with each other through vibrations in the earth. Perhaps we should consider this to be another kind of "e"-mail: "elephant"-mail.

Elephants have been known to generate sounds with frequencies below 20 Hz. These sounds can travel through the air for long distances (about 10 km or 6 miles), but have frequencies too low for humans to hear. Humans can hear sounds with frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz. New research published in December 2000 shows that elephants can create seismic waves that "shake" the earth and may travel for 32 km (19 miles).

Scientists recorded sounds and seismic signals when Asian elephants performed a mock charge. Based on the frequency and duration of the signals, the researchers estimated that the seismic activity produced by sounds could travel for 16 km and the seismic activity produced by a "foot stomp" could travel for 32 km. These signals may be used as a form of elephant communication and may contain information about coordinating movements between elephant herds, about dangers to the herd, or about food, water and weather.

Exactly how elephants sense seismic signals through the ground is not known. Elephant feet may have sensitive receptors to detect low frequency vibrations or perhaps seismic signals travel through bone conduction. Further research with these magnificent mammals may solve this mystery.


O'Connell-Rodwell, C.E., Arnason, B.T. and Hart, L.A. Seismic properties of Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) vocalizations and locomotion. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 108:3066-3072, 2000.


A. "Your Brain on Alcohol" in the May 5, 2001 issue of US News and World Report.

B. The cover story of the May 14, 2001 issue of Time magazine discusses "The Nun Study" about aging and Alzheimer's disease.

C. "The Luvox Debate" (antidepressants for children) in the May 7, 2001 issue of Time magazine.

D. "Sign Language in the Brain" in the June 2001 issue of Scientific American, page 58.

E. "Mad Cow's Human Toll" in the May, 2001 issue of Scientific American.

F. "Mad Cow Cure?" in the June 2001 issue of Discover magazine.

G. "The Physiology of Roller Coasters: Heads Up, Thrill-Seekers" in the June 2001 issue of Discover magazine.

H. "God and the Brain" was the cover story in the May 7, 2001 issue of Newsweek magazine.

I. "Ah, the Blue Smell of It" in the May 21, 2001 issue of Time magazine describe synesthesia, the mixing of the senses. On-line at:,9171,1101010521-109588,00.html


A. Americans consume about 45 MILLION pounds of caffeine each year. (Chou, T., Wake up and smell the coffee. Caffeine, coffee and the medical consequences, West. J. Med., 157:544-553, 1992)

B. Women comprise 22% of the US scientific and engineering workforce. (Science magazine, July 21, 2000, page 379)

C. The US Drug Enforcement Agency seized 9.3 million ecstacy pills in 2000 (up from 400,000 in 1997). (Newsweek magazine, April 2, 2001, page 8)

D. There are an estimated 300,000 sports-related brain concussions in the United States each year. (from

E. When tests for speed and accuracy are given, people who stay awake continuously for 20-25 hours have similar problems as people who have a blood alcohol level of 0.10%. (Lamond, N. and Dawson, D., J. Sleep. Res. 8:255-262, 1999)


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.