Volume 6, Issue 1 (January, 2002)


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. Neuroscience for Kids Page of the Month
3. Writing Contest
4. Brain Awareness Week - March 11-17, 2002
5. My Dad's Brain
6. Emotional Dreams
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. How to Stop Your Subscription


A. December Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. February NeuroCalendar
C. Common Pain Reliever May Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
D. Sea Anemone May Provide Drug to Treat Multiple Sclerosis
E. Heads Up on Bike Helmet Law
F. Women Have More Frontal Lobe Neurons Than Men
G. Brain Joke Generator (requires Shockwave plug-in for your browser)
H. Neuroscience Treasure Hunt #4

In December, 26 new figures were added and 127 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for January is "Global Anatomy" at:

Although "Global Anatomy" was created for first-year medical students, Neuroscience for Kids readers should also find this web site useful. Created in 1997 by the Department of Anatomy at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, "Global Anatomy" is a series of Internet textbooks about neuroanatomy. The main sections of the site focus on the cranial nerves, spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellum and thalamus. These areas are described in detail and illustrated with photographs and drawings. There are some challenging quizzes to test your neuroanatomy knowledge -- a great way to prepare for your next test!

Do you have a favorite neuroscience web site? Would you like other people to know about it? If so, send the address of the web site to Dr. Chudler (e-mail: and it may be selected as a "Page of the Month."


There is only ONE month left for you to enter the Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest. A complete set of rules, sample poems and an entry form are available at:

Capstone Press ( has already donated some books as prizes. There are many prizes for students in each grade category. Perhaps you can be a winner!

Good luck!


March 11-17, 2002 marks Brain Awareness Week (BAW). Are you ready? Here are some ideas to help you make BAW special:

A. Have a speaker visit your class. Visit the Society for Neuroscience Committee on Neuroscience Literacy web site to find a neuroscientist who is interested in K-12 education:

Contact the neuroscientist to set up a visit as soon as possible because things can get very busy during the BAW.

B. Plan a BAW Open House or a Brain Science Fair. Students could conduct experiments and then present their results to other students, teachers and parents. You could announce your event using electronic BAW postcards:

C. Learn about the brain in class. You can find a one-week lesson plan for BAW and many experiments and demonstrations on the Neuroscience for Kids web site.

One-week BAW lesson plan:

One month of short activities:

Experiments, activities and demonstrations:

The Society for Neuroscience and DANA Alliance have other BAW materials for you to use. Visit these web sites to find out what is going on near you during BAW. You may find a field trip, lecture or open house to attend.


At his neurologist's request, my dad recently underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of his brain. As a son, I was concerned for my dad's health. As a neuroscientist, I was interested in the procedure. As the editor of this newsletter, I was hoping for another story. My dad obliged and has written the following description of his MRI experience.


"Last week my brain was scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). I was told to remove all metal I was carrying or wearing and then I was placed on my back on a gurney and rolled into the MRI machine. The MRI technician told me not to move or the quality of the images would be poor.

Once I was in the machine, the technician placed a cloth over my eyes. I am not quite sure why she did this, but it was a little soothing and I didn't have to look at the machine. The sounds of the MRI were loud, excruciating...and they never stopped. The lab technician told me the noise was the machine taking images of my brain in various positions.

While the machine was working, I recited the Gettyburg Address to myself to help pass the time. I also recalled the poem "Annabelle Lee" by Edgar Allen Poe and various nursery rhymes. I only wished I knew more of them. As a last resort I counted up to 100 and then counted backwards. By the time I finished counting, I thought I couldn't take the noise any longer and called for the technician who was standing close by. She kept asking me if I was "ok." I asked her how much longer I had to stay in the machine as I didn't think I could take the noise much longer. She said to hold on for one minute longer. Of course, it was a little longer than one minute.

The entire process took about 20 minutes. It was not painful, but the noise was terrible. I'll never forget the noise!"


We won't know the results of the MRI for a few weeks. However, my dad managed to get copies of his brain scans which he promised to give to me.


Most dreams occur during the stage of sleep called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During REM sleep your brain waves appear as if you are awake, but the muscles you use to move are paralyzed. There is an excellent chance that if you wake up during REM sleep, you will say you were dreaming. Each night there are four or five periods of REM sleep. However, most people remember only the dream that occurs immediately before they wake up.

Although many experiments have studied what people dream about, few experiments have investigated the emotional content of dreams. New research from Norway sheds light on the emotional experiences contained in dreams. Nine volunteers were connected to portable EEG machines as they slept in their own homes. The EEG machine was used to record brain waves and to show researchers when the volunteers were in REM sleep. Volunteers were awakened when their EEG signaled to the researchers that REM sleep was occurring. Once awake, the volunteers were asked to fill out a report noting the appearance of emotions in their dreams.

Emotional content within a dream was reported 74% of the time when people were awakened from REM sleep. Sometimes people reported more than one type of emotion within a single dream. The most common emotion found in dreams was joy/elation (36% of the reports). The second most common emotion was surprise (24% of the reports), followed by anger (17% of the reports).

It is well known that the limbic areas of the brain are involved with the experience of emotions and that these areas are active during REM sleep. How these brain areas contribute to the emotional content of dreams and why people experience these emotions while asleep is not known.

I'd like to know how "emotional" the volunteers in this experiment were during the morning after the experiment. How would you like to be awakened each time you started to dream?

Reference: Fosse, R., Stickgold, R., Hobson, J.A. The mind in REM sleep: Reports of emotional experience. Sleep, 24:947-955, 2001.


A. Set your VCRs to "The Secret Life of the Brain," a new, five-part PBS special that will premiere on January 22, 2002. The video clips of this program that I have seen are impressive. This show looks like a winner! The program has a web site with more information and material:

B. "DragonflyTV" is a new science show for elementary and middle school students that will premiere in January 2002. For details of this program, see:

C. "Sleepless In America" in the December 17, 2001 issue of Time Magazine describes the drug called Provigil used to treat narcolepsy.

D. Michael Kinsley, editor of, discusses his diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease in the December 17, 2001 issue of Time Magazine (pages 72-73).

E. "The Biology of Handedness...Out of Left Field" in the January, 2002 issue of Discovery Magazine.



A. In 1921, Hermann Rorschach developed the inkblot test to assess personality.

B. Approximately 80% of the dragonfly brain is devoted to processing visual information (Young, A.M., Small Creatures & Ordinary Places. Essays on Nature. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2000, 232 pages).

C. In November 2001, a record 28,500 people from all over the world attended the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, California.

D. In 2000, 495 doctorates were awarded in neuroscience; 39.4% of these new PhDs were women (Source: National Science Foundation)

E. Eagles have more than 1 million photoreceptors per square millimeter in their retinas; humans have 200,000 photoreceptors per square millimeter (Schwab, I.R., Br. J. Ophth., 84:1089, 2000).


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.