Volume 6, Issue 11 (November, 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. Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest
4. New Materials from the National Institutes of Health
5. Football Gear Saves Boy's Life
6. American Academy of Neuroscience Prizes
7. Book Review
8. Media Alert
9. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. October Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. The Cost of Unhelmeted Motorcycle Riders
C. Promising Progress for Christopher Reeve's Spinal Injury
D. New Facts on West Nile Virus
E. Blind Spot Tester Template
F. Is Fish Really Brain Food?

In October, 16 new figures were added and 63 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for October is "ePsych" at:

ePsych is a project developed by Dr. Gary Bradshaw, a professor in the Applied Cognitive Science program at Mississippi State University. With plenty of humor, Dr. Bradshaw and his coworkers have created ePsych as an interactive way to teach people about perception, sensation, and learning.

When you enter ePsych, you will have choices:

A. The Deliberate Mind: learn about the Stroop effect and signal detection.

B. The Adaptive Mind: learn about operant conditioning and learning.

C. The Descriptive Mind: learn about hearing and vision.

D. The Biological Mind: learn about the eye and the ear.

Each of these "Minds" is filled with interactive demonstrations to show how the mind works. For example, in the Adaptive Mind, you can train a little "fuzzy" creature using reinforcement and punishment. In the Deliberate Mind (Signal Detection), you can test your concentration and attention abilities as you monitor a radar screen for "missile attacks." In my opinion, ePsych is a unique place on the Internet that will allow your brain to study your mind.

Do you have a favorite brainy web site? If so, let me know and it may become a "Page of the Month."


You have three months to enter the NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS DRAWING CONTEST. The contest is open to students in kindergarten through high school. Get the official contest rules and an entry form at:


A. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released "Brain Power," a set of materials for second and third grade students. "Brain Power" is part of the NIDA Junior Scientist program and contains six modules about basic brain structure and function and the effects of drugs. This material is available free of charge and can be downloaded (PDF files) at:

B. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has just released "The Life and Death of a Neuron," a new brochure describing how neurons develop and die. The material is available online as a web page and in PDF format. You can also have the brochures mailed to you. For more details, see:


The Seattle Times (October 4, 2002) reported that a 12-year-old boy was saved by his football gear when the bike he was riding was hit by a car. Bjorn Berkedal, a seventh-grader at a Seattle middle school, was riding to football practice in his practice gear (pads and helmet). When Bjorn did not brake for a stop sign, he was struck by a car traveling between 20 and 25 miles per hour. Bjorn was thrown off his bike and his head went through the car's windshield! After the impact, he bounced into some bushes and landed on the pavement. Bjorn was taken to the hospital and although he had some cuts and bruises, he did not break any bones and did not suffer any apparent brain damage. The results of this accident certainly could have been tragic had he not been wearing his football helmet.

I don't know if Bjorn plans to wear his football gear every time he rides his bike. However, I am fairly certain he will be wearing his bike helmet!


The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has announced a competition for two prizes for high school students: the "2003 Neuroscience Creativity Prize" and the "2003 Neuroscience Research Prize." The Creativity Prize is for a proposal of an experiment and the Research Prize is for a completed experiment. So, if you have a good idea for a project, the Creativity Prize is for you. If you have a completed project, then you should apply for the Research Prize. The rules and entry forms for these prizes are posted on the AAN web site at:


If you plan to enter, you had better get busy! The deadline for both of these contests is December 1, 2002.


"Hidden Worlds: Looking Through a Scientist's Microscope" by Stephen Kramer, photographs by Dennis Kunkel, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001 [ISBN: 0618055460].

Get up close to a carpet beetle, tsetse fly and dust mite! These and other microscopic animals are enlarged and made visible through the photographs of Dennis Kunkel, a scientist who uses a microscope to see things most of us never see.

Dennis teamed with author Stephen Kramer to create "Hidden Worlds." Together they take you on the journey of Dennis's career as a scientist. We learn how Dennis became interested in science and about his work inside and outside the laboratory. The book is filled with photographs of plants and animals that Dennis has taken using different types of microscopes including a dissecting microscope, compound microscope and electron microscope.

I think that Dennis is an artist and a scientist. His photographs are bright and colorful; some are abstract (the butterfly wing), others are scary (the carpet beetle and dog flea). All of his photographs are beautiful and I see them as pieces of art.

I knew Dennis when we were both graduate students at the University of Washington in the early 1980s. Dennis worked in the Department of Neurological Surgery, three floors above where I worked. Although our research focused on different topics, we played softball on the same graduate student team. (If I remember correctly, our team name was the "Axonal Aces.") I've also enjoyed seeing many of Dennis's photographs that are currently on display at the University of Washington Health Sciences Library. You can enjoy Dennis's work by visiting his great web site at:

I wrote to Dennis, who now lives in Hawaii, and asked him to give us an update about his work:

"Life has changed dramatically for me but all for the better. I have moved away from direct University research since funding became so difficult to obtain. In 2000, I started my own scientific stock photo agency and am licensing images to various publishers. I am continuing my microscopy with more vigor and am enjoying the time to be able to do this. In addition, I am working with all types of researchers (and some commercial clients) in photographing biological specimens. It is exciting to be involved with many areas of biology and to be able to direct my microscopy expertise. Biology is so diversified that I have only begun to fully explore organisms with different types of microscopy. I have always been curious at visualizing the small worlds around us and now I have the time to do it. I am also involved in two other books but they have not been finalized with the publishers at this time. I work with many clients from film and TV to major magazines such as National Geographic. My images are used in textbooks, magazines, educational programs and museums."


A. "A Neurologist's Notebook: The Case of Anna H," by Oliver Sacks, New Yorker, October 7, 2002, pages 63-73.

B. "Feathered Friends," US News and World Report, October 14, 2002: the behavior of crows.

C. "The Bionic Connection," by Jocelyn Selim, Discover Magazine, November 2002: connecting the nervous system with computers.

D. "The Biology of...Stuttering," by William Speed Weed, Discover Magazine, November 2002.

E. "Unmasking Skin," by Joel L. Swerdlow is the cover story of the November 2002 issue of National Geographic magazine.

F. "Mesmerized by Magnetism," by Michael Shermer, Scientific American, November 2002.

G. "Is American Going to Pot?" is the cover story of the November 4, 2002 issue of Time Magazine. Articles in this issue discuss the politics and physical effects of marijuana.


A. As people age, their ears get larger. Ear circumference increases on average 0.51 millimeters per year. (Source: "Ear size as a predictor of chronological age," by R. Tan, V. Osman, and G. Tan. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Vol. 25., page 187, 1997.)

B. The giant squid has the largest eyeball of any living animal. The diameter of the giant squid's eyeball is 25 cm. The diameter of a human's eye is 2.4 cm and that of the blue whale is 15 cm. (Source: Nature, 402:747, 1999.)

C. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a $933 million budget for research. (Source: Science, August 2, 2002, page 748.)

D. The New Straits Times (August 11, 1997) reported on a "smoking contest" between two young men (ages 19 and 21 year old). These two men wanted to see who could smoke the most cigarettes at a single sitting. The result was tragic: the 19 year old died after smoking 100 cigarettes and the 21 year old was seriously poisoned after smoking 80 cigarettes.

E. All invertebrate taste receptor cells are bipolar primary sensory neurons. (Source: The Neurobiology of Taste and Smell, 2nd edition, edited by Finger, T.E., Silver, W.L. and Restrepo, D., 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.