Volume 7, Issue 8 (August, 2003)


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 Site of the Month
3. Take a Poll
4. Keep Cool...Avoid Heat Stroke
5. Teacher Workshops at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting
6. National Institutes of Health; Science in the Cinema
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. Summer E-mail Changes
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. July Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. 2004 Daily Planner Calendar
C. The Temporal Lobe: Laughing Matter
D. New Test for West Nile Virus Creates a Buzz
E. Neuroscience Survey
F. Brains and Neurons Board Game

In July, 11 new figures were added and 51 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for August is "Medical Science 532, Nervous System Course" at:

Medical Science 532 is a web site made for medical students that features material about the nervous system. Although some of the material is very detailed, there is plenty of information for everyone. One of the more complicated sections, "Ascending Pathways," describes how signals get from the head and body to the brain. This section, however, has many pictures that make the text easier to understand. The authors also use many drawings to illustrate the cranial nerves and cells of the nervous system ("Neurocytology"). Brief descriptions of 17 neurological disorders are included in the "Nervous System Diseases" section. A great feature of the site is the "Structure-Function" section where you can click on areas of the brain to find out what they do and how they work. The Medical Science 532 web site is supported by the University of Idaho - WWAMI Medical Education Program (


It's your turn to let me know what you like and don't like about this newsletter. Take a few minutes to answer the three questions in this online poll at:

When you take the poll, you will be completely anonymous -- I have no way of knowing who answered any of the questions. Your answers can help improve the newsletter and get you the information that you want to read.

You can also answer a new survey about what brain topics interest you the most:


August is usually the warmest month of the year for people who live in the Northern Hemisphere. It is likely that some of us will experience a heat wave this summer. These extended periods of hot weather may cause "heat stroke," which occurs when the body's internal cooling system becomes overloaded. When this happens, a person's body temperature can rise out of control which is dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that hot weather was responsible for the deaths of 8,015 people in the United States between 1979 and 1999.

Your body temperature is controlled by an area of the brain called the "hypothalamus." The hypothalamus acts as a thermostat to compare your body temperature to a "set point" which is normally 98.6 degrees F (37 degrees C). If there is a difference between your body temperature and the set point, the hypothalamus can start processes that cue the body to retain or lose heat. The hypothalamus has connections to the autonomic nervous system and can alter heat balance by affecting blood vessels in the skin and causing sweating. For example, to cool the body, the hypothalamus sends messages to the body to make blood vessels near the skin surface larger. This helps heat escape from the body. The evaporation of sweat also cools the body. In hot weather, our brain also tells us to find a cooler place or to take off a piece of clothing.

Very hot and humid conditions can damage the brain's ability to regulate body temperature. When this happens, a person may lose the ability to sweat and the body will be unable to cool itself. This is heat stroke!

The warning signs of heat stroke may include:

* high body temperature (above 106 degrees F)
* no sweating
* dizziness, nausea, confusion
* headache
* unconsciousness
* rapid heart rate

Of course, the best way to avoid heat stroke is to stay cool. The American Red Cross and CDC suggest the following steps to keep cool:

* slow down; avoid strenuous activity
* stay indoors as much as possible; use air conditioning or a fan
* wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight
* drink water; avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks
* don't take salt tablets unless instructed to do so by a doctor



The annual Society for Neuroscience (SfN) meeting will take place in New Orleans, LA, between November 8 and November 12. Although approximately 25,000 neuroscientists will be at the meeting, there will also be some lucky K-12 teachers and high school students in attendance. The SFN Committee on Neuroscience Literacy has scheduled workshops for K-12 teachers and a short neuroscience course for high school students. Teachers must register their students for the short course. Registration is FREE to K-12 teachers and high school students for these events. If you are a K-12 teacher outside the New Orleans area, you can also apply for financial support (up to $1,000 for five teachers) to help with travel expenses. Space and financial support is limited, so apply early. For a description of the program, registration materials and a financial support application are available on the SfN web site. Here is how to register:

A. Go to the SfN web site:

B. Click on "Registration" to register for the annual meeting.

C. Enter your information as a "Nonmember" if you are not a member of the SfN. (If you haven't set up an account, you must first create an account on the SfN web site. There is a link to do this at the bottom of the registration page.)

D. After you register, go to the Committee on Neuroscience Literacy web site to read about the workshops:

5. Register for the workshops by following the directions in a workshop description.

6. You will have to enter the information you set up earlier when you registered as a nonmember.

7. At the bottom of the workshop registration form, you will find a link to a form for financial support to travel to the meeting. Click on this form to download the travel stipend application.

8. If you are applying for the travel stipend, fill out the application and return it to the address listed on the form.

I hope to see you in New Orleans!


The public is invited to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, for the free Science in the Cinema film festival. There are two neuroscience-related movies remaining in the program: "The Hours" (depression) on August 7 and "First Do No Harm" (epilepsy) on August 14. The screening of each movie is followed by a discussion with a guest speaker. For more on the Science in the Cinema program, see:


A. "You Want Statins With That?" by David Noonan in Newsweek magazine (July 14, 2003, pages 48-55) discusses how drugs that lower cholesterol may also prevent neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis. This issue of Newsweek also has an essay written by a woman who has given up driving because of an eye condition called macular degeneration (page 21) and a discussion of the causes and treatment of extreme shyness (page 47).

B. "On the Trail of the West Nile Virus" by Stephen S. Hall in Smithsonian magazine (July, 2003, pages 88-102).

C. "Animal Emotions" by Mary Carmichael in Newsweek magazine (July 21, 2003, pages 44-47).

D. Neuroscience made the cover of Time magazine two weeks in a row. "Overcoming Dyslexia" is the cover story of the July 28, 2003 issue of Time magazine. One article in this issue, "The New Science of Dyslexia" by Christine Gorman, discusses new research about the brains of people with dyslexia. The cover story of the August 4, 2003 issue of Time magazine is titled "The Science of Meditation."

E. Throughout most of the 1990s, the number of doctoral degrees that U.S. universities awarded in science and engineering climbed steadily, to 27,300 in 1998, but by 2001, the number had dropped to 25,500, the lowest number since 1993. (Source: Science News, March 8, 2003.)


A. Some people, such as professional perfumers, can distinguish between 100,000 different smells.(Source: Bear, M.F., Connors, B.W. and Pradiso, M.A., Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain, 2nd edition, Baltimore: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2001, p. 267.)

B. The word "brain" appears 66 times in the plays of William Shakespeare. (Source: The Scientist, April 21, 2003.)

C. "Rabies" comes from the Latin word "rabere," meaning "to rave" as well as a Sanskrit word for doing violence. (Source: Discover, March 2003.)

D. In a 7-year study, people who ate at least one serving of seafood once a week had a 30% lower risk of developing dementia than those who ate less seafood. (Source: Discover, March 2003, page 10.) E. The Society for Neuroscience had 31,206 members in 2002. (Source: Society for Neuroscience


Will you be away from school or work and unable to read your e-mail? Do you still want to receive the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter? If you will not be able to receive e-mail over the summer, make sure that you contact me (e-mail: to let me know where to send the newsletter. If my e-mail to you bounces back to me because it could not be delivered, your e-mail address will be removed from the mailing list. If this happens to you, just send me an e-mail to resubscribe. Have a good summer!


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.