Volume 8, Issue 1 (January, 2004)


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 Site
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest - Only One More Month Left
4. Increasing Brain Power
5. Moonshine -- Cheap, and Dangerous
6. E-mail
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. Support Neuroscience for Kids
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. December Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. February and March 2004 Neurocalendar
C. Link Between ALS and Persian Gulf War Veterans Confirmed
D. Ecstasy (MDMA) Alone Can Kill
E. Lack of Protein May Prevent Ecstasy Hyperthermia
F. Update on the Philippine Conjoined Twins
G. The Nervous System from A to Z (an alphabet book)
Available as a Flash animation at:
Available as a printable book at:
H. British Regulatory Agency Warning about SSRI Use in Young People
I. Mad Cow Disease Detected for First Time in United States

In December, 42 new figures were added and 110 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for January is the "Advanced Biological Psychology Tutorials" at:

If you are looking for a detailed, online review of the nervous system, then the "Advanced Biological Psychology Tutorials" web site is for you. The site was developed by Dr. Sandra Nagel in the Centre for Psychology at Athabasca University. Dr. Nagel has constructed 38 separate tutorials about a variety of neuroscience topics. Each tutorial has three sections:

A) Image-Mapped Tutorial: basic information about a topic illustrated with pictures. Each tutorial lists references, suggested readings and web sites for further information. The tutorials can also be viewed in a "printable" version if you want to print a copy of the material.

B) Matching Self-Test: a brief test to match items in a picture with the correct answers.

C) Multiple Choice Self-Test: a brief multiple choice quiz to test your knowledge about the material in the tutorial. (Make sure you read through ALL of the possible answers before you answer each question.)

The tutorials are written in textbook fashion for university students. Some people may find the text difficult to read. However, students of all ages may benefit from this site if they want to explore the nervous system in detail.


Entries for the NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS WRITING CONTEST are due on February 1, 2004! The complete set of rules and the official entry form for the contest are available at:

The following books are available to writing contest winners:

"Your Senses" by Helen Frost (from Capstone Press)

"Your Brain" by Terri DeGezelle (from Capstone Press; Bridgestone Books)

"Sound" by Darlene R. Stille (from Compass Point Books)

"Sound: Loud, Soft, High, and Low" by Natalie M. Rosinsky (from Picture Window Books)

"Brain Facts" edited by Joseph Carey (from The Society for Neuroscience)

"States of Mind" edited by Roberta Conlan (from The Dana Press


Increase your IQ!
Increase your brain power!
Increase your intelligence!
Boost your mental abilities!
Unleash your latent mental power!

These are some claims that I have seen in recent advertisements. Some ads quote people who have wonderful things to say about a particular product. None of the claims made in these ads is supported by any research. The evidence from research should do the talking for the product, not paid actors or spokespeople.

Good research must be designed properly to separate fact from fiction. Such research should include:

Even if a product comes with a "money back guarantee," you will save time and energy if you know about the research behind the claim.


by Ellen Kuwana, Neuroscience for Kids Staff Writer

"Moonshine," or homemade alcohol, is historically associated with the rural South. A study conducted at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, found that out of 581 emergency room patients, 9% reported that they had consumed moonshine in the last five years. This suggests that moonshine consumption is not limited to rural areas.

Moonshine is often distilled through car radiators or old pipes, so the homemade brew can contain high levels of lead. Lead is known to cause blindness and damage the brain. Therefore, it is not surprising that some of the nicknames for moonshine have to do with how it makes your head feel: white lightning, skull cracker, pop skull, mule kick, and see seven stars are all reported names that refer to moonshine.

"Moonshine" is a term that originated in England in the 1700s, and refers to work done at night, by the light of the moon. It became the term for illegal whiskey. In the U.S., moonshine was sold by "bootleggers." The term "bootlegger" was used because bottles were hidden in Colonists' pant legs, stuck into the top of the boot.

Moonshine might be cheap, but the cost to your brain is high.


Morgan, B.W., Barnes, L., Parramore, C.S., and Kaufmann, R. B., Elevated blood lead levels associated with the consumption of moonshine among emergency department patients in Atlanta, Georgia, Annals of Emergency Medicine, 42:351-358, 2003.

Land, G., Moonshine Hits the City, Time magazine, October 6, 2003.


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is only two months away! Find out more about BAW at the Dana Alliance and Society for Neuroscience web sites at:


I strongly encourage you to participate in BAW. Your BAW activities do not have to be complicated. Last month I visited my local public library to help them with a display of brain books for their window showcase. Perhaps your school or public library could also arrange a display of "brainy" books during BAW.


A. Neuroscience topics (depression, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune diseases) were featured among the top ten health stories of 2003. (Source: Newsweek magazine, December 8, 2003)

B. Many neuroscience topics were featured among the top 100 science stories of the 2003. (Source: Discover magazine, January, 2004)

C. Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson was featured in the December 7, 2003, issue of Parade magazine.

D. "What's Up With Tuna?" by Mary Carmichael (Newsweek, December 22, 2003) discusses the warnings about mercury in fish.

E. "The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's" is a TV program that debuts on you local PBS station on January 21, 2004. For more information about this program, see:

F. "Memories of Estrogen" by Bernadine Healy (US News and World Report, December 29, 2003) is a short biography of neuroscientist Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton.

G. The Winter 2003 Special Issue of Scientific American titled "The Brain: A Look Inside" is now available. This issue contains articles about mental illness, consciousness, emotions, memory, sensation and perception.


A. A sperm whale's click is the loudest sound produced by any organism on the planet. (Source: Discover, December 2003)

B. The esophagus goes right through the brain of an octopus. (Source:

C. Neuroanatomist Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1906 Nobel Prize winner) worked as a barber's apprentice and a shoemaker before his career in neuroscience.

D. In 2001, approximately 22.8% of the adults in the US were smokers. In 1993, approximately 25.0% of the adults in the US were smokers. (Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 52:953-956, 2003)

E. The corpus callosum, the fiber tract that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain, is approximately 10 cm long and 1 cm wide. (Source: Aminoff, J. and Daroff, R.B. Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences, Amsterdam: Academic Press, 2003)


To insure that Neuroscience for Kids stays available, we need your help. If you would like to contribute to the funding of Neuroscience for Kids, please download one of the forms below. Simply print out the page, fill out the form, and mail it to the address listed. All contributions are tax deductible (subject to IRS regulations).



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.