Volume 8, Issue 12 (December, 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 Drawing Contest - NOW OPEN
4. University of Washington Brain Awareness Week Open House
5. Keep It Down
6. Mozart Meets The Incredibles
7. Brainy Gift Ideas
8. Media Alert
9. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
10. E-mail Changes
11. Support Neuroscience for Kids
12. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. November Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Mental Illness: The Cost to Society
C. Sniffing Out Bladder Cancer
D. UW Brain Awareness Week Open House Application Forms
E. Swimming in Circles
F. Smaller Amygdala Size in Cocaine Addicts
G. Public-Health Victory: Vaccine-Related Polio Wiped Out in US
H. Animal Stroop Effect Test
I. 2005 Yearly Calendar
J. 2005 Brain Facts Daily Planner

In November, 27 new figures were added and 98 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for December is "Internet Stroke Center" at:

A stroke (or brain attack) occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked suddenly. According to the Internet Stroke Center:

* Stroke is the third leading cause of death.

* Each year, about 700,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke.

* In 2000, stroke killed 283,000 people in the United States.

These numbers show how dangerous stroke can be and how important it is to understand the warning signs of a stroke. The Internet Stroke Center is filled with information to learn about the types of stroke, how stroke is diagnosed and treated, how to live after a stroke, and new developments in stroke research. The material on the web site is divided into sections for stroke patients and their families and health care providers. There is also a Stroke Trials Directory for people who want to find clinical trials being conducted about stroke.

The Internet Stroke Center is produced by the Stroke Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University Medical Center and the Cerebrovascular Diseases Section of the Department of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.


The Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest is now open! For the complete set of rules and the official entry form for the contest, see:


Do you want to bring your students (grades 4-12) to the 2005 Brain Awareness Week Open House at the University of Washington on Tuesday, March 22, 2005? We are now accepting applications. Please complete and return the application form (in either PDF format or WORD format):


To read about last year's BAW Open House at the University of Washington, please see:

If you cannot download the application form for the Open House, contact Dr. Chudler by e-mail:


Last month my daughter bought a new sound system to listen to the radio and her music CDs. She noticed that the volume control on the system was quite sensitive and that even at a volume setting of only 4 (out of 10), the sound was very loud. That got her wondering: how loud could she play her music? I "recommended" that she not find out because she could damage the speakers and her ears. Nevertheless, she had to experiment and rather than risk her new speakers, she plugged in some headphones. She assured me that she would not wear the headphones during her experiment.

As she cranked up the volume control to a setting of 7 or 8, I could hear the music from across the room. Because the sound was so clear and loud, it did not seem as if the music was coming from headphones. Satisfied with the power of her new sound system, she unplugged the headphones, reset the volume control to a 3, and listened to one of her new CDs.

It is not a myth that listening to loud music can cause hearing damage. Dr. A.B. Drake-Lee, from the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, investigated the effects of loud music by testing the hearing abilities of members of the heavy metal rock group called ManOWar.

ManOWar bills itself as the loudest rock band in the world. The group stands in front of 48 speaker cabinets. The band's chief engineer regularly records sound levels over 135 decibels on the stage and in auditoriums during performances. (For reference, a jackhammer produces sound of approximately 120 decibels and a jet engine produces sound of approximately 130 decibels.)

Dr. Drake-Lee measured the hearing ability of the three band members and the chief roadie before and after a 1.5 hour concert. Before the concert, the lead guitarist was found to have hearing loss for high frequencies in both ears. The other musicians and the roadie had some hearing loss for frequencies around 6,000 Hz only. After a concert, with the exception of the singer who wore an ear plug in his right ear, all other band members and the roadie suffered hearing loss at all tested frequencies: each test sound had to be louder in order for it to be heard. Although this type of hearing loss is often temporary, the pre-concert hearing loss suggests that exposure to loud music may have long-lasting effects.


Drake-Lee, A.B., Beyond music: auditory temporary threshold shift in rock musicians after a heavy metal concert, J. Royal Soc. Med., 85:617-619, 1992.


Have you seen the new Pixar movie "The Incredibles?" I saw it last month with my son and was a bit surprised to see some scientific misinformation in the movie.

Don't worry, I won't spoil the movie by giving away the plot. The misinformation comes in the middle of the movie when a babysitter is speaking to the baby's parents. The babysitter mentions that she has brought over Mozart music because listening to this music will make the baby smarter. The babysitter apparently heard about the "Mozart Effect." Unfortunately, there is no evidence that listening to Mozart or any other classical music makes babies or anyone else smarter. For more about music and the brain (including the Mozart Effect), see:


By Ellen Kuwana, Neuroscience for Kids Staff Writer

The gift-giving season is approaching and catalogs can provide a painless way to shop while avoiding crowds (and flu and cold season) and traffic. A Google search using "brainy gifts" will get you 43,200 sites! There are obviously many options. Here are some suggestions for "neuro-related" gifts.

The Signals catalog ( offers:

A. The book "The Science of Harry Potter," by Roger Highfield, science editor of the London Daily Telegraph. ($14.00)

B. Laughing may be good for your health, so why not buy a loved one (or yourself) the "Plenty of Pretty Good Jokes" CD compiled from public radio. ($39.95)

C. For that hard-to-buy-for person, try the "Pop Up Book of Phobias," an amazing paper-craft book with 3-D pop-ups. ($29.95)

The Museum Tour catalog ( has many science-themed gifts:

A. The Perfume Maker Kit is perfect for a child interested in creating scents. Vials and pipettes introduce careful measuring skills, while the easy subject matter might perk an interest in the sense of smell. Recommended for ages 6 and up. ($29.95)

B. Students ages 9-14 may find these books about the body helpful in biology class. The books "Hmm" and "Zzz" introduce concepts related to memory and sleep; "Aha" and "Baa!" cover the topics of intelligence and genetics/cloning. These are sold in sets of three - the third book in each set was not related to neuroscience. (Three books for $20.85)

C. Helmets have become much more accepted by kids - and what better way to get a cool helmet than to decorate your own? "Paint Your Own Helmet" features a multi-purpose sports helmet approved by the CPSC for active kids ages 7 and up. Day-glo paints and brushes are included. All one needs is some creativity. ($24.95)

D. The Mind's Eye Optical Illusion Kit ($69.95) is an expensive gift. If you don't want to spend this much, check out the Neuroscience for Kids web site for fun (free) optical illusions; see

As with any gift, it's the thought that counts, although here at Neuroscience for Kids, we like to spark scientific thoughts, too! There are many catalogs and stores to assist you with your holiday shopping. And while "smart" toys are all the rage, old-fashioned ones that don't speak three languages, beep, or flash colored lights are amazing at capturing kids' imaginations. No studies have shown that kids become "smarter" by playing with technologically fancy toys.

Most toys that have endured the test of time are ones that stimulate a child's natural curiosity. Look for toys that stimulate the senses. Pinpoint a child's interests and then, have some fun shopping!


A. "Beauty and the Brain" by Greg Ross (American Scientist, November/December, 2004) describes what happens when a neurobiologist visits the art museum.

B. "Lights Out: Can Contact Sports Lower Your Intelligence?" by Barry Yeoman (Discover magazine, December, 2004).

C. "The Brain's Own Marijuana" by Roger A. Nicoll and Bradley N. Alger (Scientific American, December, 2004).

D. "The Year in Medicine from A to Z" by David Bjerklie, Alice Park & Sora Song (Time magazine, December 6, 2004).

E. "The Quest for Memory Drugs" is the cover story in Newsweek magazine (December 6, 2004).

F. "Conquering Our Phobias" by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak is the cover story in US News and World Report (December 6, 2004). This article discusses brain mechanisms of fears and potential treatments for people with phobias.


A. In 1863, Adolf von Baeyer synthesized barbituric acid, the first barbiturate. He named this chemical after his girlfriend Barbara. (Source: Bunch, B. The History of Science and Technology, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004.)

B. The brain of a worker honeybee weighs only 1 milligram. (Source: Zhang, S. and Srinivansan, Explorations of cognitive capacity in honeybees: Higher function emerge from a small brain, in F.R. Prete editor, Complex Worlds From Simpler Nervous Systems, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004.)

C. Some snails can sleep for three years. (Source: National Geographic Kids, September, 2004.)

D. A crocodile can not stick out its tongue. (Source: National Geographic Kids, September, 2004.)

E. Most walruses appear to be right-"handed." Scientists from Greenland and Denmark have observed that 89% of the time, walruses use their right flipper to brush debris off buried clams before eating them. (Source: National Geographic Kids, June, 2004.)


Some people change e-mail addresses at the end of the year. If you change your e-mail address and would like to continue to receive the Neuroscience for Kids newsletter, please let me know. If the newsletter bounces back to me because an e-mail address is incorrect or a mailbox is full, then that e-mail address is removed from the mailing list automatically.


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 visit:

Help Neuroscience for Kids


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.