Volume 8, Issue 6 (June, 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. Smelling Man's Best Friend
4. Looking to the Sky for Brains
5. Summer E-mail Changes
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. Support Neuroscience for Kids
9. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. May Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Prions in Long-Term Memory
C. Long-Term Effects of Concussions in Football Players
D. Rabies
E. Lionfish Invade Eastern US Coast

In May, 23 new figures were added and 48 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for June is "LifeWorks" at:

Are you interested in a career in health and medical science? It is never too early to start planning and the "LifeWorks" web site can help. LifeWorks lets you explore more than 100 different careers, some in the neuroscience field. You can browse the jobs by listing them in order of how much education is required, how much the job pays or what personal characteristics (e.g., artistic, social, investigative) are needed. Each job description provides a brief summary of the work, educational requirements, necessary skills and abilities, and other resources for you to learn more about the career. LifeWorks also has interviews with people who have successful careers in the health and medical sciences. These interviews and the other useful information on "LifeWorks" may help you choose the career that fits you best.


My dog (Buddy) and I were out for a walk recently. If you have a dog, you know that dogs like to stop every so often to smell the bushes and trees. Buddy is no different. He took his time as we walked down to a local park.

Dogs have a fantastic sense of smell that is much better than ours. Dogs have the nose for smell: they have about 1 billion olfactory receptor cells. We humans have only 40 million olfactory receptor cells in our noses. Because of their keen sense of smell, dogs have been used to find illegal drugs, identify criminals and find lost people. Bloodhounds can follow trails that are two days old!

So, dogs can find us. Can we find them? This was a question asked by Dr. Deborah L. Wells and Dr. Peter G. Hepper of the Canine Behaviour Center at Queen's University of Belfast in Northern Ireland. These researchers tested the ability of people to identify their own dog by smell.

The researchers placed blankets in the beds of 26 different dogs. The blankets were left in the beds for three nights to collect the odor of each dog. Another blanket was hung out of reach of each dog in the same room as the dog's bed. The second blanket was used to collect odors of the owner's home. After three nights, the blankets were placed in plastic bags and given back to the researchers.

During the identification phase of the experiment, dog owners were given two bags: one that had the blanket of their dog and one that had the blanket of an unfamiliar dog of similar breed, sex and age as their own. Dog owners were blindfolded so they could not identify the blanket based on dog hair color or other visual information.

Almost all dog owners (23 of 26 owners; 88.5%) correctly chose the blanket of their dog. However, only 18 of 26 people (69.2%) correctly chose the blanket that hung in their house away from the dog.

Experiments have shown that humans can use smell to identify other humans. For example, mothers can recognize their newborn babies by smell. The research by Drs. Wells and Hepper is the first to show that humans have the ability to recognize other animals by smell. The researchers suggest that a dog owner probably becomes familiar with the smell of their dog unconsciously.

Reference and further information:

Wells, D.L. and Hepper, P.G. The discrimination of dog odours by humans. Perception, 29:111-115, 2000.

Bloodhounds: King of the Trackers at:


I am always amazed at the photographs of distant galaxies and planets. One photograph that caught my eye recently was taken by the Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera and released by NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems on May 5, 2004. Have a look at this picture:

Does this crater on Mars look like a human brain to you? Maybe I just see brains in strange places, but to me, this picture sure looks like a "Martian Brain" to me! For more about this photograph, see:


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!


A. "Secrets of the Teen Brain" is the cover story in the Newsweek magazine (May 10, 2004).

B. "Emergency of The Mind" (US News and World Report, May 10, 2004) discusses the use of the emergency room by patients with psychiatric problems.

C. "The Secrets of Sleep" (US News and World Report, May 17, 2004) discusses how sleep affects health and learning.

D. "The Structure of the Human Brain" (American Scientist magazine, May-June, 2004) by John S. Allen, Joel Bruss and Hanna Damasio discusses brain size and shape, brain development and evolution and gender differences.

E. "The Stem Cell Challenge" (Scientific American, June, 2004) by Robert Lanza and Nadia Rosenthal discusses the problems associated with getting human stem cell research from the lab to the clinic.


A. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 500,000 people in the United States exhibit symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. (Source: CDC, online at

B. Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth, causes tooth and jaw pain in 15-20% of people in the US. (Source: "Relief from the Daily Grind," by Benedict Carey. Published in the Seattle Times, October 19, 2003, page L6.)

C. In the US each year, 1.4 million people have cataract surgery, making it the most common operation according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. In the US, cataracts strike 73% of people between the ages 65-74. (Seattle Times, September 22, 2003, page E6.)

D. In 1921, Austrian scientist Otto Loewi discovered the first neurotransmitter that he named "Vagusstoff." We now call this chemical "acetylcholine."

E. The octopus is color blind. (Source: Schwab, I.R., A well armed predator, Br. J. Ophthalmol., 87:812, 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 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.