Volume 8, Issue 8 (August, 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. Can't Stop the Music: "Earworms"
4. Bike Helmet Ratings
5. Attend the Society for Neuroscience Meeting in San Diego
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 July. Here are some of them:

A. July Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Rico's Rich Vocabulary
C. CPSC Warns of Lead Contamination in Vending Machine Jewelry
D. Helmets for Ice Skaters?
E. Mercury and Seafood
F. Methamphetamine Alters Brain Structure
G. Deck of 52 Brainy Playing Cards

In July, 24 new figures were added and 41 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for August is "Advances in Neurology" at:

"Advances in Neurology" was created by a group of neurologists with the help of a grant from the Novartis Neuroscience company. Epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease are the focus of this web site. The extensive use of videos is what sets "Advances in Neurology" apart from other web sites. The videos show neurologists, patients and caregivers sharing their experiences treating or living with a neurological disorder. A great example of these videos is one titled "Portrait of a Child with Epilepsy" that describes the life of a 17-year-old girl with epilepsy. Complete transcripts of the videos are also available.

Although "Advances in Neurology" is sponsored by a company, there are no advertisements for any products.


Have you ever had a song get stuck in your head? It happens to most of us at one time or another. Dr. James Kellaris, a professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati (Ohio), calls these annoying experiences "earworms."

When I heard about Kellaris' earworm work, I contacted him to find out if he had published any of his studies. He replied that his research has been presented at meetings, but he has not yet published a paper. Kellaris was kind enough to send me the results of work he presented at the 2003 Society for Consumer Psychology meeting.

In his presentation, Kellaris discussed the characteristics of songs likely to "get stuck." He surveyed 559 people (mostly college students) between the ages of 18 and 49 years old. Almost all (97.9%) had experienced an earworm. Women and musicians were found to suffer from earworms more frequently than men and non-musicians. Songs with lyrics were the most common (75.8%) type of earworm, followed by advertisement jingles (12.5%) and instrumental melodies (11.7%). Approximately 40% of all earworms lasted a few hours, but some people said that they had a song stuck in their head for more than a week!

Kellaris generated this list of sticky songs:

* Chili's (Baby Back Ribs) Jingle
* Who Let the Dogs Out?
* We Will Rock You
* Kit-Kat Bar jingle
* Mission Impossible Theme
* Whoomp, There It Is
* The Lion Sleeps Tonight
* It's a Small World After All

Although Kellaris says that there is no cure for earworms, a quick Internet search found these possible (untested) solutions:

* Listen to different music
* Distract yourself with a different activity
* Sing the entire song

For more about Kellaris, see his web site at:


The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) recently reported on Consumer Reports' (July 2004) ratings for bicycle helmets. The BHSI has allowed Neuroscience for Kids to publish an abridged version of their report (Randy Swart, Editor -, 4611 Seventh Street South, Arlington, VA 22204-1419, (703) 486-0100 (voice or fax),

From text issued by the BHSI:

Consumer Reports rated 15 adult helmets, eight youth models and six toddler helmets. This rating represents the only independent lab test data that are publicly available, so it is a major event in the helmet field.

Adult helmets: the Louis Garneau Zen was selected as a "Best Buy," receiving a "Very Good" in impact protection and "Excellent" for other characteristics. The Trek Interval was rated as "Very Good."

Youth helmets: the Specialized Air Wave Mega was the only helmet in this study found "Excellent" for impact protection. The Louis Garneau Grunge 2-V, Bell Amigo and Schwinn Thrasher were rated "Very Good."

Toddler helmets: the Bell Boomerang was "Very Good" for impact and "Highly Recommended," while the Fisher-Price Toddler (Bell Belino) model was rated only "Fair."

The Ripper2 by W helmets was the only helmet tested this time that met both skateboard and bicycle helmet standards. The large size is not certified, however, for bicycle use.

This article is a must-read if you are researching a new helmet, but as always we were disappointed that some interesting helmets were not included. Foremost among them is the Bell Metro, a round and smooth new helmet for which we would have appreciated ratings. There are others as well, particularly the lower-priced models found at Toys R Us and other discounters, where most parents buy child helmets. But testing is expensive, and no single lab, including the US Government, can afford to test every helmet on the market.

For more information, see Bicycle Helmets for the 2004 Season.


In other helmet news: on July 29, 2004, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of DBX Engage (VT-3), DBX Ravage (FX-2), and Geartec ESPY bicycle helmets. These helmets may not protect riders from head injuries if they fall from bicycles. For more information about this recall, see:


The annual Society for Neuroscience (SfN) meeting will take place in San Diego, CA, between October 22 and October 27. In addition to the many scientific sessions, 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 San Diego area, you can also apply for financial support (up to $1,000 for five teachers) to help with travel expenses. Applications for the $1,000 Travel Award will be accepted through September 1.


A. "Ravens" debuts on your local PBS television station on August 15, 2004. The show will discuss the brain and intelligence of birds in the crow family. For more information, including resources for teachers, see:

B. "The Season of the Tick" by Sanjay Gupta (Time magazine, July 12, 2004) discusses Lyme disease and how to prevent it.

C. "Meet the Eye Cam" by Steven Levy (Newsweek magazine, July 12, 2004) investigates how the cornea of the eye helps us see.

D. Several neuroscience articles were published in the August 2004 issue of Discover magazine:
i. "Good-bye Headaches," by Marshall Jon Fisher, about magnetic pulses to stop migraines.

ii. "Study the Clones First," by Jeff Wheelwright, about twins and psychologist Nancy Segal's research to unravel how nature and nurture influence behavior.

iii. "Are Recovered Memories Real," by Jill Neimark.

E. "Virtual-reality Therapy" by Hunter G. Hoffman (Scientific American, August, 2004) discusses how pain and phobias may be treated using computer-generated worlds.

F. "Delaying Alzheimer's" by Sanjay Gupta (Time magazine, August 2, 2004) and "Vanishing Minds" by Josh Fischman (US News and World Report, August 2, 2004) discuss new treatments for patients with Alzheimer's disease.


A. The word "pain" comes from the Latin word "poena" that means punishment or penalty.

B. The iris is the circular band of muscles that controls the size of the pupil in the eye. The pigmentation of the iris gives "color" to the eye. The iris was named after the mythological character Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

C. The first cervical vertebra (backbone) is also called the atlas. Atlas was one of the Titans in Greek mythology. After a fight with Perseus, Atlas was turned to stone and had to carry the weight of the Earth and heavens on his shoulders. Therefore, the first cervical vertebra was named the atlas because it carries the weight of the head.

D. The upper canine teeth are sometimes called the "eye teeth." They get this name from the false belief of ancient physician/anatomist Galen who thought that a nerve in these teeth came from a nerve that also supplied the eye.

E. An estimated 180 million people worldwide are visually disabled. Of those, between 40 and 45 million persons are blind. Every five seconds one person in the world goes blind. One child goes blind every minute. It is estimated that over seven million people become blind every year. (


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.