Volume 9, Issue 2 (February, 2005)


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
4. Brain Awarenesss Week 2005
5. Eye Disorder Hits Home
6. Extra Brake Light Reduces Car Crashes
7. Summer Job Opportunities at Johns Hopkins University
8. Book Review
9. Media Alert
10. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
11. Support Neuroscience for Kids
12. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. January Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Neuroethics
C. Can a Cup of Tea Keep Alzheimer's Away?
D. FDA Approves New Meningitis Vaccine
E. Smell of Vanilla Reduces Breathing Problems in Premature Infants
F. 2004 Neuroscience in the News Stories Archived

In January, 12 new figures were added and 110 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for January is the "Sense of Smell Institute" at:

The Sense of Smell Institute was established in 1981 and awards grant money to advance olfaction research. Their web site contains extensive resources about odor, fragrances and the physiology of smell. Use the "Site Map" for an easy way to navigate the web site.

Start by exploring "Smell 101." This series of mini lessons will help you learn the basics of smell. For more detailed information, go to the "Vitual Library" for summaries, books, links and articles about olfaction. There is also a booklet (PDF format) titled "Get In Touch With Your Sense of Smell" with activities you can do at home or at school.


The Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest is now closed and judging has begun. Winners will be sent prizes this month and some of the winning drawings will be displayed at:


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is next month! I hope you have plans. It's not too late to find a neuroscientist to visit your class. Visit the SfN web site to locate a neuroscientist near you:

Here at the University of Washington, 300 students will attend the 8th annual BAW Open House. The Open House will feature hands-on, interactive exhibits sponsored by researchers and staff from various university departments and organizations. If you would like to share what you did during BAW, send me (e-mail: a summary of your activities and I will try to include it in a future issue of the Neuroscience for Kids newsletter.

Even if you cannot organize a brain fair or a classroom visit by a neuroscientist, you can still participate in BAW with some lessons about the brain and nervous system. Neuroscience for Kids has some "brainy" ideas for a day, a week or a whole month:

In celebration of BAW, send a "brainy" postcard to a friend or family member. See:


by Kelly Chudler, 14 years old

Neurological disorders affect millions of people. The following is an article written by my daughter about how eye disease (a detached retina) has affected our family.

People must be aware of the many illnesses, diseases and problems that affect the elderly. My grandmother had been experiencing trouble seeing and had cataract surgery to repair the damage. Although she was healing, she still had some vision problems and on November 9, 2004, she went to visit her eye doctor again. During this visit, the doctor noticed that my grandmother had a detached retina.

My grandmother was very concerned because she learned that if the detached retina was not treated, she could become blind. Considering that my grandma is a very active person, I could not imagine her being blind. The procedure to mend her eye involved putting extra oxygen into the eye to try to set the retina back in place. Since this procedure, her eyesight is still not back to normal and she sees "floaters." Our family is very grateful that the problem was found early enough to repair.

Even after the operation to mend her detached retina, my grandma still cannot do many everyday activities such as traveling by plane and driving a car. My grandfather, being the gentleman he is, now drives her to all of her doctor appointments. She must also sleep upright in a chair and cannot bend over because of the increased blood pressure to her eye. When I visited her soon after the operation, she was full of life like usual, but she seemed a little depressed at times. The operation seems to have affected her because of the new challenges she faces. Before I went home, she stated proudly, "I have confidence in my doctor...with time, the outlook is good."

For more information about retinal detachment, see:


One day last month as I was driving home, I happened to notice the brake lights of the car in front of me. Something didn't look right. Then it hit me -- no, not another car -- the reason why the car looked out of the ordinary. The car had only two brake lights. It did not have the third brake light in the center of rear window.

The third brake light, known as a "Center High Mounted Stop Lamp" (CHMSL), has been required by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) on all cars manufactured since 1986. (CHMSLs have been required on light trucks since 1994.) I wondered what science went into this new law and if CHMSLs have improved driving safety.

The NHTSA web site has a long technical report about the effectiveness of CHMSLs. The report states that CHMSLs were most effective soon after the lights were required in cars. For example, in 1987 and 1988, CHMSLs reduced the number of rear impact car crashes by 8.5% and 7.2%, respectively. Since these early years, the effectiveness of the third brake light has decreased. The average reduction in the number of rear impact car crashes between 1989 and 1995 was only 4.3%. It is possible that people have become too familiar with CHMSLs and don't pay attention to them anymore.

Red or yellow CHMSLs may not be the best color for the CHMSL. Research from Taiwan has shown that drivers tested in a driving simulator responded fastest to blue lights. Road tests to evaluate blue CHMSLs have not yet been performed.

According to the NHTSA, a 4.3% decrease in rear impact car crashes will:

A. Prevent 92,000 - 137,000 police-reported crashes each year.

B. Prevent 58,000 - 70,000 nonfatal injuries each year.

C. Save $655,000,000 in property damage each year.


A. National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration summary:

B. National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration report:

C. Lin, C-C., Effects of illumination, viewing distance, and lighting color on perception time, Perceptual and Motor Skills, 96:817-826, 2003.


The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) seeks enthusiastic science teachers and graduate and undergraduate students to teach in their summer programs for students in grades 2-10. CTY offers intense, 3-week, residential, academic programs for gifted students from across the country and around the world. Sessions are June 23-July 16 and July 16-August 6 with sites in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. They offer courses in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and other subjects. Class size is 12-18 students and the lab supply budget is $780-$1500 per session. Instructors start at $1900-$2900 and TAs at $950 per 3-week session. Room and board are provided at residential sites. For an application, course descriptions, sample syllabi, and other opportunities at CTY visit:

or call CTY at 410-516-0053.


"How Do We Know How the Brain Works" by Donald Cleveland, New York: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2005, 112 pages [ISBN: 1-4042-0078-9]
Reading level: Middle school students

Dr. Donald Cleveland, a professor in the School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of North Texas, has written a book that takes a historical view of the brain. Dr. Cleveland divides his book into three main themes: neuroscience, psychology and cognitive science. Many black-and-white drawings and photographs help illustrate the book, but the list of suggested books and bibliography could be improved. (The listed URL to Internet links also does not work.) Nevertheless, "How the Brain Works" is a excellent resource for students who want to learn about the discoveries that have advanced the field of brain research.


A. "What's the Buzz" by T.R. Reid in National Geographic magazine (January, 2005) discusses why caffeine is the world's most popular psychoactive drug.

B. "The Science of Happiness" is the cover story of the January 17, 2005 issue of Time magazine.

C. "Life After Vioxx" (Newsweek, January 31, 2005) by Anne Underwood discusses drugs used to treat pain and inflammation.

D. "Making Memories Stick" (Scientific American, February, 2005) by R. Douglas Fields discusses why some memories last a long time while others are soon forgotten.

E. "The Cold-Pill Crackdown" by Margot Roosevelt (Time magazine, February 7, 2005) discusses new laws to prevent the manufacture of methamphetamine from cold pills.


A. 15 billion cigarettes are smoked worldwide every day. (Science News, July 5, 2003.)

B. Some fish (e.g., sharks, sturgeon), lampreys, salamanders and the platypus can detect weak electrical fields. (Source: Rose, G.J., Insights into neural mechanisms and evolution of behavior from electric fish, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 5:943-951, 2004.)

C. Several types of beetles are attracted to forest fires. These beetles detect the heat of forest fires with receptors for infrared radiation. Eggs from the beetles are laid after the fire so that larvae can feed off of dead wood. (Source: Bleckmann, H.J., Schmitz, H. and von der Emde, G., Nature as a model for technical sensors, J. Comp. Physiol. A., 190:971-981, 2004.)

D. In 2004, the Society for Neuroscience had 36,183 members. (Source:

E. Squid and cuttlefish have eye with W-shaped pupils. (Source: Land, M.F. and Nilsson, D-E., Animal Eyes, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.)


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Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.

"Neuroscience for Kids" is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center of Research Resources.