|A collection of trivia about the brain and nervous system from the archives of the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter. For more trivia about the brain, see brain facts and figures.|
A. The cortex gets its name from the Latin word for "bark" (of a
B. There are approximately 100 billion neurons in the human brain.
C. The average human brain weighs about 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms).
D. Unlike humans, the octopus does not have a blind spot.
E. The average length of the adult spinal cord is 45 cm for men and 43 cm for women.
A. The skin of an adult human covers about 18-20 square feet (~2 square
meters) and weighs about 6 lb (2.7 kg).|
B. The sponge is the only multicellular animal without a nervous system.
C. The word "hypnosis" comes from the Greek word meaning "sleep."
D. A butterfly can taste with its feet.
E. In 1965, Randy Gardner set the world record for staying awake: 264 continuous hours (about 11 days). Note: In Biopsychology (by J.P.J. Pinel, Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000, p. 322), the record for time awake is attributed to Mrs. Maureen Weston. She apparently spent 449 hours (18 days, 17 hours) awake in a rocking chair. The Guinness Book of World Records  has the record belonging to Robert McDonald who spent 453 hours, 40 min in a rocking chair.
A. The pufferfish, eaten as a delicacy in Japan, contains a potent
neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin.|
B. Stroke ("brain attack") is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.
C. Information travels in the nerves at speeds up to 268 miles per hour (429 kilometers/hour).
D. The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the heart, not the brain, was the seat of mental processes.
E. The heaviest human brain ever recorded weighed 5 lb., 1.1 oz or about 2.3 kg (statistic from The Guinness Book of World Records, 1997). The average brain weighs about 3 lb (1.4 kg).
A. 193,799 scientific publications used the word "brain" between January
1990 and the present (statistic from a National Library of Medicine
B. 400 to 500 ml of cerebrospinal fluid is produced each day.
C. The smallest bone in the human body is the "stapes." This bone, found in the ear, is only 0.25 to 0.33 cm long (0.10 to 0.13 inches) and weighs only 1.9 to 4.3 milligrams.
D. Neurological illnesses affect over 50 million American each year (statistic from "Brain Facts", Society for Neuroscience, 1997).
E. Some of the oldest cells in the human body are neurons...they last a lifetime.
A. If people sleep 8 hours each day, they sleep the equivalent of 122
days per year.|
B. Most people dream about 5 times during each 8-hour period of sleep. Based on this number, people have about 1,825 dreams every year.
C. An average yawn lasts about 6 seconds.
D. The distance separating two neurons at a synapse is 20-40 nanometers. (1 nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter.)
E. People typically blink about 15 times per minute. If you are awake for 16 hours each day, then you blink approximately 14,400 each day! (Source: Schiffman, H.R., Sensation and Perception. An Integrated Approach, New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2001)
A. Bicycle helmets reduce the risk for head injury by as much as 85% and
reduce the risk for brain injury by as much as 88%. (Statistics from the
Center for Disease Control.)|
B. Percentage of total cerebral cortex volume (human): frontal lobe = 41%; temporal lobe = 22%; parietal lobe = 19%; occipital lobe = 18%. (Statistics from Caviness Jr., et al. Cerebral Cortex, 8:372-384, 1998.)
C. People can distinguish between 3,000 and 10,000 different smells.
D. Schizophrenia affects about 1 out of every 100 people.
E. Bees and butterflies can see ultraviolet light.
A. Each year in the United States, about 200,000 people require
hospitalization for head injury and 52,000 people die due to
head injuries. Another 1.74 million people have mild traumatic brain
injury that requires them to visit a doctor or disables
them for at least one day. (Statistics from Traumatic Brain Injury,
edited by D.W. Marion, 1999, page 9 and 11.)|
B. Caffeine is on the International Olympic Committee list of prohibited substances. Athletes who test positive for more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of urine may be banned from the Olympic Games. This level of caffeine may be reached by drinking 4 or 5 cups of coffee.
C. Fevers are controlled by the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The highest body temperature ever recorded was 115 degrees F (46.1 degrees C.) Body temperatures of 109 degrees F (42.8 degrees C) can be fatal. (Statistic from Prevention's Giant Book of Health Facts, 1991.)
D. There are about 300 million neurons in the octopus brain. (The human brain has about 100 billion neurons.)
E. The human cerebellum weighs about 150 grams. (Total brain weight is about 1,400 grams.)
A. Epilepsy affects about 2.5 million people in the US. (Statistic from
the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.)
B. The brain of the great physicist Albert Einstein weighed 1,230 grams. This is far below the average brain weight of 1,400 grams. (Reference: Neuroscience Letters, 210:161-164, 1996.)
C. A 12 oz. can of Coca Cola has 46 mg of caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant. A cup of coffee has 60-150 mg of caffeine.
D. It is estimated that there are 60 trillion (yes, trillion) synapses in the cerebral cortex. (Reference: G.M. Shepherd, The Synaptic Organization of the Brain, 1998, p. 6.)
E. Sounds as loud as 130 dB can cause pain. Listening to sounds louder than 90 dB for an extended period of time can cause hearing damage. The loudness of normal speech is between 50 and 60 dB.
A. In 1997, 41,967 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes;
16,189 fatalities were alcohol-related. This represents an average of one
alcohol-related fatality every 32 minutes. (Source: National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration.)|
B. In the United States, one third of all adults complain about sleep problems. (Source: Consumer Health USA, by Alan M. Rees, Phoenix, Oryx Press, 1995.)
C. Each eye of a dragonfly has about 30,000 lenses.
D. A literature search ("PubMed") using the words "brain" and "1998" shows that 35,286 research papers were published in 1998.
E. The brain of an elephant weighs about 6 kg (13 lb). An adult human brain weighs about 1.4 kg (3 lb).
A. The channel catfish has 100,000 taste buds on the outside of its body.
(Statistic from J. Nolte, The Human Brain. An Introduction to Its
Functional Anatomy, 4th edition, 1999.)|
B. The corpus callosum, the fiber tract that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain, contains more than 300 million axons. (Statistic from J. Nolte, The Human Brain. An Introduction to Its Functional Anatomy, 4th edition, 1999.)
C. The venom of the black widow spider is called "latrotoxin." This toxin results in the massive release of the neurotransmitter "acetylcholine" from neuromuscular junctions of its victims and may cause muscle spasms, pain, increased blood pressure, nausea and vomiting.
D. The X-ray was invented by Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen in 1895.
E. About 4 million people in the US have Alzheimer's disease. The annual cost of caring for these people is estimated to be $90 billion. (Statistic from Brain Facts, published by the Society for Neuroscience, 1997.)
A. The eardrum (tympanic membrane) is only 0.1 millimeter thick and
weighs only 14 milligrams. (Statistics from W.R. Zemlin, Speech and
Hearing Science, Anatomy and Physiology, 1998.)
B. The "four-eyed" fish ("Anableps") has TWO pupils in each of its eyes. Therefore it can see above and below the water simultaneously. (From E.B. Goldstein, "Sensation and Perception," 1999.)
C. The human cerebral cortex has an area of about 2.5 square feet, has 25 billion neurons, is interconnected by over 100,000 kilometers of axons and receives 300 trillion synapses. (Statistics from J. Nolte, The Human Brain. An Introduction to Its Functional Anatomy, 1999.)
D. Approximately 50% of the population of the United States is nearsighted. (Statistic from Purves et al., Neuroscience, 1997.)
E. The human hypothalamus weighs about 4 grams.
A. A giraffe sleeps only two hours each day.
B. The adult human spinal cord weighs about 35 grams (0.1 lb).
C. There are about 1,200,000 nerve fibers in each human optic nerve.
D. The human eyeball is 24.5 mm (~ 1 in) long.
E. The brain of a cat weighs about 30 grams. (Remember, an adult human brain weighs about 1,400 grams or 3 lb.)
All of the statistics and facts for this month come from States of
Mind: New Discoveries About How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are, edited
by Roberta Conlan, New York, Dana Press, 1999, 214 pages (ISBN 0471299634)
A. As many as one in five Americans will be affected by a mental illness sometime in their lives. (p. 9)
B. There are about 3 million miles of axons in the human brain. (p. 12)
C. Of the 31,000 suicides in the United States each year, 60-80% are associated with depression or manic-depression. (p. 54)
D. The economic cost of stress and stress-related disorders in the United States is $200 billion each year. (p. 83)
E. The aplysia ("sea hare") has a nervous system with only 20,000 neurons. (p. 169)
A. Odin, a central character in Norse mythology, used two ravens named
"Thought" and "Memory" to bring him news from around the world. |
B. Head injuries account for 62% of bicycle-related deaths. (Statistic from Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Feb. 17, 1995.)
C. After early childhood and until puberty, synapses in the human neocortex are lost at a rate of 100,000 synapses per second. (from P.T. Rakic, in Annals New York Academy Sciences, Vol. 882, p. 104, 1999.)
D. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Approximately 5,400 Americans go blind from glaucoma each year. (from The American Health Assistance Foundation, http://www.ahaf.org/)
E. In the general population, about 8% of all males and about 0.5% of all
females are colorblind.
A. The gene responsible for Huntington's disease was discovered in 1993.
B. The cerebral cortex makes up about 77% of the total volume of the human brain. (Statistic from Trends in Neuroscience, November 1995.)
C. Humans can hear sounds with frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz; cats can hear frequencies between 100 and 60,000 Hz; elephants can hear frequencies between 1 and 20,000 Hz.
D. Written about 1,700 B.C., the Edwin Smith surgical papyrus contains the first recorded use of the word "brain."
E. The National Institutes of Health was established in 1887.
A. The term "homo sapiens" comes from the Latin words meaning "wise
B. People who say they write with their right hand = 89.06%; those who write with their left hand = 10.60%; those who write with either hand = 0.34% (statistics from W. Calvin, The Throwing Madonna: Essays on the Brain, 1983).
C. In 1891, Wilhelm von Waldeyer coined the term "neuron."
D. The spinal cord runs through bones called vertebrae. A giraffe has seven vertebrae in its neck...this is the same number of neck bones as in people and most other mammals.
E. The world's largest invertebrate (animal without a backbone) is the
giant squid (Architeuthis dux). The giant squid can grow up to 18 m
(59 ft) long and weigh up to 900 kg (1,980 lb).
A. When asleep, humans spend 23.1% of the time in rapid eye movement (REM)
sleep. (Aserinksy, E., in Rapid Eye Movement Sleep, edited by
B.N. Mallick and S. Inoue, Narosa Publishing, New Delhi, 1999.)
B. Venomous snakes can be dangerous even after they are dead. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), it was reported that 14.7% of the people envenomed by rattlesnakes were "bitten" by snakes that were dead or thought to be dead. (NEJM, June 17, 1999, vol. 340:1930.)
C. The word "carotid" (carotid artery) comes from the Greek word karotis meaning "deep sleep." This is because it has been known for a long time that pressure on the carotid arteries causes animals to become sleepy.
D. The cerebellum makes up 10% of the total volume of the human brain. (Statistic from Trends in Neuroscience, November 1995.)
E. Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States. About 3 million Americans have glaucoma; 120,000 of these people are blind. (Statistics from the National Eye Institute - http://www.nei.nih.gov/gam2000/facts.htm).
A. Taste buds are not just found on the tongue; they are also found on the
palate, pharynx and larynx.
B. The brain of the fly contains 337,856 neurons. (Statistic from Comprehensive Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Vol. 5, edited by G.A. Kerkut and L.I. Gilbert, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1985, p. 307.)
C. Opossums do not have a corpus callosum (the large bundle of axons that connects the right and left cerebral hemispheres).
D. Many spiders have eight eyes.
E. Receptor cells in the taste buds are replaced about once every 10 days.
A. 13,285 scientific abstracts (posters and slide presentations) were
presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting held in October 1999.
(Statistic from the Society for Neuroscience Newsletter, January/February
B. The human eye weighs about 7.5 g. (Statistic from R.F. Spaide, Diseases of the Retina and Vitreous, 1999.)
C. The barbituate "pentobarbital" is also known as truth serum.
D. A 12 oz can of Jolt cola has 71 mg of caffeine. A cup of coffee has 60-150 mg of caffeine.
E. The first lobotomy in the United States was performed by Walter Freeman in 1936.
A. The brain of a goldfish makes up 0.3% of its total body weight. An
adult human brain is about 2% of total body weight. (Statistic from G.E.
Nilsson, "The Cost of a Brain," Natural History, 12/99-1/00.)|
B. Approximately 2 million people in the U.S. are impaired by the effects of cerebrovascular disease, including strokes. (Statistic from Kandel, Schwartz and Jessell, Principles of Neural Science, 2000.)
C. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 states that the mandatory penalty for possession of 1 gram of LSD is 5 years in prison.
D. The word "glia" comes from the Greek word meaning "glue."
E. There are over 1,000 disorders of the brain and nervous system.
A. Each year there are about 300,000 brain concussions that occur during
sports activities. (Statistic from the Center for Disease Control.)
B. About 100 million Americans need eye glasses. (Statistic from Prevention's Giant Book of Health Facts, 1991.)
C. A Purkinje neuron in the cerebellum may receive 150,000 contacts from other neurons. (Statistic from Kandel, Schwartz and Jessel, Principles of Neural Science, 2000, page 25.)
D. The human brain has 100 trillion synaptic connections. (Statistic from Kandel, Schwartz and Jessel, Principles of Neural Science, 2000, page 173.)
E. Cerebrospinal fluid is 99% water.
A. More than 28 million Americans (about 10% of the population) have
hearing impairments. (Statistic from the Better Hearing
B. Harvard University has the best graduate program in neuroscience, as rated by US News and World Report.
C. Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) was first synthesized by Felix Hoffmann in 1897.
D. Aphasia is the name of speech and language problems caused by brain injury.
E. The knee jerk reflex takes about 30 milliseconds (30 milliseconds is 30 one-thousandths of a second). This is time between the stimulus (the tap on the ligament in the knee) and the response (the contraction of the quadriceps muscle in the leg). (Statistic from P. Brodal, "The Central Nervous System," 1998.)
A. The vagus nerve, important for controlling heart rate and other
internal functions, is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves. |
B. About 3% of all people living to the age of 80 will be diagnosed with epilepsy (Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 2000, p. 911).
C. The cerebellum is only 10% of the entire volume of the brain, but contains more than half of all of the neurons in the brain. (Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 2000, p. 833).
D. Humans sleep for 17-18 hours a day at birth, 10-12 hours at age 4 and 7-8.5 hours by age 20 (Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 2000, p. 943).
E. Young adults spend about 20-25% of sleep time in REM sleep (Kandel et al., Principles of Neural Science, 2000, p. 943).
A. The human corticospinal tract, the pathway from the cerebral cortex to
the spinal cord that is important for movement, contains over one million
axons. (Statistic from Carpenter and Sutin, Human Neuroanatomy, 8th
edition, Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1983, page 282.)|
B. About 50 ml of blood travels through 100 g of brain tissue each minute. (Statistic from Carpenter and Sutin, Human Neuroanatomy, 8th edition, Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1983, page 707.)
C. The Society for Neuroscience, with more than 29,000 members, is the largest professional organization in the world dedicated to the study of the nervous system. (Statistic from the Society for Neuroscience.)
D. Some butterflies have ears on their wings. (From Yack, J.E. and Fullard, J.H., Ultrasonic hearing in nocturnal butterflies, Nature, 403:265-266, 2000.)
E. The facial, glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves all carry information about taste.
A. Atropine, a drug that blocks the action of the neurotransmitter
acetylcholine, comes from the plant called "the deadly nightshade"
(scientific name "Atropa belladonna"). Belladonna is Italian for
"beautiful lady." This plant is named belladonna because women once used
this drug to make their pupils get bigger. Apparently large pupils were
B. In 1998, illegal drug use or nonmedical use of legal drugs resulted in 542,544 visits to emergency departments in the United States. (Statistic from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/p0000018.htm)
C. The three most common fears are: snakes (#1), heights (#2) and flying (#3). (Statistic from Health, "News for Healthy Living," Nov/Dec. 99, p.28)
D. The human ear canal is about 2.5 cm in length and 0.6 cm in diameter.
E. Each of your eyeballs is moved by six muscles.
A. In 1904, US President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to outlaw football
after 19 college football players were killed or paralyzed from brain or
spinal cord injuries. (Statistic from Maroon et al., Neurosurgery,
47:659-672, 2000.) |
B. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget has grown from about $300 in 1887 to more than $15.6 billion in 1999. (from http://www.nih.gov/about/NIHoverview.html)
C. As you age, the amount of rapid eye movement ("dream") sleep you have decreases.
D. When children are six years old, they can understand approximately 13,000 words; high school graduates know at least 60,000 words. (Statistic from Kandel, Schwartz and Jessell, Principles of Neural Science, 2000.)
E. Between 20-28 million American have some form of hearing loss. (Statistic from Alpiner et al., Rehabilitative Audiology: Children and Adults, Philadelphia: Lippincott, 2000.)
A. Mountain Dew soda (12 ounces) contains 55 mg of caffeine. A cup of
coffee has between 60-150 mg of caffeine.
B. The folds and ridges of the outer ear are called the pinna.
C. Each year approximately 7,000 sledders age 16 and younger are taken to the emergency room for head injuries. (Statistic from The Seattle Times, Associated Press, 12/19/99, in an article by I. Dreyfuss, "Bicycle helmets should be used for children on sleds, doctor says.")
D. Charles Scott Sherrington coined the term "synapse" in 1897.
E. The dura mater is the outermost covering of the brain. The term "dura mater" comes from Latin meaning "hard mother."
A. The roundworm (Caenorhabditis elegans) has 302 cells in its
nervous system. (Statistic from "Simple Organisms" by Cori Bargmann,
Neurobiology of Disease, Vol. 7, pp.520-522, Oct. 2000.)
B. Dr. James Parkinson first described a neurological disorder called the "shaking palsy" (later to be called Parkinson's disease) in 1817.
C. The active ingredient in catnip is called nepetalactone.
D. Physicist Albert Einstein did not speak until he was three years old. (Statistic from the New York Times op-ed by Steven Pinker, 6/24/99 "His Brain Measured Up.")
E. The chemical known as ether was first used to manage pain during surgery in 1846 at Massachusetts General Hospital.
A. The pupil of the eye can vary in diameter from 1.5 to 8.0 mm.
Therefore, the amount of light entering the eye can change 30-fold.
(Statistic from Guyton and Hall, Textbook of Medical Physiology, 10th
B. The word "cerebellum" comes from the Latin words meaning "little brain."
C. There are 10 billion neurons in the human cerebral cortex (statistic from G.M. Shepard, The Synaptic Organization of the Brain, 1998, p. 6).
D. The brain of the bottle-nosed dolphin weighs about 1,500 grams. (The human brain weighs about 1,400 grams.)
E. Worker honey bees have a ring of iron oxide ("magnetite") in their abdomens that may be used to detect magnetic fields. They may use this ability to detect changes in the earth's magnetic field and use it for navigation.
A. The term "dendrite" was introduced by C. Golgi in about 1870. (From
Afifi, A.K. and Bergman, R.A., Functional Neuroanatomy, New York:
B. The part of the brain called the "amygdala" gets its name from the Greek word for "almond" because of the similarities in shape.
C. The aroma of coffee contains over 800 different chemicals, but only 20-30 of them contribute to the characteristic quality. (Statistic from The Neurobiology of Taste and Smell, 2nd edition, edited by Finger, T.E., Silver, W.L. and Restrepo, D., 2000.)
D. Monarch butterflies migrate up to 3000 kilometers (1,864 miles). (Statistic from Science, March 17, 2000, p. 1883.)
E. The weight of the human brain triples during the first year of life, going from 300 grams to 900 grams. (Statistic from Brodal, P., The Central Nervous System. Structure and Function, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998, p. 144.)
A. There are 1 quadrillion synapses in the human brain. That's
1,000,000,000,000,000 synapses! This is equal to about a half-billion
synapses per cubic millimeter. (Statistic from Changeux, J-P. and Ricoeur,
P., "What Makes Us Think?", Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000,
B. The total length of wiring between neurons is 100,000 kilometers. (Statistic from Coveney, P. and Highfield, R., "Frontiers of Complexity. The Search for Order in a Chaotic World," New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1995, p. 283.)
C. In 1504, Leonardo da Vinci produced wax casts of the ventricles of the human brain.
D. Each year about 10,000 babies born in the United States develop cerebral palsy. (Statistic from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dd/ddcp.htm)
E. The human olfactory system is anatomically complete before birth (From "The Neurobiology of Taste and Smell, 2nd edition," edited by Finger, T.E., Silver, W.L. and Restrepo, D., 2000.)
A. The olfactory epithelium of the human nose contains about 12 million
olfactory receptor neurons. (The Neurobiology of Taste and Smell, 2nd
edition, edited by Finger, T.E., Silver, W.L. and Restrepo, D., 2000.)
B. The cerebral cortex is composed of six layers of cells.
C. About 30 million people (10% of the population) in the United States have functionally significant hearing loss. (A.J. Hudspeth, Hearing and Deafness, in Neurobiology of Disease Vol. 7, No. 5, Part b, pp. 511-514, 2000.)
D. The lumbar puncture, a method to obtain cerebrospinal fluid by inserting a needle between the lumbar vertebrae and into the subarachnoid space of the spinal cord, was introduced in 1891 by Heinrich Quinke. (A.K. Afifi and R.A. Bergman, Functional Neuroanatomy, 1998.)
E. The word "axon" comes from the Greek word meaning "axle" or "axis."
A. Every 33 minutes someone dies in an alcohol-related traffic accident.
(National Safety Council, http://www.nsc.org/library/facts/drnkdriv.htm)
B. Pteronophobia is the irrational fear of feathers; linonophobia is the irrational fear of string; nephophobia is the irrational fear of clouds.
C. In the season finale (May 14, 1998) of the TV show "Seinfeld," Jerry Seinfeld said, "Maybe if we lie down our brains will work."
D. A jellyfish has no brain.
E. The word "cochlea" (a structure in your ear) comes from the Latin word meaning "snail shell."
A. Americans consume about 45 MILLION pounds of caffeine each year.
(Chou, T., Wake up and smell the coffee. Caffeine, coffee and the medical
consequences, West. J. Med., 157:544-553, 1992)
B. Women comprise 22% of the US scientific and engineering workforce. (Science magazine, July 21, 2000, page 379)
C. The US Drug Enforcement Agency seized 9.3 million ecstacy pills in 2000 (up from 400,000 in 1997). (Newsweek magazine, April 2, 2001, page 8)
D. There are an estimated 300,000 sports-related brain concussions in the United States each year. (from http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/braini1.htm)
E. When tests for speed and accuracy are given, people who stay awake continuously for 20-25 hours have similar problems as people who have a blood alcohol level of 0.10%. (Lamond, N. and Dawson, D., J. Sleep. Res. 8:255-262, 1999)
A. Three neuroscientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or
Medicine in 2000. (For details on this event, please see http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/nobel20.html)
B. The word "physician" comes from the Greek word "physis" meaning "nature."
C. For centuries, people thought that the heart, not the brain, was important for memory. The expression "memorize by heart" is derived from this old belief. Also, the word "record" comes from the Latin word for "heart."
D. The entire last name of the person for which Tourette Syndrome is named is Gilles de la Tourette. People dropped the "Gilles de la" and the disorder is known simply as "Tourette Syndrome."
E. Normal vision for people is 20/20. A hawk's vision is equivalent to 20/5. This means the hawk can see from 20 feet what most people can see from 5 feet. (Scientific American, April 2001, page 24)
A. At least 56,000 motor vehicle accidents each year in the United States
are attributed to sleepiness behind the wheel. (Mahowald, M.W., Minnesota
Medicine, 83:25-30, 2000.)|
B. Birds are insensitive to the effects of hot peppers because they do not have receptors for the chemical (capsaicin) that makes hot peppers "hot."
C. Epilepsy was once called "morbus Herculeus" because it was thought that Hercules had epilepsy. Epilepsy was later called "morbus sacer" which means "sacred disease."
D. A textbook on phrenology, the "science" correlating bumps on the skull with personality traits, sold over 100,000 copies in 1827. (Bear, M.F., Connors, B.W. and Pradiso, M.A., Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain, 2nd edition, Baltimore: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2001.)
E. There are an estimated 300,000 sports-related brain concussions in the United States each year. (from http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/braini1.htm)
This month's brain trivia all come from the book Spineless Wonders:
Strange Tales from the Invertebrate World by Richard Conniff (New
Henry Holt and Company, 1996; ISBN:0-8050-5531-2)
A. Compared to humans, houseflies are 10 million times more sensitive to the taste of sugar.
B. Leeches have about 10,000 neurons. (Humans have approximately 100 billion neurons in their brains.)
C. The octopus and squid belong to the class of animals known as the "Cephalopoda" meaning "head-footed."
D. Tarantulas and other spiders sense vibration with hairs on their legs.
E. Slime eels have no eyes, but they do have light-sensitive sensors in their tails.
A. The iris, the colored part of your eye, gets its name from the Greek
word meaning "rainbow." In Greek mythology, the goddess of the rainbow is
B. Sleepwalking is also known as "somnambulism"; sleeptalking is also known as "somniloquy."
C. 12.5 billion aspirin tablets, gelcaps and caplets are consumed each year in the US (Discover magazine, August 2001).
D. The neurotransmitter serotonin was first isolated in 1933 (Discover magazine, July 2001).
E. After age 30, the brain shrinks a quarter of a percent (0.25%) in mass each year (Discover magazine, October 2001, page 92).
A. Eight Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientists were born in November:
Adrian, Sherrington, Moniz, Wald, Lorenz, von Frisch, Schally, and Kandel.
For details of the accomplishments of these and other "Noble"
B. Nine out of 10 people are right-handed, 8 out of 10 people are right-footed, 7 out of 10 people are right-eyed and 6 out of 10 people are right-eared. (Statistics from Stanley Coren, The Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness, Free Press, New York, 1992.) To determine your own sidedness, go to:
C. The Snellen Eye Chart (the one with the letter E pointed in different directions) was invented by Dr. Hermann Snellen in 1862.
D. The pupil in the eye of the giant cuttlefish (a squid-like animal) is rectangular. (Statistic from Schwab, I.R., British J. Ophth., 85:109, 2001.)
E. "Neuroptera" is the name of an insect order including the lacewings and antlions. "Neuro" comes from the Greek word for "nerve" and "ptera" comes from word for "wing." These insects were named for the extensive branching of veins on their wings, which reminded early scientists of the patterns made by nerve fibers.
A. Approximately 450 million people suffer from neuropsychiatric (mental
and behavioral) disorders (World Health Organization,
B. The giant anteater has no teeth. (Naples, V.L., J. Zoology, 249:19-41, 1999.)
C. Myelin, the fatty, insulating material that wraps around some nerve fibers, makes the brain more efficient and allows messages to travel faster. Without myelin, the human brain would have to be 10 times bigger than it is now and we would have to eat 10 times as much to maintain our brain. (Neurons and Networks. An Introduction to Neuroscience, J.E. Dowling, Cambridge: Belnap Press, 1992.)
D. The Tokay gecko (Gekko gekko) uses it tongue to clean its eyes. (Schwab, I.R., Br. J. Ophth., 84:1215, 2000.)
E. Tuition and fees for a first-year medical student in the US are $28,224 at a private school and $10,941 for a public school (1999-2000 school year; resident costs only; non-residents costs are higher). (Statistic from AAMC Data Book: Statistical Information Related to Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals, Edited by Le'Etta Robinson, Washington, D.C.: Assn. American Medical Colleges, 2000.)
A. In 1921, Hermann Rorschach developed the inkblot test to assess
B. Approximately 80% of the dragonfly brain is devoted to processing visual information (Young, A.M., Small Creatures & Ordinary Places. Essays on Nature. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2000, 232 pages).
C. In November 2001, a record 28,500 people from all over the world attended the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, California.
D. In 2000, 495 doctorates were awarded in neuroscience; 39.4% of these new PhDs were women (National Science Foundation, http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/nsf02305/secta.htm).
E. Eagles have more than 1 million photoreceptors per square millimeter in their retinas; humans have 200,000 photoreceptors per square millimeter (Schwab, I.R., Br. J. Ophth., 84:1089, 2000).
An "absolute threshold" is the stimulus intensity a person can detect 50%
of the time. This month's brain trivia are examples of absolute thresholds
for the five senses. (All statistics from Feldman, R.S., Understanding
Psychology, 4th edition, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 98.)|
A. Vision: a candle flame, 30 miles away, on a dark, clear night.
B. Hearing: A ticking watch 20 feet away in a quiet place.
C. Taste: A teaspoon of sugar in 2 gallons of water.
D. Smell: a drop of perfume in a three-room apartment.
E. Touch: The wing of a bee falling from 1 centimeter onto your cheek.
A. Each day in the United States, 33 babies are born with permanent
hearing loss. (Statistic from Northern, J.L. and Downs, M.P., Hearing
in Children, 5th edition, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins,
B. Rats will die after two to three weeks of total sleep deprivation. (Rechtschaffen and Bergmann, B.M., Sleep deprivation in the rat: an update of the 1989 paper, Sleep, 25:18-24, 2002.)
C. The National Institutes of Health budget for 2002 is $22.8 billion. The National Science Foundation budget for 2002 is $3.5 billion. (Statistics from http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/caprev02.htm .)
D. Average (median) amount of sleep each day by university students:
E. On May 13, 1935, World War I hero Colonel T.E. Lawrence (better known as "Lawrence of Arabia") suffered a fractured skull when he lost control of his motocycle. He fell into a coma and died five days later. (Reference: Maartens, N.F., Wills, A.D. and Adams, C.B.T., Lawrence of Arabia, Sir Hugh Cairns, and the origin of motocycle helmets. Neurosurgery, 50:176-180, 2002.)
A. Every year 27 million people in the US benefit from pain relief,
sedation and unconsciousness from anesthetics. ("Count to 10", by Lisa
Melton, Scientific American, February 2002.
B. Approximately 1 in every 1,000 people in the US has the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis. (Science News Vol 161, January 5, 2002, page 4.)
C. Between 1987 and 1997, the number of people in the US being treated for depression more than tripled, from 1.8 million to 6.3 million, while those taking antidepressants doubled. (JAMA as quoted in TIME, January 13, 2002 Been Down So Long by Sanjay Gupta, MD. On-line at http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,193534,00.html)
D. Approximately 600,000 people in the US have a stroke every year, and 167,000 die from it. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. (Statistics from the American Heart Association.)
E. Huntington's disease, an incurable, untreatable inherited illness, affects 30,000 people in the US, slowly killing their brain cells and eroding muscle coordination, memory, judgment, and emotional stability. (Discover magazine, January 2002)
This month's trivia are about the sensory abilities of sharks. (Reference:
"Creatures of the Deep" by Erich Hoyt, Buffalo (NY): Firefly Books, 2001).
A. Sharks have a fantastic sense of smell. Fish extracts with concentrations of only 1 part per 10 billion parts of water can alter a shark's behavior.
B. Sharks can detect electrical fields generated by animals. To detect these fields, sharks use special organs called ampullae of Lorenzini that are located below their eyes.
C. Sharks can detect water movement through a series of pit organs (the lateral line system) located under their skin.
D. Sharks can detect pressure that depresses their skin only eight ten-thousandths of an inch (10 microns).
E. A shark's hearing is similar to that of a whale or dolphin.
This month's trivia all come from The World of Caffeine. The Science
and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug by B.A. Weinberg and B.K.
Bealer, New York: Routledge, 2001.|
A. Worldwide, 120,000 tons of caffeine are consumed each year.
B. In the US, more than 80% of adults consume caffeine on a daily basis.
C. The average daily consumption of caffeine among adults is 200 mg/day.
D. The highest coffee consuming countries are Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Belgium.
E. Women metabolize caffeine about 25% faster than men.
A. Raccoons can smell an acorn buried up to two inches under dry powdery
sand. (Reference: Zeveloff, S.J., Raccoons: A Natural History, Washington,
D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002.)
B. Pesticides which disrupt the nervous system are part of the reason why 32 species of frogs have become extinct in the last few decades and 200 species are in decline. (Reference: Newsweek, May 13, 2002.)
C. Botox temporarily paralyzes muscles by interfering with acetylcholine, which transmits nerve signals to muscles. Sales of the wrinkle-softening toxin Botox totalled $309.5 million in 2001. (Reference: Newsweek, May 13, 2002.)
D. In 1999, 30.1% of all traffic accidents resulting in a fatality involved alcohol. (Reference: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
E. Huntington's disease (HD), an incurable, untreatable inherited illness, affects 30,000 people in the US. HD slowly kills neurons which causes impairment of muscle coordination, memory, judgment, and emotional stability. (Reference: Discover magazine, January, 2002.)
A. At the 2002 USA Memory Championship, Scott Hagwood correctly matched
97 of 99 faces and names after spending 15 minutes studying the pairs.
B. Another word for sneezing is "sternutation."
C. In the US, 10% of children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause impairment. However, only 20% of these children and adolescents receive mental health services. (Source: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/cmh/childreport.htm)
D. The annual salary range for a neurologist is $106,000 to $199,701. The annual salary range for a psychiatrist is $110,000 to $152,008. (Source: http://www.merritthawkins.com/compensation/MHealth00comp.html)
E. Approximately 160 million people in the US wear glasses or contact lenses. (Source: Walker, T.C. and Miller, R.K. 2001 Health Care Business Market Research Handbook, fifth edition, Norcross (GA): Richard K. Miller & Associates, Inc., 2001.)
A. Cats can hear sounds in a 10.5 octave range. Humans have a hearing
range of about 9.3 octaves. (Source: Bradshaw, J., Behavioral biology, in
The Waltham Book of Dog and Cat Behaviour, edited by C. Thorne, Oxford:
Pergamon Press, 1992.)
B. In 2001, eight young U.S. football players (7 in high school, 1 in a Pop Warner program [ages 7-16 years old]) died as a direct result of injuries suffered on the field. Of these eight players, six died of brain injuries, 1 died of a fractured neck and one died of a ruptured spleen. (Source: National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/SurveyofFootballInjuries.htm)
C. An estimated 46.5 million people 18 years or older were current smokers in the United States in 2000. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5129a3.htm)
D. The country with the most neurologists per person is Lithuania where there are approximately 6,240 people for every neurologist. (Source: Bergen, D.C., Training and distribution of neurologists worldwide. J. Neurological Sciences, 198:3-7, 2002.)
E. Americans spend $11 billion each year for glasses and contact lenses. (Source: Walker, T.C. and Miller, R.K. 2001 Health Care Business Market Research Handbook, Fifth edition, Norcross (GA): Richard K. Miller & Associates, Inc., 2001.)
A. The US government this year will spend close to $19 billion treating
and preventing drug abuse. (Source: Science, August 2, 2002, page 748.)
B. October 10, 2002, is National Depression Screening Day. (For more information, see: http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/depression.htm)
C. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the US. Three million people in the US suffer from glaucoma. The number one cause of blindness in the US is macular degeneration. (New York Times, 12/25/01 "As Glaucoma Treatment Advances, Vision is Saved.")
D. Percentage of university students who are "dissatisfied" with their
E. The "cauda equina" is the name for the collection of spinal nerves at the lower end of the spinal cord. The term "cauda equina" comes from the Latin words meaning "tail of a horse."
A. As people age, their ears get larger. Ear circumference increases on
average 0.51 millimeters per year. (Source: "Ear size as a predictor of
chronological age," by R. Tan, V. Osman, and G. Tan. Archives of
Gerontology and Geriatrics, Vol. 25., page 187, 1997.)
B. The giant squid has the largest eyeball of any living animal. The diameter of the giant squid's eyeball is 25 cm. The diameter of a human's eye is 2.4 cm and that of the blue whale is 15 cm. (Source: Nature, 402:747, 1999.) [Note: The giant squid eyeball is said to be as large as 40 cm in diameter; Hanlon, R.T. and Messenger, J.B., Cephalpod Behavior, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.]
C. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a $933 million budget for research. (Source: Science, August 2, 2002, page 748.)
D. The New Straits Times (August 11, 1997) reported on a "smoking contest" between two young men (ages 19 and 21 year old). These two men wanted to see who could smoke the most cigarettes at a single sitting. The result was tragic: the 19 year old died after smoking 100 cigarettes and the 21 year old was seriously poisoned after smoking 80 cigarettes.
E. All invertebrate taste receptor cells are bipolar primary sensory neurons. (Source: The Neurobiology of Taste and Smell, 2nd edition, edited by Finger, T.E., Silver, W.L. and Restrepo, D., 2000.)
This month's brain trivia concern blindness (all statistics from the
A. An estimated 180 million people world-wide are visually disabled.
B. Of those 180 million visually disabled people, between 40 and 45 million persons are blind.
C. Every five seconds one person in the world goes blind.
D. One child goes blind every minute.
E. It is estimated that more than seven million people become blind every year.
A. Bipolar disorder, a serious brain disease that causes extreme shifts in
mood, energy, and functioning, affects approximately 2.3 million adults in
the U.S. or about 1.2% of the population.
B. The complete inability to taste is called ageusia and the reduced ability to taste is called hypogeusia.
C. According to a 2001 survey by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, accountants get the most headaches. About 49% of the accountants in the survey reported getting weekday headaches. The accountants were followed by librarians (43%), bus and truck drivers (42%) and construction workers (38%).
D. The word "dendrite" (the part of a neuron that brings information toward the cell body) comes from the Greek word meaning "tree."
E. The word "neurology" was coined by Thomas Willis in 1681.
A. Your skin is very sensitive! Humans can feel a dot that is only 0.006
mm high and 0.04 mm across when it is moved across a fingertip. A
standard Braille dot is 167 times higher (Boron, W.F. and Boulpaep,
E.L., Medical Physiology, A Cellular and Molecular Approach,
Philadelphia: Saunders, 2003).
B. In 2001, 17,448 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. That is 41% of the year's total traffic deaths (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Traffic safety facts 2001: alcohol. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2002 Available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/TSF2001/2001alcohol.pdf).
C. Parkinson's disease affects 1-3% of people over the age of 65 years and 10% of those over 80 years (Science, 295:809, 2002).
D. The vertebral column, the collection of bones (back bone) that houses the spinal cord, is approximately 70 cm long.
E. Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, thought that sleep was a waste of time. He is reported to have said, "Sleep is an acquired habit. Cells don't sleep. Fish swim in the water all night. Even a horse doesn't sleep. A man doesn't need any sleep."
A. In 2001, the use of GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) resulted in 3,340
emergency-room visits in the U.S., according to the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration. (Source: Newsweek, February 3,
2003, page 52.)
B. The average intelligence quotient (IQ) score is 100. About 68% of the population has IQ scores between 85 and 115; about 95% of the population has IQ scores between 70 and 130; about 99.7% of the population has IQ scores between 55 and 145.
C. The word "retina" comes from the Latin word meaning "net."
D. Normal eye pressure ranges from 10-22 mm Hg.
E. "Cataract" comes from the Latin word "cataracta" meaning "waterfall" because looking through a waterfall is similar to the vision that results from cataracts.
A. The number of neurons in the neocortex of females is 19.3 billion; in
males, the number of neurons in the neocortex is 22.8 billion.
B. The average number of neocortical neurons lost is 1 each second or approximately 85,000 each day or approximately 31 million each year.
C. The average number of neocortical glial cells in young adults is 39 billion; in older adults, there are 36 billion glial cells.
D. The length of myelinated nerve fibers in the brain is 150,000-180,000 km.
E. The number of synapses in the cortex is 0.15 quadrillion.
b) Pakkenberg, B. and Gundersen, H.J.G. Neocortical neuron number in humans: effect of sex and age. J. Comp. Neurology, 384:312-320, 1997.
A. Composer Ludwig van Beethoven may have been poisoned by lead.
Researchers at Argonne Research Laboratory found that a lock of
Beethoven's hair had lead levels 100 times greater than normal.
Scientists speculate that lead may have caused some of the problems
(irritability, depression) that Beethoven experienced during his life.
B. Smells and tastes are experienced in approximately 1% of all dreams. (Reference: Zadra, A.L., Nielsen, T.A., Donderi, D.C. Prevalence of auditory, olfactory, and gustatory experiences in home dreams, Perceptual and Motor Skills, 87:819-826, 1998.)
C. In a 7-year study, people who ate at least one serving of seafood once a week had a 30% lower risk of developing dementia than those who ate less seafood. (Reference: Discover magazine, March 2003, page 10.)
D. Throughout most of the 1990s, the number of doctoral degrees that U.S. universities awarded in science and engineering climbed steadily, to 27,300 in 1998; but by 2001, the number had dropped to 25,500, the lowest number since 1993. (Reference: Science News, March 8, 2003.)
E. Universities receiving the most grant money from the National
Institutes of Health:
A. The brain of a grasshopper has approximately 16,000 neurons. (Source:
Greenfield, S., The Human Mind Explained: An Owner's Guide to the
Mysteries of the Mind, New York: Henry Holt, 1996, page 55.)
B. An eagle can see a rabbit from three miles away. (Source: Greenfield, S., The Human Mind explained: An Owner's Guide to the Mysteries of the Mind, New York: Henry Holt, 1996, page 90.)
C. The vagus nerve, important for controlling the functions of many internal organs, gets its name from the Latin word meaning "wandering."
D. Rubbing baby teeth with the brain of a rabbit is an old folk remedy to prevent tooth decay. As far as I know, this method does NOT work. (Source: Bauer, W.W. Potions, Remedies and Old Wives' Tales. Garden City (NY): Doubleday & Co., Inc, 1969.)
E. Roman emperor Elagabalus (3rd Century) was served 600 ostrich brains at a single meal. (Source: Wells, D. 100 Birds and How they Got Their Names. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2002.)
A. Some people, such as professional perfumers, can distinguish between
100,000 different smells.(Source: Bear, M.F., Connors, B.W. and Pradiso,
M.A., Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain, 2nd edition, Baltimore:
Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2001, p. 267)|
B. The word "brain" appears 66 times in the plays of William Shakespeare. (Source: The Scientist, April 21, 2003)
C. "Rabies" comes from the Latin word "rabere," meaning "to rave" as well as a Sanskrit word for doing violence. (Source: Discover, March 2003)
D. In a 7-year study, people who ate at least one serving of seafood once a week had a 30% lower risk of developing dementia than those who ate less seafood. (Source: Discover, March 2003, page 10)
E. The Society for Neuroscience had 31,206 members in 2002. (Source: http://www.sfn.org/content/Publications/AnnualProgressReport/2002ar.pdf)
A. The famous French writer/philosopher Voltaire (born 1694, died 1778) is
said to have consumed 50 cups of coffee a day. If we assume that each cup
of coffee had 75 mg of caffeine, then Voltaire would have consumed 3,750
mg of caffeine a day. (Source: Somani, S.M. and Gupta, P. Caffeine: a new
look at an age-old drug. Int. J. Clin. Pharmacol., Ther. and Toxicol.
B. The ancient Roman goddess of wisdom and war is named Minerva (Athena in Greek mythology). She was the daughter of Jupiter. Minerva supposedly was born when she leaped from Jupiter's brain, completely grown and dressed in armor.
C. The human retina contains approximately 120 million rods and 6 million cones. Rods are cells used in dim light; cones are cells used for color vision.
D. The movie "Rainman" starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise was inspired by a real person named Kim Peek. Mr. Peek has autism and he also has an incredible memory: he has memorized 7,600 books and every area code, zip code, highway and television station in the United States. (Source: Garrett, B., Brain and Behavior, Belmont (CA): Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2003, page 354.)
E. Throughout most of the 1990s, the number of doctoral degrees that U.S. universities awarded in science and engineering climbed steadily, to 27,300 in 1998, but by 2001, the number had dropped to 25,500, the lowest number since 1993. (Source: Science News, March 8, 2003.)
A. Competitive eating champion Takeru Kobayashi set a world record by
eating 57 pan-seared cow brains (17.7 pounds) in 15 minutes. (Source:
Parade Magazine, July 13, 2003, page 11.)
B. The channel catfish has a chemical sensing system that can detect the equivalent of less than one-hundredth of a teaspoon (1 to 100 micrograms per liter) of alanine (an amino acid) in an Olympic-size swimming pool. (Source: Schmidt-Nelson, K. Animal Physiology. Adaptation and Environment, 5th edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 536.)
C. The bill of the platypus is equipped with sensory receptors to detect electrical fields. It may use this ability to find food. (Source: Schmidt-Nelson, K. Animal Physiology. Adaptation and Environment, 5th edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, page 560.)
D. In 2001, there were over 638,000 emergency department visits related to drug abuse in the U.S. The three drugs that caused the most visits to emergency departments were alcohol (34%), cocaine (30%) and marijuana (17%) (Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Dawn Report, June 2003.)
E. Louis Braille invented the system of reading by touch (the Braille system) when he was only 15 years old.
A. An octopus has receptors for taste on the suckers in its arms.
(Source: Hanlon, R.T. and Messenger, J.B., Cephalpod Behavior, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1996.)
B. Phobias are irrational fears of particular objects or situations. Some unusual phobias are:
aerophobia: fear of the air
C. Within the US in 1990, approximately $1.6 billion was used to eliminate or mask underarm odors. (Source: Wyatt, T.D. Pheromones and Animal Behavior. Communication by Smell and Taste. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 295.)
D. The Society for Neuroscience has 32,507 members. (Source: Society for Neuroscience, Neuroscience Quarterly, Summer 2003, page 9.)
E. The rate of fatal alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes among drivers between 16 and 20 years old who use alcohol is more than twice the rate for drivers aged 21 years and older. (Source: Alcohol Alert, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Vol. 59, April 2003.)
A. In the United States, 50 billion aspirin tablets are consumed each
year. (Source: A.S. Harding. Milestones in Health and Medicine, Phoenix
(AZ) Oryx Press, 2000.)
B. Atropine, a drug that blocks receptors for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, is made from the poisonous Atropa belladonna plant. Carolus Linnaeus named this plant family Atropos after the Fate in Greek mythology who cuts the thread of life. (Source: A.S. Harding. Milestones in Health and Medicine, Phoenix (AZ) Oryx Press, 2000.)
C. Leonardo da Vinci designed contact lenses made of glass filled with water. (Source: A.S. Harding. Milestones in Health and Medicine, Phoenix (AZ) Oryx Press, 2000.)
D. Mr. Jeffries, a Bassett Hound, is the dog with the longest ears. His ears measure 29.2 cm (11.5 in) in length. (Source: Guinness World Records)
E. Drunken behavior and violent crimes involving adolescent drinking cost the US $53 billion per year, including $19 million from traffic accidents. The US government spends 25 times as much on anti-drug campaigns as it does on preventing adolescents from drinking. (Source: National Academy of Sciences, reported in Time, September 22, 2003, page 78.)
A. The bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae causes more than 3,000 cases of
meningitis in the US each year. (Source: Discover, April 2003, page 23.)
B. John Adams (2nd President of the US) and his son, John Quincy Adams (6th President of the US), were both born in Braintree, Massachusetts.
C. 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.)
D. Adolf Eugen Fick coined the term "contact lens." He made the first contact lens for vision correction from glass in 1887. (Source: A.S. Harding. Milestones in Health and Medicine, Phoenix (AZ) Oryx Press, 2000.)
E. Right-footed African Grey parrots have a larger vocabulary than left-footed African Grey parrots. (Source: Snyder, P.J. and Harris, L.J. Lexicon size and its relation to foot preference in the African Grey parrot "Psittacus erithacus", Neuropsychologia 35:919-926, 1997.)
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: http://www.cephbase.utmb.edu/TCP/faq/TCPfaq2b.cfm?ID=37)
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)
A. The area of the brain known as the hippocampus is sometimes called
"Ammon's horn." Ammon is a character from Egyptian mythology who had a
ram's head and large curved horns similar to the shape of the hippocampus.
B. Morphine, the analgesic (pain reliever) drug from the opium poppy, is named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. Morpheus was the son of the Greek god named Somnus.
C. Eight hours in a smoky bar breathing second-hand smoke is the equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes. (Source: "The Secondhand Smoking Gun," by Rosemary Ellis, The New York Times, October 15, 2003.)
D. Neurophysiologist and Nobel prize winner (1932) Edgar Douglas Adrian was an expert fencer and mountaineer.
E. Cerebral oxygen consumption is 3.5 ml/100g of brain/minute or 49 ml/minute for a whole brain. The energy consumption of the brain is equal to that of a 20 W light bulb. (Source: Aminoff, J. and Daroff, R.B. Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences, Amsterdam: Academic Press, 2003.)
A. Sailors once believed that smelling the bad breath of whales could
cause brain disorders. (Reference: Turin, M.S. Aardvarks to Zebras, New
York: Citadel Press, 1995.)
B. The human brain uses 15-20% of the body's oxygen supply. The brain of the African elephant nose fish uses 60% of its body's oxygen supply! (Reference: Nilsson, G.E., Brain and body oxygen requirements of Gnathonemus petersii, a fish with an exceptionally large brain. J. Experi. Biol., 199:603-607, 1996.)
C. Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) had cataracts and was almost blind by 1922. He had cataract surgery on his right eye in 1922. (Reference: Stelle, M. and O'Leary, J.P. Monet's cataract surgery. American Surgeon, 67:196-198, 2001.)
D. Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone in 1876, suffered from headaches (probably migraines) that lasted hours to days. (Reference: Doherty, M.J., The headaches of Alexander Graham Bell, Arch. Neurology, 60:1805-1808, 2003.)
E. In 1993, 276 doctoral degrees were awarded in neuroscience.
A. Approximately 3.3% of snowboarding injuries involve the spinal cord;
1.4% of of skiing injuries involve the spinal cord. (Reference:
Yamakawa et al., J. Trauma, 50:1101-1105, 2001.)|
B. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 500,000 people in the United States exhibit symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. (Source: CDC)
C. Forty years ago, 42% of adults in the US smoked. Today, approximately 23% do. Surveys report that 70% of smokers want to quit. (Source: "Stub Out that Butt!" in Time, January 19, 2004.)
D. In 2002, almost 11 million precriptions for SSRIs (a type of antidepressants) were written for patients under the age of 18 years (Sources: US FDA and "Antidepressant warnings urged," by Lauran Neergaard, Seattle Times, February 3, 2004.)
E. An octopus has twice as many nerves in its body than it has in its brain. (Source: http://www.cephbase.utmb.edu/TCP/faq/TCPfaq2b.cfm?ID=37.)
A. The venom of some scorpions affects a victim's nervous system. In
2002, scorpions stung 15,687 people in the US and two people died. In
Mexico, scorpions sting 100,000 to 200,000 people and kill 400 to 1,000
people each year. (Sources: Watson, W.A. et al., Amer. J. Emer. Med.
21:353-421, 2003; Bradley, W.G. et al., Neurology in Clinical Practice,
4th edition, Philadelphia: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2004.)
B. Approximately 24.5% of people between the ages of 53 and 97 years have an impaired sense of smell. (Source: Murphy et al., JAMA, 288:2307-2312, 2002.)
C. There are 186 million MORE neurons in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain than in the right hemisphere. (Sources: Pakkenberg, B., Pelvig, D., Marner, L., Bundgaard, M.J., Gundersen, H.J.G., Nyengaard, J.R. and Regeur, L. Aging and the human neocortex. Exp. Gerontology, 38:95-99, 2003 and Pakkenberg, B. and Gundersen, H.J.G. Neocortical neuron number in humans: effect of sex and age. J. Comp. Neurology, 384:312-320, 1997.)
D. Forty years ago, 42% of adults in the US smoked. Today, approximately 23% do. Surveys report that 70% of smokers want to quit. (Source: "Stub Out that Butt!" in Time, January 19, 2004.)
E. A severe lack of vitamin A can result in night blindness, the inability to see in low light conditions. (Source: Schiffman, H.R., Sensation and Perception. An Integrated Approach, New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2001.)
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 http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/cfs/info.htm.)
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.)
A. The average duration of a single blink is 0.1 - 0.4 seconds. (Source:
Schiffman, H.R., Sensation and Perception. An Integrated Approach, New
York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2001.)
B. Oilbirds breed and roost in caves and search for fruit at night. These birds use echolocation to avoid in-flight collisions. Their eyes have the highest density of rod receptors (1 million rods per square millimeter) of any vertebrate eye. The highest density of rod receptors in humans is only 175,000 per square millimeter. (Source: Martin, G., et al., Naturwissenschaften, 91:26-29, 2004.)
C. There are more than two million cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US each year. Most TBIs are caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls, gunshot wounds and sports injuries. Each year there are 500,000 cases of TBI that require hospitalization and 100,000 people with TBI that result in lifelong disabilities. (Source: Gualtieri, C.T., Brain Injury and Mental Retardation: Psychopharmacology and Neuropsychiatry, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002.)
D. The eye of an octopus does not have a cornea. (Source: Schwab, I.R., A well armed predator, Br. J. Ophthalmol., 87:812, 2003.)
E. Panic disorders affect 2.4 million adults in the US each year. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/panicfacts.cfm)
A. The world's smallest vertebrate (animal with a backbone) is the stout
infantfish (Schindleria brevipinguis). This fish is found in the coral
lagoons in eastern Australia. Infantfish grow to approximately 7-8 mm,
live for only two months and do not have any teeth or scales. The only
pigment is in their eyes (Source: Science, July 23, 2004).|
B. Cataract extractions are the most common surgical procedure performed in the U.S.; each year, approximately 2 million cataract surgeries are performed, improving vision in about 95% of cases (Source: American Optometric Association).
C. Insects can be loud! Cicadas are insects that recently emerged from the ground to fill trees with their noisy songs. Estimated sound levels:
80 decibels: city traffic
D. The word "doctor" comes from the Latin word "doceo" that means "to teach."
E. An estimated 20.5 million people in the US older than 40 years have a cataract in either eye. Women have a significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence of cataract than men. It is estimated that 30.1 million people will have cataracts by 2020 (Source: Archives of Ophthalmology 122:487-494, 2004).
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. (Source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/releases/pr79/en/)
A. At least 30 million neurons in the entire visual cortex are activated
by the single image of a house or face (Source: Levy, I., Hasson, U. and
Malach, R. One picture is worth at least a million neurons. Current
Biology, 14:996-1001, 2004).|
B. The budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has increased from $13.6 billion in fiscal year 1998 to $27.3 billion in fiscal year 2003 (Source: FASEB journal, October 2, 2003).
C. The average amount of time required to attain a PhD in the biomedical sciences is approximately 6.9 years (up from 6 years in 1980) (Source: "Best and worst of times for biomedical scientists," by Ted Agres, The Scientist, October 8, 2003, http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20031010/04/).
D. Almost 50% of the people in the United States wear eyeglasses. The total spent for eyeglasses in the United States is $13 billion (Source: Milder, B. and Rubin, M.L., The Fine Art of Prescribing Glasses Without Making a Spectacle of Yourself. (3rd edition), Gainesville (FL): Triad Publishing Co., 2004).
E. Humans can detect one molecule of green pepper smell when it is mixed in the air with 3 trillion other molecules (Source: Shier, D., Butler, J. and Lewis, R. Hole's Human Anatomy & Physiology, Boston: McGraw Hill, 2004).
A. The first football helmet used during a game was worn when Army played
Navy in 1893. (Source: Levy et al., Birth and evolution of the football
helmet, Neurosurgery, 55:656-662, 2004.)
B. Aspirin, the commonly used pain reliever, gets its name by combining the "a" from acetyl and "spirin" from "spiraeic acid," the old term for salicylic acid.
C. Central and South American poison frogs produce around 600 chemicals in their skin. The frogs harvest the poison from their diet of ants, mites, millipedes and other arthropods, which are rich in the alkaloid chemicals. Frog poisons may benefit human medicine: the frog chemical epidatidine is 200 times more powerful a painkiller than morphine. (Source: The Dallas Morning News, October 24, 2003.)
D. About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. Nine out of every 10 children who are born deaf are born to parents who can hear. (Source: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/hearing.asp.)
E. The word "alcohol" comes from the Arabic "al" and "kohl." Kohl is a powder that was used to paint eyebrows.
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.)
A. Bhutan will be the first country to ban the sale of tobacco. (Source:
BBC news, "Bhutan to stub out tobacco sales," November 15, 2004,
B. January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for people over 60 in the US. About 3 million people in the US have glaucoma, although up to half may not know it yet, as there are no warning signs. (Source: Parade magazine, January 5, 2003.)
C. There are approximately 6,800 languages spoken in the world today. (Source: Douglas Whalen, President of the Endangered Language Fund, in "Group working to preserve nearly extinct languages," by Fern Shen, The Washington Post, January 2003.)
D. In 1987, only 2.5% of kids and teens were taking at least one psychiatric drug; in 1996, 6.2% were. This rate of use nearly matches that of adults. (Source: Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, in Science News, February 1, 2003, page 77.)
E. Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder were the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs for kids and teens in 1996, followed by antidepressants and anticonvulsants for mood disorders. (Source: Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, in Science News, February 1, 2003, page 77.)
A. Every day, people worldwide light up 15 billion cigarettes. (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: http://www.sfn.org.)
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.)
A. Swordfish have special tissue (a "brain heater") behind their eyes
that warms their brains as much as 14 degrees centigrade above the
temperature of the water they live in. (Source: Carey, F.G., A brain
heater in the swordfish, Science, 216:1327-1329, 1982.)
B. Although stroke is the third most common cause of death in the US, its death rate has declined 65% since 1950. (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 2004, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus.htm)
C. Depression occurs in 2% of elementary school-aged children and 4-8% of adolescents. (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 2004, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus.htm)
D. A staff or wand with either one or two snakes wound around it is often used as a symbol of medicine. The single snake staff is attributed to the ancient Greek God Asclepius (Aesculapius or Asklepios); the two snake wand, called a caduceus, is attributed to the mythological character Hermes (Mercury). The logo of the American Medical Association uses a staff of Asclepius while that of the US Public Health Service uses a caduceus. (Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/greek/greek_asclepius.html)
E. A "Mickey Finn" is a drink made with alcohol and chloral hydrate. This drink was developed in the 1870s by a group of tavern owners to make customers unconscious. Customers were robbed after they became unconscious. (Source: Bethard, W., Lotions, Potions, Deadly Elixirs. Frontier Medicine in America, Lanham: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004.)
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