Monthly Archives: November 2013

Exploring the Adolescent Brain

By Terrence Deak, Ph.D.

From the day we are born, our brains are continually bombarded with incoming information from our body and the external environment. We rely on this spectacular organ to integrate this complex information and orchestrate appropriate responses to maximize our well-being. To do this, your brain comes into the world with an amazing capacity to learn, adapt, and change. It is no wonder, then, that early periods of brain development appear to be uniquely predisposed to capture specific skills and abilities, which can then be directly applied to the challenges of the age and often persist throughout your lifetime. 

While great emphasis has been placed on the brain benefits of enriched environments during infancy and childhood, the last 20 years has witnessed a vigorous emphasis on peculiarities of brain function that seem to be defining features of adolescence. Part of this new movement stems from the recognition that nearly all species experience a period of adolescence, and that much can be learned from studying the brains of adolescents in both animals and humans. Moreover, many of the hallmark features of adolescence appear to be highly conserved across species, such as heightened sociality, conflict within the nuclear family, and rapid expansion of cognitive function. These and nearly all other defining features of the adolescent period have their roots in basic brain development.

As a professor of neuroscience, I firmly believe that knowledge is power, and feel that as scientists we have a responsibility to communicate both our enthusiasm and the knowledge we obtain from our research projects to the public. The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain builds upon the previous success of Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, authored by my aunt, JoAnn Deak, and extends the intricacies of brain function to new depths for an older audience. The opportunity to partner with my aunt on this auspicious adventure was a distinct pleasure for me, and the end product represents a true synergy between our own professional backgrounds, the astonishing illustrations of Freya Harrison that bring our text to life, and the creative staff at Little Pickle Press. The goal for The Owner’s Manual was to provide the next level of understanding to kids who had been “primed” with YFEB by providing salient, adolescent-relevant information to pique their interest. Our hope is that we can empower emerging adolescents to become amazing adults. 


Terrence Deak, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at Binghamton University in upstate New York, where he runs a highly active neuroscience laboratory. Dr. Deak and his wife, Molly, have 3 inquisitive boys (Wyatt, Owen and Oscar) who are extremely interested in how their brains work, just like you. Together, they enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities, travel, and learning something new every day.

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Preorder The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain and receive 30% off!
In this exciting follow-up to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, you’ll get the goods on glia and the news about neurons. Hang on to your hemispheres, and prepare to have your mind boggled as you learn about the workings of the brain in its second decade. This mind-blowingly good deal is only available for a limited time, so act now!

Libraries We Love: The Nashville Public Library

By Audrey Lintner

Graphic courtesy of Nashville Public Library
Everybody is aware that Nashville is known for music. Stories of lucky breaks and heartaches in the music business are as common as houseflies. Speaking of stories, wanna guess what else Nashville is known for?

The Nashville Public Library is explicit in its purpose. “Extending the benefits and joys of reading, lifelong learning, and discovery to all people through collections and services,” is the first tenet expressed in the NPL mission statement. The library prides itself on being a community center, cultural guardian, and technological emissary.

Site features such as Teen Web encourage middle- and high-schoolers to share book reviews and participate in local events, while Kids Zone offers links to kid-safe websites and age-appropriate book choices. With twenty-one locations and an expanding database, even the most casual perusal will reveal a whole universe at your fingertips.

Like the Nashville Public Library logo says, “Books are only half the story!”

Up for discussion: What sort of kid- and teen-friendly services does your local library offer?

Libraries We Love: The Nashville Public Library

By Audrey Lintner

Graphic courtesy of Nashville Public Library
Everybody is aware that Nashville is known for music. Stories of lucky breaks and heartaches in the music business are as common as houseflies. Speaking of stories, wanna guess what else Nashville is known for?

The Nashville Public Library is explicit in its purpose. “Extending the benefits and joys of reading, lifelong learning, and discovery to all people through collections and services,” is the first tenet expressed in the NPL mission statement. The library prides itself on being a community center, cultural guardian, and technological emissary.

Site features such as Teen Web encourage middle- and high-schoolers to share book reviews and participate in local events, while Kids Zone offers links to kid-safe websites and age-appropriate book choices. With twenty-one locations and an expanding database, even the most casual perusal will reveal a whole universe at your fingertips.

Like the Nashville Public Library logo says, “Books are only half the story!”

Up for discussion: What sort of kid- and teen-friendly services does your local library offer?

First Friday Book Review: The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain

Review written by our friends at MagicBlox
Little Pickle Press has done it again! Their new book by JoAnn Deak, PhD and Terrence Deak, PhD is a shoe-in to be your pre-teen’s next favorite addition to their MagicBlox favorites list.
In this exciting follow-up to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, you and your family will learn all about the fun world of neurons, hormones, and how your brain acts as the control box for your entire body. Hang on to your hemispheres, and get ready to embark on an exciting adventure as you read The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain. (No driver’s license required!)

Learning with your child

One of the secret treasures of The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain is that, unless you’re a neurologist, you’ll learn as much as your kids. When your family sees you getting excited about the wonderful world behind the reasons your brain functions the way that it does, you will inspire your children to want to learn and embrace scientific concepts. You’ll even wow your friends and colleagues at work when you give them tips on how to get smarter and grow new brain cells (“neurogenesis”) or when you say “no” to that extra cocktail at your next party because you want to Protect your brain from the harmful affects of alcohol as you learned on page 48.

Fun for everyone!

And of course, what would learning be without tasty science experiments! Did you know that your tongue (neurological taste system) is only responsive to sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savory, but cannot tell the difference between flavors?  Yep, your nose (olfactory system) “smells” flavor and makes eating so enjoyable not your tongue. That’s why every time you get a stuffy nose, food doesn’t taste all that good. You may be able to tell that you’re eating something sweet or salty, but it all tastes blasé.
Your kids may not believe you (or even care) when you tell them that without smell, food is tasteless. Although, after they Test their Brain Power and try to pass the blindfolded ice cream taste test on page 22, they may have a different tune. The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain is full of fun activities that will open your child’s mind to the wonderful (tasty) world of science.

A sobering reality

One of the most common reasons adolescents do not pursue science and technical degrees in college is that they lack the confidence or think that science is boring. It’s not that these careers are the be-all-end-all, it’s just that our children should have the self-esteem to pursue whatever course work their heart desires and not be afraid to stretch themselves because of low self-esteem.
Truth is, knowledge is power. It has been proven that as the variety of information we expose ourselves to is expanded, the more developed we become as a person.  Help empower your children through education and tackling subjects that may not be their favorites or may be thought of as challenging.
Take the first step in this adventure with your family and join MagicBlox today. Read one new book every month for FREE, of upgrade for unlimited access to ALL books! Click here to Register for FREE!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for reviewing our title, MagicBlox! You can preorder Drs. JoAnn and Terrence Deak’s book, The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain, by clicking here!
  • Age Range: 9 – 14 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 10
  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Little Pickle Press (November 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939775027
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939775023

First Friday Book Review: The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain

Review written by our friends at MagicBlox
Little Pickle Press has done it again! Their new book by JoAnn Deak, PhD and Terrence Deak, PhD is a shoe-in to be your pre-teen’s next favorite addition to their MagicBlox favorites list.
In this exciting follow-up to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, you and your family will learn all about the fun world of neurons, hormones, and how your brain acts as the control box for your entire body. Hang on to your hemispheres, and get ready to embark on an exciting adventure as you read The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain. (No driver’s license required!)

Learning with your child

One of the secret treasures of The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain is that, unless you’re a neurologist, you’ll learn as much as your kids. When your family sees you getting excited about the wonderful world behind the reasons your brain functions the way that it does, you will inspire your children to want to learn and embrace scientific concepts. You’ll even wow your friends and colleagues at work when you give them tips on how to get smarter and grow new brain cells (“neurogenesis”) or when you say “no” to that extra cocktail at your next party because you want to Protect your brain from the harmful affects of alcohol as you learned on page 48.

Fun for everyone!

And of course, what would learning be without tasty science experiments! Did you know that your tongue (neurological taste system) is only responsive to sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savory, but cannot tell the difference between flavors?  Yep, your nose (olfactory system) “smells” flavor and makes eating so enjoyable not your tongue. That’s why every time you get a stuffy nose, food doesn’t taste all that good. You may be able to tell that you’re eating something sweet or salty, but it all tastes blasé.
Your kids may not believe you (or even care) when you tell them that without smell, food is tasteless. Although, after they Test their Brain Power and try to pass the blindfolded ice cream taste test on page 22, they may have a different tune. The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain is full of fun activities that will open your child’s mind to the wonderful (tasty) world of science.

A sobering reality

One of the most common reasons adolescents do not pursue science and technical degrees in college is that they lack the confidence or think that science is boring. It’s not that these careers are the be-all-end-all, it’s just that our children should have the self-esteem to pursue whatever course work their heart desires and not be afraid to stretch themselves because of low self-esteem.
Truth is, knowledge is power. It has been proven that as the variety of information we expose ourselves to is expanded, the more developed we become as a person.  Help empower your children through education and tackling subjects that may not be their favorites or may be thought of as challenging.
Take the first step in this adventure with your family and join MagicBlox today. Read one new book every month for FREE, of upgrade for unlimited access to ALL books! Click here to Register for FREE!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for reviewing our title, MagicBlox! You can preorder Drs. JoAnn and Terrence Deak’s book, The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain, by clicking here!
  • Age Range: 9 – 14 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 10
  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Little Pickle Press (November 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939775027
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939775023

Catching the Brain Train in the Science Classroom

By Kelly Wickham
Teaching, as many people know, is a science. There is rhyme and reason to everything teachers do from developing curricular activities to getting the content knowledge across to their students to considering how to differentiate the learning when mastery is difficult. Not everything in the classroom is fun, but everything depends very much on where the development of the student brain is.

For science teacher Mrs. Montavon, it’s crucial that she understands how the brain works in her science classroom even though, she admits, “I don’t fully understand the wonderment of how the brain learns.”

We provided Mrs. Montavon with an advance copy of “The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain” in order to appeal to the teacher in her. What’s different about The Owner’s Manual is that it’s inspiring for the adolescents who read it to think about how their brain functions and at what capacity. I sat down with Mrs. Montavon to see what she could tell me about teenage brains and working with them in the classroom.



Me: What is the most important thing you know about the teenage brain?

Mrs. Montavon: Well, I know that they like to make me think they don’t have one, but I know it’s in there! Actually, a lot of my teaching relies on the development of their brains and how much I have to repeat things.

Me: Doesn’t that get annoying? I mean, you have teenagers at home and teens in the classroom.

Mrs. Montavon: True, but they have these neural pathways that information travels down when they’re learning something new. Years ago I was at a conference with a renowned scientist who studied the brain and learning who said it took something like seventeen times, I think it’s seventeen, for the adolescent brain to learn something.

Me: Seventeen? That’s a lot.

Mrs. Montavon: Exactly. When I think about the number of times I’ve told my son or daughter to make sure they take their clothes out of the washing machine immediately because of mildew? Well, now I know that I’ll probably have to say it seventeen more times before they understand it!

Me: What kind of learning approaches do you, as a science teacher for 7th graders, have to consider?

Mrs. Montavon: I know they need to hear it, write it, touch it, feel it. I mean, it’s science, right? And no great scientist ever came about because they just sat in class and read. Sure, there’s a time for that and we take notes, but with the teenage brain you have to consider that they need to experience it in many ways. The basic brain functions tell us that, while complex, there’s a lot going on up there. Even when you think there isn’t!

Me: How do students experience things with their brains? Why do teachers need to understand this?

Mrs. Montavon: Well, the brain has the ability to learn and acquire things during the first 10 years that are different in how they acquire them in the next 10 years. You know how people are always saying that children are like sponges? The brain works like that. It soaks up a lot during the first 10 years and then we get them in middle school just like in the book about the adolescent brain. It’s almost like learning a new language. You can do it easier when you’re younger and when you’re older you can still learn it, but it just takes more effort. That’s why I bring in so many hands-on experiments in the classroom.

Me: What kind of studying on the brain did you do in your undergrad?

Mrs. Montavon: Well, this sounds terrible, but I can’t recall all of it but I do know what I took with me to use in the classroom. The brain research we found so fascinating was what happens in the brain hemispheres and the bundles of neurons that connect them. How information travels in the brain is especially important and it’s what I think about when I consider how to instruct on things. Some days, though, I know that their brains are functioning differently and, of course, there’s just the irrational adolescent brain. I mean, we teachers laugh about it, but it’s true.

Me: Thanks for your time! Did you have a favorite part of the book?

Mrs. Montavon: In fact, I did! I loved the illustrations for adolescents and how they gave them something concrete to see. The dendrites and myelin and, oh, what page is that? (She works fast to find it) Here! Page 9! The neural pathways. I think it’s because this was so important for me to know when I was studying to become a teacher. The “Test Your Brain Power” was fun, too, and very much like some of the experiments we’ve done in my science classroom. To be honest, I wish this were part of our curriculum to teach about the brain. I’d love a class set of these books!


This book isn’t just for science classrooms! You can pre-order your copy of The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain by Dr. JoAnn Deak and Terrence Deak and illustrated by Freya Harrison by clicking here!
Dr. JoAnn Deak’s first book in this series, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is illustrated by Sarah Ackerley can be purchased by clicking here.

Catching the Brain Train in the Science Classroom

By Kelly Wickham
Teaching, as many people know, is a science. There is rhyme and reason to everything teachers do from developing curricular activities to getting the content knowledge across to their students to considering how to differentiate the learning when mastery is difficult. Not everything in the classroom is fun, but everything depends very much on where the development of the student brain is.

For science teacher Mrs. Montavon, it’s crucial that she understands how the brain works in her science classroom even though, she admits, “I don’t fully understand the wonderment of how the brain learns.”

We provided Mrs. Montavon with an advance copy of “The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain” in order to appeal to the teacher in her. What’s different about The Owner’s Manual is that it’s inspiring for the adolescents who read it to think about how their brain functions and at what capacity. I sat down with Mrs. Montavon to see what she could tell me about teenage brains and working with them in the classroom.



Me: What is the most important thing you know about the teenage brain?

Mrs. Montavon: Well, I know that they like to make me think they don’t have one, but I know it’s in there! Actually, a lot of my teaching relies on the development of their brains and how much I have to repeat things.

Me: Doesn’t that get annoying? I mean, you have teenagers at home and teens in the classroom.

Mrs. Montavon: True, but they have these neural pathways that information travels down when they’re learning something new. Years ago I was at a conference with a renowned scientist who studied the brain and learning who said it took something like seventeen times, I think it’s seventeen, for the adolescent brain to learn something.

Me: Seventeen? That’s a lot.

Mrs. Montavon: Exactly. When I think about the number of times I’ve told my son or daughter to make sure they take their clothes out of the washing machine immediately because of mildew? Well, now I know that I’ll probably have to say it seventeen more times before they understand it!

Me: What kind of learning approaches do you, as a science teacher for 7th graders, have to consider?

Mrs. Montavon: I know they need to hear it, write it, touch it, feel it. I mean, it’s science, right? And no great scientist ever came about because they just sat in class and read. Sure, there’s a time for that and we take notes, but with the teenage brain you have to consider that they need to experience it in many ways. The basic brain functions tell us that, while complex, there’s a lot going on up there. Even when you think there isn’t!

Me: How do students experience things with their brains? Why do teachers need to understand this?

Mrs. Montavon: Well, the brain has the ability to learn and acquire things during the first 10 years that are different in how they acquire them in the next 10 years. You know how people are always saying that children are like sponges? The brain works like that. It soaks up a lot during the first 10 years and then we get them in middle school just like in the book about the adolescent brain. It’s almost like learning a new language. You can do it easier when you’re younger and when you’re older you can still learn it, but it just takes more effort. That’s why I bring in so many hands-on experiments in the classroom.

Me: What kind of studying on the brain did you do in your undergrad?

Mrs. Montavon: Well, this sounds terrible, but I can’t recall all of it but I do know what I took with me to use in the classroom. The brain research we found so fascinating was what happens in the brain hemispheres and the bundles of neurons that connect them. How information travels in the brain is especially important and it’s what I think about when I consider how to instruct on things. Some days, though, I know that their brains are functioning differently and, of course, there’s just the irrational adolescent brain. I mean, we teachers laugh about it, but it’s true.

Me: Thanks for your time! Did you have a favorite part of the book?

Mrs. Montavon: In fact, I did! I loved the illustrations for adolescents and how they gave them something concrete to see. The dendrites and myelin and, oh, what page is that? (She works fast to find it) Here! Page 9! The neural pathways. I think it’s because this was so important for me to know when I was studying to become a teacher. The “Test Your Brain Power” was fun, too, and very much like some of the experiments we’ve done in my science classroom. To be honest, I wish this were part of our curriculum to teach about the brain. I’d love a class set of these books!


This book isn’t just for science classrooms! You can pre-order your copy of The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain by Dr. JoAnn Deak and Terrence Deak and illustrated by Freya Harrison by clicking here!
Dr. JoAnn Deak’s first book in this series, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is illustrated by Sarah Ackerley can be purchased by clicking here.

A Friends & Family Sale!

By Kelly Wickham

This month we’re celebrating new titles as well as our award-winning titles with a special promotional code that you can use (and share!) with family and friends. It’s a limited time offer until November 15 and we’re so happy to share 30% of any of our titles.

Click here to browse through our titles and be sure to add the code when you checkout.

Thank you to our loyal family and friends who have supported Little Pickle Press! Enjoy the savings!

A Friends & Family Sale!

By Kelly Wickham

This month we’re celebrating new titles as well as our award-winning titles with a special promotional code that you can use (and share!) with family and friends. It’s a limited time offer until November 15 and we’re so happy to share 30% of any of our titles.

Click here to browse through our titles and be sure to add the code when you checkout.

Thank you to our loyal family and friends who have supported Little Pickle Press! Enjoy the savings!