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THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN
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MAPPING THE BRAIN

Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Assessment | Worksheet

Procedure for Teachers

Prep

  • Book mark the Web site
  • Prepare copies of Research Chart
  • Obtain colored pencils, markers, etc.
  • Create own blank maps of brain and make overheads and copies


Steps

(Class period 1)

1. Start the lesson by asking the class what they did today so far. Jot a few things on the board. Mention that those activities all required specific brain functions in specific sequences. For example, if a student tells the class that s/he came from playing basketball, interject that basketball requires brain power, particularly from the cerebellum. If that part of the brain didn't function well, you couldn't dribble and run at the same time! Another student might have been chatting with friends. Interject that without the frontal lobe fully intact, s/he wouldn't be able to read the social cues and would look rude and thoughtless when socializing. Introduce Phineas Gage, the man who was in a railroad accident and a piece of metal went straight through his frontal lobe. He lived and seemed fine, except that his personality changed from an agreeable, likeable man, to a surly and combative person who alienated others.

2. Allow students to check out the Phineas Gage story briefly on Thirteen's Web site (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/brain/history/1848.html). Then instruct the class to locate the 3D brain anatomy feature. Ask them to find the parts you mentioned in class: the cerebellum and the frontal lobe.

3. Tell them that we will be "mapping the brain" to show which regions are primarily responsible for certain life functions, abilities, and behaviors. The first part of the activity involves creating a 2D diagram of the 3D brain shown on the web site. Instruct students to use the view presented in the Overview, which can be found in the Explore the Brain "by area" menu. This will give them a map of the outside surface showing all the lobes and brain stem. The map should be large enough to fill most of an 8 x 11 sheet of paper.

4. Students will make a second diagram showing the limbic system and brain stem only. This map should also be large enough to fill an 8 x 11 sheet. This view is visible when you select "Limbic System & Thalamus" on the Explore the Brain "by area" menu.

5. Next students will use the Mapping the Brain Research Chart (see student materials) to guide research and record information about various parts and structures of the brain. Pass out the chart. Point out the few that they already learned a little about: the cerebellum and frontal lobe and use those as models to get them started.

6. Assign students to use the 3D brain anatomy feature to fill out column 2, which entails describing the location of the brain region in words. Then assign them to use a pencil to lightly mark their maps with the location. Check for accuracy.

7. Students should continue working on the research chart by filling in columns 3 and 4. In column three they list the primary functions of the brain region, and in column 4 they give examples of specific human activities that require these functions. For example: The cerebellum is used to maintain motor coordination and balance. A specific activity that requires motor coordination and balance could be riding a bike, dancing, etc.

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