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July 4th, 2010
Journey into the Brain
Lesson Overview

For a printable version of this lesson, click here: (PDF) (RTF)

Grade Levels: 9-12

Time Allotment: Two 45-minute class periods

Overview: In this lesson, students view and discuss video segments from the PBS program The Human Spark, as they learn about the human brain, including information about brain regions, brain activity and technologies used to explore the brain. In the Introductory Activity, students compare the brains of chimps, rats, monkeys and humans and discuss why the brains of some species are larger than others.  In Learning Activity 1, students explore which regions of the brain are activated during different types of tasks and in Learning Activity 2, students learn about different technologies which provide insight into brain activity. In the Culminating Activity, students explore different regions of the brain.

Subject Matter: Science; Psychology

Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to:

  • Identify the brains of chimps, rats, monkeys and humans.
  • Discuss why the brains of some species are larger than others.
  • Describe which different regions of the brain are activated by language activities, tool use and thoughts about other people’s thoughts.
  • Discuss different technologies used to gather information about brain activity.
  • Label and describe the different regions of the brain.

Standards:

National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula

Standard Area IIA: Biological Bases of Behavior
Content Standards
After concluding this unit, students understand:

  • CONTENT STANDARD IIA-3: Hierarchical organization of the structure and function of the brain
    Students are able to (performance standards):

    • o IIA-3.1 Identify the structure and function of the major regions of the brain. Students may indicate this by (performance indicators): Identifying the regions of the brain by using diagrams and/or computer-generated diagrams; Summarizing the functions of the major brain regions.
    • IIA-3.2 Recognize that specific functions are centered in specific lobes of the cerebral cortex. Students may indicate this by (performance indicators): Describing the functions controlled by the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex; Relating examples of research on cortical functioning.
    • IIA-3.3 Describe lateralization of brain functions. Students may indicate this by (performance indicators): a. Identifying the role of the corpus callosum in hemispheric communication.
  • CONTENT STANDARD IIA-4: Technologies and clinical methods for studying the brain
    Students are able to (performance standards):

    • IIA-4.1 Explain how research and technology have provided methods to analyze brain behavior and disease. Students may indicate this by (performance indicators): b. Discussing how the use of the CT scan, PET scan, MRI, fMRI, and EEG provides information about the brain.

Media Resources

The Human Spark, selected segments

  • A Matter of Size
    A look at the brains of a rat, monkey, chimp and human and why some brains are bigger than others.

  • The Brain in Action
    A look at the regions of the brain which are activated during different tasks.

Websites:

The Secret Life of the Brain

This website for the PBS series “The Secret Life of the Brain” features information, interactives and video clips about the brain. This site includes information about the regions of the brain and brain scanning technologies, which can be used in Learning Activities 1 and 2.

Neuroscience for Kids

This website contains a variety of information and activities about the brain, spinal cord, neurons and the senses. It includes a section on “Brain Imaging,” which can be used as a resource in Learning Activity 2 (http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/image.html).

Materials

For the class:

  • Computers with internet access
  • Computer, projection screen and speakers (for class viewing of online/downloaded video segments)
  • Scanning the Brain Answer Key (PDF) (RTF)

For each student:

  • Scanning the Brain Student Organizer (PDF) (RTF)
  • Four Brains Handout (PDF)

Before the Lesson

Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and websites used in the lesson.

Print one copy of the “ Scanning the Brain Answer Key.

Print one copy of the Scanning the Brain Student Organizer and one copy of the Four Brains Handout for each student.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer(s) or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark all websites which you plan to use in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as delicious or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to save the links in one location.

Inside This Lesson

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