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Lesson Plans

Zombie autopsies: the neuroanatomy of a zombie 2

October 21, 2013

Full Lesson


Created by Katie Gould in collaboration with Dr. Steven Schlozman Author of “The Zombie Autopsies”


This lesson teaches students about neurotransmitters, neurotransmission and neuroanatomy through multi-media and active learning games. This lesson was inspired by the book the “Zombie Autopsies” by Dr. Steven Schlozman.


Neuroscience, biology

Estimated Time

One 90 minute class

Grade Level

Students should have some background in biology in order to understand this lesson.

Explain to students the following:

Welcome back students! Today we will test your knowledge of the neuron and then you will be ready to learn about the brain of zombies. As almost all behavior can be traced back to the brain, scientists believe that zombies have damaged or diseased parts of their brain. If we can figure out what parts have been affected by the disease, then there may be hope that YOU will be able to develop medicine that can cure them.

Warm Up Activity

Give students the “Zombies and Brains Pre-Quiz”. Have them take it and hold on to it for later.

Neurotransmission Dance Party
  1. Go through slides 13-19 on the “Neurons and Neurotransmission” PowerPoint to both review and teach information about several common neurotransmitters taking notes to use in a later activity.
  2. Follow the directions and diagram on the next page and have your own Neurotransmitter Dance Party
    • Materials: tennis balls (or other objects to throw), 2 buckets, duct tape, and music
  3. After completing the dance party, give students the “Zombie Autopsies Quiz on Neurons & Neurotransmitters”.

Main Activity

Zombies and Brains
  1. Have students take out their “Zombies and Brains Pre-Quiz” from earlier. For the answers to Part 1 – Zombies ask students to volunteer their answers for Part 1 and write them on the board.
  2. Go over the answers to Part 2 – Brains (they are all false) and then pass out “Brain Mythology” to students and read through the explanations.
  3. Present the “Zombie Brains” PowerPoint to your students- you have a choice between a longer comparison PowerPoint that first presents information on the entire healthy human brain and then gets to zombie brains during slide 23 OR you can use the short version which leaves out normal anatomy and starts right with zombies.

At the bottom of slide 24 or 3 (depending on which PowerPoint you used) there is a clip from the original Night of the Living Dead. Students should watch the clip while keeping the four previously listed behaviors of the zombies in mind.

Return to the PowerPoint and go through the nine slides about zombie brains and then watch Dr. Steven Schlozman – author of the book “The Zombie Autopsies” – present material through an entertaining video “The Zombie Autopsies with Steven Schlozman, M.D.” Click here to watch.


Steven Schlozman, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Lecturer in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his Medical Degree at the Brown-Dartmouth Program in Medicine, and completed his training in general psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and his Child Psychiatry Residency at the MGH/McLean Program in Child Psychiatry.

He is currently the Co-Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry for Harvard Medical School and a staff child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Clinically, he works with children, adolescents and adults in both psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic treatment settings, and he serves as the pediatric psychiatry consultant to the pediatric transplant unit at the MGH Hospital for Children. His academic work focuses on curriculum reform and educational endeavors at the medical student and post graduate levels, as well as on the psychiatric treatment of medically ill children. His first novel, the Zombie Autopsies, was published by Grand Central Publishing in March 2011 and has optioned for film by George Romero.