Education Outreach

The Building Blocks of the Brain

The Building Blocks of the Brain

About this lesson

The content of this lesson develops students' understanding of gene expression in the brain, explores the functions and specialization of various brain regions, and compares studies of the brain at the level of genes, neurons, and regions. It also introduces open research questions in the world of neuroscience. Students are guided through a data set that is under active development and are encouraged to consider current and future research.

The datasets used in this lesson come from the Allen Brain Map, a group of open datasets encompassing gene expression in the brain, visual behavior, properties of neurons, neural development, and more. Students will learn what kind of data is collected in research settings and begin learning how it can be used.

The full lesson plan includes learning objectives, Next Generation Science Standards and Advanced Placement alignments, a teacher guide, suggested timing, and lesson materials.

Download Full Lesson Plan

The main Building Blocks of the Brain lesson is geared toward students at the advanced high school to introductory college neuroscience level. For intermediate to advanced college neuroscience students, this lesson add-on worksheet expands the main lesson to use single-cell transcriptomic data from the Allen Cell Types Database. The data analysis and reflection questions are more challenging than the main lesson and require more background knowledge from students.

Download Transcriptomics add-on

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