Exploring Pathways in the Brain
About this lesson
The content of this lesson develops students' understanding of neuroanatomy, explores the relationship between gene expression and brain region function, and guides students through developing their own experimental questions about brain connectivity. 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 questions.
This lesson is divided into three sections of increasing difficulty and complexity, which build on each other. Depending on the level of their students and needs of the course, instructors may choose to use only Section 1 (suitable for introductory college neuroscience/some very advanced high schoolers), Sections 1 and 2 (suitable for introductory to intermediate college students), or the full lesson of Sections 1-3 (suitable for intermediate to advanced college and graduate students).
The datasets used in this unit 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, a teacher guide, suggested timing, and student worksheets.
Readings & resources:
- Five unsolved mysteries about the brain
- Lein, E, et al. Genome-wide atlas of gene expression in the adult mouse brain. Nature (2007). doi:10.1038/nature05453
- Oh, SW, et al. A mesoscale connectome of the mouse brain. Nature (2014). doi:10.1038/nature13186.
- A new high-resolution map of how the brain is wired
- Brain Facts 3D Brain
- Allen Brain Map reference atlases
- Allen Mouse Brain Atlas
- Allen Human Brain Atlas
- Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Database
- NIH gene database