The brain from top to bottom
A quick overview of divisions of the nervous system
  • The nervous system - pp 51 - 53
  • Diagram of neural transmission - p. 54
  • Brain structures - pp 54 - 59
  • Neurotransmitters - pp 66 - 67

  1. What are the 2 sections that Jill Bolte Taylor refers to in her brain? How are they connected?
  2. What specific damage happened to her?
  3. In your notes, write down what her experiences tell us about the roles of each hemisphere.

  1. In your notes, identify the 3 key areas that Ramachandran discusses, and the problems that can result, should these areas be damaged.

Read more about phantom limbs in Ramachandran's notebook

Your models

Using your models will help you to familiarize yourselves with the key terms involved in describing the divisions of the brain

Make sure you add in the 'missing sections' of your models

Have a 'play' with the brain - look for sections in this 3-D image from The Whole Brain (found on the Harvard Medical School site)

Compare healthy and damaged brains in the SPECT Gallery
A criticism of the SPECT scans

Communication within and between neurons

Neurological control

Explore the action potential, the creation of synaptic signals, and neurotransmission on Brain Explorer


SAQ prompt
Explain the role of neurotransmitters in the brain.
(construct an answer that will take approximately 15 minutes to write)
  • The nervous system - pp 51 - 53
  • Diagram of neural transmission - p. 54
  • Neurotransmitters - pp 66 - 67

Review modules
Module 1 The General Anatomy of the Neuron

Module 2 The Neuron At Rest and Conducting

Module 3 Neural Influences

Key neurotransmitters

An overview of key neurotransmitters on Brain Explorer

Phineas Gage

Read the story of Phineas Gage.
Focus specifically on his story and then read the damage done to Gage (see headings)

  1. Using the information available, make a list of the approximate areas of damage to Gage's brain
  2. On your own models, mark the areas most likely to have been damaged by the tamping stick and by the abscess (caused by infection) that followed the accident.
Key ideas from class discussion

Localization vs Lateralization

Read 'Localization of function and brain lateralization'
Discussion questions
  • Why is this information significant?


Glassman and Hadad, pages 77 - 80
The Sperry page (an overview)
Sperry's study + evaluation

Basic findings
  • What are the basic findings of Sperry's research?
- You can function even though your corpus callosum has been cut.
- Each eye is connected to both hemispheres so objects on your left side are seen by your right hemisphere and vice versa. Because only the left hemisphere has language, if you see something with your left eye, your right hemisphere knows what it is, but you are incapable of saying it.
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Key findings of Sperry's
  • Lateralization of the left and right brain
    • Lateralization: that each side of the brain has its own responsibilities, they have different functions and skills
  • The brain consists of two different consciousnesses - they work together to create an individual's consciousness
    • Each hemisphere works independently of each other
    • An individual can still function when the corpus callosum has been cut (resulting in split brain)
  • Despite being split, the brain can still carry out certain activities
    • Some daily activities can still be carried out, but others can't, because the brain is split.
  • Sperry's findings were not so clear-cut as he suggested, he stated that the left brain is responsible for language, not the right brain, but it has been found that the right brain isn't completely ignorant of language. Same goes for the right brain.

Further research
  • Overall, further research supports what Sperry found.
  • Savazzi and Funnell (pg 79)

Class evaluation


Gazzaniga on split-brain research
(listen to the audio or read the transcript)

Keep in mind the tedtalk where Julia Bolte-Taylor talked about her experiences. Now click on the link below and complete the activity to consolidate your understanding of hemispheric specialization

Gazzaniga. Sperry and functional laterality

Studies of localization of brain function

Class evaluations
Your groups are to follow the instructions on each of the pages below:

Final task
Read page 43 in Crane and Hannibal.
Answer the 2 questions in the blue box on that page

How can we look at the brain?

Using an MRI
CAT scans

Read the following and answer the questions.
  • You are expected to use information you have already covered, as well as the set reading in your answers.
  • Questions in color are SAQ sample questions from the SAQ page.

Localization of brain function and ethics in research, Crane and Hannibal, p. 44
  1. Identify the ethical considerations in Heath's study
  2. Discuss how localization of function can help us to understand human behavior.
  3. Using an example from a psychological study, explain one ethical consideration of research related to the biological perspective

Practice SAQ
The use of brain technology in brain research, Crane and Hannibal, pp. 44 - 45
Focus on the difference between invasive methods, and non-invasive

Part A: Identify one research method used by psychologists working within the biological perspective and describe how this method has been applied in one empirical study (You could discuss brain technology, correlational studies, double blind trials, case studies, questionnaires - in this particular instance, please discuss brain technology)
Part B: Identify one strength and one limitation of the method described in part A.