Sue Frantz

Resources for studying and teaching the brain

Blog Post created by Sue Frantz on Feb 6, 2019

Shout out to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology Facebook group for sharing their favorite tools for helping students study the brain.

 

Printable black and white images of the brain from Clipart Library (shared by Achu John)

 

Images include the brain, the eye, and the neuron.

 

Use these images as diagrams on your next exam, write on them during your lecture using a document camera, and print them for students to take notes on.

 

This webpage also includes a half-court basketball drawing, an empty times table chart, and a two-circle Venn diagram. I’m not entirely sure how you can use these for teaching brain-related things, but you’ll have them if you need them.

 

3D Brain app for iOS, Android, and web (web version needs Adobe Flash) was produced by the DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (shared by Kat West)

 

From the dropdown menu, select the brain area of interest, such as Broca’s area. The image of the brain turns gray with Broca’s area highlighted in purple. A paragraph of text tells us what Broca’s area does and another paragraph gives us a case study. We get some information about associated functions, cognitive disorders, and what we see when Broca’s area is damaged. Three research reviews round out the text. The directional controls in the lower right allow you to rotate the brain image.

 

Use this website during your lecture to show where the brain areas in a three-dimensional space. Students can use it as a study tool. Be aware that the functions associated with each brain area in the 3D Brain likely paints a more complicated picture of how the brain works than your Intro Psych textbook. For example, the amygdala, the 3D Brain tells us, is associated with “fear-processing, emotion processing, learning, fight-or-flight response, and reward-processing,” which is a bit more than the strong emotions-like-anger-and-fear that a lot of Intro Psych textbooks report.

 

Pocket Brain, Brain Anatomy, and Brain and Nervous Anatomy Atlas ($9.99) all for iOS (shared by Susie Veccio); My Brain Anatomy and Brain Tutor 3D

 

Some of these are at a level appropriate for Intro Psych. Others may be more appropriate for a neuroscience course. Take a look at each of them yourself before recommending to your students.

 

Neuroscientifically Challenged videos (shared by Susanne Biehl)

 

"These 2-Minute Neuroscience videos will help you learn the basics of neuroscience in short, easy-to-understand clips."

 

Bonus resources

 

BrainFacts.org (a resource by the Society for Neuroscience) has a webpage for educators.

 

The target audience is K-12, but many of the resources for secondary ed teachers would also work for higher ed.

The website includes a “Find a Neuroscientist” database. “Neuroscientists around the world are eager to help you educate about the brain. Our database has scientists in more than 40 countries. Connect with a scientist in your community today.” Enter your location, and a list of neuroscientists will come up. How to pick one and how they can help you is not clear, but there you go.

 

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by science writer Sam Kean

 

This book is a must-read for anyone teaching neuroscience. Each chapter focuses on a different part of the brain. We get the back story on the research, a report on current research findings, and a handful of case studies. Take notes as you read; your neuroscience lectures will be much more compelling. (Read my 2015 book review.)

 

Christina Ragan's Teaching Resources for Biological Psychology and Neuroscience Facebook Group 

 

This is "a a centralized location to share activities, links, readings, videos, etc. on topics related to biology, psychology, and neuroscience." If you're looking for a community for sharing such resources, this is a good one.

 

What are your favorite resources for teaching the brain?

Outcomes