Essential idea: The parts of the brain specialize in different functions.
The image above shows several different regions of the human brain and within each region the areas that have been attributed to different functions.
Understandings, applications and skills
|The anterior part of the neural tube expands to form the brain.
|Different parts of the brain have specific roles. [Although specific functions can be attributed to certain areas, brain imagery shows that some activities are spread in many areas and that the brain can even reorganize itself following a disturbance such as a stroke.]
|The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary processes in the body using centres located mainly in the brain stem.
|The cerebral cortex forms a larger proportion of the brain and is more highly developed in humans than other animals.
|The human cerebral cortex has become enlarged principally by an increase in total area with extensive folding to accommodate it within the cranium.
|The cerebral hemispheres are responsible for higher order functions.
|The left cerebral hemisphere receives sensory input from sensory receptors in the right side of the body and the right side of the visual field in both eyes and vice versa for the right hemisphere.
|The left cerebral hemisphere controls muscle contraction in the right side of the body and vice versa for the right hemisphere.
|Brain metabolism requires large energy inputs.
|Visual cortex, Broca’s area, nucleus accumbens as areas of the brain with specific functions.
|Swallowing, breathing and heart rate as examples of activities coordinated by the medulla.
|Use of the pupil reflex to evaluate brain damage.
|Use of animal experiments, autopsy, lesions and fMRI to identify the role of different brain parts.
|Identification of parts of the brain in a photograph, diagram or scan of the brain. [Image of the brain should include the medulla oblongata, cerebellum, hypothalamus, pituitary gland and cerebral hemispheres.]
|Analysis of correlations between body size and brain size in different animals.
[Text in square brackets indicates guidance notes]
How brains learn to see by Pawan Sinha
Treating blindness in children, a worthy aim in itself but it also teaches us how the brain learns to see from the retinal input.
Nature of science
Use models as representations of the real world - the sensory homunculus and motor homunculus are models of the relative space human body parts occupy on the somatosensory cortex and the motor cortex. (1.10)
The definition of living varies depending on local and national laws and culture.
Theory of knowledge
In medicine the concept of death is defined in terms of brain function, but sometimes conflicts can occur when the medical criteria for death differ from the family’s criteria for death. To what extent should the views of the family members be given priority when making decisions in medical ethics? What criteria should be used to make ethical decisions?