Brain Surgery

Can you tell the anterior cortex, amygdala, and  parietal lobe from  the optic chiasma and  the corpus collosum?

If not then you could benefit from Tanya’s Cognitive Science course.

I visited this week.

I was not up to speed on the science, but I did learn that the students in this  elective are incredible well-informed.

The task was the dissection of the brain of a sheep. As they began their work – scalpel in hand, microscope slides at the ready –  the discussion that arose was marked by the amazement of discovery but also the familiar use of the complex terminology of brain science.

They may not be brain surgeons yet but some could be on their way. They certainly have the informed curiosity and deep interest.

David J. Linden, professor neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, calls the three-pound oblong organ (i.e the human brain) an “unreliable collection of leaky and bad parts,”  and “a cobbled-together mess”.

Linden’s  book, The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God is the text in Tanya’s  Cognitive Science class. Linden disses the design of the brain but he is still in awe at what it can do.

I don’t have the expertise of Tanya’s high school students but I thoroughly enjoyed dipping into this guided tour of that thing inside our head. I especially enjoyed the dispelling of such myths as

“Is it true that we only use 10 percent of our brain?” (No.)  There’s lots lots more good stuff. But don’t take my word for it, ask a high school student.

More photos from the class on the flickr feed below right.

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