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Once the basic anatomy of the brain has been taught, the next lesson is to teach the different functions of each part of the brain. Make sure that the students understand where each lobe is located in the brain — the visual association will help them remember the function. Explain to the students that each brain section plays an important role, and that any damage can interfere with normal function. Students can refer to the accompanying study guide for further help.
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Functions of the Four Lobes
Start by explaining the functions of each of the four lobes. Remind students that each hemisphere (the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere) has all four of the lobes. While going over each of the lobe's function, use a visual image — a 3D model that you can take apart each lobe, a preserved brain, or an image in which each lobe is color coded. Start by describing the frontal lobe, explaining that it controls multiple functions like emotions, problem solving, reasoning, planning, some speech and motor skills, and smell. Next, discuss the parietal lobe. Explain that the parietal lobe also is involved in language, but rather the comprehension. Add that the parietal lobe also processes information from pain, temperature, touch and pressure.
After going over the parietal lobe, move down to the temporal lobe. Point out that the temporal lobe is essential for this lesson, as the temporal lobe is responsible for memory. Add that the temporal lobe is also involved in hearing. Note that Wernicke's area is located in the temporal lobe (with some crossover in the parietal lobe), which is the language comprehension center. Finally, go over the occipital lobe and explain that it is the vision center of the brain.
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Functions of the Cerebellum
The next part of the lesson should be on the functions of the cerebellum. Remind students that the cerebellum is also the second largest part of the brain. Explain that the cerebellum is the part of the brain responsible for coordination and balance. Point out that the cerebellum also controls voluntary motor movements, and if damaged, can result in tremors, balance problems and other mobility problems.
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Functions of the Brain Stem
In the final part of the lesson, cover the functions of the brain stem. Explain to the students that the brain stem is responsible for many vital functions, like breathing, heartbeat, swallowing and wakefulness. Note that the brain stem is also the connection between the rest of the brain and the spinal cord.
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After going over the different functions of the brain, use various exercises to help the students remember. The University of Washington provides different games that quiz the student's knowledge. Another option is to do an interactive quiz: make flashcards with different brain function, then break up the class into different groups, and have them act out or indicate their function. Each group should identify the part of the brain responsible for that function. Have them write down their answers and check for errors.
- Internet Stroke Center: Anatomy of the Brain, http://www.strokecenter.org/professionals/brain-anatomy/anatomy-of-the-brain/
- Image Credit: BrainLobesLabelled by Camazine under CC by 3.0
- University of Washington: Lobes of the Brain, http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/lobe.html