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URMC / LSLC / LSLC Lessons / LSLC Lessons / Neuroscience



These lessons were developed with funding from grant R25DA032998 from the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Caffeine and Neural Fatigue

Students use a sporting event to consider situations in which signals are not sent, or are sent and ignored.  They explore the concept of neural fatigue and how a drug like caffeine might interact with receptors to circumvent neural fatigue.


Brain Development and Toxins

Students diagnose hypothetical patients through simulated lab tests.  In determining which tests to perform students learn about the effects of different environmental toxins on brain development.  Students then create a timeline of brain development and indicate the key developmental stages affected by the different toxins.


Brain Development and Toxins: Teacher Guide

Brain Development and Toxins: Student Guide


Disease Detectives

Students explore a mini-case involving a young man who has meningitis.  They conduct simulated lab tests to determine what pathogen is causing his meningitis.  They use pre-writing research to write a letter encouraging parents to have their preteens or teens vaccinated with the meningitis vaccine. 

Fear: Body Alert

Students discover that fear and the fight-or-flight response triggers changes in many parts of the body.  They explore the role of the amygdale, hypothalamus, sympathetic nervous system, and fear hormones in a response to a frightening situation.  They learn about the role of the parasympathetic nervous system in relaxing and avoiding stress that could lead to health problems.

Hand on a Hot Stove

Students use WikkiStix to model nerve pathways involved in a reflex response, conscious sensation, voluntary movement and memory. They then complete a card sorting activity involving matching nerve damage illustrations to patient symptoms.

Hand on a Hot Stove Teacher Guide

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Hand on a Hot Stove Student Handout

Just a Bang to the Head

Students explore a mini-case involving an athlete who had two concussions.  They take a “concussion quiz” and then design a “product” for a public awareness campaign to make people aware of the effects of concussions on the brain.  They conduct simulated blood tests and analyze data to determine if a blood test might be used to determine if a person has a concussion.
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Male vs Female Brain

Students compare the size of brain regions between males and females and learn about the function(s) of these regions.  Students use models to illustrate how sex hormones can influence brain development.  They discuss ethical and scientific issues surrounding the “male-bias” in animal models used in neuroscience research.


Nerve Cell Communication

Students read a brief description of nerve cell communication and apply this knowledge to a hands-on model that illustrates electrical conduction along the axon and neurotransmitter release and binding at the synapse.

Nerve Cell Communication Teacher Guide
Nerve Cell Communication Student Handout

Neuroscience of Risk Taking

Students examine their finger length ratios in relation to their self-assessed risk taking tendencies. Finger length ratios are then connected to differences in prenatal testosterone signaling which can influence development of brain regions associated with risk taking behavior.  Students use simulated gel electrophoresis to examine testosterone receptor genes to determine whether this behavior is influenced by genes, the environment, or both.


Sleep: A Waste of Time or a Necessity of Life?

Students perform a number of activities that uncover the biological effects of not getting enough sleep.  All activities are based on real experiments suggesting that not sleeping enough can have multiple negative consequences on metabolism and memory.

Taste Blind

Students explore the role of receptors, nerve cell pathways, and taste areas of the brain involved in tasting PTC, a bitter substance. They design and conduct an experiment to determine if there is a correlation between the ability to taste PTC and not liking broccoli. They explore PTC tasting inheritance patterns and evolution.

Please email us for the answer key to this lesson.