Enabling students to understand and analyse contemporary issues in science and technology

Watching the brain working

Science is increasing our understanding of how activity in different parts of the brain relates to brain function and behaviour. Techniques now allow scientists to see which regions of a working brain are active at a given time. However at an individual level the deeper knowledge of another’s thoughts that may be provided by these techniques also raises ethical and legal issues.

The human brain

Science explanations
The science needed is a recognition that different regions of the brain have different functions and are involved in different types of thought process. It also includes the idea that activity in any one region can be detected using instrumentation of various types.

How science works
Ideas that are particularly relevant to the topic include: a more systematic look at measurement errors and how we handle data from our instruments as well as the difficulties of interpretation of some of this data; the ethical and legal implications in the use of brain scanning, for example as a lie detector; the role of the techniques in end of life decisions and the ethical issues raised.

Resources

Activities

Weblinks

Please find below, a suggested scheme of work for this topic.

Watching the brain working_Scheme of Work (42 KB)