So far, we have looked at the structure and functions of neurons in the body. But now we begin our investigation into the brain itself. The concept of consciousness is an emergent property in that it is something that somehow appears when our brain cells work together. There is no evidence of a neuron showing intelligence or awareness... we can dissect the brain down to the very components of the cells and we will not find the molecule that gives us consciousness... because there isn´t one. It is a characteristic that is present when all the components of our brain work together. Much in the same way that life is an emergent property of our cells.

So, are you intelligent? The short answer is definitely... yes. (No matter what your current grades may say you ARE an intelligent being). But there are different types of intelligence. Some people are musically gifted, some are very logical, others are very good at sports. All of these (and a few others) are examples of different forms of intelligence that humans possess. In class we will assess what types you have. But first you must complete these questions in your notebook. Just a simple yes or no (tick or cross) is required. Try NOT to think about the questions too much, just answer as honestly as you can.

Once this has been competed we will move onto the classroom assessment.
The questionnaire key is provided first.

And so we can see that intelligence cannot be classified in any simple manner. Someone who has spacial intelligence may not necessarily do well on a maths exam or a music test. We have divided the brain in our mind maps into several different colours to represent the levels of each intelligence. But does this mean that different parts of our brain are more developed than others? The short answer is yes. Our intelligence depends on the number of connections we can make in our brains. If we have a lot of connections in the part of our brain that deals with balance and coordination then it stands to reason we would do well in a any test where these are assessed.

So, how many different parts of the brain are there? Quite a few actually... But you only need to be aware of the outer lobes, at first. Here is an activity to help you.

Brain Structure Powerpoint

Labeling of the Brain Worksheet

Brain Flashcards

Brain Flashcards

This idea that different parts of the brain were responsible for different functions was highlighted in the case of a man names Phineas Gage. His story is shown below.

Gage´s situation helped to improve human understanding of the brain´s functions. As our knowledge increased we were able to determine the roles played by various sections of the brain. In the diagrams below you can see the labelled outer lobes as well as the internal structure of the human brain.



The link and video below will help you to orient your understanding of these structures.

Internal brain- structures and functions

You realise that the tissue of the cerebral cortex is divided into two distinct layers. Only the outer layer (which is called the grey matter) contains the millions of neuron cell bodies and their dendrites which form the connections that allow us to think and be aware. The inner layer (called the white matter) is mainly composed of the axons covered in the fat-like substance myelin which connect the brain to the spinal cord.


Why not take a tour of the brain? Follow the link below:

3D Tour of the Brain- You may have to download Adobe Shockwave Player

3D tour of the brain

The final class regarding the brain will be dissection. The rubric is available below and a video of a similar also provided for your study.

Brain dissection guide:

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We have already talked about consciousness being an emergent property of the brain. The French philosopher Rene Descartes said "I think, therefore I am". He related existence to the very act of being aware and thinking. As humans, we are all assumed to be conscious beings... but how can you be sure that someone you are having a conversation with is truly ´conscious´.... and not simply responding from a list of appropriate responses? Going further, in the future we hope to develop artificial intelligence. But, could we ever be sure that the machine we were talking to was truly aware?
Watch the video below and make your own conclusions:

So, if we are teaching computers to be argumentative... we might well wonder ´How long will it be until they start to say NO to us?´
If you´d like to give talking to a machine a try, below are links to some of the possible chatbots available.