Exploring the Biological Basis of Behavior through Sheep Brains
If you want to know how the brain works, the best thing to do is look at one yourself. So, on a particularly warm March day, Biological Basis of Behavior students set up dissection tables outside, opened their lab instructions, and carefully began dissecting sheep brains.
“The hands-on learning that dissections offer cultivates wonder, learning, and engagement,” explains Laila Goodman, who teaches the neurobiology course. “We spend classes studying brain anatomy with diagrams and models and interesting narratives, but always during dissections, students exclaim ‘Wow! Now I see how the parts go together!’”
In this dissection, students did not merely learn about the structures and systems of the brain – they saw them. Physically peeling off the dura mater (the protective membrane over the brain) allowed students to see for themselves the distinct separation between hemispheres and parts of the brain.
Experiential learning, like dissections, is central to Gann’s educational philosophy because the hands-on exploration of subject matter allows students to grow in ways that no other learning can fulfill. By the time they graduate, Gann students are equipped with real-world skills and an insatiable curiosity for details. Sheep brains are just the beginning.