Exploring the Neuroscience of the Human Brain Using Bioinformatics

Overview & Concepts

What is the structure and function of the nervous system? How do you use bioinformatics relational databases to explore biological molecules?  Students will explore the Genes 2 Cognition website and then chose a particular molecule to investigate further.  Students will use a variety of resources, including OMIM, NCBI, Allen Brain Atlas, Ensemble, and Entrez.

Grade Level: 

Concepts Covered: 

Genomics, Bioinformatics, Cognitive Processes, Neuroscience, Physiology, Proteins

Prior Knowledge Required: 

Basic concept understanding

Activity Notes

Days to Teach: 

1-2 40-50 minute periods or 1 80-90 minute block


  • Student Handout: "Bioinformatics' Activity: Exploring the Neuroscience of the Human Brain Using Bioinformatics " (see attached files)
  • Computers with internet access

Teaching Tips / Activity Overview: 

Background for teachers: The field of neuroscience is rapidly growing and information generated from research is being made available electronically on-line. To utilize this information in a meaningful way, bioinformatics webservers and relational databases are critical to anyone who wishes to examine information related to their area of interest. One new site that has been developed is entitled "Genes 2 Cognition." This is a media-rich site containing information on Human Brain Disorders, Cognitive Processes, Research Approaches, Protein-Protein Interactions, and an interactive 3-D Model of the Human Brain. Each of these areas also provides additional links to bioservers (NCBI, OMIM, Estrez, PubMed, PDB, etc.) for further exploration.

  1. Introduce the lesson and provide the amount of background needed for your students.
  2. Students will access Genes 2 Cognition website and become familiar with its various components by watching  the tutorial.  Click the Using G2C located on the top menu bar.
  3. Once they are familiar with the general layout and operation of the site they should explore the Bioinformatics section by viewing the related subway lines for Genes, Biochemicals, Cells, Brain Anatomy and Cognition.  This is located under the Research Approaches heading.
  4. Using the Protein-Protein Interaction Database students should select a molecule for further study. Using the relational links provided for various bioinformatics' programs (OMIM, NCBI, Allen Brain Atlas, Ensemble, Entrez, etc.) they should complete their worksheet with information on the molecule's name, identification number, species, chromosome number and locus, a description of its physiology along with identifying specific regions of the brain where they interact.  
  5. These regions should be explored using the 3-D Brain modeling component of the website.
  6. Students will record the results of their search in the appropriate section(s) of their worksheet and answer the concluding questions.


Graded worksheets demonstrate student comprehension.


Genes 2 Cognition website:  http://www.g2conline.org


These teacher notes and resources were produced by Chris Eurich.

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