Over the course of the year in Neuroscience, we explore the following essential questions: How do scientists go about solving problems related to the brain? How do we process data to extract meaning? How does the brain store and retrieve memories? How does the brain detect and respond to changes in the environment? How do attention, emotion, memory, and the senses impact one another?

During the first semester, students explore a variety of topics in neuroscience and psychology driven by these essential questions. In small groups, they design and implement an experiment on a topic related to perception. During the second semester, students work toward completing their graduation requirement by designing and implementing an original, independent investigation. Students convey that work within an Exhibition and lab report emulating professional manuscripts. In the Exhibition component, students display and discuss their work with a panel of evaluators including teachers, parents, and scientists from the community. Finally, a comprehensive exam is administered to assess students’ understanding and retention of concepts covered during all four cycles of the course.

A User's Guide to the Brain by John Ratey
The Emotional Brain by Joseph LeDoux
Glencoe Understanding Psychology by Richard A. Kasschau
Psychology: Principles in Practice (High School) by Spencer A. Rathus
Adam, Frank. Drug Addiction – A (Forgotten) Memory? The Journal of Young Investigators. 22.3 (2011).
Verster, Joris C, et. Al. Alcohol Hangover Effects on Memory Functioning and Vigilance Performance after an Evening of Binge Drinking. Neuropsychopharmacology. (2003) 28, 740-746.
Assorted journal articles (selected by students) and other scientific sources (texts, online sources, etc)

Students explore the nature of science through primary literature, using a variety of tools to guide themselves through their analysis of journal articles. Students are expected to access and interpret background information, decipher figures and interpret findings in order to gain deeper understanding of a topic in neuroscience or psychology shaped by their own interests. After conducting in-depth research using academic databases and reading extensive material related to their topic, students design controlled experiments to test it. During this process, students write an Introduction and References that emulates professional manuscripts. In this writing, students are expected to describe the prior knowledge that led to their investigation and hypothesis and provide background information to highlight the importance of their study. While completing their investigation, students write the Methods, Results and Discussion components of their paper.

Media Used: 
New York Public Library (
Google Scholar
Interim Assessments: 

IA1: Student (group)-designed question and experiment, individual Background Research Organizer and Methods (first draft)

IA2: Lab report (complete final draft - Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References)

IA3: Original experiment design, individual Background Research Organizer and Methods (first draft)

IA4: Exhibition and Lab report (complete final draft - Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References) to fulfill graduation requirement in science

Significant Assignments: 

CREATE Method - concept mapping Introductions, cartooning Methods, and completing Figure Analysis Templates from primary journal articles

Background Research Organizer

Introduction Outline

Peer Reviews & Reflections (during question/topic development, methods development, and analysis of data)

Data Test Run Response

Sample PBATs: 
The effect of noise pollution on Stroop task performance
The effect of mirror reflection of ones limb on perception of sensation on non-stimulated and stimulated limb
Behavioral and electrophysiological effects of caffeine and taurine in South American Cockroaches
The effect of self-esteem on perception of individuals who disclose negative and positive emotions online
The effect of color on taste perception
The effect of music genre on emotion and concentration