Brain Project Ideas for Psychology

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your high school students about the brain and psychology with these helpful hands-on project ideas. They will work cooperatively and use analytical abilities to better comprehend how psychologists study the brain.

Why the Brain?

The average human brain contains about 100 billion cells. While the study of the brain dates back over 3,000 years to ancient Egypt, the first psychology lab wasn't opened until 1879. By studying the intricacies of the human brain, psychologists hope to one day eradicate illnesses and allow patients to participate in society and have fulfilling lives. These projects are designed for high school students.

Famous Brain Cases

Materials: Internet devices, paper, writing utensils

  • Divide your students into five groups. Tell them they are going to become experts on the following five cases from the history of psychology:
    • Group One, you will be Team Phineas Gage - the remarkable case of Phineas Gage is one of the most famous in history, and will surely entertain as well as stun your students. He was working on the railroad when an iron rod went through his head, but he lived for about twelve more years.
    • Group Two, you will be Team Kim Peek - this amazing person was the inspiration for the Rain Man movie. Supposedly he read and memorized about 12,000 books, and had other amazing mental skills.
    • Group Three, you will be Team Chris Sizemore - this woman was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, and the movie The Three Faces of Eve chronicled her life.
    • Group Four, you will be Team H.M. Molaison - he had severe amnesia after surgery, and his brain is still studied by scientists after his death.
    • Group Five, You will be Team Anna O. - her name was actually Bertha Pappenheim, and Josef Breuer himself administered psychotherapy to her daily for 18 months. She went on to live a fruitful and rewarding life.
  • Now have them meet in their groups and research their respective person.
  • When they are done, have them meet back in one large group to share their stories.
  • Next, have each group write a one-act play using their research subject and act them out for the entire class.

Discussion Question: Which case study related to the brain and psychology is the most intriguing? Why?

Brain and Psychology Timeline

Materials: clothesline, clothespins, color-coded index cards, Internet capability, colored markers

For this project, your students will create a clothesline timeline featuring some of the key dates related to the brain and psychology.

Initially, divide your students into small groups of 4-6, and assign each of those groups a unique color for their index cards. Then allow each group to research and find several interesting dates related to the brain and psychology. While they are researching, string a clothesline diagonally across your classroom. Examples of dates could include:

  • c. 460 B.C. - Hippocrates discusses how epilepsy might affect the brain
  • c. 280 B.C. - Erasistratus claims the brain has divisions
  • 177 A.D. - Galen gives his On the Brain lecture
  • 1402 - St. Mary of Bethlehem opens a psychiatric hospital
  • 1543 - Vesalius describes the pineal gland and corpus striatum
  • 1658 - Wepfer explains what might cause a stroke
  • 1776 - Malacarne publishes a book about the cerebellum
  • 1809 - Rolando uses current to stimulate the cortex
  • 1879 - Wilhelm Wundt opens his famous laboratory
  • 1886 - John Dewey publishes America's first psychology textbook

Once the research is done, have each group place the index cards on the clothesline in order from earliest to latest. Allow students to discover any duplicate dates on their own. Then have them walk the clothesline forward and in reverse, reading the dates and events aloud.

  • Finally, have each student write a one-page paper about what they learned in this project about the brain and psychology.

Discussion question: What do you think has been the most important discovery related to the brain by psychologists? Justify your answer.

Stroop Effect

Materials: colored markers, index cards featuring words printed in colors different from the word. For example, the word 'red' printed in blue ink.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account