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The scene is set by considering how the working of the nervous system enables us to see. Brain imaging and the regions of the brain are considered. The topic also demonstrates how an understanding of brain structure and functioning is relevant to issues such as the response to stimuli, the development of vision and learning. It investigates how imbalances in brain chemicals may result in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, which can be treated with suitable drugs.
Students discuss the ethical issues raised by the Human Genome Project and the risks and benefits of using genetically modified organisms. Students should be encouraged to carry out a range of practical experiments related to this topic in order to develop their practical skills. In addition to the core practicals detailed below, possible experiments include investigation of reflexes, and investigate the effect of light on the germination of seeds.
Opportunities for developing mathematical skills within this topic include using ratios, fractions and percentages, constructing and interpreting frequency tables and diagrams, bar charts and histograms and using a statistical test.