How to use the BrainBank

Who is the BrainBank for?

The BrainBank has been designed to be used by teachers and science-centre staff who would like to incorporate demonstrations and activities into their presentations to help students understand concepts about the brain. The teaching materials are broken into sub-categories to help you find the demonstrations that are most relevant for you.

How to find what you want

From the home page, go to Teaching Materials and decide what area you are interested in – Brain Biology, Brain Structure or The Social Brain. If you click on the front-page for each sub-section you’ll see thumbnails with a brief summary of the content. Under each thumbnail is a list of the demonstrations in that section with links to access them directly. Alternatively you could just browse through the content to see what might be useful.

Design of the content

The content of the website is organised into the following sub-headings:

Brain Biology – This section focuses on the physical make-up of the brain and how messages are transmitted between neurons, neural networks and the nervous system. The cortex is discussed and its relation to body size and intelligence across animal species. This section ends with demonstrations illustrating how the human brain develops.

Brain Function – This section explores how information is represented in the brain, how memory and vision works and then looks at how and why the brain is deceived by illusions.

The Social Brain – This section describes how adapted the human brain is to process social signals such as facial expressions and non-verbal behavior. We explore how automatically the brain processes social stimuli and how proficient it is at recognizing faces.

Design of the demonstrations

Evaluation of the 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures revealed that audience members remembered and learnt most when they were first asked what they thought about a topic and then a demonstration either confirmed or refuted their assumptions. Building on this finding, we designed the demonstrations to maximise students’ learning. Each section is designed as follows:

  1. An opening set of questions to get the audience thinking about the topic and to establish what they already know or think.
  2. The demonstration or activity.
  3. A follow-up set of basic or advanced discussion points to establish that the audience has understood the demonstration and to get them thinking about further implications.

Key-stage suitability

Each demonstration is marked as being appropriate for different key-stages, based on their curriculum and an extensive literature on science-learning at different ages. Most of the demonstrations are appropriate for students across the key-stages but you might like to challenge older students more in subsequent discussion. To allow for this, each demonstration has a basic and a more advanced discussion point that you can choose between. Obviously class-groups differ widely so these are considered guidelines and give the presenter the option to choose which they think is most appropriate.

Using the content

The content of the website is written so that each demonstration can be used in isolation or several can be strung together to make up a presentation with little additional work from the presenter. We envision that you will set up a computer-based presentation and embed the content that you would like to use directly into it.

To embed video: There is an excellent video tutorial here: which guides you through embedding youtube videos into a powerpoint presentation when you do or do not have internet provision while giving the presentation.

To download images: Right-click on the image (or, on a Mac, click on the image while pressing ‘Ctrl’) and select the option to ‘Save Image As’. 

To download slideshows: The link on the page will take you to the slideshow on where the URL can be embedded in your powerpoint or the slides can be downloaded directly.

How to change the content or get in touch

We will continue to manage and develop the site so would love to hear from you about what you like and don’t like and what additional content you would like to see. Please fill in our evaluation form here or email us directly at