Brain dissection

Dissect a real lamb or pig brain and identify its parts.
Science content
Biology: Sensing, Organ Systems (4, 5, 6)
Lessons activity is in
  • lamb or pig brain from local butcher - cerebellum and hind brain still attached if possible (may need to buy the whole head and ask to have it sawn in half, then take the brain out)
  • tray to contain brain and blood
  • sharp penknife
  • soap and water for clean up

This activity is how to dissect the brain before a lesson.
Follow the description of the parts of the brain, and associated activities, in the brain lesson.

The brain will probably already be cut, with left and right sides separated.
If not, slice it in half.
Look at the parts: cortex, cerebellum, mid and hind brain, corpus callosum: see labelled image at

Discuss the functions of the parts:
cortex: thinking, reasoning, also optic, motor and olfactory areas.
cerebellum: fine motor control
mid and hind brain: basic processes such as breathing, heart rate, sleeping, waking etc
(See the Nervous System lesson plan for more details)

The intact brain can be stored in the fridge for days if covered in saran wrap to prevent drying out.

To see more cut the brain with a sharp penknife.
Cut parallel to the cut already made separating the left and right halves, but more lateral, to reveal the striatum and possibly the hippocampus.
Cut through part of the cortex to show the white and grey matter (the myelinated axons and the pinkish cell bodies).

Great images of a sheep brain dissection at:
More nice photos at:


Store the brain wrapped in saran wrap - it can also be lifted and moved on its wrap too.
I tried storing in water - no good as the brain swelled up.
I tried storing in salted water, the same concentration as cerebrospinal fluid (40g salt in 500ml water). The brain outside got mushy faster than simply wrapped in saran wrap, though it may have held its shape better. Stick with saran wrapping.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6