Pig Brain Dissection

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Pig Brain Dissection

Pig brains, although much smaller than human brains, have similar features and can be a valuable addition to anatomy studies. See for yourself what the cerebrum, cerebellum, spinal cord, gray and white matter, and other parts of the brain look like!

Observation: External Anatomy

1. You'll need a pig brain for the dissection. Set the brain down so the flatter side, with the white spinal cord at one end, rests on the dissection pan. Notice that the brain has two halves, or hemispheres. Can you tell the difference between the cerebrum and the cerebellum? Do the ridges (called gyri) and grooves (sulci) in the tissue look different? How does the surface feel?

2. Turn the brain over. You'll probably be able to identify the medulla, pons, midbrain, optic chiasm, and olfactory bulbs. Find the olfactory bulb on each hemisphere. These will be slightly smoother and a different shade than the tissue around them. The olfactory bulbs control the sense of smell. The nerves to the nose are no longer connected, but you can see nubby ends where they were. The nerves to your mouth and lower body are attached to the medulla; the nerves to your eyes are connected to the optic chiasm. Using a magnifying glass, see if you can find some of the nerve stubs.

Dissection: Internal Anatomy

1. Place the brain with the curved top side of the cerebrum facing up. Use a scalpel (or sharp, thin knife) to slice through the brain along the center line, starting at the cerebrum and going down through the cerebellum, spinal cord, medulla, and pons. Separate the two halves of the brain and lay them with the inside facing up.