Students should study one example of localisation of function.

Localisation of function is described by the IB as “the theory that certain parts of the brain correspond to certain functions and reflects the idea that behaviour, emotion, and/
or thoughts originate in specific regions of the brain”.

  1. Define what is meant by localisation. (3)
  2. With reference to the work of Broca, Wernicke and Penfield, explain how classic early research into localisation was conducted. (6)
  3. Outline one limitation of Broca’s original case study of Tan. (3)
  4. Describe two research methods that have been used to study localisation. Refer to examples of research studies in your answers. (4+4) , e.g. case studies and experiments.
  5. Explain one strength of the theory of localisation; you must include research evidence in your answer (e.g. Petersen et al ) (3)
  6. Explain one weakness of the theory of localisation; you must include research evidence in your answer (e.g. Lashley) (3)
  7. Explain one practical application of the theory of localisation. (3)
  8. Explain how research into people who have had strokes have provided evidence both for and against localisation. (4)

Research studies

Video clip about the human connectome project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpZL-QcOqFs

Localisation and the options:

Relationships: Conflict

Abnormal Option:

Biological etiology of depression

  • Drevets (2000)
  • Sheline et al. (2001) Increased Amygdala Response to Masked Emotional Faces in Depressed Subjects Resolves with Antidepressant Treatment: An fMRI Study

Biological etiology of OCD

  • Thobois case study 

Practice Questions

  • SAQ: Describe localisation with reference to one research study. [9]

You could use Petersen et al. (1988): Petersen et al 1988 APFC notes

  • SAQ: Describe one ethical consideration relevant to the study of brain and behaviour. (9)

You could ethical issues raised by a case study such as that of SM (Feinstein). 

  • SAQ: Describe one research method with reference to research into the brain and behaviour. (9)
  • ERQ: Discuss localisation with reference to research evidence. (22)

Model essay

localisation IB ERQ

just the introduction – localisation: annotate to show how it meets the marking criteria.

Focusing your writing on the topic from which the content is drawn:

brain tumour example


Original Paper: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/783830


Further reading: The fearless woman – SM – rare disease destroyed her amygdalae


A bit of digital fun: try your own brain surgery!