How Your Brain Understands What Your Ear Hears
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National Institutes of Health
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

How Your Brain Understands What Your Ear Hears

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Teacher's Guide


This curriculum supplement, from The NIH Curriculum Supplement Series, brings cutting-edge medical science and basic research discoveries from the laboratories of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) into classrooms. As the largest medical research institution in the United States, NIH plays a vital role in the health of all Americans and seeks to foster interest in research, science, and medicine-related careers for future generations. The NIH Office of Science Education (OSE) is dedicated to promoting science education and scientific literacy.

We designed this curriculum supplement to complement existing life science curricula at both the state and local levels and to be consistent with National Science Education Standards.1 It was developed and tested by a team composed of teachers from across the country, scientists, medical experts, other professionals with relevant subject-area expertise from institutes and medical schools across the country, representatives from the NIH National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), and curriculum-design experts from Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), SAIC, and Edge Interactive. The authors incorporated real scientific data and actual case studies into classroom activities. A three-year development process included geographically dispersed field tests by teachers and students.

The structure of this module enables teachers to effectively facilitate learning and stimulate student interest by applying scientific concepts to real-life scenarios. Design elements include a conceptual flow of lessons based on BSCS’s 5E Instructional Model of Learning, multisubject integration emphasizing cutting-edge science content, and built-in assessment tools. Activities promote active and collaborative learning and are inquiry-based to help students develop problem-solving strategies and critical thinking.

Each curriculum supplement comes with a complete set of materials for both teachers and students, including printed materials, extensive background and resource information, and a Web site with interactive activities. The supplements are distributed at no cost to teachers across the United States. All materials may be copied for classroom use but may not be sold. We welcome feedback from our users. For a complete list of curriculum supplements, updates, and availability and ordering information, or to submit feedback, please visit our Web site at or write to

Curriculum Supplement Series
Office of Science Education
National Institutes of Health
6100 Executive Blvd., Suite 3E01 MSC 7520
Bethesda, MD 20892-7520

We appreciate the valuable contributions of the talented staff at BSCS, SAIC, and Edge Interactive. We are also grateful to the NIH scientists, advisors, and all other participating professionals for their work and dedication. Finally, we thank the teachers and students who participated in focus groups and field tests to ensure that these supplements are both engaging and effective. I hope you find our series a valuable addition to your classroom and wish you a productive school year.

Bruce A. Fuchs, Ph.D.
Office of Science Education
National Institutes of Health

1 In 1996, the National Academy of Sciences released the National Science Education Standards, which outlines what all citizens should understand about science by the time they graduate from high school. The Standards encourages teachers to select major science concepts that empower students to use information to solve problems rather than stressing memorization of unrelated information.

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