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Paul Grobstein's picture

Bio 103, Lab 7: Oneself as a Biological Entity. II. Reacting


In last week's lab, we noticed that a part of oneself (the heart) was influenced by but not fully under the control of other parts of oneself. In this lab, we want to further develop the idea that oneself consists of an array of parts that interact with one another to give what we observe as behavior.


A touch starts signals moving in sensory neurons which eventually cause signals to move in motor neurons which eventually cause muscle contractions and movement. How long does it take to move when one is touched, and why? How much of that time is the time it takes for signals to move from the endings of sensory neurons to the endings of motor neurons? How much of that time is the time it takes muscles to contract and cause movement? That's what we'll be looking at in the first part of the lab, and studying further in the second part


Following the demonstration, you and your team should develop your own questions and observation protocols to explore some interesting aspect of what is going on in reacting. For example, would you expect the time taken to be different if the stimulus occurred at a more distant location on the body? On the same side as the response as opposed to the opposite side? If the response was with your dominant or your non-dominant hand? Would you expect the time to change if you were tired? preoccupied? had recently had coffee? Is it the time that signals take within the nervous system that changes or is it the time for muscles to contract and cause movement? Or both?


Don't try and answer ALL the questions. Pick one (or think up one) that you're interested in and have a guess about. And collect enough data so you have some confidence in your conclusions about that situation. And write up your question/hypothesis, observations, conclusions in the lab forum.

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