Two-Point Threshold Experiment

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Auditory cortex and basilar membrane.Auditory cortex and basilar membrane.

In this class activity, students will measure the two-point threshold in order to increase their understanding of the magnification principle and how touch is mapped in the sensory cortex of the human brain. Students will also apply their understanding of statistical concepts (random and systematic error, Gaussian distributions) to actual data from previous Frontiers of Science seminars. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Two-Point Threshold Experiment

Discipline:

The sensory cortex.The sensory cortex.

In this class activity, students will measure the two-point threshold in order to increase their understanding of the magnification principle and how touch is mapped in the sensory cortex of the human brain. Students will also apply their understanding of statistical concepts (random and systematic error, Gaussian distributions) to actual data from previous Frontiers of Science seminars. This document includes student handouts; an instructor guide is provided in an accompanying document.

Nerve Cells and the Nervous System

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This document reviews the basics of neuroscience necessary to understand the first seminar in the neuroscience unit. It covers brain anatomy and imaging technology as well as the basic anatomy and physiology of perception. This guide contains a glossary of important concepts as well as related imagery. Related seminar activities and assignment questions are provided in accompanying files.

Neuroscience Seminar 1

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Representation of cell membrane.

This document serves as a teaching guide for the first of three seminars in a unit on neuroscience. This seminar focuses how the brain processes sensory stimuli, such as sights and sounds, into perceptions. The guide includes an overview, reading list, and step-by-step seminar plan, including suggested discussion questions. Related seminar activities and assignment questions are provided in accompanying files.

Blind Spot Demonstration

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Blind spot demonstration.Blind spot demonstration.

In this class activity, students will perform an experiment to demonstrate how the brain “fills in” visual information that is missing because it occurs in a blind spot. They will apply their understanding to an investigation of eye diseases that cause vision loss. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Blind Spot Demonstration

Discipline:

Blind spot demonstration.Blind spot demonstration.

In this class activity, students will perform an experiment to demonstrate how the brain “fills in” visual information that is missing because it occurs in a blind spot. They will apply their understanding to an investigation of eye diseases that cause vision loss. This document includes student handouts; an instructor guide is provided in an accompanying document.

Hearing and the Human Brain

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The cochlea and basilar membrane.The cochlea and basilar membrane.

This assignment requires students to consider data related to the development of hearing in the human brain. Students will apply their understanding of the physics of sound as well as neurobiology to answer questions based on several different published studies. They will also practice working with scientific notation and understanding scientific assumptions. This document serves as a student handout; an answer key is provided in an accompanying document.

Hearing and the Human Brain

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Purkinje and granule cells from pigeon cerebellum.

This assignment requires students to consider data related to the development of hearing in the human brain. Students will apply their understanding of the physics of sound as well as neurobiology to answer questions based on several different published studies. They will also practice working with scientific notation and understanding scientific assumptions. This document serves as an answer key; a student handout is provided in an accompanying document.

Neuroscience Lecture 3: The Evolution of Language

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A comparative review of sound production and a descended larynx.

In this final lecture of three in the Frontiers of Science unit on neuroscience, Columbia University professor Darcy B. Kelley discusses the difficulty of researching the evolution of language—a characteristic that leaves nothing in the fossil record. The lecture further emphasizes contemporary issues in linguistics, evolution, and neurobiology, as well as focusing on how different experimental techniques can address this problematic research question. A lecture video and transcript are also available on FoSO.

Neuroscience Lecture 2: Sex and Songs

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Xenopus laevis.

In this second of three lectures in the Frontiers of Science unit on neuroscience, Columbia University professor Darcy B. Kelley discusses the neural networks involved in vocal communication. Using the model organism, Xenopus laevis, professor Kelley discusses sexually dimorphic brain development and how hormones relate to sex differences in vocal biology and behavior. The lecture further emphasizes the importance of Scientific Habits of Mind, by focusing on research technique and interpretation. A lecture video and transcript are also available on FoSO.