Skip to Content

Escape from Planet Soma

Mastering the Physiological Principles of Neuronal Signaling


Author(s)

Sheri L. Boyce
Department of Biological Sciences
Messiah College
sboyce@messiah.edu

Abstract

In this case, students assume the role of a fictitious space explorer captured by aliens. To win their release, they must correctly explain the neurophysiology underlying some of the punishments used by the aliens to deter attempts at escape. The purpose of the case is two-fold. First, it strengthens students' understanding of ion channel function to the point where they are able to make predictions about the ability of the cell to generate an action potential if the activity of a particular ion channel is altered. Second, students are encouraged to place neuronal signaling in a larger context by hypothesizing how altered activity in a specified region or division of the nervous system will be manifested in physical symptoms. While written for a two-semester anatomy and physiology course, this case would also be useful in an undergraduate physiology or neuroscience course or in any course in which students must gain an understanding of foundational neurophysiology.


Objectives

  • Apply knowledge of basic neurophysiology principles to predict the potential effects of altering sodium and potassium ion channel function on neuronal excitability.
  • Predict the symptoms produced by alteration of neuron excitability in various regions or parts of the peripheral and central nervous systems.
  • Gain an appreciation for the role of ion channel function in a variety of diseases and pathological conditions.

Keywords

Nervous system; neurophysiology; neuronal signaling; neurons; action potentials; graded potentials; resting membrane potentials; ion channel function; sodium channel; potassium channel; myelin; neurotoxin; batrachotoxin; dendrotoxin; sevoflurane

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type Methods

Interrupted, Role-Play

Language

English

Subject Headings

Physiology  |   Neuroscience  |   Biology (General)  |  


Date Posted

4/14/2011

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Comments