BIO 335 - Animal Physiology Laboratory

Fall 1999


Laboratory Work

Advance Preparation

In order to get the most benefit from the time and effort you put into lab, it is imperative that you read the lab instructions completely and understand them thoroughly before coming to lab. The theoretical and practical aspects of the lab work will be discussed before the experiment. If this does not give you an adequate grasp of the experiment, you should use the references in the library or consult your instructor for further help. It is also essential that you plan your work carefully in advance so that you can finish within the allotted time. If you wait until you arrive in lab to begin figuring out what you have to do, you cannot hope to accomplish much in the four hour period. Brief quizzes at the beginning of a lab period will be used to check on your state of preparedness.

A comment about "cook-book" lab instructions is in order. It is impossible to eliminate the "cook-book" nature of laboratory instructions; in fact, even the working scientific researcher frequently follows "cook-book" instructions. These he may obtain from the published work of others or may write for himself on the basis of earlier experience. He also uses his knowledge and experience to select questions amenable to experimental investigation and the appropriate experiments and techniques to be used to get answers to these questions. In this laboratory course, the staff of the course provides you with the benefit of its experience and training and has outlined experiments which, when properly executed (this is your first challenge), will produce data which can be used to answer certain questions about the system being studied (this is your second challenge).

The Lab Work

Each laboratory section will be divided into working teams by the instructor. The teams will be small enough so that each student can participate fully in the work. While you work, keep a complete and orderly record in a separate laboratory databook. (A book with graph-paper pages is recommended.) In addition to the actual data (with units), include the date, the names of the other students with whom you are working, any changes from the procedures given in the instruction sheets and any other important information, such as the physiological condition of the material used (e.g. time since death of animal), which might later turn out to be significant in interpreting the results. The laboratory instructor will examine this databook from time to time.

Be alert during the progress of the experiment. You should have an idea of what should happen from your knowledge of physiology. If what is actually happening differs widely from your expectations, DON'T PANIC, but calmly, at that point in the experiment, check to see whether your peculiar results come from incorrect interpretation of the raw data, or incorrect use of the equipment. Once you have eliminated these possibilities, you should then consider what might be physiologically abnormal about the preparation. Be reasonable in your suppositions: for example, you could not reasonably attribute a very high conduction velocity to post-mortem changes in a nerve.


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Last updated 8/27/99