ABSTRACT for article:
A laboratory exercise is described in which students in a neuroscience, psychobiology, or similar laboratory course record the electromyogram (EMG) from themselves, using surface electrodes (placed on the skin). This exercise is intended to give students a firsthand demonstration that electrical activity is produced within them and to allow the students to use this activity to study biological and psychological concepts. The students study the nature of the EMG (changes with tension and the temporal relationship with limb movement) and the concepts of flexion and extension, reaction time, and patellar ("knee jerk") reflex. In postlaboratory evaluations, undergraduate introductory neuroscience students indicated that they appreciated the opportunity to record electrical activity from their own bodies. The students found the exercise enjoyable, believed that they had learned from it, and indicated that it should be a regular part of the course. If electrophysiology in animal preparations is already part of the course, this exercise requires minimal additional equipment, some of which is easily constructed and the reminder of which is available inexpensively.