PHGY 290 Investigation of Human Physiological Responses
This laboratory course is designed to enable students to advance their critical thinking and practical laboratory skills through collaborative experimentation. In an integrative laboratory experience, groups of students will learn to investigate how various stimuli impact human physiological responses. The responses that will be characterized include heart rate, blood pressure, hand-eye/motor coordination and cognitive ability. Students will work collaboratively in small groups to design and execute studies that assess the interaction between physiological parameters. Students will need to progressively build their skills to be able apply various experimental techniques to evaluate the interactions between systems. To be successful, students will be need to both apply their theoretical knowledge of physiology and advance their abilities to (i) plan and perform experimental protocols, (ii) collect, analyze and interpret data and (iii) produce presentations of their findings using multiple modalities (poster, presentation, report).
Minimum 2nd year (Level 2) standing, registration in a Health Sciences, Life Sciences, or Biochemistry degree plan and PHGY 215/3.0.
Note: We recommend that students should have already completed a statistics course (e.g. STAM 200 or equivalent)
Laboratory experiments will take place in the School of Medicine teaching labs during one 3-hour session each week (12 sessions). Pre- and post-lab communication between students will be facilitated by online discussion boards.
After completing PHGY 290, students will be able to:
- Evaluate and report on peer reviewed literature with respect to appropriate ways of measuring physiological responses (heart rate, blood pressure, hand-eye coordination and cognitive ability) to a stimulus.
- Collaborate with group members to develop a testable hypothesis and experimental design, using an iterative process that incorporates feedback from group members.
- Demonstrate the ability to defend an experimental design with respect to the methods and approaches used to collect experimental data (i.e. heart rate, blood pressure, hand-eye coordination and cognitive ability).
- Evaluate and interpret experimental results to present a study with its limitations in a visual poster, oral presentation or written report.
- Content Expert
Assessment 1 - Readiness Assessment Tests (10%)
Before starting certain lab sessions, students will be required to complete a readiness assessment test (RAT). The RATs will consist of multiple choice and/or short answer questions to ensure students have prepared appropriately for the lab.
Experiment I. Measurement of Cardiovascular/Respiratory (CVR) Parameters (Weeks 1-3)
Working in small groups, students will use a protocol to collect baseline cardiovascular/respiratory data (heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate) in various conditions (e.g. sitting, standing, talking, moving). Following collection, class data will be pooled to allow each group to compare their group results to the overall class results to help facilitate their analysis and interpretation. For example, the students will need to address which factors are likely to underlie the variability in the cardiovascular and respiratory parameters and discuss how these present a challenge to doing research in this field. Students will present their study in a poster presentation in Week 3 (Assessment 2).
Assessment 2 - Poster Presentation (25%)
Students will work with their lab group to prepare a poster presentation describing their experiment, specifically addressing (i) background context in the literature, (ii) the rationale and approach, (iii) the experimental design, (iv) the results, (v) the limitations and (vi) discussion. The poster presentations will be evaluated by peers (5%) as well as the TAs and course instructor (95%) according to a grading rubric.
Experiment II. Assess a Stimulus-Response Relationship for CVR Parameters (Weeks 4,5,6,7)
Working in small groups, students will design and perform an experiment that investigates a sensory-motor task hypothesized to impact cardiovascular and respiratory parameters. Students will conduct a literature review and develop an experimental design that they will present to the class in Week 4 (solely for formative feedback - no grades). Data collection will occur in Weeks 5, 6 and 7, and the group will then present their findings in the form of an oral presentation in Week 8 (Assessment 3).
Assessment 3 – Oral Presentation of Experiment II (25%)
Students will work with their group to prepare an oral presentation describing their study, specifically addressing (i) background context in the literature, (ii) the rationale and approach, (iii) the experimental design, (iv) the results, (v) the limitations and (vi) discussion. Presentations will be evaluated by peers (10%) and TAs (90%) according to a grading rubric.
Experiment III. Interacting Stimuli Affecting Cardiovascular Parameters (Weeks 8-12)
Working in lab groups, students will apply the lab skills and knowledge gained in Experiments I and II to design a study, using some of the previously developed experimental approaches, to investigate how an external intervention would impact the stimulus-response relationship. Various challenges can be selected including distractions (e.g. music, phone call, reading, texting, conversation, mental arithmetic), consumption of caffeine, over the counter (OTC) antihistamines or OTC anti-nauseants (Ethics approval is currently being sought). Students will present their proposed experimental design as an oral presentation in Week 8 (Assessment 4), collect data in Weeks 9, 10 and 11, analyze, discuss and distribute to group members by week 12 and then submit an individual report (Assessment 5).
Assessment 4 – Proposal for Final Study Design (15%)
Students will work with their lab group to prepare an oral presentation describing their study design, specifically addressing the review of relevant background literature and the details and associated justification for the experimental approach being taken. The presentations will be evaluated by peers (10%) and TAs (90%) according to a grading rubric.
Assessment 5 – Final Report (25%)
Following completion of Experiment III, students will initially work as a group to analyze and interpret their findings, but will then need to individually produce a document using the format of papers published in Hypertension, a journal sponsored by the American Heart Association (Note: maximum 3500 words excluding references and figure captions). Reports will need to include the following sections: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, as well as a perspectives session. The lab report, due one week after the last laboratory session, will be evaluated by at least two TAs according to a grading rubric.
Students can expect to spend on average 10 hours a week in study, performing laboratory experiments, data analysis and interpretation, group discussion, and in the preparation for the presentations
PHGY 290 course material includes laboratory descriptions, select journal articles as well as other files and modules posted to or linked within the indicated LMS.