Saturday, February 12, 2011

Behind the Scenes of Physiology Lab

I'm taking general physiology (BISC 307L) for kicks this semester. I don't actually need this class to graduate but (1) I heard Dr. Herrera is a brilliant professor, (2) this class will be useful in dental school, and (3) it supplements my anatomy course fairly well. This is what we did in our first real physiology lab.

Remember general biology when we dissected animals that had been fermented in formaldehyde? The animals that we dissect in physiology labs are quite... alive. It was nearly as bad as dissecting a live earthworm (which I had to do two years ago). At least frogs don't have the ability to voluntarily detach portions of their body that are pinned down to the dissection tray. Needless to say, one whole squirming earthworm turned into 5 pieces of squirming earthworm body parts.

The heart of our frog was still beating when we cut it open. If you have any qualms about dissections, blood, guts, beating hearts, or animal cruelty, don't scroll down any further.

Here's a video of the beating heart of my friend's frog. Everything is the same except that their frog's heart is just about 6 times the size of our frog's heart. It's got to be on steroids.

The apparatus that we had to string the frog's heart on. It measured the frequency and amplitude of the heart beat. 
The experiment itself was pretty cruel. According to our TA, we didn't have to physically do the experiment but my lab partner and I did it anyways. We gave up halfway through the experiment because it was just a little too much for us. My partner has a soft spot for frogs and as for me, thank god I have no intentions of becoming a surgeon.

Our frog.
Our frog was a female, as evidenced by the black blob of unhatched eggs in her stomach area. My lab partner initially wanted to name the frog but I gunned down that idea. There's a little too much attachment/sentimentality when you actually name the organism you're about to dissect, which is no bueno.

The lab experiment itself was kind of cool (in a sick, sadistic way).

Next up, extracting the frog's sciatic nerve.

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