Mapping the Nervous System

I. Nerve Density Assessment

Assignment Question 1: For this activity, you will need two testing items: (1) a hairbrush or toothbrush, and (2) a feather, cotton ball, or very soft cloth. Take both items and touch them to the following parts of your body. Take note of the intensity of the sensation and rank it on a scale from 0-10, where 10 is most intense, and 0 indicates that you cannot feel the item at all. In addition, make a note for each of the items that describes the feeling in words. Collect all of these results in a table like the one below and save this to be handed in with your lab write-up.

You may also complete this activity with information gathered from an individual other than yourself, such as a family member or friend.

Body PartBrushSoft ObjectNotes
Lips   
Palm   
Bottom of foot   
Elbow   
Kneecap   
Stomach   
Back of hand   
Body part of your choice #1   
Body part of your choice #2   
  • What trends do you notice in the data you have collected here?
  • Which body parts in your list have the two highest nerve densities?
  • Which have the two lowest?
  • In two or three sentences, explain why these results make sense, given what those body parts do.
  • Cat’s whiskers are used to sense when the animal is close to an object. Knowing that, would you hypothesize that cat’s whiskers contain a high or low density of neurons? Explain.

II. Sidedness and Dominant Hemispheres

Assignment Question 2: The brain hemisphere that is dominant is the opposite side from the one in the sidedness findings; i.e. if you are right-handed, it means your left hemisphere is dominant. For this activity, you will check your dominant sidedness by completing the following table:

 Right/Left/Either
Which eye would you use to look through a telescope or peephole in a door? 
Which foot would you use to kick a stone on the street? 
Which hand would you use to write a note? 
Which ear would you use to listen closely if someone were whispering to you? 

Complete copies of the above table for five (5) other people you know. Include their names in the tables you hand in with your lab write-up. Based on this data:

  • Would you say you are primarily right-sided or left-sided?
  • What percentage of people in your sample were right-sided? Left-sided?
  • What percentage of people showed inconsistencies in their sidedness?
  • Was there a gender pattern to the sidedness data you collected? If so, what was it?

Which is your dominant hemisphere? Knowing that the left hemisphere is commonly known as the language hemisphere and the right hemisphere is known as the spatial hemisphere, consider your results and think about your personality. In a sentence or two, explain how this information does or does not match with your perception of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and preferences.