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LISC 391 - Integrated Life Sciences Laboratory II

 Fall 2023, Winter 2024
 Year 3
 8-9 hours/week
 3 units
On-Campus Course

An intermediate laboratory course on the Physiology and Pharmacology of Cardiorespiratory Sciences and Neuroscience. Students develop skills to acquire and evaluate data and methods. Critical thinking skills are used for the development of arguments, assumptions, and information required to evaluate concepts and hypotheses.


NOTE: Priority will be given to students registered in a LISC Specialization Plan

(PHGY 215/3.0 and PHGY 216/3.0) or PHGY 210/6.0 or PHGY 214/6.0 must be completed prior to taking LISC 391.

Laboratory sessions with in-lab instruction. Course notes and laboratory manuals available by OnQ.

After completing LISC 391, students will be able to:

  1. Apply understanding of physiology and pharmacology principles to an experimental laboratory setting of neuroscience and cardiorespiratory physiology.
  2. Develop qualitative and quantitative research methodologies including data acquisition and analysis to effectively test a hypothesis, generate data, and interpret results using appropriate statistics, and data analysis including graphing and curve fitting.
  3. Work collaboratively in a group to effectively design, execute, analyze, and present experimental data.
  4. Discuss the significance of their findings in the form of informal reports, formal laboratory report in a defined format, scientific poster, and oral presentation.

Specifically, in each session students will be able to:

Cognitive Neuroscience Session:

  1. Learn how to properly design and statistically assess experiments using data analysis software.
  2. Demonstrate basic statistical data analysis skills in an individual assignment.
  3. Practice assessing different cognitive abilities using computerized behavioural testing.
  4. Assess the effects of over-the-counter compounds on cognitive functioning and collaborate within a group to properly analyze and describe the results in a formal written laboratory report.

Cardiorespiratory Physiology Session:

  1. Develop a working understanding of the differences between heart rate, heart rate variability, and the processes that modulate heart rate and heart rate variability.
  2. Learn how to accurately collect heart rate and respiration rate data in LabChart 8, and correctly perform data analysis for ECG and HRV, with appropriate statistical analyses.
  3. Collaborate as a group to develop a testable experimental hypothesis and conduct a pilot study to collect and analyze preliminary data.
  4. Present the pilot study in a group presentation format, demonstrating mastery of the experiment presented by explaining the background literature, experimental design, data analysis, conclusions, and future directions.

Intracellular Pathways of Vascular Control Session:

  1. Understand the function of the different cell types (smooth muscle (SMC) and endothelial cells (ECs)) present in the aorta.
  2. Explain how the activity of these cells can be altered by different pharmacological agents and how these effects could regulate the normal activities of the aorta.
  3. Demonstrate the intrinsic capacity of aortic smooth muscle to regulate vessel diameter and how the endothelium impacts this capacity.
  4. Evaluate the mechanism of action of various vasoactive substance determined by systematic experimental procedures.
  5. Independently prepare a written report demonstrating an understanding of the above learning outcomes.

Autonomic Unknown Session:

  1. Determine the concentration-response relationship of a drug in an in vitro experiment.
  2. Characterize the effects of receptor antagonists or enzyme inhibitors on a concentration-response relationship in an in vitro tissue.
  3. Develop and implement strategies to identify mystery compounds by comparing their pharmacological properties with those of known drugs.
  4. Gain experience in the use of data analysis and graphing software to produce a scientific poster.

Assessment 1: Individual Statistics Assignment (5%)

After in-class lectures with practice examples, students will complete an individual statistics assignment using appropriate tests for the data collected in the laboratory session. This data will be presented in a well-defined journal format, in preparation for the group written report.

Assessment 2: Group Written Report (20%)

Students, working in groups of 4-5, will write a formal lab report in a defined journal style. This report will be based on cognitive data collected in the course. The purpose of the assignment is to demonstrate an understanding of the cognitive effects of two known drugs on cognitive function, and any significant results observed in the cognitive testing on the research participants. Students will develop skills to work collaboratively to clearly present their findings in a standard format, similar to preparation for a journal submission.

Assessment 3: Group Pilot Study Proposal (1%)

As a group, students will collaborate to develop a protocol to test the effects of an intervention on cardiorespiratory function, focusing on heart rate variability. Students will write a preliminary experimental plan, to be evaluated for participant safety and feasibility.

Assessment 4: Group Control and RSV Data Analysis (1%)

As a group, students will collect and analyze baseline control data to develop an understanding of the research participant population for respiratory and heart rate data, including ECG and HRV measurements, key data for their group presentation.  They will also demonstrate the phenomenon of respiratory sinus arrhythmia.

Assessment 5: Cardiorespiratory Group Presentation (20%)

As a group, students will present their cardiorespiratory experimental findings in a 10-minute oral presentation with a five-minute question period. Student groups will present their pilot study data to the rest of the class. The groups use the control and experimental data to determine the sample size should be to observe statistical significance for their observed effect, as well as using the scientific literature backing up their claims. Future experimental plans and design refinements will also be shown in the presentations.

Assessment 6: Autonomic Unknown Group Poster Presentation (20%)

Each group will prepare and present a poster describing their experiments to identify the pharmacologic mechanisms of two unknown drugs. Students will be evaluated on the precision of writing and the strength of the evidence presented to justify identification of the unknown drugs. Posters will be evaluated on design, evidence, and quality of the presentation.

Assessment 7: Intracellular Pathways of Vascular Control Independent Written Lab Report (25%)

Individually, students will answer guided questions regarding vascular control using data collected as a group in the previous two weeks.; Students will be evaluated on the correctness and logic of their writing to answer the questions in the report.

Assessment 8: Lab Preparation and Participation (4%)

Students will be independently evaluated on their preparation for the laboratory sessions through quizzes, experimental flow charts, discussion participation, or other methods.

Assessment 9: Group Peer Evaluations (4%)

Students will evaluate their group peers for preparation and participation for each section of the course. This will be an averaged peer mark, from the group members. Students who do not make significant contributions to their group will not receive the group mark for the other group assignments.

Laboratory sessions: 3 hours/week

Independent preparation: 5-6 hours/week

All laboratory manuals and course notes will be provided through OnQ.