Using a Contrast Illusion to Teach Principles of Neural Processing
Neuroscience is a rapidly growing, multidisciplinary field that is advancing our understanding of the human condition. Therefore, studying key principles in neuroscience is critical for a well-rounded education across a wide range of disciplines. However, neuroscience concepts can be intimidating and challenging for undergraduate students to learn, especially when they lack active learning opportunities. To address this problem, we developed an interactive laboratory exercise to challenge students to use observational measurements of a visual contrast illusion to study neural activity. The goal of this study was to understand the effectiveness of this active learning exercise in increasing students' fundamental understanding of how perception is shaped by neural circuits in the retina. Students conducted simple psychophysical experiments to measure thresholds for detecting illusory spots under various conditions and described their results in a laboratory assignment. Assessment of students' confidence and practical understanding of neural processing, before and after engagement with the laboratory exercise, was used to improve curriculum and instruction.
Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education
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