The automatic response of a muscle to a stimulus is called a reflex. The patellar reflex results from tapping the patellar tendon below the knee with a reflex hammer. This causes contraction of the quadriceps muscle and extension of the leg. Stretching of the muscle activates nerve impulses which travel to the spinal cord. Here the incoming impulses activate motor neurons, which travel back to the muscle and result in muscle contraction. This reflex arc is primarily a spinal reflex, but is influenced by other pathways to and from the brain.
In this experiment, you will
Obtain graphical representation of the electrical activity of a muscle activated by a reflex arc through nerves to and from the spinal cord.
Associate muscle activity with involuntary activation.
Observe the effect of central nervous system influence on reflex amplitude.
Sensors and Equipment
This experiment requires each of the following Vernier sensors and equipment (unless otherwise noted):
Step-by-step instructions for computer-based data collection
List of materials and equipment
Note: The experiment preview of the computer edition does not include essential teacher information, safety tips, or sample data. Instructions for Logger Pro and other software (such as LabQuest App or TI handheld software, where available) are on the CD that accompanies the book. We strongly recommend that you purchase the book before performing experiments.