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Episode: Strange Neighbor

The following standards may be addressed by using the podcast in
conjunction with the information provided in the Teacher’s Guide:
DISCIPLINARY CORE IDEA: LS1.A Structure and Functioning
HS-LSI-3: Feedback mechanisms maintain a living system’s internal
conditions within certain limits and mediate behaviors, allowing it to
remain alive and functional even as external conditions change within
some range. Feedback mechanisms can encourage (through positive
feedback) or discourage (negative feedback) what is going on inside
the living system.
CROSS CUTTING CONCEPTS: Stability and Change
with evidence
Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.8: Assess the extent to which the
reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claim or a
recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL6.2: Interpret information presented in diverse
media and formats and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or
issue under study CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.3: Delineate a speaker’s
argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported
by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

When in danger, the stimuli from the outside world elicits a response in
the brain that starts in the amygdala, the name of the collection of
nuclei found in the anterior portion of the temporal lobe of the brain.
The amygdala then determines the significance of the stimulus and
triggers responses like fleeing or freezing as well as changes in the
body’s organs and glands. The amygdala is a dual sensory input
system in which there are two different paths that the inputs from the
senses travel to this region. All inputs from the senses of the body first
run to the thalamus and then diverge into two different paths. One
path goes straight to the amygdala while the other first passes through

the cortex. Each input is responsible for a different behavior. The
amygdala is specialized for the “emotion” of fear, or the physiological
response. After this, the stimuli that activated the amygdala is
transmitted to the cortex. This initial signal prepares the body for an
immediate reaction to the stimulus. The other input pathway is
responsible for the conscious feeling of fear, which is very different
from the “emotion” of fear. This input pathway first goes to the higher
cortex and then to the amygdala. This input pathway is slower and
allows for more time to fully analyze the signal to determine whether
the threat is real or not. The neural connections from the cortex down
to the amygdala are less developed than the connections from the
amygdala back up to the cortex. Therefore, the amygdala has a
greater influence on the cortex than vice versa. Once an emotion has
been turned on, it is difficult for the cortex to turn it off.
These input responses lead to the activation of nerves leading down to
adrenal glands that cause adrenaline levels to increase in blood.
Adrenaline is one hormone that is released in response to a stressful
situation to prepare the body for the “fight or flight” response. This
happens quickly, within 2-3 minutes of the fear stimulus. Adrenaline
increases heart rate, increases blood pressure, expands the air
passages of the lungs, enlarges the pupils of the eyes, redistributes
blood to the muscles and alters the body’s metabolism to maximize
blood glucose levels. This is all part of the parasympathetic nervous
system. A hormone called noradrenaline, is mainly released from the
nerve endings of the sympathetic nervous system when the body is at
rest or in low stress situations.

Parasympathetic nervous system- the part of the autonomic
nervous system that is concerned with controlling the body during
normal routine situations and that tends to cause secretion of the
digestive and salivary glands and slow the heart rate and that acts on
bodily organs by releasing acetylcholine at the ends of nerve fibers
supplying them
Sympathetic nervous system- the part of the autonomic nervous
system that is concerned especially with preparing the body to react to
situations of stress or emergency, that controls expansion of the pupil
of the eye and air passages, increases the heart rate, slows digestion,
and narrows most blood vessels, and that is made up of nerve fibers
that trigger the release of norepinephrine

Homeostasis- a tendency for the conditions inside the body of an
animal (as a mammal) to stay pretty much the same even when
outside environmental conditions (as temperature) change
Adrenaline- a substance that is released in the body of a person who
is feeling a strong emotion (such as excitement, fear, or anger) and
that causes the heart to beat faster and gives the person more energy
Stimulus- something (as an environmental change) that acts to partly
change bodily activity (as by exciting a sensory organ)

Students can watch either of these following movies to expand on their
Students can also complete an exploratory lab activity following this
story that will expand on their knowledge of all academic language
discussed in the podcast. This activity and handout can be found at:
Students can then create their own podcast, video, or presentation of
their choice explaining a fear or stress stimuli that they experienced
and explaining the biology behind how they reacted. This can be
expanded to place an emphasis on literacy and student’s ability to
research credible sources in order to gain credible information. They
will incorporate all of the key academic language terms in their own
way through their presentations.

Think about other examples of our bodies going through changes that
require these kinds of feedback loops to occur in order to maintain
In your own words, what does homeostasis mean? Is it only in humans?
Use this question to broaden the knowledge beyond this one incident
to the bigger picture of organisms having to keep an internal
equilibrium in order to maintain conditions in which all of the cells can
function in a healthy way.

What would have happened in this situation if homeostasis in the body
did not occur? What would happen to our bodies (think on the cellular
level) in certain situations if our body did not counteract certain

Adrenaline. (2015). Society for Endocrinology. Retrieved from
Holt, D. (2008). The Role of the Amygdala in Fear and Panic. Retrieved
Steimer, T. (2002). The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviors.
Retreived from