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Humans are social animals and, as such, are in constant communication with others.
Many animals have an extensive range of communication strategies that include both
visual and vocal signals. Learning these signals relies heavily on the involvement of all
the sensory organs as well as the brain.
While the full range of senses can be involved in communication, the relative
importance of each of the sense differs from animal to animal. This module focuses on
the two senses that are important for many vertebrate and invertebrate animals
sight and hearing.
Human cultural development exploded with the development of speech and
concurrent increasing complexity of communication. For some people, however,
communication signals are not identified effectively because of faults in the sending,
receiving or deciphering of some of the signals. With increasing advances in
technology, assistance for people with difficulties in communicating continues to
Identify the role of receptors in detecting stimuli.
Things to consider:
What does identify mean?
What is a receptor?
Be succinct
The roles of receptors are to detect stimuli within the surrounding environment. Once
a stimulus has been detected by the organism it will respond. For example, if the
thermoreceptors on your skin detect cold air you will begin to shiver to maintain your
body heat.
Receptors are also classified on the basis of their function, they are as follows:
Chemoreceptors: detect chemicals.
Electromagnetic receptors: change in electromagnetic field, e.g. light receptors in
Mechanoreceptors: detect mechanical features such as pressure, touch, stretch.
Pain receptors: detect pain.
Thermoreceptors: detect change in temperature.

Explain that the response to a stimulus involves:

- stimulus
- receptor
- messenger
- effector
- response
Things to consider:
What does explain mean?
Be succinct.
A stimulus is something that produces a response in the organism. For example, if you
were suddenly exposed to bright light (stimulus) the photo - receptors in the eye
(receptor) send a message to the central nervous system (CNS - messenger) which
then in turn sends a message to the muscles in the eye (effector) for the muscles to
contract which then elicits the response of blinking (response). This process applies to
all stimulus/response actions.

Identify data sources, gather and process information from secondary sources to
identify the range of senses involved in communication.
Things to consider:
What does identify, gather and process mean?
What are the main senses used in communicating?
Underline key words, be succinct
There are five main senses which are involved in communication, which are seeing,
hearing, touch, taste and smell.
Seeing (OCULAR): or sight involves the use of an eye. An eye contains many
structures which allow certain amounts of light as well as different electromagnetic
waves to pass in and out of the eye. The organism reacts to these changes by relaying
a message via the optic nerve to the brain to either allow more or less
light/electromagnetic waves into the eye.
Hearing (AUDITORY): involves the use of ears. The ear contains many structures
which allow certain frequencies of noise to enter the ear and to be deciphered by the
Touch (SOMATOSENSORY SYSTEM): involves the use of mechanoreceptors, pain
receptors and thermoreceptors. These receptors are usually found on the skin of the
organism and enable the organism to enjoy certain stimulus and to avoid certain
Taste (GUSTATION): refers to the ability of being able to taste foods and chemicals
entering the mouth. Taste involves the use of chemoreceptors which detect chemicals
within the food. There is said to be 4 aspects of taste; sweet, sour, salty, bitter.
Smell (OLFACTION): smell is the ability of an organism to perceive odours or smells.
Chemoreceptors are found in the nose which has the ability of detecting these smells.

Describe the anatomy and function of the human eye, including the:
- conjunctiva
- cornea
- sclera
- choroid
- retina
- iris
- lens
- aqueous and vitreous humor
- ciliary body
- optic nerve
Things to consider:
- What does describe mean?
- Ensure you can label the diagram without using your textbook.
- Include the function of each highlighted structure.


A delicate membrane that covers
the surface of the eye and the
inside of the eyelids.
The front part of the eyeball which
is transparent and quite thick.
Continuous with the cornea but not
transparent, it forms the tough,
white outer back part of the eyeball.
The choroid lies on the inside of the

Protects the front part of the eye.
Refracts light rays as they pass
through it.
Protects the eye and helps maintain
eye shape.
The pigment absorbs stray light



sclera. It is a thin black layer which

contains many blood vessels.
The innermost layer of the eye. It
lines the back of the eyeball with a
network of photoreceptors and
nerve fibres.
The coloured part at the front of the
eye containing many fibrous
A transparent biconvex protein disc
behind the pupil.
Aqueous humor a vitreous
substance fills the front chamber of
the eye. Vitreous humor a jelly like
substance fills the back chamber of
the eye.
Connects the choroid with the lens.
It contains suspensory ligaments as
well as ciliary muscles.

Connects the eyeball to the brain.

Where the optic nerve connects to
the brain is known as the blind spot
as no image can be made or
processed due to the lack of

preventing stray images.

Receives the light images and
translates this into electrical
impulses which are sent to the brain
and deciphered.
Regulates the amount of light
entering the eye.
Refracts and bends light rays
towards the retina.
Keeps the eyeball in shape as well
as refracts light towards the retina.

Holds the lens in place as well as

altering the shape of the lens
depending on the distance of an
Carries nerve impulses to the visual
cortex of the brain so images can be

Identify the limited range of wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum detected

by humans and compare this range with those of other vertebrates and invertebrates.
Things to consider:
- What does identify and compare mean?
- Ensure you include other vertebrates AND invertebrates.
The electromagnetic spectrum is a range of energy forms which all travel at the speed
of light. However, these energy forms vary in wavelength and frequency. Humans
detect visible light which ranges from 400nm to 700nm. This means that humans can
only see objects within this wavelength. In comparison snakes use infrared light to
detect prey and to avoid predators. Infrared light falls between 750nm to 1mm. Bees
use ultraviolet light to detect petals on plants. This leads the bees to a food source
(nectar). U.V. light ranges from 10nm to 400nm.
Use available evidence to suggest reasons for the differences in range of
electromagnetic radiation detected by humans and other animals.
Things to consider:
- Understand what the question is asking before you answer.
- Be succinct
- This question is almost a discussion so provide points for and/or against the
differences in range of electromagnetic radiation.
There are many different reasons as to why humans detect a different range of the
electromagnetic spectrum in comparison to that of other animals. The reasons are as
Many organisms live in different niches. These niches produce different obstacles
for the organism. Each organism needs to detect predator and prey within their
environment to survive. This may come in the form of a different electromagnetic
For example electric eels emit an electric field within their environment. Any
disturbance to this environment such as that by prey is detected by the eel.
Subsequently the prey is consumed. Eels use this form of electromagnetic radiation
as vision within a water environment is quite poor.
The platypus has electromagnetic receptors in its bill. This helps the platypus to
detect prey which produces an electric field. Platypii use these receptors as vision
within a water environment is quite poor.
Snakes use infrared light to detect predators and prey. This is due to the fact that
snakes are largely found on the ground and in the underbrush of bushland. Snakes
rarely use normal vision due to the lack of periphery on the ground.
Bees use ultraviolet light in detecting the nectar on flowering plants. This form of
electromagnetic radiation is an advantage as the bee is able to quickly and
efficiently detect a food source.
Humans use two single lens eyes to detect visible light. Humans have many
photoreceptor cells of different pigment which detect the various colours of the
spectrum. This form of electromagnetic radiation enables humans to produce sharp
images of various objects.
It is evident that depending on the organism and its environment organisms have
adapted various electromagnetic fields to detect predators and prey.

Identify the conditions under which refraction of light occurs.

Things to consider:
- What does identify mean?
- Be succinct
- Understand key concepts before writing an answer.
Light refraction occurs when a light wave travels from a higher density to a lower
density or a lower density to a higher density. An example of refraction is light waves
travelling from air to water.
See under Science then Physics Waves and optics
Identify the cornea, aqueous humor, lens and vitreous humor as refractive media.
Things to consider:
- What does identify mean?
- What is refraction?
- Keep your answer simple.
Refraction occurs in the eyeball where light waves are bent towards the retina to from
an image. This refraction occurs with the use of refractive media. The refractive media
in the eye include:
- cornea
- aqueous humor
- lens
- vitreous humor
Identify accommodation as the focusing on objects at different distances, describe its
achievement through the change in curvature of the lens and explain its importance.
Things to consider:
- What does identify, describe and explain mean?
- Underline key words.
- Ensure you answer all aspects of the dot point.
- Be succinct
Accommodation is the process by which the lens changes shape according to the
distance of an object of which it is focusing on. This process is possible due to the lens
altering its curvature. If an object is less than six metres away the ciliary body will
contract causing the lens to bulge. This in turn will cause the lens to refract the light
at a greater angle. The effect of this is a greater sharper image. In contrast if you
were to look at an image one hundred metres away the ciliary body relaxes, this
cause the lens to elongate, this causes the lens to refract the light at a smaller angle.
The effect of this process allows for a sharper image. Therefore accommodation allows
humans to focus on objects at varying distances.

Compare the change in the refractive power of the lens from rest to maximum
Things to consider:
What does compare mean?
What is refractive power?
What is accommodation?

Light reaches eye in parallel rays.
Lens is quite flat/elongated and at
resting state. Ciliary muscles relax.
Low refractive power. This means
that there is very little to low levels
of refraction occurring.

Light reaches eye as diverging rays.
Lens becomes convex, that is
bulging out. This is due to the
ciliary muscle contracting.
High refractive power. This means
that there is a high level of
refraction occurring.

Analyse information from secondary sources to describe changes in the shapes of the
eye's lens when focusing on near and far objects.
Things to consider:
What does analyse mean?
What does describe mean?
Use diagrams to illustrate your answer.
Accommodation is the process by which the lens changes shape and curvature due to
the distance of an object the person is looking at. In general a distant object causes
the ciliary muscles to relax. This in turn causes the lens to elongate. The refraction
index is low. This is due to the fact that if we focus on a distant object the light rays
are coming in parallel lines. This means that the refractive media within the eye do
not have to work as hard to refract the light to produce an image. When we refer to a
close object the eye has to work harder in order to refract the light rays. Light rays at
a close object are generally diverging, meaning they are splitting in an outwards
direction. This causes the ciliary muscles to contract in turn causing the lens to bulge
and refract the light at a higher index. An example of accommodation taking place
when focusing on a distant and close object is illustrated below: (NOTE THE SIZE OF

Distinguish between myopia and hyperopia and outline how technologies can be used
to correct these conditions.
Things to consider:
What does distinguish mean?
What does outline mean?
Be succinct. Ensure you know the technologies used.
Myopia commonly known as short sightedness, usually results from an elongated
eyeball. Close objects can be viewed with no difficulty due to accommodation by the
lens. However, distant objects appear to be blurred due to the light rays being
refracted in front of the retina. To correct this condition a concave lens is used either
as spectacles or contact lenses. As you can see below the top diagram indicates
myopia, as the light is focused before the retina. Through the use of the concave lens,
which diverges the light rays, the focal point hits the right spot on the retina. (Fovea)
Figure 1: Myopia illustrating refraction and the effect the concave lens has
on the focal point.


Hyperopia is commonly known as long sightedness. The condition occurs from either
a short eyeball or poor accommodation ability by the lens. Distant objects can be
viewed easily where as close objects appear blurry. This is due to the fact that the
focal point for close objects is behind the retina, indicated below in figure 3. To correct
this convergent or convex lenses are used in the form of spectacles or contact lenses,
see figure 3.
Figure 3: Hyperopia - illustrating refraction and the effect the convex lens
has on the focal point.
Other technologies that are used to correct myopia and hyperopia include radial
keratotomy and photo refractive keratectomy. Both of these technologies involve a
surgical procedure which reshapes the cornea in order to alter the refractive power. In
radial keratotomy fine surgical instruments shave small amounts of corneal tissue off
the eye while in photo refractive keratectomy a computer controlled laser is used to
remove thin slices of corneal tissue.

Plan, choose equipment or resources and perform a first hand investigation of a

mammalian eye to gather first hand data to relate structures to its function.
Things to consider:
- What does plan, choose equipment and resources mean? Ensure you write an
experimental procedure.
- See
- The experimental procedure, results, discussion and conclusion needs to be
handed up to the teacher by the end of the lesson.

See the Virtual Eye Dissection at:
Plan, choose equipment or resources and perform a first hand investigation to model
the process of accommodation by passing rays of light through convex lenses of
different focal lengths.
Things to consider:
- The dot point says to plan so you need to complete a detailed write up of this
- Ensure you learn the detailed method as you could be asked to reproduce the
method in the HSC exam.
To model the process of accommodation by passing rays of light through convex
lenses of different thicknesses.
One thin convex lens, one thick convex lens.
A lens holder.
A sheet of white cardboard or paper clipped on to a solid support; this acts as a
screen where the object is focused.
A metre ruler.
A small lamp.
1. Darken the room and set up the thin lens in the holder as shown in figure 12.1.
2. Move the lens forwards and backwards to find a position that produces a clear
focused image of the light source on the screen.
3. Describe the image and measure and record the distance of the image from the
4. Keep the lens holder the same distance from the screen and change the lens to
the thick lens.
5. Observe the screen and note the appearance of the image. Record it.
6. Move the light source until the image is focused again.

7. Measure and record the distance from the light source to the lens.
8. Answer the questions.


POINT (cm)
The image is a clear/white dot on the white screen. Some of the spectrum can be
When changing the lens from thin to thick the image became unfocused, larger in
size and blurred.

1. In this experiment the lens represents the lens in our eye, the distance from the
lens to the screen represents the focal length and the screen represents our
2. a.) The image on the screen was a small round white dot. As it was a perfect
circle it did not matter if it was inverted.
b.) If we had an image in front of the light it would have produced a shadow,
which could have been our object. If this occurred the shadow should have
appeared upside down on the screen of paper. This relates to our eye as when
we first look at an image it is shown upside down on our retina. Our brain turns
the image the right way around.
3. A thin lens gives a clear focus on a far object. This is illustrated by the results as the
lens was 28cm away from the screen, compared to the thick lens which was 13cm.
This indicates that a thinner lens accommodates best when focusing on a distant
4. A thick lens gives a clear focus on a near object. This is illustrated by the results as
the lens was 13cm away from the screen, compared to the thin lens which was 28cm.
This indicates that a thick lens accommodates best when focusing on a near object.
5. Through this experiment links can be drawn between the results and how the
human eye works. Through accommodation the human eye is able to see distant and
near objects with precision. This is largely due to that fact that the lens is able to
change shape or accommodate according to the distance of the object it is looking at.
When we look at a distant object our ciliary muscles relax and lens becomes thinner,
this was also illustrated by the experiment and our results. When we look at near
objects the ciliary muscles contract causing the lens to bulge and become more
convex, this was also illustrated by our results.
6. This model differs from the eye in the following ways. The focal length in the human
eye will be a lot shorter. The size of the lens is controlled by ciliary muscles in the eye.
The human eye contains other refractive media such as the cornea, aqueous humor
and vitreous humor which also affects the amount of refraction.
7. This model is similar to what happens in the eye in the way the lens refracts the
light to a central point. In this experiment the light was refracted to one point on the
screen while in the human eye light is refracted to the retina.
8. Models help to explain key concepts in science on a larger scale. Their
disadvantage is that they can not include all relevant data and concepts.
In this experiment we were able to model the concept of accommodation. This was
evident in the refraction taken out by the different sized lenses and their focal lengths
on the screens.

Process and analyse information from secondary sources to describe cataracts and
the technology that can be used to prevent blindness from cataracts and discuss
implications of this technology for society.
Things to consider:
- What does analyse, describe and discuss mean?
- Break the question up, firstly describe what cataracts are, secondly describe the
technology and thirdly discuss how this technology affects society.
A normal human adult lens should be transparent to allow light to flow through to the
retina. The transparency is due to structural and biochemical factors. The lens
consists of many folded fibres called crystallins. The way these fibres are arranged
makes the lens transparent. Lens fibres are capable of producing energy for the lens.
Like all fibres and tissue, lens fibres need to be replaced making the lens become
thicker and less elastic over time.
When the lens thickens or becomes cloudy the vision of the person decreases. This
condition is known as cataracts. It is believed that the cause of cataracts is the
insufficient nutrients in the lens fibres due to the density of these fibres. The crystallin
proteins are then oxidised which then in turn causes the fibres to clump together
producing a cloudy thickened lens.
Cataracts can come in many forms including age related cataracts (old age),
radiation induced cataracts (U.V. light) and infectious cataracts (rubella virus causing
cataracts). The simple type of technology used in preventing these types of cataracts
is the use of sunglasses to prevent U.V. light damaging the lens and an adequate diet
high in anti oxidants which destroy free radicals. However in some circumstances
the cataracts are well developed causing blindness to the patient. In this case a
surgical procedure known as phakoemulsification must take place. During this
procedure a small chisel like instrument is inserted into the lens. The content of the
lens is sucked out while the lens cavity is filled with a fluid to prevent damage to the
cavity and loss of vitreous humor which will cause the retina to detach from the
eyeball. A contact lens is then placed in the lens cavity. This is performed by folding
the contact lens and inserting it into the eye via a straw. Once inside the cavity the
lens unfolds and remains there for the rest of the patients life restoring their vision.
The contact lens is known as an interocular lens (IOL) which resists U.V. light and is
accepted by the body due to its plastic nature.
Phakoemulsification is a surgical technique which has greatly implicated society. The
procedure itself takes very little time, is performed under a local anaesthetic and can
be performed almost anywhere around the world. Phakoemulsification has
revolutionised how doctors treat cataracts as it prevents unnecessary blindness
especially third world countries. Phakoemulsification is a safe, precise and successful
technique available to thousands of people in developed and developing countries.
The late Fred Hollows, who was responsible for restoring sight to many people in third
world countries, set up a factory which made interocular lenses for only 10 cents. This
made the process even affordable for the poor. It is through phakoemulsification, a
huge advance in technology, cataracts are easily and successfully treated.

Figure 1: Person suffering from cataracts
Figure 2: Simple process of phakoemulsification

Explain how the production of two different images of a view can result in depth
Things to consider:
- What does explain mean?
- What is depth perception?
- Be succinct.
The ability to judge the distance of an object from our eyes is called depth perception.
Depth perception relies on many factors. Firstly as humans we have binocular vision
meaning we see through two eyes. The eyes are separated horizontally which enables
humans to have stereoscopic vision (3D). So when we look at an object with both eyes
two different images are formed on both retinas. This is due to the fact that the object
we are looking at is at a different distance compared from one eye to the next. The
brain interprets these two images produced by both eyes and fuses the images
together to ascertain a general perception about the depth of the object.
Experience is an important factor relating to depth perception. Through our life we
learn how tall certain objects are, this also helps us to perceive the depth of an object
because we also know that distant objects appear to be small. So when we look at an
object the size of the image on the retina is interpreted as being close or distant
depending on the size of the object.
Identify photoreceptor cells as those containing light sensitive pigments and explain
that these cells convert light images into electrochemical signals that the brain can
Things to consider:
- What does identify mean?
- What does explain mean?
- What are photoreceptors?
- Relate to brain and electrochemical signals.
Photoreceptor cells are special types of neurons which are sensitive to light. In a
human eye there are two types of photoreceptors rods which contain the light
sensitive pigment rhodopsin and cones which contain the light sensitive pigment
These photo-sensitive pigments are responsible for changing light signals into
electrochemical signals which are interpreted by the brain as a certain image. When
light enters the eye it is focused onto the retina. Rods and cones are not in the first
layer of the retina. The light or collection of light known as photons pass through the
layer of the ganglion cells, then the bipolar cells and then finally reach the rods and
cones. In the rods the rhodopsin absorbs the light causing the retinal part of the
molecule to change shape. This change in the rhodopsin molecule causes a change in
the opsin molecule which then activates a relay molecule known as transducin. This
results in less inhibitory neurotransmitter being released between the synapses
between the rods and bipolar cells and the bipolar cells and ganglion cells, (enables
messages to pass through). The electrochemical signal is passed through the rods to
the bipolar cells, then from the bipolar cells to the ganglion cells, then from the
ganglion cells to the optic nerve which delivers the electrochemical signal to the brain
for interpretation.

Describe the difference in distribution, structure and function of the photoreceptor

cells in the human eye.
Things to consider:
- What does describe mean?
- Differences only
- What are photoreceptor cells?
6 million cones in the
human eye.
Cones are largely
concentrated around
the fovea where most
of the daylight is

125 million rods in the
human eye.
They are largely
concentrated around
the surface of the
whole retina.

Elongated cells with a
synaptic terminal and
an outer terminal
containing discs.
Similar to the basic
structure of a nerve

Elongated cells with a
synaptic terminal and
an outer terminal
containing discs.
Similar to the basic
structure of a nerve

Provide sharp images.
Not sensitive to light.
Images are NOT
sharp during night
time due to the lack
of light.
Can distinguish
Rods are very
sensitive to light.
Responsible for night
vision seeing black
and white.

Outline the role of rhodopsin in rods.

Things to consider:
- What does outline mean?
- What is rhodopsin?
- You can use point form for this answer.

Rhodopsin is a light absorbing pigment found in the rods of the human eye.
Composed of a derivative of vitamin A called retinal bonded to a protein called
Retinal part of the rhodopsin molecule is responsible for the initial absorption of
Different opsin molecules affect the light absorbing ability of the retinal.
Rhodopsin is sensitive to lower wavelengths in the visible spectrum, (blue green).
Rhodopsin is more active during duller light or darkness.

Identify that there are three types of cones, each containing a separate pigment
sensitive to either blue, red or green light.
Things to consider:
- What does identify mean?
- Keep your answer simple, be succinct.
There are three types of cones found in the human eye which are all sensitive to
different wavelengths of the visible spectrum. This is due to the type of opsin
molecule which best absorbs that certain colour. The opsin molecule and its absorbing
wavelength are as follows:
- Blue region, maximum of 420 nanometres.
- Green region, maximum of 530 nanometres.
- Red region, maximum of 560 nanometres.
These cones are responsible for all the colours of the spectrum which we see.
Explain that colour blindness in humans results from the lack of one or more of the
colour sensitive pigments in the cones.
Things to consider:
- What does explain mean?
- What are colour sensitive pigments?
- Be succinct.
Colour blindness, a sex linked condition often occurring in males, is the deficiency in
distinguishing between certain colours. There are three types of colour blindness. The
most common is referred to as red green colour blindness. With this condition
individuals either lack the red pigment or green pigment in their cones. This results in
the other two cones, which are present, seeing all the colours of the visible spectrum.
However as a result the individual is easily confused when distinguishing between red
and green or they can not see red or green properly.
The second rarer type of colour blindness is blue yellow colour blindness. These
individuals lack the blue pigment in their cones. This results in confusion between blue
and yellow, or the colours of blue and yellow are difficult to see.
The third and extremely rare condition of colour blindness is the total absence of
cones. These individuals have no cones which means they have no colour sensitive
pigments. This results in the individual only seeing in black and white.

Process and analyse information from secondary sources to compare and describe the
nature and functioning of photoreceptor cells in mammals, insects and in one other
Things to consider:
- What does compare and describe mean?
- Understand what the question is asking.
- Ensure you use a mammal example, an insect example and another animal
MAMMAL (Human)

Evolved single lens

eyes to see.
Each eye contains a
retina which is
composed of many
differing cells. In
photoreceptor cells
known as rods and
Rods and cones
contain visual
pigments that absorb
This in turn causes
the light signal to be
changed by the
photoreceptors into
an electrical impulse
which is eventually
interpreted by the


Evolved a compound
eye which contains
thousands of light
detecting units called
Each ommatidium
contains a lens which
focuses the light on
the light absorbing
The cells are arranged
in a stack formation
called a rhabdom.
Each photoreceptor
alters the light signal
to an electrochemical
signal which is
interpreted by the
Insects see different
coloured dots through
each ommatidium. A
change in shade or
colour could mean
that there is a
predator present.



Evolved an eye cup which

holds many photoreceptor
These photoreceptors are
stimulated by light and
send a nerve impulse to the
brain for interpretation.
The planarian worm has
two eye cups. When the
brain registers the strength
and direction of the light
the worm moves to an area
of lower light intensity.
The resulting darkness
helps the worm steer clear
of predators.

Process and analyse information from secondary sources to describe and analyse the
use of colour for communication in animals and relate this to the occurrence of colour
vision in animals.
Things to consider:
- What does process, analyse and describe mean?
- Understand what the question is asking.
- Be succinct
The animal kingdom heavily relies on vision as a means of communication. In
particular is the use of colour vision. Each organism varies in its capabilities of seeing
certain objects. In order to have colour vision an organism must have cones, a
photoreceptor found in the retina of the eye. Bees are an example of an organism
which uses colour vision as a means of communication. Bees can see the ultraviolet
end of the spectrum which enables the bees to see certain patterns on flowers. This
results in the bee distinguishing between which plants to access its food from.
Many members of the five classes of animals; amphibians, fish, reptiles, birds and
mammals can see using colour vision. This adaptation enables the organism to
communicate within its environment, aid in reproduction as well as reproductive
behaviour and eat certain foods which they are attracted to due to the colour of the
food. For example many primates can detect the ripeness of the food they eat based
on the colour of the food.
Nocturnal animals do not rely on colour vision. Nocturnal animals are largely active
during the night and hence have a larger number of rods in their eye structure. This
enables the nocturnal organism to see sharper images during the night time.
Birds use colour vision as a means of communicating with other birds and detecting
food. Birds are strongly attracted to the colour red. To enable birds to see the red
colour more readily they have a higher concentration of red pigment photoreceptors
in their eye. The result of this is that birds can see red more readily then any other
colour resulting in finding food at a much more efficient rate.
Ultimately colour vision is a useful tool for all organisms in communicating within their
own environment.

Explain why sound is a useful and versatile form of communication.

Things to consider:
- What does explain mean?
- What is communication?
- Be succinct
Sound is a useful and versatile form of communication as it is used by many
organisms for socialising, mating behaviours, feeding patterns, the avoidance of prey
and overall an effective communication tool.
Sound is an advantageous form of communication. Sound does not need light in order
to be heard. Sound can travel through solids, liquids and gases. This means that
sound can be used in dense environments. For example, birds could call out to warn
other animals of approaching predators.
Sound is used to send and receive messages. Humans and other mammals use vocal
chords, fish use swim bladders and insects such as cicadas use a tympanal membrane
to produce a chirping noise. Sound by organisms is detected by the ear.
Explain that sound is produced by vibrating objects and that the frequency of the
sound is the same as the frequency of the vibration of the source of the sound.
Things to consider:
- What does explain mean?
- What is frequency, how is it measured?
- Be succinct
Sound is always produced by a vibrating object. For example, when humans speak
their vocal chords vibrate in order to produce the sound. In birds their vocal chords
vibrate to produce a squawking noise. These vibrations produced by different
organisms result in the same frequency of vibrations in the medium for which the
sound is travelling through. For example if I say the word biology, at 80 Hertz (Hz)
this will result in the word biology, being transferred through the medium (air) at
Another example, if a tuning fork vibrates at 256Hz it causes the air particles through
which it is travelling to also vibrate at 256Hz.
Outline the structure of the human larynx and the associated structures that assist
the production of sound.
Things to consider:
- What does outline mean?
- What is the larynx?
- Be succinct
The larynx is a complex structure located at the front of the throat - neck. The larynx
is part of the trachea a passageway surrounded by rings of cartilage which is
connected to the oral cavity and the lungs. The major function of the larynx is to
produce sound. Sound is produced through many different structures which make up
the larynx. The larynx is made up of nine different cartilages. The vocal chords are
connected to some of these cartilages and extend across the tracheal opening. These
vocal chords are made up of elastic fibres. As air rushes up from the lungs the vocal

chords vibrate which results in the production of sound. The vocal chords and larynx
surround a narrow opening of the trachea called the glottis.

Speech involves the passage of air passing through the glottis. The pitch of the sound
is altered by the length and tension of the vocal chords as well as the degree of the
opening of the glottis. High pitched noises are due to the following structural
characteristics; tense short vocal chords, vocal chords that vibrate at a fast rate and
the glottis forming a narrow passage for air to pass through. Low pitched noises are
due to the opposite; relaxed long vocal chords that vibrate at a slow rate with the
glottis forming a large passage for air to pass through.
Louder noises are produced by the amount of air being forced through the and across
the vocal chords.
Gather and process information from secondary sources to outline and compare some
of the structures used by animals other than humans to produce sound.
Things to consider:
- What does gather process, outline and compare mean?
- Understand what the question is asking before you answer the question.
- Underline key words
- Be succinct.
A comparison showing various organisms and the means of their sound production is
outlined below:

Male frogs produce a

croaking noise for
various forms of
communication, for
reproduction or the
marking or territory
by various males.
The croak is
generated by vocal
sacs and their mouth
Sound is produced by
forcing air out of the
lungs across the vocal
chords causing them
to vibrate. Muscles in
the surrounding trunk
area contract to expel
the large amounts of
air to produce a
croaking noise.
Croaking is species
specific meaning that
each individual
species produces a
croak at a different
frequency compared
to that of different
male frogs.


Reptiles produce
sound for various
forms of
communication such
as for reproduction or
warning off other
Sound is produced
similar to that of the
frog. Depending on
the size and shape of
the vocal chords air is
expelled from the
lungs to produce a
sound. For example a
snake will hiss to
scare off predators, a
gecko will chirp to
call other geckos and
a crocodile can
produce a variety of
sounds including
roar, hiss, and


Birds produce various calls

or songs to warn others of
predators or for calling a
To produce these calls
birds have a special
structure known as a
The syrinx is generally
located at the base of the
The rings of cartilage the
surround the bronchi and
trachea are modified in the
syrinx. They have partially
become muscular in nature
which results in the bird
Different vibrations of the
membranes and the
amount of air expelled
causes different sounds
produced by different

Plan and perform a first hand investigation to gather data to identify the relationship
between wavelength, frequency and pitch of a sound.
Things to consider:
- What does plan mean? You will have to recall how you performed this
- Ensure you understand the process of the experiment.
- Be succinct.
- What are wavelength, frequency and pitch?

Fill in results table.

Answer questions 1 5 page 504 (see above).
Answer questions 1 4 page 505 (see above).
Where necessary write a conclusion to these experiments.

Outline and compare the detection of vibrations by insects, fish and mammals.
Things to consider:
- What does outline mean?
- What does compare mean?
- What would be a good way of recording this information?
- Be succinct
Sound is produced by the vibration of certain structures within an organism. These
vibrations are received by other organisms using various sound detecting structures.
A comparison of how different organisms detect sound is outlined below:

Insects such as
mosquitoes have tiny
hairs on their body
(mainly on the
antennae) which
detects sound emitted
by the female mosquito
beating her wings. This
form of communication
brings the two insects
closer for mating.
Other insects such as
grasshoppers contain a
tympanic membrane.
This membrane is
stretched over an air
chamber which in turn
vibrates when sound is
produced. This
produces a response in
the insect.


To detect vibrations
within their ecosystem
fish use their lateral
line. The lateral line is
used to detect the
fishs movement
through the water, the
direction and flow of
the current, pressure
waves from other
objects such as
predator and prey and
in the detection of low
frequency sound.
The lateral line works
similar to that of the
mammalian ear. (Sound
detected, bends hair
cells, nerve impulse
sent to the brain.)
Fish also have an inner
ear which detects high
pitched sound.


To detect vibrations
within their ecosystem
mammals use a
structure known as the
ear. The vibration of air
particles causes the
membranes, bones,
fluid and hair cells to
vibrate within the inner
ear. This in turn causes
a nerve impulse to be
sent to the brain and
the sound or message
is interpreted.
Organisms such as
bats, whales and
dolphins use
echolocation to
determine the distance
and size of an
approaching object.

Describe the anatomy and function of the human ear including:

- pinna
- tympanic membrane
- ear ossicles
- oval window
- round window
- cochlea
- organ of Corti
- auditory nerve
Gather process and analyse information from secondary sources on the structure of a
mammalian ear to relate structures to functions.
Things to consider:
- What does describe, gather, process and analyse mean?
- What would be the best way to illustrate this answer? Table (Structure/function)?
- Be succinct.


The outer cartilage of
the ear.

Tympanic Membrane

A thin type of membrane

located in the outer ear.
Also known as the

Ear Ossicles

The ear ossicles consist

of three small bones,
located in the middle ear
known as the malleus
(hammer), incus (anvil)
and the stapes (stirrup).

Oval Window

The oval window is a

membrane which
separates the middle ear
from the inner ear.

Round Window

The round window is a

membrane similar to
that of the oval window
which adjoins the inner
ear and the cochlea.


Main part of the inner

ear involved in the
hearing process. It is a
coil like structure.

Organ of Corti

The cochlea duct

contains the organ of
corti which contains the
receptor cells
responsible for detection
of sound.
The auditory nerve is a
bundle of sensory
neurones located next to
the cochlea.

Auditory Nerve

Round in shape which
causes sound to enter
the ear.
The tympanic membrane
or eardrum separates the
outer ear from the inner
ear. The membrane
vibrates in the presence
of a sound which initiates
the process of hearing.
The ear ossicles vibrate
at the same frequency as
the ear drum in the
presence of a noise.
These vibrations are
passed on to the inner
This membrane passes
the frequency from the
middle ear to the inner
ear into the cochlea.
(Same vibration.)
Similar tot eh oval
window this membrane
passes the frequency
from the inner ear to the
cochlea. (Same
The cochlea contains 3
chambers. These
chambers contain fluids
which vibrate at the
original frequency.
Organ of corti contains
hair cells which
eventually convert the
vibrations into electrical
signals which connect to
the auditory nerve.
Responsible for the
transmission of electrical
impulses to be
interpreted by the brain
as sound.

Outline the role of the Eustachian tube.

Things to consider:
- What does outline mean?
- Where is and what is the Eustachian tube?
- Be succinct.
Our body is unique as everything in some manner is connected. The tube that
connects the middle ear to the nose and throat is known as the Eustachian tube. By
connecting to an air filled space such as the nose and throat the Eustachian tube is
able to equalise the pressure between the eardrum and the middle ear. Equalising the
pressure often happens when a person swallows or opens their mouth wide enough in
time to equalise the pressure.
Outline the path of a sound wave through the external, middle and inner ear and
identify the energy transformations that occur.
Things to consider:
- What does outline and identify mean?
- Figure 9.7.2 on page 485 (HEINEMANN BIOLOGY 2nd EDITION) will be very useful
in answering this dot point.
- Ensure you include the energy transformations that occur.
The following is an outline illustrating the hearing process.
1. Sound is emitted causing the air to vibrate.
2. These vibrations in the air travel to the outer ear and strike the eardrum
(tympanic membrane).
3. The eardrum begins to vibrate at the same initial frequency.
4. Sound energy is then transferred from the eardrum to the ear ossicles. The
three ear ossicles vibrate and transfer these vibrations to the oval window.
5. When the oval window is pushed in by the ear ossicles a pressure wave is
produced through the fluids in the cochlea.
6. As the pressure wave passes through the cochlea fluid it reaches the round
window whereby the round window is pushed in the opposite acting as a
pressure release valve.
7. The pressure wave also acts on the cochlea duct, the basilar membrane, the
tectorial membrane and eventually the organ of corti as a whole.
8. The push from the pressure wave causes the hair cells in the organ of corti to
bend. This in turn causes the hair cells to release neurotransmitter into the
synapses, between the hair cells and the neurones which carry the message to
the auditory nerve.
9. An action potential is created by these hair cells and the message is delivered to
the cerebral cortex for interpretation.
Basically the energy transformations that occur in the hearing process are sound
waves into pressure waves which are eventually converted into nerve (electrical)
impulses and are interpreted by the brain.

Describe the relationship between the distribution of hair cells in the organ of corti
and the detection of sounds of different frequencies.
Things to consider:
- What does describe mean?
- Underline key words.
- Understand what the question is asking before you write an answer.
The distribution of hair cells in the organ of corti cause different interpretation of
sound. Firstly we know that when sound enters the ear at a certain frequency it will
cause the eardrum and ossicles to vibrate at that frequency. Once the vibration has
been passed through the ear and it reaches the cochlea as a pressure wave an
ingenious set of hairs in the organ of corti determine the frequency of the original
sound. This originally begins in the basilar membrane. The fibres in the basilar
membrane are of different lengths. Each of these different length fibres vibrate at a
certain frequency. Hair cells run along the basilar membrane so that when a certain
fibre is triggered by a certain frequency that group of hair cells will begin to bend.
Thus different frequencies of sound will activate different areas of the basilar
membrane in turn causing different groups of hair cells to bend.
If we observe the cochlea like a piano the hair cells are arranged according to the
level of the frequency they detect. Low frequencies are detected at the apex of the
membrane while high frequencies are detected at the base.
The hair cells, neurones, the auditory nerve and the brain all work in tandem to
determine the frequency of the noise. Different neurones are produced when the hair
cells bend causing the nerve impulses to travel to different areas of the cerebral
cortex resulting in the interpretation of different frequencies of noise by the brain.
Therefore hair cells are arranged to detect different frequencies of noise working in
tandem with the brain to interpret these frequencies.
Outline the role of the sound shadow cast by the head in the location of sound.
Things to consider:
- What does outline mean?
- What is a sound shadow?
- Be succinct.
The ears are placed on either side of the human head. If a noise or sound is coming
from the right it reaches the right ear first. For the sound to reach the left ear it must
travel around the head or through the head to reach the left ear. The head absorbs
high frequencies much more easily then low frequencies causing a sound shadow to
be cast over the ear furthest away from the sound source. The sound shadow in turn
enables humans to determine the direction of the sound.

Process information from secondary sources to outline the range of frequencies

detected by humans as sound and compare this range with two other mammals,
discussing possible reasons for the differences identified.
Things to consider:
- What does process, outline, compare and discuss mean?
- Best way to represent this information? Table?
- Ensure you can identify the frequency at which humans hear best.

The range of sound that
can be detected by
humans is about 0.02
kHz 20 kHz or 20
20000 Hz.
The range that humans
are most sensitive at is
approximately 2 4 kHz
or 2000 4000 Hz.
Humans are capable of
very finely
discriminating between
different frequencies
and intensities.
This means that
humans can accurately
identify the differences
and loudness of sounds.
This adaptation is
believed to be handed
down by the primates
whereby humans
developed dialogue and
the ability to distinguish
between a moderate
frequency range.
This adaptation has
also enabled humans to
detect different
frequencies and the
direction of the sound.

The range of sound that
dolphins can detect lies
between about 1 kHz
100 kHz.
The range that dolphins

are most sensitive at

lies between 20 80
The lower range

frequencies represent
what a dolphin
usually hears, while
the high range of
frequency is used in the
process of
Echolocation is used to
determine the distance,
size, speed, shape and
texture of an
approaching object.
This is a valuable asset
for the dolphin as it
enables it to survive
within its environment.

The range of sound that
a kangaroo rat can
detect lies between
about 0.03 kHz 50
The range that the
kangaroo rat is most
sensitive at lies at
about 1 kHz.
Kangaroo rats are most
sensitive at low
frequency sounds as it
enables them to detect
predators which emit
low frequency sounds
such as the slithering of
a snake or the wings
beating of an owl.

Process information from secondary sources to evaluate a hearing aid and a cochlear
implant in terms of:
- The position and type of energy transfer occurring.
- Conditions under which the technology will assist hearing.
- Limitations of each technology.
Things to consider:
- Important dot point as it is secondary source. Could be a 6 7 marker in the
HSC exam.
- What does process and evaluate mean?
- Ensure you answer the question properly.
Position on A hearing aid can be attached to
the body.
the body in a variety of ways.
Firstly the behind the ear (BTE)
hearing aid consists of a hard
plastic case worn behind the ear
and is connected to a plastic ear
mould which sits inside the outer
ear. The second type of hearing
aid is the in the ear, (ITE)
hearing aid. This hearing aid as it
suggests is a tiny mould which
sits directly in the ear canal.
The third type of hearing aid is a
canal hearing aid and as the
name suggests this small type of
hearing aid sits in the ear canal.

The cochlear implant as the name
suggests has to be implanted into the
patients ear. There are external
parts to the cochlear implant as well
as internal parts. The external parts
consist of a microphone which sits
behind the users ear, a thin chord
which connects the microphone to
the speech processor, a speech
processor which deciphers noise
which is a small device usually in the
users pocket or attached to their
waste and the transmitting coil which
usually is attached to the behind to
ear on the users scalp. The internal
parts consist of receiver/stimulator
which sits just inside the skin and on
top of the skull and the electrode
array which is implanted into the

Type of

The type of energy transfer that

takes place in a cochlear implant is
as follows: sounds are detected by
the microphone which amplifies the
sound. The sound waves are sent to
the speech processor which converts
the sound into an electrical signal.
The electrical signals are sent to a
transmitter which turns the electrical
signals into radio waves. The
transmitter sends these radio waves
to the receiver/stimulator which
converts the radio waves into
electrical signals. These electrical
signals go to the electrodes fitted to
the cochlear and excite the auditory
nerve. The brain receives these
electrical impulses via the brain and
interprets them as sound.

The type of energy transfer that

takes place in a hearing aid
A sound is produced in the
external environment. This
sound reaches the hearing aid.
The hearing aid uses this sound
and converts it into an electrical
signal. This electrical signal is
then turned into amplified sound
in which the person wearing the
hearing aid can hear.

which the
y will

The purpose of a hearing aid is

to make sound louder and
audible for a person who is
suffering from hearing loss. A
hearing aid can work in quiet as
well as noisy areas. Ultimately
the use of a hearing aid is to
amplify sound, and it can be
used in all conditions.


Hearing aids can be

somewhat expensive to buy
and maintain depending on
the patients economic status.
Hearing aids can be
uncomfortable to wear.
The voice of the person using
the device may seem a lot
louder to them then usual.
Hearing aid users may get
feedback from their device
such as a whistling noise.
Hearing aid may pick up
background noise which may
give the patient some
difficulty in distinguishing
between people and sounds
within a room or area.
Some hearing aid users may
get a buzzing noise when they
use a mobile phone.

The cochlear implant works

considerably differently from a
hearing aid. A cochlear implant is
implanted into a patient if they suffer
from deafness. Depending on the
patient a cochlear implant can be
very helpful. Usual sound is picked up
by the person with the implant;
however some sounds are hard to
distinguish in a noisy environment.
Surgery and the cost of a cochlear
implant may be somewhat
expensive depending on the
patients economic status.
The device as a whole can be
A person who has not developed
speech will be at a far greater
disadvantage then a patient who
becomes deaf at a later date in
their life.
Sound in noisy areas can be
somewhat hard to distinguish.
Sound can be unclear.
Full hearing potential is not
reached with a cochlear implant.

Identify that a nerve is a bundle of neuronal fibres.

Things to consider:
- What does identify mean?
- Understand the difference between the words nerve and neurones.
As the question states a nerve is a bundle of nerve fibres also known as neurons.
These neurons all have specific structures including:
- Nucleus to control the function of the neuron.
- Dendrites to provide a larger surface area for the collection of nerve signals.
- Cell body to provide nutrients as well as maintain metabolism in the neuron.
- Axons to convey signals along the neuron. Axons can be covered in myelin
sheath, which is made by Schwann cells. The myelin sheath insulates the axon.
In between each Schwann cell is a gap called the node of ranvier. This gap
allows fast and efficient signalling through the nerve.
- Synapse or synaptic knob is a gap between neuron to neuron.
Identify neurones as nerve cells that are the transmitters of signals by electro
chemical changes in their membranes.
Things to consider:
- What does identify mean?
- Understand what the question is asking before you answer it.
Neurons are transmitters of electrical signals. However when the electrical signal
reaches the axon terminals it somehow has to jump across the synapse from one
neuron to the next neuron. How does it do this? This action is performed through the
use of neurotransmitters (chemical). Neurotransmitters are released from the axon
branches into the synaptic space. Once in the synapse the neurotransmitter will travel
to the dendrites of the next neuron. There the neurotransmitter will stimulate the
dendrites membrane to become permeable to sodium ions. This therefore initiates a
nerve impulse (action potential) in the next neuron and hence the message is passed

Define the term threshold and explain why not all stimuli generate an action
Things to consider:
- What does define and explain mean?
- Two parts to your answer. Ensure you answer both.
The threshold is the value that must be reached usually in the vicinity of -50mV,
-55mV. This value is reached depending on the strength of the stimulus acting on the
neuronal membrane. If these values are reached an action potential will occur.
The stronger the stimulus the more likely it will change the membrane potential
towards the threshold value. Once the threshold is reached the action potential
occurs. Action potential occurs in an all or nothing phase which means if the threshold
is reached it will occur and if the threshold is not reached it will not occur.
Some stimulus however will not cause the membrane to become permeable to sodium
ions therefore causing the threshold not to be reached in turn causing no action
Identify those areas of the cerebrum involved in the perception and interpretation of
light and sound.
Things to consider:
- What does identify mean?
- Ensure you can identify these areas if given a brain model.
Interpretation and perception of light
Interpretation and perception of sound
(vision) is located in one of the largest
(auditory) is located in the temporal
sensory areas of the brain which is
lobe. (Above the ear.)
the occipital lobe. (Back of the brain)
Two parts the primary auditory
Two parts the primary visual cortex
cortex, through the natural function of
which synthesises images from both
the ear interprets different electrical
the left and right eye to gain an
impulses and converts them into
overall image. The visual association
sound. The auditory association area
area of the brain associates with
which recognises sounds or voices
images we have seen before, for
from previous experience.
example someone you have met
before or a familiar face.
Explain, using specific examples, the importance of correct interpretation of sensory
signals by the brain for coordination of animal behaviour.
Things to consider:
- What does explain mean?
- What is coordination?
- Relate findings to the actual brain and its structures.
It is very important for all organisms to interpret stimulus in a way that enables them
to respond in an appropriate way in order to survive. For example if we look at human
beings. Our behaviour is coordinated as a result of the signals coming to our brain and
our correct interpretation of these signals. For example, if we were to cross a road and
as we were crossing we did not notice a truck coming towards us at a high speed.
Many signals enter the brain and are integrated into one conclusion get out of the
way. These sensory signals enable humans to respond to their environment in a
coordinated way which leads to survival of the species.
Another example is the migratory patterns of birds and whales. It has been shown
through various studies that birds and whales can perceive, store, process and use the
information obtained by vision and hearing to behave in a manner that is
advantageous for them. Whales and birds rely on the storage of certain data to enable
them to migrate accordingly every year. This unique ability illustrates that by
interpreting these sensory signals, storing these signals and reusing these signals
birds and whales are capable of coordinating in their behaviour in such a way that
enables them to find exact locations hundreds to thousands of kilometres away.

Perform a first-hand investigation using stained prepared slides and/or electron

micrographs to gather information about the structure of neurones and nerves.
Things to consider:
- This is an experiment using a light microscope. Recall how to draw a field of
view. Ensure you include a title, total magnification and relevant labels to what
you are viewing.
- Refer to the diagram of a neuron on page 489 (HEINEMANN BIOLOGY 2nd
to assist you in how you label your neuron(s)
- Refer to page 510 (HEINEMANN BIOLOGY 2nd EDITION), which outlines the
experimental procedure.
- Answer questions 1 4 on page 510 and conclude your experiment.
If unable to find (HEINEMANN BIOLOGY 2nd EDITION), see:

Make sure you use the following excellent

Perform a first-hand investigation to examine an appropriate mammalian brain or
model of a human brain to gather information to distinguish the cerebrum,
cerebellum, and medulla oblongata and locate the regions involved in speech, sight
and sound perception.
Things to consider:
- Ensure you make a good observation of the brain. In the HSC they could
possibly give you a diagram of the brain and you have to indicate the areas
involved in speech, sight and sound perception.
- For revision of this experiment please refer to the experimental procedure,
diagrams and pictures on pages 508 510 (HEINEMANN BIOLOGY 2nd EDITION)
If unable to find (HEINEMANN BIOLOGY 2nd EDITION), see:

Present information from secondary sources to graphically represent a typical action

Things to consider:
- What does present mean?
- Ensure you can explain the parts of the graph.