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Nervous System

LEB 01

Derivation of nerve and muscle potentials by mechanical stimulation at the front end of an earthworm 01.02
What you can learn about
 Nerve and muscle potentials
 Positive feedback
 Synaptic depression
 Synaptic facilitation
 Conduction velocity in median
and lateral giant nerve fibres

Principle and tasks:


To work on the following themes by
measuring nerve and muscle potentials:
The difference in sensitivity of the
front and rear ends
The facilitation effect
Conduction velocity and fibre
diameter
Synaptic depression

What you need:


Cobra3 Basic Unit

12150.00

Power supply, 12 V

12151.99

RS232 data cable

14602.00

Cobra3 Universal Recorder software

14504.61

Bio-amplifier

65961.93

Earthworm experiment chamber

65981.20

Stimulus bristle, triggering

65981.21

Connecting cord, 32 A, l = 25 cm, red

07360.01

Connecting cord, 32 A, l = 25 cm, blue

07360.04

2
2

Connecting cord, 32 A, l = 25 cm, black

07360.05

Crocodile clip, insulated, black, 10 pcs.

07276.15

Adapter BNC-plug/4-mm-sockets

07542.26

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Result with weak stimulation

Aluminium foil
Earthworms
PC, Windows 95 or higher

Derivation of nerve and muscle potentials by mechanical


stimulation at the front end of an earthworm
P4010211

Result with infrequent strong stimulation

PHYWE Systeme GmbH & Co. KG D - 37070 Gttingen

Laboratory Experiments, Biology 11

Derivation of nerve and muscle potentials by mechanical stimulation


at the front end of an earthworm
Related topics
Nerve and muscle potentials, positive feedback, synaptic
depression, synaptic facilitation, conduction velocity in
median and lateral giant nerve fibres

Principle and task


To work on the following themes by measuring nerve and
muscle potentials:
The difference in sensitivity of the front and rear ends
The facilitation effect
Conduction velocity and fibre diameter
Synaptic depression
Equipment
Cobra3 Basic Unit
Power supply, 12 V
RS232 data cable
Cobra3 Universal Recorder software
Bio-amplifier
Earthworm experiment chamber
Stimulus bristle, triggering
Connecting cord, 32 A, l = 25 cm, red
Connecting cord, 32 A, l = 25 cm, blue
Connecting cord, 32 A, l = 25 cm, black
Crocodile clip, insulated, black
Adapter BNC-plug/4-mm-sockets
Aluminium foil
Earthworms
PC, Windows

12150.00
12151.99
14602.00
14504.61
65961.93
65981.20
65981.21
07360.01
07360.04
07360.05
07276.05
07542.26

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1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
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1

LEB
01.02

Place the earthworm experiment chamber on aluminium foil and remove the lid
Connect the bio-amplifier AMPLIFIER IN to the pins or
the sheet metal of the chamber, so that the + electrode is 3 cm and the - electrode 4 cm away from the
rear end of the worm. Fix the sheet metal for earthing
the worm between the lid of the chamber and the
earthworm (Fig. 2)
Connect the earthed socket of the bio-amplifier to the
earthing socket of the chamber, and to the aluminium
foil (with the crocodile clip)
Connect the bio-amplifier AMPLIFIER OUT to Cobra3
ANALOG IN 2 (red to +, blue to -)
Connect the stimulus bristle to the bio-amplifier
TRIGGER IN
Connect the bio-amplifier TRIGGER OUT to Cobra3
ANALOG IN 1: the red (or most central) jack of the
Adapter with the upper yellow jack (+) of Analog In 1;
the black (or lateral) jack of the Adapter with the white
jack ( ) of Analog In 1
Set the bio-amplifier to EMG, amplification 1000 times
Fig. 2: Earthworm experiment chamber

Set-up
Connect the instruments as shown in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1: Experimental set-up

Phywe Series of publication Laboratory Experiments Biology PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG D-37070 Gttingen

40102

LEB
01.02

Derivation of nerve and muscle potentials by mechanical stimulation


at the front end of an earthworm

Procedure
Call up the COBRA3 MEASURE programme in Windows
Select the UNIVERSAL WRITER as measuring instrument
Set the measurement parameters (see Fig. 3) and go
to measurement with CONTINUE
Wash and dry the earthworm and place it in the
groove in the chamber. Prevent the earthworm from
crawling out of the chamber by appropriately positioning the lid and rubber bands, and the pieces of
sponge rubber at the two ends of the groove
Experiment 1:
Insert the stimulus bristle through the hole in the
chamber lid and weakly stimulate the front end of the
earthworm, save the result
Experiment 2:
Click on the red point and go to measurement with
Continue
Repeat the measurement procedure, but this time
with strong stimulation. To effect strong stimulation,
strongly dent the front end, or touch the tip of it. Wait
at least one minute between each stimulation. Save
the result.
Experiment 3:
Click on the red point and go to measurement with
CONTINUE
Stimulate the front end strongly and more frequently
(several stimulations must follow in direct succession).
Save the result.

To estimate the conduction velocity v, take the conducting time t as the distance between the maximum
and minimum of the action potential (0.47 ms in
Fig. 4). The stretch covered s, i.e. the distance between the electrodes, is 1 cm. Using the equation v =
s/t, the conduction velocity is found to be 21.3 m/s.
Experiment 2: With infrequent but strong stimulation at
the front end, the response can be amplified by a positive feedback. An interneuron, which reacts excitably
back on the median giant fibre, releases a second
action potential about 10 ms later (Fig. 5).
Experiment 3: With frequent and strong stimulation, a
synaptic depression which suppresses reflexes can
be observed (Fig. 6). Muscle activity does not occur.

Fig. 4: Result with weak stimulation

Results and evaluation


Experiment 1: The median giant fibre reacts to weak
stimulation with a biphasic action potential (Fig. 4).
This is followed 1-2 ms later by the nerve impulse of a
giant motoneuron, which is connected to muscle cells
of the longitudinal musculature and releases subsequent muscle potentials.

Fig. 3: Measurement parameters


Fig. 5: Result with infrequent strong stimulation

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40102

Phywe Series of publication Laboratory Experiments Biology PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG D-37070 Gttingen

Derivation of nerve and muscle potentials by mechanical stimulation


at the front end of an earthworm
Notes
On Experiment 1: A single action potential is sufficient
to release muscle activity. The front end is more sensitive than the rear end, where several action potentials are required for muscle contraction.
The higher conduction velocity of the median fibres
compared to that of the lateral fibres can be explained
by the larger conducting cross-section and so to a
quicker propagation of the excitation.
On Experiment 2: The synapses between the giant
motoneurons and the longitudinal muscles exhibit the
phenomenon of synaptic facilitation. This can be recognized from the fact that the muscle potentials are
distinctly higher after the second action potential.
On Experiment 3: Synaptic depression is biologically
very meaningful, as otherwise no controlled movement would be possible in soil (permanent stimulation
from sand particles and stones).

LEB
01.02

Fig. 6: Result with frequent strong stimulation

Phywe Series of publication Laboratory Experiments Biology PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG D-37070 Gttingen

40102

11

LEB
01.02

Derivation of nerve and muscle potentials by mechanical stimulation


at the front end of an earthworm

Space for notes

12

40102

Phywe Series of publication Laboratory Experiments Biology PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG D-37070 Gttingen