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published by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Available Languages: English, Spanish
This digital lab provides an easy-to-use set of tools to investigate and map how different neurons in a leech's nervous system respond to different touch sensations. First, learn how biologists dissect a leech. Then click a virtual neuron and stimulate the neuron by choosing a weak, medium, or strong probe tool. If you were able to generate an action potential, spikes will appear on the voltage vs. time graph. Another digital tool allows users to inject neurons with dye to observe their actual appearance. Can you correctly identify the neuron's type by comparing its electrical and anatomical data? NOTE: This virtual lab was recently rewritten to HTML. The older Shockwave version is also available on the website.

This activity is part of HHMI Biointeractives, a large collection of stand-alone, classroom-ready interactive simulations and video tutorials for high school and undergraduate students.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Modeling
- Technology
= Multimedia
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electric Fields and Potential
Other Sciences
- Life Sciences
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
General Public
Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 license. Each interactive resource contains information regarding specific copyright, which may belong to individuals.
Rights Holder:
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
action potential, electrophysiology, ganglion, neuron, neuroscience, sensory neuron, voltage
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 4, 2021 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
October 4, 2021 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
April 4, 2019

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Structure and Properties of Matter (PS1.A)
  • The structure and interactions of matter at the bulk scale are determined by electrical forces within and between atoms. (9-12)
Structure and Function (LS1.A)
  • Multicellular organisms have a hierarchical structural organization, in which any one system is made up of numerous parts and is itself a component of the next level. (9-12)
Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms (LS1.C)
  • As matter and energy flow through different organizational levels of living systems, chemical elements are recombined in different ways to form different products. (9-12)
Information Processing (LS1.D)
  • Each sense receptor responds to different inputs (electromagnetic, mechanical, chemical), transmitting them as signals that travel along nerve cells to the brain. The signals are then processed in the brain, resulting in immediate behaviors or memories. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Patterns (K-12)
  • Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena. (9-12)
Cause and Effect (K-12)
  • Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. (9-12)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models. (9-12)
  • Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales. (9-12)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem. (9-12)
Stability and Change (2-12)
  • Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
    • Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, 2019), WWW Document, (https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/neurophysiology-virtual-lab).
HHMI Biointeractive: Neurophysiology Virtual Lab, (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, 2019), <https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/neurophysiology-virtual-lab>.
APA Format
HHMI Biointeractive: Neurophysiology Virtual Lab. (2019, April 4). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from Howard Hughes Medical Institute: https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/neurophysiology-virtual-lab
Chicago Format
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. HHMI Biointeractive: Neurophysiology Virtual Lab. Chevy Chase: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, April 4, 2019. https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/neurophysiology-virtual-lab (accessed 15 October 2021).
MLA Format
HHMI Biointeractive: Neurophysiology Virtual Lab. Chevy Chase: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2019. 4 Apr. 2019. 15 Oct. 2021 <https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/neurophysiology-virtual-lab>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {HHMI Biointeractive: Neurophysiology Virtual Lab}, Publisher = {Howard Hughes Medical Institute}, Volume = {2021}, Number = {15 October 2021}, Month = {April 4, 2019}, Year = {2019} }
Refer Export Format

%T HHMI Biointeractive: Neurophysiology Virtual Lab %D April 4, 2019 %I Howard Hughes Medical Institute %C Chevy Chase %U https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/neurophysiology-virtual-lab %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D April 4, 2019 %T HHMI Biointeractive: Neurophysiology Virtual Lab %I Howard Hughes Medical Institute %V 2021 %N 15 October 2021 %8 April 4, 2019 %9 text/html %U https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/neurophysiology-virtual-lab

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Citation Source Information

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