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NATI NA T ON NAALL CEN ENT NTTEER FO FOR CASE CCAASE SE SSTU T DDYY TEA TU EACH CHIN CH HIN INGG IN IN SSCI CIIEN ENCE CEE Escape from Planet Soma Mastering the Physiological Principles of Neuronal Signaling b by Sheri L. Boyce Department of Biological Sciences, Messiah College, Grantham, PA After a valiant but doomed battle in the distant Purkinje Galaxy, you are captured by the Glialiens, the most evil beings in all of the Cerebral Hemisphere. They imprison you in their outpost on the desolate planet Soma, from which no one has ever been known to escape. Chief Oligodendrog eyes you with glee. “Well, well, if it isn’t the intrepid __________________ (make up a name for your space alter ego). I’ve heard of your daring deeds, and I must…show more content…
Uhhhhhh… To what other type of potassium channel is Oligodendrog referring? What effect will opening more of these channels have on the excitability of a neuron? What will happen to you when sevoflurane reaches the reticular formation neurons that control sleep and consciousness? Beads of sweat dot your brow as you return the card. Oligodendrog notices. “Not so confident on this one, earthling?” However, his brow wrinkles as he reads your answer and crumples the card in disgust. “You got lucky with that one! I’ll trip you up yet.” He turns to his assistant and roars, “What’s next?!” It’s yet another syringe. “OK, tell me what happens when we flood your brain tissue with potassium until extracellular potassium levels are ten times what they should be!” This time Oligodendrog flings the card angrily in your direction. A knot forms in your stomach…the questions are getting harder. How will increasing extracellular potassium affect the signaling capability of a neuron? What type of cell normally regulates levels of extracellular potassium in the CNS? What “terror” will this method produce if injected into your brain tissue? “Escape from Planet Soma” by Sheri L. Boyce Page 3 NATIONAL CENTER FOR CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCE The answers come to you at the last second, and instead of becoming angry, Oligodendrog appears almost resigned. You sense an opportune moment and venture an offer. “Suppose we do one more method, any method of your choice. If I answer it

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