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Simulated Human Diving and Heart Rate: Making the Most of the Diving Response as a Laboratory Exercise

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Description Laboratory exercises in which students examine the human diving response are widely used in high school and college biology courses despite the experience of some instructors that the response is unreliably produced in the classroom. Our experience with this exercise demonstrates that the bradycardia associated with the diving response is a robust effect that can easily be measured by students without any sophisticated measurement technology. We discuss measures that maximize the success of the exercise by reducing individual variation, designing experiments that are minimally affected by change in the response over time, collecting data in appropriate time increments, and applying the most powerful statistical analysis. Emphasis is placed on pedagogical opportunities for using this exercise to teach general principles of physiology, experimental design, and data analysis. Data collected by students, background information for instructors, a discussion of the relevance of the diving reflex to humans, suggestions for additional experiments, and thought questions with sample answers are included.
Type of Resource Journal Article/Issue, Laboratory or Hands-On Activity
Format Web Page - HTML
Sara Hiebert, Swarthmore College
Elliot Burch, The Putney School
Development Date September 1, 2003
Grade/Age Levels High School upper division (Grades 11-12)
Undergraduate lower division (Grades 13-14)
Undergraduate upper division (Grades 15-16)
Professional (degree program)
Continuing Education
Related Research Papers Physiol Rev 77: 837–899, 1997
J Appl Physiol 69: 932–936, 1990
Learning Time <=1 hour
Language English
Type of Review Reviewed By Journal Board
Review Date Reviewed at time of publication
Suggested Use

This is a great introduction to the diving response and has excellent explanations to help use this particular lab experience as a jumping off point to not only teach cardiovascular physiology, but to help students design their own experiments and to understand some homeostatic mechanisms involved with both blood flow and respiration.

Dan Bartsch, Billings Senior High


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