Successful Integration of Interactive Neuroscience Simulations into a Non-Laboratory Sensation & Perception Course

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Laboratory core courses in neuroscience at small liberal arts colleges are few in number and thus under great pressure to offer active laboratory explorations of a wide range of topics. Furthermore, traditional lab activities require substantial resources in terms of space, time, equipment and organization, further limiting the extent to which a school can provide students with important interactive neuroscience experiences in the classroom. Previous work has shown that interactive computer simulations can successfully replace more traditional lab activities in an introductory neuroscience laboratory (Bish and Schleidt, 2008). The present work shows that similar activities can also enhance the learning experience in a midsize, non-laboratory Sensation & Perception (S&P) course. While this course is considered a supporting or elective, rather than a core course in most neuroscience programs, its subject matter lends itself to the in-depth exploration of several key topics in cognitive neuroscience. The success of using computer-based neuroscience activities in a class like S&P might thus point to effective ways in which to distribute the interactive exploration of some neuroscience topics to supporting courses in the curriculum, thereby easing the pressure on the few core laboratory courses to cover all aspects of the field.
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