Sensory Transduction: Learn why you feel pain when you get hit by a rock

Sensory transduction
Time to complete course: 30 min.

About the Sensory transduction Virtual Lab Simulation

How do anesthetic drugs work? In this simulation, you will learn the basics of sensory transduction by testing and comparing the mechanisms of action of two anesthetic drugs. Explore which stimuli activate different types of sensory neurons and behold the flow of ions inside an axon. Perform a patch-clamp experiment to analyze how the anesthetics impact the pain transduction in the nociceptors, and confirm the results by performing some in vivo experiments before selecting the best pain killer for your friend.

Explore sensory neurons

Which neurons are activated when you get a cut? What about when you are hit by a rock? Explore the different types of sensory neurons on the holo-table and see the impact of six different stimuli as many times as you want! Then, figure out which stimuli activate nociceptors to transduce pain, and dive into an axon to learn which transmembrane receptor makes nociceptors sensitive to pain and the flow of ions inside.

Set up your own patch-clamp experiment

You will dissect some dorsal root ganglia from a rat’s spinal cord to use for a patch clamp experiment. You will set up the equipment and use different buffers to conduct the voltage-clamp experiment. You will then be able to see and analyze the results on the virtual PC screen in a short time, avoiding long waiting times in between changes of buffers, and allowing you tol test the effect of the two anesthetics to evaluate their effect on the flow of ions and in sensory transduction.

Confirm your results with an in vivo model

After analyzing the in vitro data, you will determine if the differences in the effect of the two pain killers are confirmed in in vivo studies. This includes conducting latency to withdrawal experiments and analyzing motor function experimental results. You will finally dive one last time into the axon to see the effect of each anesthetic drug inside the nociceptors. Will you be able to determine which drug is best to give your injured friend?

Get Started Now

Learn the basic mechanisms of sensory transduction by performing in vitro and in vivo experiments and determine which anesthetic drug will allow your friend to keep climbing a mountain without having the muscles affected.

Techniques In Lab

  • Voltage-clamp method
  • Latency to Withdrawal

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to…

  • Understand the types of sensory neurons and their responses to different stimuli
  • Describe the response of a sensory receptor to chemical stimuli at the cellular and organismal level
  • Set up a voltage-clamp experiment, and measure and interpret changes in current in response to chemical stimuli
  • Analyze and interpret patch clamp results to contrast how two sodium channel blockers inhibit capsaicin-induced excitability
  • Collect data and analyze it on withdraw reflex time in an acute pain model

Screenshots of Sensory transduction Virtual Lab Simulation


Dr. Jon Harrison

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University

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