Smooth muscle: Learn how your gut contracts!

Smooth muscle
Time to complete course: 58 min.

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About Smooth muscle: Learn how your gut contracts! Virtual Lab Simulation

Have you ever noticed a feeling of discomfort after a large meal? In this simulation, you will learn the basics of smooth muscle contraction and how it is controlled by the nervous system in order to provide more insight into the causes of a friend’s digestion issues.

Use animal models

Although smooth muscle is located in many different parts of your body, this session focuses on the smooth muscle that is located in the intestine. In order to understand how smooth muscle contracts, you will use an animal model that resembles the way smooth muscle works in humans. You will perform different experiments using pieces of rat intestine to evaluate the impact of several neurotransmitters and drugs on smooth muscle contraction.

Get your results in real time and dive into the sample

Learn about the purpose of different parts of equipment in the physiology lab, and discover the importance of the composition of reagents and conditions in conducting experiments with reliable results. You will be able to use different reagents that resemble the control of the nervous system as well as other drugs that modify the smooth muscle contraction. On top of this, you will be able to observe the outcome in real time via your virtual PC screen.

In addition, every time you test a new reagent, you will be able to visualize the results at a cellular level, understanding the changes in the concentration of different molecules and the interaction with the specific receptors to trigger different events, which will ultimately impact the smooth muscle contraction.

Identify the cause of the intestinal pain

At the end of the simulation, after testing your hypothesis and performing all the experiments, you will have a clear understanding of how smooth muscle contracts.

Will you be able to identify the cause of your friend’s intestinal discomfort?

Get Started Now

Join a physiology laboratory to understand how smooth muscle contracts by performing several in vitro experiments, and help your friend identify the cause of her intestinal pain.

Techniques in Lab

  • Myography

Learning Objectives

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

  • Describe smooth muscle characteristics
  • Explain the autonomous nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic) control of smooth muscle
  • Identify which neurotransmitters and receptors are involved in smooth muscle contraction
  • Use the equipment and interpret the results from the performed experiments

Simulation Features

Length – 58 minutes
Accessibility mode – Available
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards


Life Sciences related 1st and 2nd year


Potentially HS-LS1-2, however likely too high level


6.1 Digestion and absorption
D.2 Digestion


No direct alignment

Screenshots of Smooth muscle: Learn how your gut contracts! Virtual Lab Simulation


Linda Pastorello

Auburn University

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