This report introduces various approaches to target defined neural pathways for stimulation and to address the effect of particular neural circuits on behavior in a model animal, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). The objective of this novel educational module described can be used to explain and address principle concepts in neurobiology for high school and college level students. A goal of neurobiology is to show how neural circuit activity controls corresponding behavior in animals. The fruit fly model system provides powerful genetic tools, such as the UAS-Gal4 system, to manipulate expression of non-native proteins in various populations of defined neurons: glutamergic, serotonergic, GABAergic, and cholinergic. The exhibited behaviors in the examples we provide allows teachers and students to address questions from behaviors to details at a cellular level. We provided example sets of data, obtained in a research lab, as well as ideas on ways to present data for participants and instructors. The optogenetic tool, channelrhodpsin 2 (ChR2), is employed to increase the activity of each population of neurons in a spatiotemporal controlled manner in behaving larvae and adult flies. Various behavioral assays are used to observe the effect of a specific neuron population activation on crawling behavior in larvae and climbing behavior in adult flies. Participants using this module become acquainted with the actions of different neurotransmitters in the nervous system. A pre- and post- assessment survey on the content is provided for teachers, as templates, to address learning of content and concepts.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
ZRM supported by Higher Committee for Education Development (HCED) scholarship in Iraq. FK supported by Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD); German Academic Exchange Service; RISE - Program (Research Internships in Science and Engineering). Part was funded by Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation (KSEF-3712-RDE-019) at the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (RLC) and personal funds supplied by RLC.
Dataset 1: Raw data for all module trial results. Sigma Plot version 13 files for Figure 4, Figure 6–Figure 8, Figure 10–Figure 12, Figure 14–Figure 16. doi, 10.5256/f1000research.10632.d150960 (Majeed, 2017).
Supplementary File 1: Use of the Arduino hardware and sample codes for flashing LED lights.
Supplementary File 2: Pre and post-test educational sample assessment is provided.
Supplementary File 3: Power point presentation used to introduce the exercises for the participating classes. The content can readily be modified by the instructor according to the level of instruction required.
Majeed, Zana R.; Koch, Felicitas; Morgan, Joshua; Anderson, Heidi; Wilson, Jennifer; and Cooper, Robin L., "A Novel Educational Module to Teach Neural Circuits for College and High School Students: NGSS-Neurons, Genetics, and Selective Stimulations" (2017). Biology Faculty Publications. 133.