Psychology Students Get Hands On Experience with the Brain

Psychology Students Get Hands On Experience with the Brain

Psychology students at UVU are getting a chance to study the brain in a very hands-on way. The newly renovated lab in the Clarke Building, CB 209, is now home to a variety of equipment — including sheep brains, eye-tracking software, and more — that gives students the chance to delve deeper into the areas of neuropsychology, learning theory, and cognition.

“This lab was designed in a way that allows for flexibility in experiential learning and research projects,” said Dr. Cameron John, department chair of the UVU Behavioral Science department. “From dissecting sheep brains to research involving sensation and perception, the opportunities for enhanced, engaged learning will expand and play an integral role for psychology majors.”

Claudia Jorgensen, an associate professor of psychology at UVU, teaches classes on sensation and perception and behavioral neuroscience, all of which have been improved by the new lab space. In behavioral neuroscience, students are exposed to various brain models to learn about neuroanatomy and gain hands-on experience.

“Students practice locating brain structures on plastic human brain models, real sheep brains, and a plastinated, real human brain,” said Jorgensen. “This lab allows us to easily store all the necessary equipment — including brains, storage containers, and cleaning supplies — in one central location.”

Sensation and perception, another class that uses the lab in CB 209 quite heavily, gives students the chance to conduct in-lab experiments that will further their understanding of concepts related to the five senses. “Thanks to the new lab, we can finally offer multiple sections of each course each semester,” said Jorgensen. “Offering more sections will allow more students to complete their course requirements and help with student retention and completion.”

But classroom instruction isn’t the only improvement this new lab has brought. Associate Professor Jessi Hill has been able to expand her research thanks to the delicate equipment that can now be stored in the lab. Hill is researching a variety of areas, including physiological reactions to stress, and eye movements in relation to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

 “We usually have between 15 and 20 students on our research team,” said Hill. “We recently received the first National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Award at UVU to purchase our eye tracker. I’m pretty excited and proud of that.”

female professor holding brain and showing it to students


student holding human brain

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