In a traditional anatomy and physiology lab, the general senses – temperature, pain, touch, pressure, vibration, and proprioception – and the special senses – olfaction (smell), vision, gustation (taste), hearing, and equilibrium – are typically taught in isolation. In reality, information derived from these individual senses interacts to produce the complex sensory experience that constitutes perception. To introduce students to the concept of multisensory integration, a crossmodal perception lab was developed. In this lab, students explore how vision impacts olfaction and how vision and olfaction interact to impact flavor perception. Students are required to perform a series of multisensory tasks that focus on the interaction of multiple sensory inputs and their impact on flavor and scent perception. Additionally, students develop their own hypothesis as to which sensory modalities they believe will best assist them in correctly identifying the flavor of a candy: taste alone, taste paired with scent, or taste paired with vision. Together these experiments give students an appreciation for multisensory integration while also encouraging them to actively engage in the scientific method. They are then asked to hypothesize the possible outcome of one last experiment after collecting and assessing data from the prior tasks.
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Vol. 83 • No. 6