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The A&P Professor Podcast
TAPP Radio

Content updates and teaching advice for teachers of human anatomy & physiology (A&P) from professor, author, and mentor Kevin Patton. 

Have a question, comment, or an idea for an episode you'd like to hear—or in which you would like to participate or help plan? Contact host Kevin Patton. Or call the podcast hotline at 1-833-LION-DEN (1-833-546-6336).

For more details on each episode—including transcripts—please visit The A&P Professor website.

Jun 28, 2023

In Episode 139, we explore a new discovery in nerve signaling in the brain called a dendritic action potential (dCaAP), we look at a whacky proposed model of brain function, and we share some ideas about how we can help our students understand the core concepts of chemical signaling and signal transduction in different contexts. Put on your thinking caps and jump into this fresh episode now.

00:00 | Introduction

00:50 | Dendritic Action Potentials

12:16 | Transducer Model of the Brain

21:43 | Chemical Signals & Signal Transduction

35:09 | Staying Connected


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The adage that fact is stranger than fiction seems to be especially true for the workings of the brain. (V.S. Ramachandran)


Dendritic Action Potentials

11.5 minutes

In this segment, the focus is on a fascinating discovery about nerve signaling related to dendritic action potentials (dCaAPs). These unique potentials occur in layers two and three of the human cerebral cortex and play a role in complex brain functions. Unlike typical action potentials, dendritic action potentials are graded and produced by the influx of calcium ions. They enable processing and decision-making at a more complex level, expanding our understanding of the human brain's uniqueness.

★ Scientists Uncover a Never-Before-Seen Type of Signal Occurring in The Human Brain (plain English summary of the new discovery from Science Alert)

★ Dendritic action potentials and computation in human layer 2/3 cortical neurons (report in Science)

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Thinking New Thoughts about the Human Brain | TAPP 139 

Transducer Model of the Brain

9.5 minutes

Join us in this segment as we challenge conventional models of the brain and introduce the transducer model. Inspired by psychologist Robert Epstein, this thought-provoking model likens the brain to a two-way transducer, sending and retrieving information like a mobile phone accessing external servers. While it may sound far-fetched—even quite wacky—the transducer model encourages us to explore alternative perspectives and consider the possibility of information exchange beyond the confines of the brain.

★ Your Brain Is Not a Computer. It Is a Transducer. (essay by Robert Epstein about neural transduction theory in Discover Magazine)

★ Brain as Transducer: What if the brain is not a self-contained information processor? What if it is simply a transducer? (another essay by Robert Epstein in the transducer model)

★ Brain Waves Synchronize when People Interact (article from Scientific American)

★ Should We Extend Deadlines? | Models & Color Codes | TAPP 112


Chemical Signals & Signal Transduction

13.5 minutes

Chemical signaling and signal transduction play a crucial role in various systems of the human body. Understanding the connections and similarities between nervous and endocrine signaling helps students grasp these core concepts more deeply. By highlighting structures, functional aspects, and regulatory effects, instructors can foster a comprehensive understanding of chemical signals and the transduction of those signals. Exploring these core concepts within a broader context enhances students' ability to connect and apply their knowledge across different topics. Kevin gives examples of how he approaches this in his courses.

★ Big Ideas: The Essential Concepts of A&P | Episode 35

★ Deep Elaboration & Other Stories of Teaching Anatomy & Physiology | TAPP 136

★ Concept Lists Help Students Build Conceptual Frameworks

★ Star Power Helps Students Identify Learning Goals | TAPP 98

★ Concept Maps Help Students Find Their Way | Episode 5



Production: Aileen Park (announcer),  Andrés Rodriguez (theme composer,  recording artist), team (transcription), Karen Turner (Executive Editor), Kevin Patton (writer, editor, producer, host).

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