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How to Demonstrate Proprioception to Students
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How to Demonstrate Proprioception to Students

Proprioception sounds like a pretty complex idea, but students will get it right away if you start with the 'finger to nose test'. This well-known exercise simply requires the test taker to close their eyes and touch the tip of their nose with the tip of their finger (or to touch their pointer fingers together). The video below includes links that will allow you to watch three videos on the topic of Proprioception (mouse over the time stamp to see additional videos).

 

 

 

Right click to copy the link to this video.

Here's how to add video to your MindTap course

After you've shown the videos, you might want to post this question: 

 

  • Name the five major senses (i.e. smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight)
  • Which of your 5 major senses did you use to find the end of your nose with the tip of your finger?

 

This question should result in lots of head scratching. Most students will immediately rule out the sense of smell, taste and hearing and will also discount sense of sight because their eyes were shut during the test. If sense of touch is offered as an answer, tell your students that it can't be sense of touch because they were not actually touching anything at the start of the test.

 

The answer is that it's proprioception, the process by which sense detectors in our muscles and inner ear tell the brain where our body is in space, which in turn allows us to control our limbs without directly looking at them.

 

 The Man Who Lost His Body

 

If during all this you get the idea that some students are saying to themselves, "So what? Why is this important anyway?", make sure to watch the third video (about 30 seconds into the video above) about the case of Ian Waterman. He is among only ten people in the world known to have lost the ability to co-ordinate any kind of movement unconsciously.

 

1 Comment
Frequent Commenter

 David,

This is a great lesson that promotes deeper thinking. I would imagine that many students would pick up on the ancillary lesson of the correlation to a field sobriety test. Thanks for sharing this idea! I sent it to one of our faculty to consider adding it into our psychology course.