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Both in vivo and in vitro techniques are used to investigate the development of the vertebrate heart using the chicken embryo as a model system. Simultaneously, the students are exposed to the physiology of embryonic blood flow, the electrical circuitry of the developing heart, and the effects of reproductive toxins on heart rate. Classical embryological microtechniques, explantation of the embryo, surgical removal of the beating heart, and isolation of the heart chambers, are conducted. Student teams devise a hypothesis concerning the effects of caffeine or alcohol on the in vivo or in vitro heart rate.
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