The mistakes

March 12, 1999

JMU's material contradicts a standard undergraduate text, An Introduction to Human Physiology, by J. H. Green, by stating that: "Generally, respiratory movements are under the control of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system." This is incorrect. The standard text states: "It should be noted that although breathing is to a large extent an 'involuntary' act, the "voluntary' nervous system (and not the autonomic nervous system) is the efferent system used to control the respiratory muscles."

"In endothermic vertebrates the ventilation of the lungs is precisely tailored to meet the bodies (sic) need for oxygen." This is confusing. An independent expert said that many vertebrates, such as fish, do not have lungs, and that the statement could be taken to mean that it does not apply to non-endothermic vertebrates.

"Respiration rate (breath/minute) is neither determined or altered in direct response to changing lung O2 concentrations." An independent expert said that in some circumstances, such as at high altitude, "reduced oxygen concentration in the lungs... causes a marked, and life-preserving, increase in ventilation rate."

The material requires a student "guinea-pig" to "breathe in and out of a plastic bag... until breathlessness becomes marked". One reviewer said that this "may not be risk free".

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