Cardiac Conduction Hoedown
by Greg Crowther
This jingle, originally written for Biology 242 and 352 at UW-Bothell, traces the spread of depolarization through the cardiac structures specialized for electrical conduction. Be sure to extend the pause at the AV node! The lyrics will be easiest to follow if paired with a diagram of the structures mentioned. Note that "AV bundle of His" is a combination of two terms for the same structure, "bundle of His" (traditional eponym) and "AV bundle" (more modern term).
On and on the ions will flow.
Driven by diffusion, away they go.
SA to AV, node to node,
Then slow.... slow....
On to the AV bundle of His.
Its branches dip down where the septum is,
Then up from the apex the Purkinje cells twist....
If you know all that, then you're ready for the quiz!
• MP3 (by Dargan Frierson)
• sheet music (with melody play-back)
Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.
An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using an audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, and/or (B) illustrating it with pictures, bodily poses, and/or bodily movements. The latter activity could begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.
(1) What do "SA" and "AV" stand for?
(2) Why is the slowness of the conduction through the AV node advantageous for the heart?
(3) What structures let ions pass directly from one cardiomyocyte to the next?
(4) What part of the heart is the apex?
(5) The opening line mentions ions flowing. Which ions are we talking about?
(6) The second line refers to a septum. "Septum" is a general anatomical word meaning a divider between two chambers. Which specific septum is being referenced here?
(7) Considering the specific content covered by this song, is there anything important that is missing, unclear, or misleading? If so, what?
(Answers may be found on the answers page.)