An Undergraduate Laboratory Exercise to Study Weber s Law

Jameson K Holden, Eric M Francisco, Zheng Zhang, Cristina Baric, Mark Tommerdahl


Webers Law describes the relationship between actual and perceived differences in stimulus intensity. To observe the relationship described in this law, we developed an exercise for undergraduate students, as experiential learning is an integral part of scientific education. We describe the experimental methods used for determining the subjects discriminative capacity at multiple vibrotactile amplitudes. A novel four-point stimulator (designed and fabricated at the University of North Carolina) was used for the study. Features of the device, such as automated skin detection, make it feasible to perform this laboratory exercise in a reasonable lab period. At the conclusion of the lab exercise, students will thoroughly understand the principle of Webers Law as well as fundamental quantitative sensory testing concepts. This introduction to sensory testing will provide a suitable foundation for the undergraduate neuroscience student to investigate other aspects of sensory information processing in subsequent lab exercises.

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