Teach them a lesson they'll never forget! The Cold Pressor Test...

Teach your students a lesson they'll never forget with the cold pressor test! Use this free protocol to have your students activate their sympathetic nervous system and investigate the effect of cold water on blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse amplitude.

Experimental Protocol

Students engage in hands-on learning by applying a sphygmomanometer and listening for Korotkoff sounds using a stethoscope. They determine systolic and diastolic blood pressure and calculate mean arterial blood pressure, before asking the volunteer to submerge their hand in ice water and observing the resulting effects on blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse amplitude.


Related: Teach them a lesson they'll never forget! The Diving Response experiment...

Step 1: Identify learning objectives

By the end of the activity students should be able to:

  • Collect, analyze, and draw conclusions from blood pressure and finger pulse data.
  • Explain the physiological process that occurs during the cold pressor test, including the role of the sympathetic nervous system.

Step 2: Set up your equipment to record signals


Flexible Teaching

This is a short or 'Mini' lab with just two activities - a basic auscultation and the cold pressor test. We have designed it this way to allow flexible use of the lab. It could be used as a stand-alone activity, or be combined with other related labs such as the Diving Response or Autonomic Nervous System labs, found in the Lt Human Physiology Collection.


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