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Take Home Exam: Nervous System

Answers must be typed and handed in on 5/31 in class. If you do not bring it in, you will
take the exam in class.

I. Multiple Choice (1 pt)

1. From superficial to deep, the meninges occur in the order
a. dura mater, pia mater, arachnoid
b. dura mater, arachnoid, pia mater
c. pia mater, dura mater, arachnoid
d. pia mater, arachnoid, dura mater
e. arachnoid, pia mater, dura mater

2. The representational hemisphere of the cerebrum would most likely control

a. taking this test
b. diagnosing a patient's disease
c. painting a picture
d. giving a speech
e. balancing your checkbook

3. The neural tube is formed by fusion of the neural

a. mesoderm
b. crests
c. grooves
d. folds
e. plates

4. The right and left cerebral hemispheres are joined mainly by

a. the corpus callosum
b. the thalamus
c. the pons
d. the corpora quadrigemina
e. the corticopinal tracts

5. The brain center most concerned with emotion is

a. the limbic system
b. the cerebrum
c. the cerebellum
d. the pons
e. the midbrain

6. The ________ contains nuclei that regulate body temperature, food intake, and sexual response
a. thalamus
b. hypothalamus
c. midbrain
d. pons
e. medulla oblongata

7. The _______ contains nuclei that control coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and vomiting
a. thalamus
b. hypothalamus
c. midbrain
d. pons
e. medulla oblongata
8. The cerebral cortex concerned with hearing is in
a. the insula
b. the occipital lobe
c. the temporal lobe
d. the parietal lobe
e. the frontal lobe

9. A bipolar neuron has

a. two axons arising from the soma
b. one axon and one dendrite arising from the soma
c. two axons and multiple dendrites arising from the soma
d. two dendrites arising from the soma
e. two somas

10, Nissl bodies are located in the ________ of a neuron.

a. soma
b. dendrite
c. axon hillock
d. synaptic knob

11. Sensory areas responsible for vision are in

a. the insula
b. the occipital lobe
c. the temporal lobe
d. the parietal lobe
e. the frontal lobe

12. The area of the brain that is needed to understand the meaning of words is
a. Broca's area
b. Wernicke's area
c. premotor cortex
d. primary motor cortex

13. An example of a neural tube defect is

a. aphasia
b. anencephaly
c. microencephaly
d. agnosia

14, The ________ coordinates body movements and aids in learning motor skills
a. cerebrum
b. cerebral cortex
c. cerebellum
d. midbrain

15. The ________ filters and relays sensory information

a. hypothalamus
b. thalamus
c. midbrain
d. pons

16. The myelin sheath

a. transmits impulses from one neuron to another
b. nourishes the neurons
c. insulates the synapses
d. insulates the axon
17. In a neuron, neurotransmitters are stored in
a. the cell body
b. vesicles within dendrites
c. the cytoplasm of the nucleus
d. vesicles within axon terminals

18. The minimum level of local potential that produces a response is called
a. decremental
b. graded
c. a threshold
d. a reflex

19. A football player exhibited the following symptoms after a third-quarter play in which he was injured:
1. uncontrolled rhythmic contraction of skeletal muscles
2. abnormally great tension in muscles

The injury probably involved what area of the brain?

a. medulla oblongata
b. basal ganglia
c. cerebral cortex
d. cerebellum
e. hypothalamus

20. The blood-brain barrier is formed by

a. blood capillaries
b. neurons
c. astrocytes
d. oligodendrites
e. microglia

21. Cerebrospinal fluid is secreted by

a. neurons
b. astrocytes
c. ependymal cells
d. oligodendrocytes
e. microglia

22. Phineas Gage severely injured what part of his brain?

a. parietal lobe
b. temporal lobe
c. frontal lobe
d. occipital lobe

23. The glial cells that destroy microorganisms in the CNS are
a. microglia
b. satellite cells
c. ependymal cells
d. oligodendrocytes
e. astrocytes

24.The part of the brain affected in Parkinson’s Disease is

a. amygdala
b. hippocampus
c. substantia nigra
d. hypothalamus
Multiple Choice

1b 7e 13b 19d
2c 8c 14c 20c
3d 9b 15a 21c
4a 10a 16d 22c
5a 11b 17d 23a
6b 12b 18c 24c

II. Short Answer (3 pts): Answer 2/3 or all 3 for extra credit
25. A 77-year-old woman was cooking in the kitchen when she collapsed onto the floor. Her daughter
called an ambulance and the woman was taken to the emergency room. She had suffered a stroke, and
slowly regained consciousness over the next two days. However, when she woke up, she had the following
signs and symptoms:

- paralysis of the right face and arm

- loss of sensation to touch on the skin of the right face and arm
- inability to answer questions but ability to understand what was said to her
- ability to write down her thoughts more easily than to speak them

A. Why was she paralyzed in the right face and arm?

B. What is the name of her language disorder, and what area of the brain was affected?
C. Compare the two types of strokes and their treatments.

The stroke deprived oxygenated blood from several areas of her brain. Paralysis
of right face and arm, and the loss of sensation to touch on her right arm and side of face,
suggests damage to certain motor centers of her left frontal cerebrum (nerve pathways
from left side of brain pass to right side of body) or thalamus, since nerve pathways for
sensation and movement pass from the cerebrum through the thalamus to the respective
areas of the body. Inability to answer questions yet the ability to understand speech points
to a problem in formulating speech, and this nonfluent aphasia is a dysfunction of Broca’s
area. Her ability to write down her thoughts (a function of Wernicke’s area) more easily
than her ability to speak them is a further indication of damage to Broca’s area, rather
than other language centers.
The woman could have suffered one of two types of strokes – ischemic stroke,
which is caused by a blockage in an artery in the brain, and hemorrhagic stroke, which is
caused by a ruptured blood vessel that increases cerebrospinal fluid pressure in the brain,
impinging surround brain matter and causing problems appropriate to the trauma that is
being suffered. The hemorrhage should fill up the nearby ventricle (third ventricle,
judging from affected area) and cause radiating damage that increases over time as more
blood flows in. Probability-wise, the woman most likely suffered an ischemic stroke,
which accounts for 88 percent of all strokes, and she would then have been treated with
blood thinners like warfarin and antiplatelet medication like aspirin to dislodge the
blockage that caused the stroke. If she did suffer a hemorrhagic stroke, the type of
medication for ischemic stroke would act against the clotting that is necessary to stop
bleeding; these strokes can be treated by repairing the rupture site, but often the body
does this itself and the patient is usually just monitored and treated for complications
resulting from the stroke (such as brain inflammation).
26. Explain the biochemical/physiological basis of addiction. Include in your answer an explanation of the
reward mechanism, neuroadaptation, and withdrawal. Be specific in describing the important
neurotransmitters and parts of the brain involved.

The phenomenon of physiological addiction is due to increasing tolerance for a

drug that is due to a combination of neuroadaptation and a modified reward process that
makes a user abuse the chemical in order to still enjoy it. The brain has a reward system
comprised of structures, such as the ventral tegmental area, extended amygdala and the
nucleus accumbens, that affects how a person perceives the use of a chemical as
pleasurable or undesirable. A modified reward process is one where the negative effects
of a drug like alcohol (“hangovers, loss of memory, fights, violence and arrests”) are
depreciated and the positive effects justify a naïve conception such as, “the more I drink,
the better I feel.” Susceptibility to this kind of reward perception modification differs
among people, and there is some evidence that tendency towards alcoholism is an
inherited trait. Neuroadaptation forces the addict to abuse their drug since their brain
chemistry adapts to the addict’s habit in order to bring back normal functioning. So, if a
drug like alcohol enhances the effect of GABA (causing the depressant effect) and
inhibits glutamate activity by occupying its receptors, more glutamate is released by the
brain (it’s tricked into thinking that there isn’t enough glutamate to fill receptors) and
GABA activity is decreased to weaken its depressant effect. When GABA is lessened, so
is its inhibitory effect on dopamine. High dopamine levels (which have to be lessened
too) causes pleasure, which is a nice “reward.” So, the person drinks more, both for the
reward and to compensate for less GABA and higher glutamate, and tolerance builds
while brain chemistry keeps adapting. Breaking this vicious cycle by quitting leads to
withdrawal symptoms as the brain has to readapt to the condition before the addict was
an addict. As GABA goes back to normal (fighting the effects of glutamate meanwhile),
dopamine levels are less than normal, and the former addict experiences depression,
tremors, nausea, sluggishness, even seizures. These are certain unrewarding states, and
the person’s body wants to go back to its “normal” addicted state, which adds another
level of power to addiction.

27. Describe how synaptic inputs are integrated by neurons. Include in your answer descriptions of the
postsynaptic potentials, the types of summation, and the types of neural circuits

Neural synapses are the connections between neurons in a neural circuit. There are 
three types of synapses – axodendritic (axon to dendrite), axosomatic (axon to soma), and 
axoaxonic (axon to axon). Neurons communicate with neurons by neurotransmitters, 
released from vesicles on the transmitting axon terminal, which are collected on receptor 
sites of the receiving neuron to generate a postsynaptic electric potential i.e. a voltage. 
This action potential can activate voltage­gated calcium channels which will cause 
synaptic vesicles to transport neurotransmitters to the axon terminal for a repeat of the 
transmission process; however, different neurotransmitters have different electrical 
properties so they may have either an excitatory or inhibitory effect on neuronal activity. 
There are three types of synaptic neurotransmitter activities – excitatory cholinergic 
(ACh), inhibitory GABA­ergic, and excitatory adrenergic. Excitatory cholinergic 
synapses release ACh which bind to receptors that trigger a release of sodium ions that 
create a negative electric potential at the synapse that at reaching ­55mV (from normal
­70mV, relative to environment) forces an action potential for target neuron; ACh can 
have an inhibitory effect on action potential for some neurons. An inhibitory GABA­ergic 
synapse releases GABA which opens chlorine ion channels instead and these 
hyperpolarize (further “negative­ize”) the synapses so that depolarization becomes more 
difficult and no action potential is created. An excitatory adrenergic synapse releases 
norepinephrine which binds to a G protein which binds to adenylate cyclase that converts 
ATP to cAMP. cAMP has multiple effects, which vary depending on cell, including the 
opening of ligand­regulated sodium ion gates that will generate an action potential, and 
activation or synthesis of enzymes to effect changes in metabolism. In the view of a 
computation, these three synaptic activities are different operations, and “the more 
synapses a neuron has the greater its information­processing capabilities.” Other 
neurotransmitters that create excitatory postsynaptic potentials are glutamate and 
aspartate, and inhibitory PSPs are generated by glycine in addition to GABA.
Synaptic summation refers to aggregation of PSPs, and a typical neuron requires 
30 EPSPs to depolarize or fire (form an action potential). Since the typical EPSP is .5mV 
and lasts 20ms, summation can occur by temporal accumulation of EPSPs by a synapse 
from an axon within a determinedly short period of time, or by spatial accumulation of 
EPSPs by a synapse from multiple axon terminals. Spatial summation is essentially 
distributed computing, involving the input of relatively less hard­working axons to 
achieve the same effect as one very hard­working axon trying to generate an action 
There are several types of neural circuits. Diverging circuits involve an action 
potential of one neuron traveling across a successively greater and greater number of 
neurons. Converging circuits is the vice­versa, with several neuronal action potentials 
intersecting at one neuron. Reverberating circuits are made of two linear circuits, one 
traveling in one direction across neurons and another traveling the other way from one 
neuron at the end of the first circuit to the beginning of the first circuit so that the first 
circuit is replicated due to the influence of the second circuit. Parallel after­discharge 
circuits are like diverging circuits that turn into converging circuits i.e. the action 
potential diverges across several neurons then converges upon a neuron. The usefulness of 
parallel after­discharge circuits is that the action potential can exist even without the 
originating neuron firing, as the in­between neurons between divergence and convergence 
can continue the action potential. An example with a simple parallel after­discharge 
circuit made of four neurons (so 2 in­between) that fire at the same time will maintain the 
action potential for twice the amount of time as if the in­betweens didn’t exist.