Take Home Exam

PSYC-674 Final Exam
Instructions: Answer 8 of the following 10 questions. You may include material that was
presented in class but should also provide additional information based on current
research findings published in scholarly journal articles, including citations and
references to all information. Also include a critique of the material and describe
matters that are open for debate and discussion. Grading of the exam will be based on
your reflection of class material, consideration of additional information not included in
class discussions, thoughtfulness of relevant biological and social issues and
documentation of research relevant to answering the questions.
1. Describe the anatomy and physiology (structure and function) of brain areas
included in the five divisions of the brain that were described in class. Are there
any other findings that further our understanding of particular brain areas
discussed in class or others that have recently been described and studied using
methods in neuroscience and biological psychology?
2. Describe new findings on glial cells and how they function; compare the
information processing and signal transduction that occurs based on classic
neuroscience concepts of brain function and how new discoveries with glial cells
are changing modern behavioral neuroscience and biopsychology.
3. What are the criticisms of fMRI studies? Compare and contrast to transcranial
magnetic stimulation (TMS). What are the implications, if any, for the design of
research studies and the types of conclusions/inferences that may be
appropriate? You may include a discussion of the Poldrack et al. (2001) study
presented in class and posted on the class website, along with the related article
by Poldrack & Packard (2003), also available on the class website.
4. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed ‘inheritance of acquired characteristics’ which
was criticized as being at odds with Darwinian evolutionary theory, i.e., a
comparatively slow process of natural selection taking many generations for
phenotypic changes to occur (e.g., the giraffe story discussed in class and in the
2nd Sapolsky reading assignment) . Could there be some truth to Lemarckian
theory? Draw on new research findings in behavioral genetics to support your
5. What is the “trouble with testosterone” or other hormones discussed in class?
What new insights have been gained into the health benefits/risks of hormone
replacement therapies? Describe research findings that support or fail to support
the idea that biological and endocrine factors may influence the behavior of
individual members of different species (including humans); include research
findings related to gender and biological sex differences. To what extent are
such differences just a reflection of other individual differences (e.g., expressed
by groups of individual with certain shared/divergent characteristics)?
6. Describe treatments for age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s
and Alzheimer’s disease. What animal models are there to study putative
treatments? Describe any progress that has been made using surgical
interventions, including deep brain stimulation and fetal nerve graft tissue
transplantation in addition to drug therapies and preventative or palliative
treatments using nutritional supplements or nutraceuticals (e.g, curcumin,
procyanidin, resveratrol etc.).
7. What are the implications of the Horizon BBC documentary “the Ghost in your
genes” on epigenetics? Are there any relations to neurodegenerative disease or
psychological disorders?
8. If Parkinson’s disease does not have a primary genetic component, as suggested
by Langston in the PBS NOVA documentary, what evidence is there that other
factors may contribute to both MPTP-induced and idiopathic forms of the
9. Provide evidence to support the position that psychological disorders such as
OCD, schizophrenia and others, as well as special talents characteristic of
savants, may be extreme variations of more moderate tendencies and conditions
that can be functional in different cultures/societies. You may draw on material
from Robert Sapolsky’s article “circling the blanket for god” but also include other
relevant material and discuss the broader implications for biopsychology and
other sciences and technologies that may influence how genetic/epigenetic
factors interact with the environment.
10. Describe any scientific findings in biological psychology that you believe is
relevant to material presented in class. Are there any findings that were not
included that you believe are important to consider in the future?