The Brain Game: Adopted from Rod Plotnik: Table created by Mary

The Brain Game: Adopted from Rod Plotnik: Directions: Read the following scenarios and
explain the area of the brain that is affected.
Walking down a dark New York street late at
night you suddenly feel the metal barrel of a
pistol press against your head behind your
ear and hear the instructions “Don’t move a
muscle while I slip your wallet out of your
pocket”. Unfortunately you do move, the gun
is fired and the bullet enters the brain.
Breathing and heart beat stop almost
immediately. Where is the bullet?
What area?
“Little Mo” was extremely short for his age.
His doctors concluded the brain was not
stimulating the proper release of hormones
necessary for growth. What area of the
brain are they probably focusing on?
You’re in the Dome parking lot at 2 AM when
a guy in a hockey mask holding a long-bladed
knife jumps out at you. What system of
nerves would arouse your body to action? (be
On Justin’s 21st birthday he & his buddies
celebrated a bit too much. When the police
stopped his car Justin’s speech was slurred,
he couldn’t walk a straight line or balance on
one foot. He nearly missed his face
altogether when asked to touch his nose
while his eyes were closed. The impaired
functioning of what part of Justin’s brain is
responsible for these difficulties with motor
coordination and balance?
Uncle Ed suffered a stroke which damaged a
portion of his cortex. He shows some
weakness and partial paralysis of his right
leg. What area of his cortex was affected
by the stroke? (be specific)
Paul suffered from encephalitis (a brain
infection) while in college. He received good
medical attention but still the infection took
its toll on certain parts of his brain, so that
now Paul cannot store new long-term
memories. What part of the brain did the
encephalitis damage?
Leon’s car was broadsided by a semi causing
Leon’s head to smash against the driver’s
side window damaging his temporal lobe
cortex. What ability may be affected?
Jeff suffered serious injuries when his car
crashed but he was still able to crawl out of
the car and pull his sister out as well. Name
ONE of the transmitters that helped him
function in this situation and tell how.
Wayne has been diagnosed as a paranoid
schizophrenic. What neurotransmitter
change seems to underlie schizophrenia?
Siggy the Rat had a stimulating electrode
implanted in his brain. Siggy presses a bar
to activate that electrode-something he
would rather do than eat, sleep or have sex.
Sometimes he presses 7000 times/hr. What
is Siggy’s electrode stimulating?
Brett was a superior student and had a full
scholarship, but following a head injury he
can no longer plan, organize or follow
through with tasks necessary for school. (In
addition he no longer shows concern for
others or for common social courtesies. He’s
rude and disinhibited.) Where was his
Jan suffered a concussion in a car accident.
Since that day she has notice a dramatic
decrease in her sexual libido, a lack of
appetite and an absence of thirst. She
never thinks of having a drink until her lips
actually dry and crack. What part of her
brain might have been affected by the car
Philip is hooked on cocaine. What
neurotransmitter seems most closely related
to the pleasure such drugs produce and their
addictive qualities?
Grandma Mary had a stroke which impaired
her ability to speak fluently although she can
move all the necessary muscles. What is the
most likely location of her brain damage (be
Some individuals who are blind have
biorhythms and sleep/waking cycles that are
very different than normal. The area of the
brain responsible for these cycles
malfunctions without normal visual input.
What region is this?
Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s disease, a
motor disorder related to the death of cells
in a part of the brain called the _______.
Gwen’s brain has a congenital anomaly (a
difference in brain anatomy that she was
born with) - it lacks the main connection
between the right and left hemispheres.
What was Gwen born without?
Sara’s grandfather has developed
Alzheimer’s disease. What can you tell her
about probable changes in his brain
You’re taking a short cut thru a back yard to
get to your car and encounter two
unrestrained Dobermans who begin pursuit.
You run faster than you have ever run
before, and dive into your car just in the
nick of time. It takes 10 minutes for your
pulse and breathing to slow down to normal.
What part of the nervous system slows
heart rate and breathing down to normal
Amy was having a really bad week. On
Monday her vision got blurrier and blurrier
until she could no longer see at all. On
Tuesday she found she couldn’t hear. On
Wednesday her sense of taste went. On
Thursday she lost her sense of touch. Her
CAT scan revealed a single brain tumor was
probably producing all of these deficits.
What single part of the brain in involved in
all of these sensory processes?
Pete was struck by lightening when he
insisted on finishing his 18 holes of golf
despite the lightening packed thunderstorm.
He was looking down; lining up a long putt
shot and the bolt of lightening struck the
rear of his head, frying his occipital lobes.
What aspect of behavior is likely to be
impaired if Pete survives?
Dana is taking Prozac to help control her
depression. Prozac works by increasing the
availability of what neurotransmitter?
Your grandfather is starting to show the
hand tremors and difficulty moving that are
characteristic of Parkinson’s Disease, a
disorder that is caused by the degeneration
of neuron’s that would normally
produce _____________.
Margie suffered damage to part of the
surface of her brain after being struck by a
golf club let loose by an irate golfer that
had just sliced a key drive. As a result
Margie has loss some sensory awareness of
her left leg. Where is Margie’s brain
damage (be specific).
Your grandmother has begun to lose her
spatial abilities—she gets lost in the
neighborhood where she has spent her whole
life, she can no longer read a map, she can’t
put dishes or clean laundry away because she
no longer knows where things go in her home
of 40 years. What part of the brain
mediates these perceptual/spatial abilities?
After falling through the ice on a local pond
little Johnny was trapped under the icy
water for 10 minutes before the rescuers
got him out. They were able to resuscitate
his pulse and breathing but he did not regain
consciousness for days. Disturbance of what
specific part of Johnny’s brain might have
resulted in an inability of the brain to
regulate normal alertness?
Jeanette suffers from focal epilepsy
(seizures localized in just one part of the
brain). Her seizures are triggering extreme
emotions- most often extreme fear followed
by a rage response. What part of the brain
is being affected?
After Martin’s cerebrovascular accident he
had difficulty understanding what others
were saying to him. He could speak but what
he said made little sense. Where is Martin’s
brain damage?
Julissa Gomez, a young American gymnast,
unsuccessfully attempted a difficult vaulting
move, and struck the back of her head.
Damage to the cord resulted in paralysis and
damage to a nearby region caused her to
lapse into a coma. Where is the damage that
caused her coma?
NBC reporter John Hockenberry took the
Corningware pan of turkey stuffing out of
the fridge and heated it on the stove. When
the pan and contents were sizzling hot, the
special handle was still cold. John set the
pan on his lap for several minutes while he
stirred and served the stuffing. He never
noticed the burning hot bottom of the pan
producing serious 3rd degree burns of his
legs. Why?
Original source: Rod Plotnik / table created by Mary Ann Stedry: AP Psychology
The Brain Game answers...
The medulla—the bottom most part of the brainstem, takes care of life-sustaining
reflexes like breathing and heart rate.
2. “Little Mo”—the hypothalamus and its connection to the pituitary gland-insufficient
growth hormone is being released.
3. The sympathetic division-the sympathetic half of the autonomic nervous system in
our “fight or flight” system arousing the body (HR, BP, breathing) for action when
4. Justin—The cerebellum—the cerebellum functions like a motor computer taking care
of the underlying details of our movements- coordination, timing, targeting, balance.
Oddly enough, it is often malformed in autism as well.
5. Uncle Ed—the motor cortex—Ed’s stroke must have deprived the blood flow to the
strip of motor cortex in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere.
6. Mark—the spinal cord—the spinal cord carries messages from the brain to the body
and from the body to the brain.
7. Paul—Hippocampus—part of the limbic system called the hippocampus seems
essential for our ability to store new memories into their permanent, long-term
8. Leon—auditory cortex—the part of the cortex devoted to making sense of what we
hear is in the temporal lobe. The left temporal lobe is particularly important for
comprehending speech—Wernicke” area.
9. Jeff—Endorphin—relieves his pain
NE—Norepinephrine—arouses the body in emergencies
Ach—Acetylcholine—carries messages to the muscles
10. Wayne—excess response to Dopamine-DA
11. Siggy—the pleasure reward system in the limbic system.
12. Brett—Prefrontal cortex (frontal lobe) the front-most portion of the frontal lobe
is involved in planning, judgment, developing strategies, and inhibiting incorrect or
appropriate responses.
13. Jan—the hypothalamus—just above the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus is critical
for basic behaviors/motivations like hunger, thirst, & sex.
14. Philip—Dopamine—seems to be the key transmitter of the pleasure system.
15. Grandma Mary—Broca’s Area—the part of the language system located in the
frontal lobe (left hemisphere) is most important for producing speech.
16. The suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus regulates our natural biorhythms.
17. Michael J. Fox—the substantia nigra of the midbrain.
18. Gwen—Corpus Callosum—the corpus callosum is a large cable of axons connecting
the corresponding parts of the right & left hemisphere.
19. Sara’s grandfather—Ach—Acetylcholine neurons have died off so there is less
stimulation of his cortex.
20. The Parasympathetic nervous system—the parasympathetic half of the autonomic
nervous system takes care of normal body maintenance functions including slow
normal breathing & heart rate.
21. Amy—the Thalamus—just above the hypothalamus is the thalamus, the brain area
the relays all sensory input except smell to the correct regions of the cortex. It
also seems to play an important role in maintaining conscious awareness.
22. Pete—Vision
23. Dana—Serotonin
24. Grandfather—Dopamine
25. Margie—Somatosensory Cortex—the front strip of the right parietal lobe
processes general sensory input from the left side of the body.
26. Grandmother—the right hemisphere—while the left hemisphere has better
developed language areas, the right hemisphere is most important for the multitude
of situations where we use perceptual / spatial information.
27. Little Johnny—the Reticular Formation—the reticular formation is a system of
neurons running through the brainstem that arouses the upper parts of the brain,
regulating our normal waking consciousness.
28. Jeannette—the Limbic System—the limbic system structures, hidden under the
cortex of our right & left hemispheres, is best known for its control of emotion.
Parts of it also play a role in memory. One part of the limbic system-the Amygdalaseems particularly important for emotional reactions & memories.
29. Martin—Wernicke’s Area—in the left temporal lobe is critical to language
30. Julissa—the reticular formation of the brainstem.
31. John—spinal cord injury
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