• Julianna Kearney

MCAT Monday: Behavior - Biological basis of behavior

Biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors influence behavior and behavior change.

Human behavior is complex and often surprising, differing across individuals in the same situation and within an individual across different situations. A full understanding of human behavior requires knowledge of the interplay between psychological, sociocultural, and biological factors that are related to behavior. This interplay has important implications for the way we behave and the likelihood of behavior change.

Foundational Concept 7 focuses on individual and social determinants of behavior and behavior change.

With these building blocks, medical students will be able to learn how behavior can either support health or increase risk for disease. (via AAMC)

The Biological basis of behavior: Nervous System section covers the following topics:

Practice Questions:

1. Which of the following hormones is a hunger stimulant? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Insulin

  • B: Ghrelin

  • C: Dopamine

  • D: Leptin

2. Which of the following hormones is not released by the anterior pituitary? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Estradiol

  • B: Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

  • C: Luteinizing hormone (LH)

  • D: Prolactin

3. What is the primary difference between a peptide hormone and a steroid hormone? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: A peptide is lipophobic, while a steroid hormone is lipophilic.

  • B: A peptide is hydrophobic, while a steroid hormone is lipophobic.

  • C: A peptide is lipophilic, while a steroid hormone is lipophobic.

  • D: A peptide is lipophilic, while a steroid hormone is hydrophilic.

4. How would high levels of insulin affect appetite? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Appetite would increase.

  • B: Appetite would decrease.

  • C: Appetite would remain constant.

  • D: Appetite would increase quickly, then decrease.

5. A researcher is studying hunger and satiation signals in the brain. The researcher injects a neurotransmitter called peptide YY into the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus of rats with previously normally functioning PVNs. Peptide YY is a neurotransmitter that is very similar and functions similarly to neuropeptide Y in humans. What effect should the researcher expect on the experimental rat’s behavior?

Choose 1 answer:

  • A: The rat will stop eating because food will cease to be rewarding.

  • B: The rat will be able to stop eating as soon as it feels satiated.

  • C: The rat will be unable to stop eating because it would never feel satiated.

  • D: The rat will continue to eat normally with no significant deviations in behavior.

6. A 23-year old female reports experiencing severe bloating and water retention at certain points during her menstrual cycle. Which hormone associated with the regulation of salt and water retention could be causing her problem? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Cortisol

  • B: Estrogen

  • C: Progesterone

  • D: Prolactin

7. John is a 25-year old male physician who is trying to improve his fitness levels and increase his muscular strength. He hires Ariel (a personal trainer whom he is very attracted to) to coach him for two mornings each week, and completes two workouts on his own in the evenings. When he looks through his notes on his progress, he notices that when he works out with Ariel he lifts heavier weights than when he works out on his own. He thinks that his performance with Ariel could be related to increased testosterone. How could bias related to short-term maturation effects explain John’s changes in strength? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: The natural variations in John’s testosterone levels correspond with the times that he works out with Ariel, which could temporarily increase strength.

  • B: John is attracted to Ariel, wants to impress her, and believes that she wants him to lift heavier weights, which temporarily increases testosterone and observed strength.

  • C: Repeated testing of John’s strength leads to extreme measurements when he works out with Ariel, but these measurements become more normal over time.

  • D: Ariel’s expectations of John’s ability and masculinity affect how she observes his muscular strength and writes about his progress.

8. A researcher is interested in conducting a 12 month placebo-controlled trial to test the effects of a new diabetes drug. He recruits college students who have been diagnosed with diabetes within the past 5 years. Which of the following represents the greatest ethical concern in this study? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Effective treatments for diabetes exist and could be used as an effective control; use of a placebo control presents undue risk.

  • B: Study subjects may experience increased discrimination or stigmatization as a result of their participation in the research.

  • C: Young adults are not able to accurately perceive potential risks and benefits of participation and cannot provide informed consent.

  • D: The results of the study may not be disclosed to the subject’s primary physician, which could lead to issues with comprehensive care.

9. Which of the following is not released after an orgasm? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Endorphins

  • B: Oxytocin

  • C: Prolactin

  • D: Serotonin

10. Which of the following hormones monitors circadian rhythm in diurnal animals? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Dopamine

  • B: Cortisol

  • C: Growth hormone

  • D: Melatonin

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