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Self-Quiz for Chapter on the Human Nervous System

Revised 4/4/2004. Welcome to the self-quiz on the Human Nervous System. This covers material typically found in an introductory psychology textbook chapter with a title like "Brain and Behavior" or "Neuropsychology." Read the question and click on an answer. You will jump to a correction or (if the answer is correct) a confirmation. No total score is provided for this quiz because it is meant to be browsed; you can scan the responses to wrong answers as well as right answers. If you run into problems or have a question, read the introductory paragraphs on the self-quiz index page.

  1. How do convolutions of a human brain compare with those of a rat or dog brain?
  2. Bilateral symmetry...
  3. How might lateralization contribute to a "control system" guiding activity, according to a decades-old theory?
  4. What does "autonomic" mean?
  5. PET scans...
  6. An axonal arborization looks somewhat like...
  7. What does a lobotomy involve?
  8. What is the corpus callosum?
  9. What is an axon?
  10. Dopamine, an important transmitter substance...

End of multiple choice questions for the Human Nervous System

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ANSWERS AND DISCUSSION SECTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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they are nearly identical despite major differences in the brain's internal structure

No, there are fairly major differences...

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the human brain has many more convolutions

Yes...this is the single most conspicuous difference between human and non-human brains, viewed from the outside (although chimpanzees and gorillas come close to human brains in prominence of convolutions).

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the lower animals have more convolutions and therefore fewer direct connections

No, they have fewer convolutions (and references to "lower animals" are not very fashionable these days, either...)

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human convolutions are less numerous, but larger

No, humans have far more convolutions, resulting in vastly increased surface area

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humans have frontal lobes, other animals do not

No, other animals have frontal lobes, although frontal lobes are much larger in humans than in other species.

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is common in the animal kingdom

Yes. Just about all animals have bilateral symmetry (a two-sided nervous system with each side resembling the other). Exceptions are animals with radial (circular) symmetry, such as starfish

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is unique to humans

No, in fact, most animals have a two-sided nervous system

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is found only in old world primates, including humans

No, dogs, cats, mice, even flatworms have bilateral symmetry

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is apparently involved in the sense of equilibrium or balance

No, balance is regulated by special mechanisms which are not directly related to bilateral symmetry.

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has been disproven by PET scans showing lateralization

No, lateralization refers to the tendency of some skills to be better executed by one side of the brain or the other, whereas bilateral symmetry refers to the fact that there are two sides which appear physically similar or symmetrical.

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the "minor" hemisphere is better at delicate, controlled action

No, if anything, the opposite is true, if "minor" means "non-dominant" (e.g. the right hemisphere in most right-handed people). A right-handed person generally shows better coordination with the right hand, controlled by the left hemisphere

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if one side suddenly fails, the other can take over

No, it is not quite that easy (although if a person is BORN without one hemisphere, the other one "takes over" and the person grows up behaving normally)

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oscillations between the two sides set up a rhythm of activity

No...some scientists are discussing rhythms or oscillations in the brain as important events, but this is not the control system alluded to in the question.

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the left hemisphere leads a person to take on challenges, the right hemisphere is associated with avoidance

Yes...no doubt this is a simplistic idea, but there is a lot of evidence (for example, from the Wada test in which one hemisphere then the other is anesthetized) that the left hemisphere is more "worry-free" and manic or willing to try new activities, while the right hemisphere is more anxious, avoidant, and cautious or worried, when operating independently. This led Kinsbourne and others to suggest that two sides act as "opponent processes" similar to an accelerator and a brake.

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the two sides allow people to balance in an upright position

No, even a person born without one hemisphere can walk upright without losing balance

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automatic

Yes, autonomic means essentially the same thing as automatic. That is a handy way to remember that the autonomic division of the peripheral nervous system is involved in many activities somewhat outside conscious control (such as heart rate, sweating, and other responses related to emotion).

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emotional

No, although the autonomic nervous system does relate to emotional expression, this is not what the word means.

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regenerative

Autonomic means regenerative? Hmmm...you must be guessing or exploring all the alternatives... Pick another answer.

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isolated

No, the autonomic nervous system is not particularly isolated...it is part of the overall central nervous system and interacts with the other parts.

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retroactive

No, "retroactive" means "backward-acting" and that does not really describe the autonomic nervous system in any way.

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are not quite as good as thermograms at showing detail

No, PET scans actually show more detail than thermograms. Thermograms show temperature variations in the brain, which gives only a very approximate location of activity.

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show only brain structures, not areas of activity

No, one of the advantages of PET over old-time MRI is that PET can show areas of activity. (So can functional MRI, a newer variety of MRI.)

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are made by rotating an X-ray machine around a patient's head

No, that is a CAT scan.

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often use labeled glucose

Yes...this is the most common variety of PET scan. Radioactively tagged glucose emits positrons when the glucose is consumed by the brain, resulting in the emission of gamma rays which can be picked up by the scanner.

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have not lived up to early expectations, according to the chapter

No, PET scans have gotten faster, cheaper, more accurate, and less prone to unexpected problems...and they have produced lots of data interesting to psychologists...although functional MRI promises to be even better.

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a button

No, you might be thinking of the synaptic bouton or synaptic knob, a round structure which sometimes appears at the end of an axon fiber.

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a cake of many layers

Not exactly...try again.

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a grape arbor, according to Cajal

No. Cajal did say that the dendritic field of a Purkinje cell looked like a grape arbor, however.

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a dendritic tree

Yes. The tree-like appearance is implied by the word arborization which has the word arbor (tree) in it. Axons can branch many times, just like dendrites, and when stained an axonal arborization looks much like a dendritic tree.

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a corn stalk

Not unless it is an unusually frayed and frazzled cornstalk. An axonal arborization looks more like the branches of a tree.

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suction removal of brain tissue

No, tissue is not actually removed in a lobotomy.

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removal of the frontal lobe

No, that would be called a "lobectomy" (like an appendectomy, removal of an appendix). A lobotomy, more properly called a leucotomy, merely isolates the frontal lobe from the rest of the brain, while leaving the lobe intact.

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cutting off the blood supply to the frontal lobe

No, just the opposite. The blood vessels run along the surface of the brain (as any sufferer of a migraine headache will testify) and they are not disturbed by cuts made deep inside, as is done in an lobotomy circa 1940s. (More modern forms of lobotomy sometimes use saline injections or other techniques.)

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injection of transmitters into the frontal lobe

No, transmitters were not even known about when lobotomies were popular, in the 1940s.

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cutting off communication between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain

That's it. Lobotomies cut axons, the nerve fibers which conduct information around the nervous system. In the classic procedure of the 1930s and 1940s, the axons leading away from the frontal lobe were cut, so the frontal lobe was isolated from the rest of the brain, with respect to neural communication. The tissue remains alive but can no longer contribute to mental processing.

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a type of nerve cell in the midbrain

No, the corpus collosum actually involves many millions of nerve cells, perhaps billions.

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a collection of deep midbrain structures

No...the corpus callosum is deep in the brain, but it is not a "collection" of structures. Also, it is considered part of the forebrain, not the midbrain.

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a lobe on the brain

No, a lobe is a major area of the cerebral cortex marked off by a deep fold called a fissure. This does not describe the corpus callosum.

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the main fiber bundle connecting the hemispheres

Right. The corpus callosum is the structure which is cut in the famous "split brain" experiments, in which the two cerebral hemispheres are disconnected from each other, resulting (arguably) in two different centers of consciousness within the same head. I say "arguably" because some scholars argue for alternative interpretations and say the idea of two separate centers of consciousness has been exaggerated.

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the so-called homunculus

No, the homunculus is a famous diagram generated by Wilder Penfield in the late 1940s, showing which parts of the motor cortex seemed to be connected to which parts of the body.

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a tube of membrane

Yes, among other things, an axon is formed out of a tube of membrane. It has smaller tubes within it, too: microtubules and neurofilaments.

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the dendritic tree of a neuron

No, although axons and dendrites are sometimes hard to distinguish (and sometimes an dendrite might turn into an axon as it stretches away from a cell, one surprising finding from the 1980s) the two are conceptually distinct to most neuroscientists, with a dendrite conceived as primarily an input area, an axon as an output system.

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a so-called Schwann cell

No, Schwann cells are specialized cells which form the myelin sheath on axons by wrapping themselves around the axon and squeezing out their own innards. They are involved with axons but are not the axons themselves.

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the genetic control center of a cell

No, that is the soma or cell body.

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one lane in a "multi-laned highway"

No, you might be thinking about neurofilaments and microtubules, which have been shown to carry different molecules at different rates, depending on the molecule. They are smaller tubes within the axon.

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originates in the nucleus bayselis of Meynert

No, although there is a brain structure by that name. It is involved with the production of acetylcholine, not dopamine.

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causes depression, when too abundant

No, too much dopamine causes psychosis (and all major anti-psychotic drugs reduce dopamine levels).

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seems involved in sensory control

No, dopamine seems to be involved in motor control (which is why patients with Parkinson's Disease, which involves dopamine, develop tremors and muscle weakness).

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is commonly used in insecticides

No, you might be thinking of acetylcholine, another major transmitter. Acetylcholine esterase is a chemical which breaks acetylcholine down, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are commonly found in insecticides. And people spray this stuff around their households, to get rid of cockroaches. Someday that fact may be regarded with astonishment.

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produces psychosis in large amounts

Right. If you saw the movie Awakenings, based on the book by Oliver Sacks, you saw an example of how L-Dopa (which stimulates dopamine production) eventually produced "crazy" behavior in one of the patients. In general, too much dopamine causes serious mental problems, including hallucinations and delusions and paranoia.

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Write to Dr. Dewey at psywww@gmail.com.



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