[Prompt] Unit 2 Practice: Biological Psychology

These questions are modeled after Free Response Questions (FRQs) of the AP Psychology Exam. Below would most likely represent one of two questions that could appear on the FRQ. The instructions on the most recent FRQs have included the following: It is not enough to answer a question by merely listing facts. You should present a cogent argument based on your critical analysis of the questions posed, using appropriate psychological terminology.

Use the items below to assess your mastery of knowledge of the topics below, but also how you might apply your knowledge to present your “cogent argument.”

Mr. Lorre, who is 36 years old, is the father of Peter, who is one year old.

A. Explain one difference between Mr. Lorre and Peter with respect to the following:

  • Frontal Lobe Usage
  • REM Sleep

B. Explain how each of the following can affect Peter’s life functions:

  • Serotonin
  • Medulla Oblongata

C. Mr. Lorre is trying to teach Peter how to eat independently. Explain how each of the following can help Peter learn.

  • Cerebellum
  • Ventromedial Hypothalamus
  • Thyroxine
  1. The Frontal Lobe controls the movement and decision-making ability of an individual. REM sleep is the stage in the Circadian rhythm where the brain is active as if it were awake, and an individual can dream. One difference between Mr. Lorre and Peter is that Mr. Lorre has the capability to make the decision to stay up late and ignore his body’s need for sleep, whereas Peter is incapable of making such decisions and as a result gets more REM sleep than his father.
  2. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that controls an individual’s mood, sleep, and hunger. The Medulla Oblongata controls the most vital functions in the body, such as one’s heartbeat and breathing. A baby crying because of its need for sleep, food, and change in mood may be a result of high levels of serotonin in Peter’s body. The Medulla may affect Peter’s life functions, as if it did not work, his heart would not pump and oxygen would not flow through his body, being extremely dangerous for his wellbeing especially since they are basic functions his body needs to survive.
  3. The Cerebellum helps with fine motor skills and procedural memory. The Ventromedial Hypothalamus helps with survival and deals with hunger, fleeing, fighting, temperature regulation, and mating. Thyroxine is a hormone secreted from the thyroid gland, and maintains an individual’s metabolism and weight. The Cerebellum will help Peter learn how to hold the spoon and precisely put the spoon into his mouth, and also allow him to learn how to use the spoon so that he can eat. The Hypothalamus uses Peter’s hunger instinct to make him eat by himself and not depend on his father to feed him, so that he may begin to eat independently. The thyroxine hormone will help Peter learn that by eating, he will have more energy to move around and will be less legarthic.

The frontal lobe, or the region in the brain that regulates important cognitive skills in human beings (among them emotional expression, memory, and problem-solving), will be more matured in Mr. Lorre compared to his one-year-old son. As our cognitive skills tend to advance as we age, the frontal lobe in a baby is still premature. Thus, although the frontal lobe would still be present and coordinate most of the baby’s voluntary behavior such as walking, talking, and expressing some emotion, the frontal lobe of the child still needs to grow/develop with the coming years. Ultimately, Mr. Lorre’s frontal brain will be more developed and will be used to coordinate more high-level cognitive skills than his son’s, such as having more advanced memory and problem-solving skills.

His one-year-old son would have considerable more REM sleep, or one of the most important sleep stages characterized by rapid movement in the eyes and vivid dreaming, than Mr. Lorre. As we age, our REM durations get shorter; thus, his one-year-old son (who would spend most of his days sleeping) would undergo a significant more amount of REM sleep stages compared to his father (who requires less sleep).

Serotonin is an excessively important neurotransmitter responsible for our moods, hunger, and sleep. Especially for Peter, a one-year-old child, low amounts or not enough serotonin may result in SIDS, or sudden infant death. Thus, it is important to regulate just the right amount of serotonin in order for him for his bodily functions to work and support his health.

The medulla, a portion of the brain that controls our natural bodily processes such as breathing, beating, and blood pressure, is also vital for Peter’s health. Any defect with the medulla would be lethal for him and damage one of his vital life functions, as the medulla regulates and manages our most important internal organs (heart, lungs, etc.).

In order to eat independently, Peter’s cerebellum– the portion of the brain that manages balance, coordination, muscle movement– must be working properly. As the cerebellum mainly works with one’s movement and coordination, it’ll definitely aid with Peter’s first actions of, for example, feeding himself with a spoon or holding the dish properly so he could eat.

The ventromedial hypothalamus, or the portion of the brain’s hypothalamus that suppresses one’s hunger, prevents Peter from overfeeding himself! Without the ventromedial hypothalamus, Peter would eat forever (as no portion of the brain is alerting him or arousing his sense of “fullness”), thus negatively affecting his health.

Thyroxine, a hormone secreted inside of the thyroid gland, increases the body’s metabolism. Thus, as Peter learns how to feed himself and is steadily consuming food independently, the thyroxine throughout his bloodstream will speed up the rate of his metabolism, or how fast or slow his body breaks down/burns the energy from his nutrients.

A. Frontal lobes are in charge of movement and decision making. Mr. Lorre who has developed frontal lobes would be better and more advanced in making decisions and which decision is right. Compared to Mr. Lorre, Peter, who is a year old, would have less developed frontal lobes and would not be able to make decisions for himself. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is basically dreaming because during sleep the eyes move rapidly. Mr. Lorre would have less REM sleep compared to Peter, who is much younger. Peter would sleep much more than Mr. Lorre which would give him a longer REM duration compare to Mr. Lorre would requires much less sleep.
B. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, eating, and mood. The serotonin levels tells Peter to sleep and eat when necessary and be happy or sad a situations. The medulla oblongata controls heart and lung functions. The medulla oblongata would manage Peter’s heart rate and breathing so he can live.
C. The cerebellum controls balance, fine motor movements, and procedural memory. The cerebellum would control Peter pick up the eating utensil and help remember how to use the utensil to eat. The ventromedial hypothalamus regulates hunger and thirst. The ventromedial hypothalamus would tell Peter that he is hungry or thirsty and needs to eat. The thyroxine is a hormone released by the thyroid that stimulates metabolism. This hormone needs to be released so when the food comes in, Peter knows that food is being digested and doesn’t make him uncomfortable by having indigestion.

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