MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Responses to Stress

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Responses To Stress

Which hormone is responsible for the physiological changes that occur as a result of long-term stress?

Possible Answers:

Insulin

Gastrin

Glucagon

Epinephrine

Cortisol

Correct answer:

Cortisol

Explanation:

The body's initial response to stress in initiated by the hormone epinephrine, which raises blood pressure, raises cardiac output, and increases glucose production from stored glycogen. If stress is allowed to persist, the adrenal gland increases its output of cortisol to stimulate glucose synthesis. Insulin and glucagon are secreted by the pancreas. Insulin is secreted in response to high levels of blood sugar while glucagon is secreted in response to low levels of blood sugar. Gastrin is secreated by the stomach and secretion diminishes in times of stress.

Example Question #2 : Responses To Stress

Which of the following is the storage form of glucose that is diminished when stress occurs?

Possible Answers:

Glycogen

Glucagon

Glycoside

Glycol

Gluten

Correct answer:

Glycogen

Explanation:

The stress response is initated when epinephrine raises blood pressure and increases the production of glucose from stored glycogen. Glycogen is thus diminished when stress occurs. Glucagon is a hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to low blood glucose that causes the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream. Glycol is an alcohol related to ethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze. A glycoside is a substance in which a sugar and a functional group are attached via a glycosidic bond. Gluten is a group of proteins that give flour its stickiness. Gluten sensitivity causes gastrointestinal problems. 

Example Question #3 : Responses To Stress

Jimmy and Nate both volunteer at the dog pound. Jimmy loves animals of all kinds and loves the chance to be around dogs. Nate doesn’t particularly like animals, but he needs service hours for a club he is in at school. 

One day, a large dog threatens to attack the boys. As the dog growls and bares his teeth, the boys begin to shake and feel light-headed. They interpret these physiological reactions as being indicative of a fear response and run away. Which stress response theory does this scenario most closely resemble?

Possible Answers:

Appraisal theory

Cannon-Bard theory

Two-factor theory

James Lange theory

Correct answer:

James Lange theory

Explanation:

According to the “James Lange theory,” an external stimulus will cause a physiological reaction, which is then interpreted by the brain and translated to an emotion. In this scenario, the boys saw something, reacted, and interpreted this reaction as an emotion: scared.

The other answers are incorrect choices. “Cannon-Bard theory” states that emotion and physiological response occur at the same time. “Two-factor theory” of emotion includes an element of examining one’s environment to help decipher physiological responses. Last, “appraisal theory” hypothesizes that emotions are based on personal evaluations of a given situation. For example, a student that believes a test went very well would feel happy. In this situation, we do not know how the boys evaluated the situation before they felt fear. 

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