MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Physiology of Behavior

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Physiology Of Behavior

Which of the following behaviors accurately describes a baby's Babinski reflex?

Possible Answers:

The baby moving his big toe upward in response to feeling a stroke on the bottom of his foot.

The baby stepping in response to feeling one of his feet touch a flat surface.

The baby sucking in response to feeling something touch the roof of his mouth.

The baby grasping his hand in response to feeling a stroke on his palm.

Correct answer:

The baby moving his big toe upward in response to feeling a stroke on the bottom of his foot.

Explanation:

The Babinski reflex occurs when a baby moves his or her big toe upward in response to feeling a stroke on the bottom of his or her foot. The other three reflexes described in the answer choices all have different names. When something touches the roof of a baby's mouth, the baby will suck, which is referred to as the sucking reflex. The walking/stepping reflex is when a baby makes a stepping motion after feeling one of his feet touch a flat surface. Finally, the palmar grasp reflex is when a baby grasps his hand in response to feeling a stroke on his palm.

Example Question #1 : Other Factors On Behavior

From most basic to most complex, what is the correct order of movement types that occur during human development?

Possible Answers:

Reflexive, rudimentary, specialized, fundamental, lifelong application

Reflexive, fundamental, rudimentary, specialized, lifelong application

Reflexive, rudimentary, fundamental, specialized, lifelong application

Rudimentary, reflexive, fundamental, specialized, lifelong application

Correct answer:

Reflexive, rudimentary, fundamental, specialized, lifelong application

Explanation:

The earliest movements humans perform during motor development are known as reflexive movements. These are followed by rudimentary movements, and then fundamental movements. The final stage is known as the lifelong application stage in which movements are continually adjusted and refined for efficiency. Last, the specialized movement stage is sometimes broken up into two stages: the transitional substage and the application substage; however, none of the answer choices mention either of those substages.

Example Question #1 : Individual Behavior And Learning

Which of the following would be characteristic of a somatic efferent neuron?

Possible Answers:

Inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system

Carry sensory information to the brain

Carry sensory information to the spinal cord

Stimulate the sympathetic nervous system

Stimulate action of a muscle fiber

Correct answer:

Stimulate action of a muscle fiber

Explanation:

A generalized reflex arc describes the detection of an environmental signal, interpretation of that signal, and stimulation of a response.

Afferent fibers are generally classified as "sensory afferent" and describe the neural fibers that are excited by an external stimulus. Afferent fibers always carry signals toward to central nervous system. Various interneuron fibers within the central nervous system can then be stimulated to process and integrate the signal. Interneurons then stimulate efferent neurons, which carry signals away from the central nervous system. Somatic efferent neurons interface with muscle fibers and can cause a physical response.

For example, if you place your hand on a hot stove, sensory afferent fibers will carry to signal to your brain, where interneurons will interpret the signal and stimulate somatic efferent fibers to contract your biceps and pull your hand away from the surface.*

*In certain cases, the interneuron will be located in the spinal cord. In monosynaptic reflexes, no interneuron is used. The example presented is only a generalized model and is not meant to be universally applicable.

Example Question #51 : Mcat Social And Behavioral

Glia are non-neuronal cells which have specialized functions for supporting neurons. Which of the following is not a glial cell?

Possible Answers:

Oligodendrocytes

Astrocytes

Myelin

Schwann cells

Ependymal cells

Correct answer:

Myelin

Explanation:

“Myelin” is the insulating sheath wrapped around many axons to increase the speed of conduction of action potentials. It is not a type of glial cell even though glial cells form it. 

The remaining answers are all examples of glia. “Schwann cells” (located in the peripheral nervous system) and “oligodendrocytes” (located in the central nervous system) form myelin. “Astrocytes” (located in the central nervous system) are star-shaped glial cells with many roles, including providing metabolic and structural support to neurons. “Microglia” help to remove debris. Last, “ependymal cells” form cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). 

Example Question #1 : Physiology Of Behavior

Which part of the brain is chiefly responsible for planning and problem solving?

Possible Answers:

Cerebellum

Parietal lobe

Temporal lobe

Frontal lobe

Occipital lobe

Correct answer:

Frontal lobe

Explanation:

The “frontal lobe” is involved in more complex reasoning (e.g. planning & problem solving) as well as voluntary movement. It contains the primary motor cortex in which voluntary movements are initiated. 

The “occipital lobe” is important for visual processing. The “parietal lobe” contains the somatosensory cortex and thus is highly important for sensation. The “temporal lobe” is important for auditory and olfactory processing as well as language (i.e. Wernicke's area) and memory (i.e. the hippocampus). Last, the “cerebellum” is responsible for balance and coordinating movements.

All MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences Resources

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