MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Biology and Treatment of Specific Disorders

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

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133 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Schizophrenia And Depression

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the drugs of choice in the treatment of __________.

Possible Answers:

dissociative identity disorder

psychosomatic disorder

depression

schizophrenia

bipolar disorder

Correct answer:

depression

Explanation:

Depression is treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for mood. By allowing more serotonin to be active in the synapses, mood is elevated. Bipolar disorder is treated with the mood stabilizer lithium. Psychosomatic disorder is treated using biofeedback and relaxation techniques to reduce tension and spasm. Schizophrenia is treated with antipsychotic medications, also called major tranquilizers. Risperidone is one of these. The treatment for dissociative identity disorder is psychotherapy.

Example Question #2 : Schizophrenia And Depression

Seasonal affective disorder has been associated with an increase in activity of which of the following proteins?

Possible Answers:

Glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT4)

MTHFR

Acetylcholinesterase

Serotonin transporter (SERT)

Correct answer:

Serotonin transporter (SERT)

Explanation:

Seasonal affective disorder has been associated with an increase in "serotonin transporter," or SERT. This protein is responsible for removing serotonin from the synaptic cleft and replacing it in the presynaptic neuron; therefore, it ends serotonin's signaling in the brain. Individuals with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have been shown to have higher levels of SERT in the winter months or any condition of decreased light exposure.

Example Question #1 : Parkinson's Disease And Alzheimer's Disease

Which of the following is most closely linked to Parkinson's Disease?

Possible Answers:

Progressive memory loss

All of these are characteristic of Parkinson's Disease

Reduced presence of beta-amyloid proteins

Deterioration of cholinergic neurons in the substantia nigra region

Deterioration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra region

Correct answer:

Deterioration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra region

Explanation:

Parkinson's is a degenerative neuromuscular disease, often associated with muscular tremors and shaking. In later stages, the neurological symptoms become more evident. While the exact cause of Parkinson's Disease is unknown (it is still considered idiopathic), there are correlations that suggest the cause is linked to the death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra region of the midbrain. Beta-amyloid protein plaques are also associated with Parkinson's Disease, as well as Alzheimer's Disease.

Example Question #2 : Parkinson's Disease And Alzheimer's Disease

Treatment for Alzheimer's disease involves the use of cholinergic drugs that are aimed at __________.

Possible Answers:

improving memory

curing the disease

preventing sleep disturbances 

orienting patents to reality

improving muscular coordination

Correct answer:

improving memory

Explanation:

Cholinergic drugs used for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease are used to improve memory rather than to cure the disease. These drugs can slow the decline in cognitive function.  Patients in the early stages of the disease can benefit from reality orientation, which involves the repetition of verbal and nonverbal information to remind the person of names, dates, and other pertinent information. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive degenerative cognitive disorder. Although motor capabilities are assessed, the disease primarily involves loss of cognition, not motor function. If a patient is experiencing sleep disturbances, sleeping during daytime hours is discouraged.

Example Question #3 : Parkinson's Disease And Alzheimer's Disease

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of which system?

Possible Answers:

Digestive system

Pulmonary system

Vascular system 

Nervous system

Antibacterial system

Correct answer:

Nervous system

Explanation:

The correct asnwer is the nervous system; this is what causes the tremors commonly associated with Parkinson's disease. 

Example Question #4 : Parkinson's Disease And Alzheimer's Disease

Which of the following proteins become "tangled" in Alzheimer's disease patients?

Possible Answers:

C-reactive proteins

Lewy bodies

Prion proteins (PrP)

Tau proteins

Correct answer:

Tau proteins

Explanation:

"Tau proteins," proteins that aid in the cellular transport system of neurons, often become tangled in the brains of Alzheimer's disease, resulting in loss of cellular nutrient and waste transport and eventual cell death.

The other choices are incorrect. "Prion proteins" are found in various prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. "Lewy bodies" are symptomatic of Parkinson's disease, while "C-reactive proteins" are elevated in any condition associated with inflammation.

Example Question #1 : Biology And Treatment Of Other Disorders

If a patient were diagnosed with claustrophobia, then which area of their brain would show increased activity in an MRI study?

Possible Answers:

Wernicke's area

Occipital lobe

Amygdala

Parietal lobe

Hypothalamus

Correct answer:

Amygdala

Explanation:

The amygdala, along with the insular cortex and the limbic system, demonstrates hyperactivity when a person experiences high levels of fear and/or anxiety, and would show hyperactivity in a patient with an anxiety disorder.

On the other hand, the other choices are incorrect. For example, Wernicke's area is associated with comprehension of spoken language, while the occipital lobe is associated with visual perception. Last, the parietal lobe helps integrate various forms of sensory input with each other to create an understanding of the world.

Example Question #2 : Biology And Treatment Of Other Disorders

A study done recently showed that several management approaches, in addition to behavioral therapy interventions, may be necessary in preschool-aged children with moderate to severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That is, medication and some alternative therapies may be needed for preschool-aged children with ADHD who do not respond or do not follow behavior therapy. The researchers evaluated disruptive behavior in 74 children four to five years of age who were followed for 24 months. The children were randomized to either behavior therapy plus placebo or behavior therapy plus methylphenidate, and ADHD-related behaviors were compared. Parents reported ADHD symptoms observed at 6, 12, and 24 months. The researchers also noted several signs and symptoms of adverse effects that may have been due to the medication, such as insomnia, anorexia, irritability, and reduced growth and weight gain. The researchers found the children who received behavior therapy plus methylphenidate had significant reductions in ADHD symptoms at all time points compared to children who received behavior therapy plus placebo. 

Severity of ADHD was taken into account by presence of symptoms of marked impairment in social functioning. The researchers eliminated the possible role of delays in social development not specific to ADHD by analyzing children whose symptoms of social functioning impairment clearly resulted from inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Specifically, inattention was identified as the child wandering off task that was not due to lack of understanding or disobedience; hyperactivity was identified as excessive talking or fidgeting when not appropriate; and impulsivity was identified as hasty actions without forethought by the child and with significant potential to harm the child. Symptoms affecting the relationship and mental health of the child’s parents were also treated as reflective of severity of ADHD. For example, parents who experienced majorly reduced psychological well-being as a result of their child’s behavior reflected severe ADHD, and from the results, parents of children with severe ADHD who received behavior therapy plus methylphenidate reported a significant reduction in feeling unable to handle stress because of child’s behavior.

One of the researchers also found that use of some alternative therapies may be supported when combined with behavior therapy. In particular, there were decreases in hyperactive behaviors in children who were placed on additive-free diets. This finding may be of particular significance because eliminating artificial food additives may be done without risk of safety and avoids the potential adverse effects of medication.

Which conclusion is best supported by the findings in the study?

Possible Answers:

Methylphenidate shows an early response when added to behavior therapy

Behavior therapy does not improve disruptive behavior in children with moderate to severe ADHD

Severe ADHD might be labeled inappropriately because parents need support to cope with child's behavior

Avoiding additives and sugar in diet may show an immediate response in some children with severe ADHD

If avoiding sugar increases impulsive behavior, sugar should be added to diet to increase forethought by the child

Correct answer:

Methylphenidate shows an early response when added to behavior therapy

Explanation:

Methylphenidate shows an early response when added to behavior therapy is the correct answer. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The history must reveal that symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsivity are present in more than one setting, as symptoms may be absent when the patient is interacting in the clinician's office. Evidence-based behavior therapy should be prescribed as the first line of therapy for preschool-aged children, and stimulant medications may be prescribed for the preschooler with severe ADHD or inadequate response to behavior therapy.

Example Question #3 : Biology And Treatment Of Other Disorders

A study done recently showed that several management approaches, in addition to behavioral therapy interventions, may be necessary in preschool-aged children with moderate to severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That is, medication and some alternative therapies may be needed for preschool-aged children with ADHD who do not respond or do not follow behavior therapy. The researchers evaluated disruptive behavior in 74 children four to five years of age who were followed for 24 months. The children were randomized to either behavior therapy plus placebo or behavior therapy plus methylphenidate, and ADHD-related behaviors were compared. Parents reported ADHD symptoms observed at 6, 12, and 24 months. The researchers also noted several signs and symptoms of adverse effects that may have been due to the medication, such as insomnia, anorexia, irritability, and reduced growth and weight gain. The researchers found the children who received behavior therapy plus methylphenidate had significant reductions in ADHD symptoms at all time points compared to children who received behavior therapy plus placebo.

Severity of ADHD was taken into account by presence of symptoms of marked impairment in social functioning. The researchers eliminated the possible role of delays in social development not specific to ADHD by analyzing children whose symptoms of social functioning impairment clearly resulted from inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Specifically, inattention was identified as the child wandering off task that was not due to lack of understanding or disobedience; hyperactivity was identified as excessive talking or fidgeting when not appropriate; and impulsivity was identified as hasty actions without forethought by the child and with significant potential to harm the child. Symptoms affecting the relationship and mental health of the child’s parents were also treated as reflective of severity of ADHD. For example, parents who experienced majorly reduced psychological well-being as a result of their child’s behavior reflected severe ADHD, and from the results, parents of children with severe ADHD who received behavior therapy plus methylphenidate reported a significant reduction in feeling unable to handle stress because of child’s behavior.

One of the researchers also found that use of some alternative therapies may be supported when combined with behavior therapy. In particular, there were decreases in hyperactive behaviors in children who were placed on additive-free diets. This finding may be of particular significance because eliminating artificial food additives may be done without risk of safety and avoids the potential adverse effects of medication.

Which of the following is not a reasonable recommendation to provide for the management of moderate to severe ADHD?

Possible Answers:

Behavior therapy may provide improvement in symptoms in moderate to severe ADHD

Methylphenidate may be prescribed if behavior therapy does not provide improvement in ADHD symptoms

If hyperactive behavior is noted to be associated with artificial food additives in diet, children with ADHD symptoms may be placed on additive-free diet

ADHD symptoms may be associated with artificial food additives in diet, so behavior therapy may be avoided by adhering to additive-free diet

The pediatrician may need to discontinue methylphenidate in patients with severe ADHD due to adverse effects

Correct answer:

ADHD symptoms may be associated with artificial food additives in diet, so behavior therapy may be avoided by adhering to additive-free diet

Explanation:

ADHD symptoms may be associated with artificial food additives in diet, so behavior therapy may be avoided by adhering to additive-free diet is the correct answer. Behavior therapy should be prescribed for all preschool-aged children as treatment for ADHD. Stimulant medications may be prescribed for moderate to severe ADHD and when behavior therapy fails to provide improvement in ADHD symptoms.

All MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences Resources

133 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
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