MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Stress and Emotion

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Example Question #1 : Stress And Emotion

Which chemical is responsible for the initiation of the stress response?

Possible Answers:

Dopamine

Antidiuretic hormone

Glucose

Cortisol

Epinephrine

Correct answer:

Epinephrine

Explanation:

Epinephrine raises blood pressure and increases glucose production from stored glycogen in response to stress. When glucose is exhausted, the adrenal gland increases its output of cortisol to stimulate glucose synthesis. Dopamine works in the brain to influence bodily movements. Antidiuretic hormone decreases urine output.

Example Question #2 : Stress And Emotion

People who experience chronic stress exhibit a decrease in which of the following physiological responses?

Possible Answers:

Blood pressure

Immune response

Pain

Conversion of glucose to glycogen

Fatigue

Correct answer:

Immune response

Explanation:

Prolonged stress results in the failure of the immune system when there is not enough energy for it to function. Physical illness takes over. When the body first reacts to stress, catecholamines raise the blood pressure and increase glucose production from stored glycogen. When stress persists, glucose is exhausted and the body looks to alternative fuels to provide energy. The effects of catecholamines, which initiate the stress response, eventually cause headache and back and neck pain. 

Example Question #3 : Stress And Emotion

Excerpt from "The Chicago Employment Agency and the Immigrant Worker," Grace Abbott, American Journal of Sociology 1908 14:3289-305 

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, immigrants poured into the United States without knowledge of English or American customs. They were also usually unaware of the local cost of living or typical wage. These immigrants turned to employment agencies that would help them find work, for a fee. The extreme dependence of immigrants on the employment agencies coupled with their general ignorance of the American system brought about an ethical dilemma for the employment agent in which it became very easy to take advantage of people seeking a job. This resulted in an extreme prejudice directed at immigrants by the American employment system. A study was conducted in the early 1900s gauged the degree of corruption among employment agents and the results of this study have been provided (see Tables 1, 2, and 3)

Table 1

Table1

Table 2

Table2

Table 3

 Table3

Unemployment and underemployment can be major causes for stress. Which of the following physiological responses would be expected for someone in a stressful situation?

I.   Increase in cortisol levels

II.  Decrease in cortisol levels

III. Increase in thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)

IV.  Decrease in TSH 

Possible Answers:

II and III

I and IV

I only

I and III

Correct answer:

I and IV

Explanation:

Cortisol is released in response to stress hormones such as ACTH. These stress hormones also suppress the release of thyroid stimulating hormone, which decreases thyroid activity. So during a stressful situation, ACTH levels increase, which leads to an increase in cortisol levels and a decrease in TSH

Example Question #4 : Stress And Emotion

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

Possible Answers:

Cortisol

Insulin

Glucagon

Gastrin

Epinephrine

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 #5 : Stress And Emotion

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

Possible Answers:

Gluten

Glycol

Glucagon

Glycoside

Glycogen

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 #6 : Stress And Emotion

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:

Cannon-Bard theory

Two-factor theory

James Lange theory

Appraisal 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. 

Example Question #7 : Stress And Emotion

Exercise, music, and laughter and methods to use to cope with __________.

Possible Answers:

stress

Celiac disease

peptic ulcers

migraines

asthma

Correct answer:

stress

Explanation:

Stress can be relieved by a variety of techniques, including exercise, listening to music, and watching a funny movie. Asthma is controlled by avoiding triggers such as smoke, perfumes, and dust.  Exercise can be an asthma trigger. Peptic ulcers are caused by the bacterium heliobacter pylori and can be treated with antibiotics. Migraines are generally treated with drug therapy. Celiac disease is caused by a sensitivity to the protein gluten that is found in grains. A gluten-free diet can relieve symptoms.

Example Question #8 : Stress And Emotion

Stress management is vitally critical because the long-term effects of stress could cause __________.

Possible Answers:

overwhelming infection

osteoporosis

hypertension

electrolyte imbalance

cerebral vascular accidents

Correct answer:

overwhelming infection

Explanation:

If stress is allowed to persist, exhaustion occurs when the stores of glycogen are diminished. The immune system cannot find the energy to continue functioning. This is when deep physical illness takes over. Body muscle wastes away, and heart and kidney failure or ovewhelming infection are the end results. A cerebral vascular accident, also called a stroke, occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is suddenly interrupted. Risk factors for stroke include atherosclerosis and embolism. Elecrolyte imbalances can be the result of vomiting and diarrhea. Hypertension can be caused by alcohol consumption, obesity, drug use, and pregnancy. 

Example Question #9 : Stress And Emotion

US-born African-American women are more likely than African-born women to have a low-birth weight baby, which is a risk factor for infant mortality.

This statement is evidence of what phenomenon? 

Possible Answers:

Increasingly, it is believed that the stress of racism on African-American women may affect birth outcomes. 

Low birth-weight is a risk factor for infant mortality.

Healthcare in Africa is becoming safer every day. 

Hispanic women have better birth outcomes than African-American women.

Women with African roots are better off having babies in Africa.

Correct answer:

Increasingly, it is believed that the stress of racism on African-American women may affect birth outcomes. 

Explanation:

The correct answer is that the stress of racism on African-American women may affect birth outcomes. This is an important finding in the body of work of health equity and social determinants of health. It is not necessarily the case that health outcomes are improving in Africa, and the text does not indicate this. Women who have been exposed to a lifetime of racism in the US will not likely have better birth outcomes by traveling to Africa to deliver. The text also does not indicate that birthing in Africa is safer in the U.S. Yes, low birth weight is a risk factor for infant mortality, but this is simply repeating the text, and thus it is not an appropriate answer. Finally, it is true that Hispanic women, on average, have better birth outcomes than African-American women, but this is tangential and would be part of the evidence, not the theory.

Example Question #10 : Stress And Emotion

Which of the following best represents the James-Lange theory of emotion?

Possible Answers:

An external stimulus engages the thalamus, which results in simultaneous physiological arousal and emotional sensation

Physiological arousal will result in different emotional sensations depending on available environmental cues

An external stimulus causes physiological arousal, which causes emotional sensation

The purpose of emotional sensation adapted as a learning mechanism

An external stimulus will be carried to the brain through afferent neurons, processed in the thalamus, and a response will be sent via efferent neurons

Correct answer:

An external stimulus causes physiological arousal, which causes emotional sensation

Explanation:

Three of these answer choices represent key theories on the ways that emotional sensation is processed and perceived.

The James-Lange theory is represented by the answer choice that states "an external stimulus causes physiological arousal, which causes emotional sensation."

The Cannon-Bard theory is represented by the answer choice that states "an external stimulus engages the thalamus, which results in simultaneous physiological arousal and emotional sensation."

The Schachter-Singer theory is represented by the answer choice that states "physiological arousal will result in different emotional sensations depending on available environmental cues."

The answer choice regarding neurons is accurate for the processing of stimuli, but is not discussed in emotional theories with the minor exception of the role of thalamic processing in the Cannon-Bard theory. The answer choice regarding the evolutionary and adaptive role of emotion is not related to any of these theories.

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