The Brain Game


n   After Martin’s cerebrovascular accident he had difficulty understanding what others were saying to him. He could speak but what he said made little sense. Where is Martin’s brain damage?

Wernicke’s area in the left temporal lobe is critical to language comprehension.


n   Karen is blind and depends on Braille to read. A tragic head injury has made it much more difficult for her to distinguish the feel of the Braille symbols.  What part of her brain was probably damaged?

Somatosensory Cortex
(in the Parietal Lobe)


n   You’re a contestant in a Survivor game and must use a blow-dart to kill small animals to eat for dinner. The poison on the blow-dart paralysizes the animal’s muscles by interfering with the neurotransmitter than normally causes muscles to contract. Which transmitter is this?

Acetylcholine is the transmitter that triggers all muscle contractions.


n   Sat. night Mark decided to dive from his 2nd floor balcony into the pool below.  Everyone said he was too drunk & the pool was too shallow but he couldn’t be stopped. He dove, struck his head on the bottom & broke his neck. Thru the quick action of others he was rescued & survived but is paralyzed & without sensation from his shoulders down.  What was damaged?

The Spinal Cord

n   The spinal cord carries messages from the brain to the body and from the body to the brain.


n   After falling through the ice on a local pond little Johnny was trapped under the icy water for 10 minutes before the rescuers finally got him out.  They were able to resuscitate his pulse and breathing but he did not regain consciousness for days.  Disturbance of what specific part of Johnny's brain might have resulted in coma???

The Reticular Formation

n   The reticular formation is a system of neurons running thru the brainstem that arouses the upper parts of the brain.


n   Woodie has a genetically transmitted disorder called Huntington’s Disease. He experiences involuntary movements that he cannot keep from occurring. What neurotransmitter shortage is making Woodie unable to inhibit his movements?

GABA – the most important inhibitory transmitter


n   Today is Justin's birthday and he and his buddies celebrated a bit too much.  When the police stopped Justin's car Justin's speech was slurred, he couldn't walk a straight line or balance on 1 foot.  He nearly missed his face altogether when asked to touch his nose while his eyes were closed.  The impaired functioning of what part of Justin's brain is responsible for these difficulties with motor coordination & balance?

The Cerebellum

n   The cerebellum functions like a motor computer taking care of the underlying details of our movements (coordination, timing, targeting, balance). Oddly enough it is often malformed in autism as well.


n   Christina is unable to sense the position of her own body parts. A MRI scan reveals no detectable brain damage. What might be responsible for Christina’s loss of self-awareness?

Damage to sensory neurons carrying messages from muscles and joints to the CNS
Such sensory neurons are part of the somatic division of the peripheral nervous system (PNS)




n   Walking down a dark New York street late at night you suddenly feel the metal barrel of a pistol press against your head behind your ear and hear the instructions "Don't move a muscle while I slip your wallet out of your pocket". Unfortunately you do move, the gun is fired and the bullet enters the brain.  Breathing and heart beat stop almost immediately.  Where is the bullet?

The Medulla

n   The medulla, the bottom most part of the brainstem, takes care of life-sustaining reflexes like breathing and heart rate.


n   Jeanette suffers from focal epilepsy (seizures localized in just 1 part of brain).  Her seizures are trigger extreme emotions - most often extreme fear followed by a rage response.  What part of the brain is being affected?

The Amygdala

n   The amygdala is part of a larger emotion control system called the limbic system, hidden under the cortex of our right and left hemispheres. The amygdala seems to play a role in primitive emotions. Other parts of the limbic system play a role in memory.


n   Brad had an abnormal growth on the bottom of his brain which compressed and damaged his superchiasmatic nucleus (SCN). What effect is this likely to have on Brad’s functioning?

Damage to the SCN, the  “biological clock” or biorhythm center is likely to disturb Brad’s biorhythms (like his sleep/waking cycle)


n   Uncle Ed suffered a stroke which damaged a portion of his cortex.  He shows some weakness and partial paralysis of his right leg.  What area of his cortex was affected by the stroke??? (be specific)

The Motor Cortex

n   Ed’s stroke must have decreased the blood flow to the strip of motor cortex in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere.

n   This strip of cortex is related in an upside-down fashion to control of muscles. The top of the strip controls the movements of the lower body, the bottom of the strip controls movements of the head and upper body.


n   You go in for your sports physical. The doctor tests your reflexes, tapping your knees with his little hammer. What division of the nervous system is involved in such reflexes?

Spinal Cord and Somatic Nervous System


n   Jan was not obviously injured in a recent car accident but did receive a hard knock to her head.  Since that day she has noticed a dramatic decrease in her sexual libido, a lack of appetite and an absence of thirst.  She never thinks of having a drink until her lips actually dry and crack. What part of her brain might have been affected by the car accident?

The Hypothalamus

n   Just above the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus is critical for basic behaviors/motivations like hunger, thirst, & sex.


n   Brittany and Jamie consoled Karen as she had another bout of crying. A biopsychologist might propose that Karen’s mood swings and depression may be due a shortage of what neurotransmitter?


n   Grandma Mary had a stroke which impaired her ability to speak fluently although she can move all the necessary muscles.  What is the most likely location of her brain damage (be specific)?

Broca’s Area

n   The part of the language system located in the frontal lobe (left hemisphere) is most important for producing speech.



n   Leon’s car was broadsided by a semi causing Leon’s head to smash against the driver’s side window damaging his temporal lobe cortex. What ability may be affected?

Auditory Cortex

n   The part of the cortex devoted to making sense of was we hear is in the temporal lobe.  The left temporal lobe is particularly important for comprehending speech (Wernicke’s area).


n   Gwen's brain has a congenital anomaly (a difference in brain anatomy that she was born with) - it lacks the main connection between the right and left hemispheres.  What was Gwen born without?

Corpus Callosum

n   The corpus callosum is a large cable of axons connecting the corresponding parts of the right & left hemisphere.


n   Paul suffered a case of encephalitis ( a brain infection) while in college.  He received good medical attention but still the infection took its toll on certain parts of his brain.  He has been unable to store new long-term memories since his illness. What part of the brain did the encephalitis damage?


n   Part of the limbic system called the hippocampus seems essential for our ability to store memories in their permanent, long-term form.


n   You're taking a short cut thru a back yard to get to your car and encounter 2 unrestrained Dobermans who catch sight of you & begin pursuit.  You run faster than you have ever run before, & dive into your car just in the nick of time.  It takes 10 minutes for your pulse & breathing to slow down to normal.  What part of the nervous system slows heart rate and breathing down to normal afterwards?

The Parasympathetic Division

n   The parasympathetic half of the autonomic nervous system takes care of normal body maintenance functions including slow normal breathing & heart rate.


n   Margie suffered damage to part of the surface of her brain after being struck by a golf club let loose by an irate golfer that had just sliced a key drive.  As a result Margie has loss some sensory awareness of her left leg.  Where is Margie's brain damage (be specific)?

Somatosensory Cortex

n   The front strip of the right parietal lobe processes general sensory input from the left side of the body.


n   Your grandmother has begun to lose her spatial abilities - she gets lost in the neighborhood where she has spent her whole life, she can’t put dishes or clean laundry away because she no longer knows where things go in here home of 40 years.  Her doctors say she also could not arrange blocks to form a design.  What part of the brain mediates these spatial abilities?

The Right Hemisphere

n   While the left hemisphere has better developed language areas, the right hemisphere is most important for the multitude of situations where we use spatial information. The parietal lobe is particularly important for use of spatial information


n   Fumiko suffered a stroke which left her unable to recognize familiar objects by sight What is the failure to recognize faces or objects called?

Visual Agnosia


n   Where is Fumiko’s brain damage?

Association Cortex of the Parietal Lobe



n   “Little Mo” was extremely short for his age. His doctors concluded the brain was not stimulating the proper release of hormones necessary for growth. What area of brain are they probably focusing on?

The hypothalamus.

n   Insufficient growth hormone is being released.


n   Astronaut Buzz Aldrin reported seeing bright flashes of light during his mission. Scientists concluded that high energy cosmic waves must have stimulated his primary visual cortex. Where is this located?

Occipital Lobes at rear of brain


n   You’re in the Dome parking lot at 2 AM when a guy in a hockey mask holding a long-bladed knife jumps out at you.  What system of nerves would arouse your body to action? (be specific)

The Sympathetic Division

n   The sympathetic half of the autonomic nervous system in our “fight or flight” system arousing the body (HR, BP, breathing) for action when necessary.


n   Alison must avoid all crowds. She suffers from Post-traumatic stress disorder ever since her boyfriend died and she was severely crushed in the out-of-control audience at a Pearl Jam concert. Research shows that what part of the brain is exceptionally active in PTSD?

Amygdala (part of limbic system emotion control system)


n   John was having surgery to remove a brain tumor. Before removing the tumor the surgeon tested the function of regions of John’s cortex by electrically stimulating it. One one region of his cortex was stimulated John heard a lot of odd noises. What region was being stimulated?

Primary Auditory Cortex


n   Marci is a split brain patient. When her eyes are closed and an object is placed in one of her hands, she cannot name the object. Which hand is it?

Her left hand


n   When Marci is tested pictures are briefly flashed on either the right or left side of the screen in front of her. When they flash one photo on the screen Marci giggles and identifies it as Arnold Schwartzeneger and adds that she’d never seen Arnold in such a tiny Speedo bathing suit before. What side of the screen was the photo presented on?

The right side

What neurotransmitter has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease?

Acetylcholine (ACh)


n   What neurotransmitter has been linked to Parkinson’s disease & schizophrenia?

Dopamine (DA)

n   Parkinson’s Disease occurs when DA neurons die off so ther is too little DA


n   Schizophrenia is associated with an over-response to DA. Drugs for schizophrenia block the DA receptors.


n   Jeff suffered serious injuries when his car crashed but he was still able to crawl out of the car and pull his sister out as well. Name 1 of the transmitters that helped him function in this situation & tell how.

Endorphin - relieves his pain
NE - arouses body in emergencies
ACh - carries messages to muscles


n  What neurotransmitter shortage has been linked to both anxiety and to epilepsy?



n   NBC reporter John Hockenberry was heating up some Thanksgiving stuffing on top of the stove. When the contents were sizzling hot, the special handle  on the pan was still cold. John set the pan on his lap for several minutes while he stirred and served the stuffing. He never noticed the burning hot bottom of the pan producing serious 3rd degree burns of his legs.  Why?

Spinal Cord Injury

n   John has used a wheelchair since an auto accident when he was a teen. His spinal cord was transected and he is unable to perceive any sensory stimuli from the waist down.


n   Stephanie has a brain tumor.  The primary changes in her behavior are a decrease in her auditory reflexes (she doesn’t react when a car's horn startles her) and a decrease in her visual reflexes (her eyes move more slowly to new visual stimuli).  Where is her tumor probably located?

The Midbrain

n   The midbrain contains reflex centers that automatically direct eye movements and as well as orientation towards an auditory stimulus.


n    Amy was having a really  bad week.  On Mon. while she was studying her vision got blurrier & blurrier until she could no longer see at all.  On Tues.she found she couldn’t hear.  On Wed. her sense of taste went On Thurs she lost her general senses.  Her CAT scan revealed a single brain tumor was probably producing all of these deficits.  What single part of the brain is involved in all of these sensory processes?

The Thalamus

n   Just above the hypothalamus is the thalamus, the brain area that relays all sensory input except smell to the right regions of cortex.