Case Review

Psychoactive Drugs
and Their Effects on the Brain

Please choose one of the cases to review.

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Your roommate Gretchen has had chronic pain issues since she broke her back in a car accident about a year ago. You know that she finished her prescription pain killers at least three months ago, but you’re suspicious she’s been taking something else. Quite frequently you find Gretchen passed out in her room, and when she is awake, she doesn’t seem to care about much. She stopped going to class and says her pain is way better than it was a few months ago. You got really worried last week when you found a syringe laying on the bathroom floor and then found out from your landlord that Gretchen never paid her share of the rent. What drug is Gretchen on?

 

Choose at least 4 of the following questions to discuss:

1. What drug has the individual in this case been using? What led you to believe this? 

2. What are the subjective effects of the drug (i.e., what has a person reported feeling after using the drug)?

3. What receptors, transporters, or neurotransmitters could be involved? How does the drug affect these receptors, transporters, or neurotransmitters?

4. Provide at least one relevant website concerning the drug in question.

5. Is this drug addictive? What are the consequences of continued use of this drug?

6. Putting yourself in the role of a professional counselor or biological psychologist, what advice do you have for concerned family or friends of someone using this drug?

Mini Cases in Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects on the Brain  by Darlene Mitrano


Case copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Originally
published September 2, 2011. 

Psychoactive Drugs and their Effects on the Brain

You made plans with your friend Jason to order some pizza and watch the new Transformers movie. When you arrive at Jason’s apartment you smell a distinctive odor in the hall. When you open his door, a smoky cloud lingers in the living room. Jason has invited his cousin Max over and they seem to have been smoking something. Their eyes are red, they seem extremely relaxed, and there are food and candy wrappers all over the place. Jason says that he totally forgot you were coming over, but you should stay and hang out anyway. What have Jason and Max been smoking?

 Choose at least 4 of the following questions to answer:

1. What drug has the individual in this case been using? What led you to believe this? 

2. What are the subjective effects of the drug (i.e., what has a person reported feeling after using the drug)?

 

3. What receptors, transporters, or neurotransmitters could be involved? How does the drug affect these receptors, transporters, or neurotransmitters?

4. Provide at least one relevant website concerning the drug in question.

5. Is this drug addictive? What are the consequences of continued use of this drug?

6. Putting yourself in the role of a professional counselor or biological psychologist, what advice do you have for concerned family or friends of someone using this drug?

 

Mini Cases in Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects on the Brain  by Darlene Mitrano


Case copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Originally
published September 2, 2011. 

Case Study on Split My Brain

Please click on the following link: http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/split_brain.pdf 

Please choose at least 4 of the following questions to discuss:

1. What is Rasmussen Syndrome (what are its history, symptoms, prognosis, etc.)?

2. What structures or abilities of the brain are concentrated in the areas of the left hemisphere that would be removed in the hemispherectomy?

3. Other than reducing his seizures, how else might Jerrod’s thinking or behavior be affected by losing these parts of his brain?

 

4. What types of abilities would he still retain, because the brain structures would remain intact?

 

5.  What might the family do to help Jerrod recover after such a surgery?

 

6.  If Jerrod had the surgery, would his level of functioning get better, worse, or stay the same over time?

 

7.  What other kinds of questions would you have about the surgery? Can you find the answers, i.e., provide a website, etc.?

 

8. What decision do you recommend to the family? Why or why not go ahead with surgery?

Speak Up:  Bob’s Case


Bob is a 33-year-old right-handed man who was recently found sprawled on the floor by his wife. When he woke, he was dragging his right leg, had a right facial droop, and didn’t appear to understand anything said to him. After being rushed to the ER, the doctors diagnosed a dense right hemiparesis (weakness). Doctors also noticed that while his speech was rapid and fluent, he was quite unintelligible. He showed no slurring
or stilting of his speech, and his overall articulation was fine. Bob had absolutely no trouble getting words out—the problem was that once they were out they made no sense!


During his neuropsychological assessment, his doctor asked him to repeat sentences such as “will you answer the telephone?” More often than not, he would answer the questions (“yes I will” or “no, it’s on the ground”)
rather than repeat the sentence. His spontaneous speech was filled with neologisms (made-up words) and jargon. In fact, one of his doctors commented that Bob’s speech was reminiscent of the “Jabberwocky” poem by Lewis Carroll (i.e., “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves … Did gyre and gimble in the wabe”). 

Bob was unable to comprehend written text or write coherently (his written work read much like his spoken words sounded; fluent but empty). And, to all intents and purposes, Bob seemed completely unaware of his condition.


For more information on parts of the brain that might be affected:  Go to:http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/ enter Speak Up in the Search box download the cases, then scroll down to pages 8 and 9. 

 Please discuss the following: 

 

1. What condition or conditions (there may be more than one possibility) are being described in this case? Let us know why you think this is the case, and provide one website that might justify your position.

2. What brain area or area(s) may be involved (be sure to consider which language functions are compromised too, and be specific as to which hemisphere)? How should they function normally?

3. What could be causing this dysfunction?

4. What do the patient’s symptoms tell you about his/her language abilities and how they may be impaired?

 

Speak Up! Mini cases by Antonette R. Miller

Case copyright © by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. Originally published April ,  at
http://www.sciencecases.org/mini_aphasia/mini_aphasia.asp

Selecting the Perfect Baby

Read the case at:

http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/genetic_selection.pdf
 

Answer question 10 (required), and your choice of at least 3 additional questions. 


1. How could baby Sally inherit Fanconi anemia even though neither parent suffers from it?


2. What other illnesses or developmental disabilities can be inherited in this way?


3. What are the odds that the Shannon’s second child would also have this disease?


4. What are the basic processes of IVF and PGD?


5. What risks are involved in this whole procedure?


6. How could a sibling’s blood help cure Sally?


7. How could PGD be used to create that sibling?


8. What is so unusual about the PGD proposed by the Shannons?


9. What are some ethical issues related to the use of IVF? What are some ethical issues related to
the use of PGD? What do you think about those issues?


10. What do you think the research team should do? What should the Shannons do?

 

 

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