STUDY GUIDE: EXAM 1, NEUROBIOLOGY, SPRING 2013
PROPERTIES OF NEURONS
1. Reading assignment: Can you make yourself smarter?
a. what are the two types of intelligence?
i. Jaeggi and Buschkuehl (2008) study used what training technique?
1. describe the task
2. what effect did it have on study participants?
b. what is the Flynn Effect?
2. Reading assignment: Can you build a better brain?
a. what are some ways in which increased neuroplasticity can enhance cognition?
b. describe the effect that nicotine has on cognitive function
c. dopamine and cortisol effects on cognitive function:
i. which drugs increase brain dopamine levels?
ii. while memory has be been shown to be affected by raising dopamine levels, what other
types of cognitive abilities have not?
iii. what causes brain cortisol levels to increase?
iv. by what mechanism can high cortisol levels affect cognitive function?
d. training can increase some cognitive functions. what is the specific effect of:
ii. aerobic exercise?
iii. video games?
3. What types of cells make up the human brain? (read glial cell pdf called “the hidden brain”)
a. what are their separate functions?
i. glial cells- how do they aid with both electrical and chemical signaling of neurons?
1. what is the function/location of oligodendrocytes, Schwann cells, astrocytes,
2. which contribute to myelination, blood brain barrier, extracellular ionic
regulation, scavengers in response to brain injury?
3. how does glial cell malfunction contribute to psychiatric illness?
a. consider the examples of glial malfunction in Alzheimer’s disease,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, depression and epilepsy
ii. neurons- describe Ramon y Cajal’s major contributions (neuron doctrine, law of
1. what experimental technique led to Cajal’s ideas? what more modern evidence
supports his ideas (NYT slideshow)?
2. different types of synapses- why are more axosomatic connections inhibitory?
4. What are the differences between passive and active electrical signals?
a. differentiate action potentials, postsynaptic potentials, receptor potentials
i. how are they graded responses to the stimulus strength?
ii. concept of threshold- why do we consider membrane depolarization as making neurons
iii. differentiate afferent versus efferent fibers, spatial versus temporal summation of
receptor potentials 5. Neurons are diverse in structure and function
a. what roles does the cytoskeleton play?
b. how do properties of the plasma membrane contribute to neuronal signaling?
i. explain the function of a capacitor
ii. why are membrane proteins required?
iii. why can’t ions passively pass through the plasma membrane? (2 reasons)
c. membrane proteins provide transport across the plasma membrane
i. how are proteins made?
ii. how do they differ in energy requirements, gating?
IONIC BASIS OF THE RESTING MEMBRANE POTENTIAL (go over answer key for resting potential
problems) what 3 things are essential for all information processing within the central nervous system?
6. Ion concentration differences across the membrane
a. how are they maintained?
b. how do they contribute to an electrical gradient?
i. how does that result in a membrane potential?
c. selective permeability of the membrane at rest
i. how does this influence the resting membrane potential?
1. consider the effect of changing the selective permeability for different ions
(either sodium or potassium) at rest (directly related to problem set)
a. how would this affect the membrane potential?
b. how does this effect on the membrane potential relate to the equilibrium
potential for that ion?
c. how could this affect the generation of action potentials?
d. how does “driving force” account for the difference in magnitude?
2. reverse scenario- what different ion permeability changes would lead to
7. Resting potential equations (V= Q/C; what does this mean?) you are responsible for knowing formulas
a. Describe Ohm’s law in terms of a biological system
i. the concept of driving force
ii. when is the membrane considered “at rest”?
b. Nernst equation- describe the net flow of an ion at its equilibrium potential
i. understand how the Nernst equation is a “mathematical equation predicting the voltage
needed to counterbalance the diffusion force pushing an ion across a semipermeable
membrane from the side with a high concentration to the side with a low concentration"
ii. when is the equilibrium potential considered the reversal potential?
1. what happens to the direction of current flow when you are more depolarized or
hyperpolarized from the reversal potential?
2. be certain you can recognize when a current reverses direction if given voltage-