Disorders of the Nervous System

Problems/Case Studies

"Split My Brain: A Case Study of Seizure Disorder and Brain Function". Julia Omarzu, Loras College. State University of New York at Buffalo's National Center for Case Study Teaching.
This case study involves a couple deciding whether or not their son should undergo brain surgery to treat a severe seizure disorder. In examining this dilemma, students apply knowledge of brain anatomy and function. They also learn about brain scanning techniques and discuss the plasticity of the brain.
The case was written for an introductory psychology course, but could be adapted for any course that covers brain anatomy, neurological disorders, or rehabilitation therapies.

A Need for Needles: Acupuncture - Does it Really Work?". Sarah G. Stonefoot and Clyde F. Herreid, University at Buffalo. State University of New York at Buffalo's National Center for Case Study Teaching.
In this case students evaluate information about the use of acupuncture and consider the possibilities of alternative therapies at the same time questioning their effectiveness. To complete the case, students collect information from Internet sources and journal publications, with an emphasis on carefully evaluating the credibility of information they collect.
The case would be suitable for introductory level courses in biology and science.

Kate-Tastrophy: A Case Study in Brain Death". Rosemary Martin, Australian National University. State University of New York at Buffalo's National Center for Case Study Teaching.

In this interrupted case, students examine the concept of unconsciousness and develop an understanding of how clinicians diagnose death. Developed for a freshman course in human biology, the case focuses on brain death but raises related issues, including organ donation.
With some modifications, the case could be used in a neurobiology or psychology course, or in a philosophy or ethics course.

"A Search for the Right Answer: Fetal Tissue Research and Parkinson's Disease" Anne Fourtner, Charles Fourtner, and Clyde Herreid, University at Buffalo. State University of New York at Buffalo's National Center for Case Study Teaching.
In this role-playing case study on Parkinson's disease, students learn about brain injury and brain repair mechanisms, the physical and psychological effects of a degenerative disease on a patient and her family, the ethical questions surrounding the use of fetal tissue in research programs, and the sociological implications of an aging population.
This case is appropriate for undergraduate general biology, general medicine, neuroscience, public health, and sociology courses.

"Mini Cases in Movement Disorders". Antoinette R. Miller, Clayton State University. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science.
This collection of six short cases focuses on brain areas and neurotransmitters involved in the control of movement.  Students are divided into working groups and given one or more of the case descriptions. Each scenario depicts a breakdown in the motor system that can be traced (at least in part) to some brain area or areas.  Useful for a variety of courses, including physiological psychology and neurobiology, these cases are intended to give students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained from readings and lectures to real-life situations inspired by patient cases described in the literature.
These cases are appropriate for undergraduate physiology, neuroscience, and psychology courses.

"Beat the Clock?". DE Allen.  Thinking Toward Solutions:  Problem-Based Learning Activities for General Biology.  Allen, D. E. and Duch, B. J. (1998).   New YorkSaunders College Publishing,p 107-110.
         Stage 1:  The effects of melatonin are discussed along with seasonal affective disorder.  Students investigate specific tests done in a case study of seasonal affective disorder including back of the knee illumination.  Also, the melatonin does not help one character adjust to time-zone change.  The students conjecture why and if he should use melatonin on another business trip.

CNN Video Clips

Topic: "Religion and Health": Biology 8th Ed. CNN Ed 2004 (2:09)
Andrew Newburg, of the University of Pennsylvania, is using brain-imaging techniques to study what happens to the brain during deep meditation or prayer. Comparing subjects' brains before and during these activities shows both activate the brain's frontal lobe, while dampening activity in the area that provides a sense of self. Meditation also triggers changes in the hypothalamus, which can affect heart rate, blood pressure, and release of hormones, including cortisol. Newburg says that while his studies suggest that meditation and prayer could be good for health, he would not advise patients to engage in these activities solely for the health benefits. (Student worksheet provided on CD)

Topic:  "Brain fitness":  Biology 8th Ed. CNN Ed 2004 (2:16)
Cardiovascular exercise can slow the loss of brain tissue that is associated with aging. Researchers at the University of Illinois studying the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) results of people over age 55 found a correlation between fitness level and memory loss. Certain brain areas were shown to deteriorate more slowly in people who are more fit. New York University researchers found that glucose regulation is associated with memory function. In those with poor glucose regulation, the hippocampus, which is involved in memory, tends to be reduced in size. The worksheet includes the URL for the National Institute on Aging website.

Topic:  "Treating Huntington's disease":  Genetics 1st Ed. CNN Ed 2003 (0:00)

Topic:  "Conquering depression":  Biology 7th Ed. CNN Ed 2003 (0:00)

A woman who suffered from depression describes her symptoms.  If untreated about 15 percent of those suffering from depression will kill themselves.  Treatments include antidepressant drugs and talk therapy. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) successfully treats many with severe depression, but causes amnesia.  The newest treatment involves application of strong magnetic fields to the skull.  Results are similar to those for ECT but without the amnesia.