Discussion Questions

A. DNA is essential to the formation of proteins. Do you know what the steps are by which this occurs? Can environmental and experiential factors influence this process?

B. In response to stressors the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis is activated. Describe the steps involved in this, including the involvement of brain regions outside of the hypothalamus. Why is this system, especially the release of cortisol, so important for well-being?

C. In response to an immune challenge, various immune cells become activated. List three of these and describe their function. Are they all equally important in protecting us from diseases?

D. What is meant by immunological memory and which type of immune cells are involved in this process? What makes immunological memory so important for our health?

E. Define neuroplasticity, what sort of substances are involved in this capacity. Is neuroplasticity essential for human and animal development?

F. What are some of the implications of epigenetics in relation to the emergence of diseases? Can we make use of this knowledge in treating illnesses? What are the limitations regarding the use of epigenetic knowledge in a therapeutic capacity?

G. Do you find it a bit odd that we have several different types of receptors that can be stimulated by a particular neurotransmitter? Are there advantages of having multiple receptors relative to having only one receptor for each neurotransmitter?

H. Have you ever heard of the ‘Goldilocks principle’? Basically, in the health context it means that for us to maintain our well-being biological conditions must fall within certain margins, as opposed to reaching extremes (not too little, not too much). How do our biological systems operate to maintain things within narrow constraints? Think of growth factors or microbiota and consider how the Goldilocks principle applies to them in relation to psychological and physical well-being.