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Jane P. Sheldon
Department of Behavioral Sciences
University of Michigan—Dearborn
Anxiety Doesn’t Work: Treatment Options for SAD

This case study tells the story of Mo, an individual with social anxiety disorder who seeks mental health treatment. The purpose of this case is not to have students diagnose the central figure, but rather to help students gain insight into one way in which social anxiety disorder may manifest in an individual, as well as to learn about and critically evaluate various treatment options. Students will explore five therapeutic approaches: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy (PDT), mindfulness-based therapy (MBT), benzodiazepines (BPs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The case takes about 75 minutes to run as a jigsaw activity, a cooperative method of learning in which students teach their peers. Depending on the level of the course and how in-depth the instructor wants students to explore the topics, this activity can be scaled for a variety of courses, ranging from introductory psychology courses to upper-level, undergraduate courses pertaining to the treatment of psychological disorders.

Brain Workouts: What Helps Cognitive Fitness?

This directed case study follows two college roommates, Darrell and Anthony, who have just returned to school after winter vacation. They share that their ageing fathers are concerned about their declining faculties and are amused by their fathers' efforts to reverse the process.  Darrell's dad plays "brain games" on the computer while Anthony's father believes running will slow his memory decline. Intrigued, the roommates search through their biopsychology class notes to find out whether their fathers are correct. They review the topics of synaptic formation and plasticity, including axonal and dendritic development, and chemical factors in the brain that promote the survival and growth of neurons or stop the genetically programmed death of neurons. Based on research findings, students reading this case will decide whether Darrell and Anthony's fathers are correct in their assertions. The case is appropriate for a wide variety of courses including introductory anatomy or physiology, or for upper-division biopsychology, biology, or neuroscience courses.

The Power of Communication 

This directed case study begins with an intentionally ambiguous story: Q suddenly realizes that it is time to relay a message to Z (another inhabitant of their home) to let Z know that it's time to produce some items and send them on to accomplices in the neighborhood.  The accomplices receive and promptly use Z's products.  They then create their own products and share them with others in the neighborhood and beyond.  The messages and products cause amazing, life-changing events, and the neighborhood is never the same again.  Upon learning that the story is a metaphor for the chain of events that occur in the brain and body during puberty, students interpret the metaphor to explain what "Q," "Z," "messages," "items," "products," and "accomplices" refer to.  A set of included questions guides students in their translation efforts, and particular emphasis is placed on identifying the similarities and differences between male and female pubertal processes. The case is appropriate for courses in biopsychology, human biology, human reproductive biology, human physiology, or developmental psychology.