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The Power of Communication

Co Authors:

Jane P. Sheldon
Department of Behavioral Sciences
University of Michigan—Dearborn

Diane R. Graves
Department of Psychology
Hood College


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.

  • Identify the major brain structures and chemicals involved in the initiation of puberty.
  • Explain the pathways and structures in the brain and body that are involved in pubertal development, including the negative feedback loops.
  • Explain the role of the endocrine system in pubertal development.
  • Explain the most recent evidence regarding pubertal onset mechanisms.
  • Compare and contrast pubertal processes in the two sexes.
  • Predict the possible outcomes caused by disruptions to the negative feedback loops involved in puberty.
Keywords: puberty; pubertal development; endocrine system; hormones; negative feedback; feedback loop; inhibin; HPG axis; FSH; hypothalamus; pituitary; testes; ovaries;
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Directed
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Physiology   Psychology  
Date Posted: 11/22/2017
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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