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78 Cards in this Set

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absolute threshold
the minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50 percent of the time.
accommodation
adapting one’s current understandings (schemas) to incorporate new information.
accommodation
the process by which the eye’s lens changes shape to focus near or far objects on the retina.
acetylcholine (ACh)
a neurotransmitter that enables learning and memory and also triggers muscle contraction.
achievement motivation
a desire for significant accomplishment: for mastery of things, people, or ideas: for attaining a high standard.
achievement test
a test designed to assess what a person has learned.
acoustic encoding
the encoding of sound, especially the sound of words.
acquisition
the initial stage in classical conditioning; the phase associating a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus so that the neutral stimulus comes to elicit a conditioned response. In operant conditioning, the strengthening of a reinforced response.
action potential
a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon. The action potential is generated by the movement of positively charged atoms in and out of channels in the axon’s membrane.
active listening
empathic listening in which the listener echoes, restates, and clarifies. A feature of Rogers’ client­-centered therapy.
acuity
the sharpness of vision.
adaptation­-level phenomenon
our tendency to form judgments (of sounds, of lights, of income) relative to a neutral level defined by our prior experience.
addiction
compulsive drug craving and use.
adolescence
the transition period from childhood to adulthood, extending from puberty to independence.
adrenal glands
a pair of endocrine glands just above the kidneys. The adrenals secrete the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and nor-epinephrine (nor-adrenaline), which help to arouse the body in times of stress.
aerobic exercise
sustained exercise that increases heart and lung fitness; may also alleviate depression and anxiety.
aggression
any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy.
algorithm
a methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem. Contrasts with the usually speedier—but also more error­-prone—use of heuristics.
alpha waves
the relatively slow brain waves of a relaxed, awake state.
altruism
unselfish regard for the welfare of others.
Alzheimer’s disease
a progressive and irreversible brain disorder characterized by gradual deterioration of memory, reasoning, language, and, finally, physical functioning.
amnesia
the loss of memory.
amphetamines
drugs that stimulate neural activity, causing speeded­-up body functions and associated energy and mood changes.
amygdala [uh­-MIG-duh­-la]-
two lima bean sized neural clusters that are components of the limbic system and are linked to emotion.
anorexia nervosa
an eating disorder in which a normal­-weight person (usually an adolescent female) diets and becomes significantly (15 percent or more) underweight, yet, still feeling fat, continues to starve.
antisocial personality disorder
a personality disorder is one in which the person (usually a man) exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing, even toward friends and family members. May be aggressive and ruthless or a clever con artist.
anxiety disorders
psychological disorders characterized by distressing, persistent anxiety or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety.
aphasia
impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage either to Broca’s area (impairing speaking) or to Wernicke’s area (impairing understanding).
applied research
scientific study that aims to solve practical problems.
aptitude test
a test designed to predict a person’s future performance; aptitude is the capacity to learn.
assimilation
interpreting one’s new experience in terms of one’s existing schemas.
association areas
areas of the cerebral cortex that are not involved in primary motor or sensory functions; rather, they are involved in higher mental functions such as learning, remembering, thinking, and speaking.
associative learning
learning that certain events occur together. The events may be two stimuli (as in classical conditioning) or a response and its consequences (as in operant conditioning).
attachment
an emotional tie with another person; shown in young children by their seeking closeness to the caregiver and showing distress on separation.
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
a psychological disorder marked by the appearance by age 7 of one or more of three key symptoms: extreme inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
attitude
feelings, often based on our beliefs, which predispose us to respond in a particular way to objects, people, and events.
attribution theory
suggests how we explain someone’s behavior—by crediting either the situation or the person’s disposition.
audition
the sense or act of hearing.
autism
a disorder that appears in childhood and is marked by deficient communication, social interaction, and understanding of others’ states of mind.
automatic processing
unconscious encoding of incidental information, such as space, time, and frequency, and of well­-learned information, such as word meanings.
autonomic [aw­-tuh­-NAHM-ik] nervous system
the part of the peripheral nervous system, which controls the glands, and the muscles of the internal organs (such as the heart). Its sympathetic division arouses; its parasympathetic division calms.
availability heuristic
estimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory; if instances come readily to mind (perhaps because of their vividness), we presume such events are common.
aversive conditioning
a type of counterconditioning that associates an unpleasant state (such as nausea) with an unwanted behavior (such as drinking alcohol).
axon
the extension of a neuron, ending in branching terminal fibers, through which messages pass to other neurons or to muscles or glands.
babbling stage
at about 4 months, the stage of speech development in which the infant spontaneously utters various sounds at first unrelated to the household language.
barbiturates
drugs that depress the activity of the central nervous system, reducing anxiety but impairing memory and judgment.
basal metabolic rate
the body’s resting rate of energy expenditure.
basic research
pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base.
basic trust
according to Erik Erikson, a sense that the world is predictable and trustworthy; said to be formed during infancy by appropriate experiences with responsive caregivers.
behavior genetics
the study of the relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behavior.
behavior therapy
therapy that applies learning principles to the elimination of unwanted behaviors.
behavioral medicine
an interdisciplinary field that integrates behavioral and medical knowledge and applies that knowledge to health and ­ disease.
behaviorism
the view that psychology (1) should be an objective science that (2) studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most research psychologists today agree with (1) but not with (2).
belief bias
belief bias the tendency for one’s preexisting beliefs to distort logical reasoning, sometimes by making invalid conclusions seem valid, or valid conclusions seem invalid.
belief perseverance
clinging to one’s initial conceptions after the basis on which they were formed has been discredited.
binocular cues
depth cues, such as retinal disparity and convergence, that depend on the use of two eyes.
biofeedback
a system for electronically recording, amplifying, and feeding back information regarding a subtle physiological state, such as blood pressure or muscle tension.
biological psychology
a branch of psychology concerned with the links between biology and behavior. (Some biological psychologists call themselves behavioral neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, behavior geneticists, physiological psychologists, or biopsychologists.)
biological rhythms
periodic physiological fluctuations.
biomedical therapy
prescribed medications or medical procedures that act directly on the patient’s nervous system.
biopsychosocial approach
an integrated perspective that incorporates biological, psychological, and social-cultural levels of analysis.
bipolar disorder
a mood disorder in which the person alternates between the hopelessness and lethargy of depression and the overexcited state of mania. (Formerly called manic­-depressive disorder.)
blind spot
the point at which the optic nerve leaves the eye, creating a “blind” spot because no receptor cells are located there.
bottom­-­up processing
analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works up to the brain’s integration of sensory information.
brainstem
the oldest part and central core of the brain, beginning where the spinal cord swells as it enters the skull; the brainstem is responsible for automatic survival functions.
Broca’s area
controls language expression—an area of the frontal lobe, usually in the left hemisphere, that directs the muscle movements involved in speech.
bulimia nervosa
an eating disorder characterized by episodes of overeating, usually of high­-calorie foods, followed by vomiting, laxative use, fasting, or excessive exercise.
bystander effect
the tendency for any given bystander to be less likely to give aid if other bystanders are present.
Cannon­-Bard
theory the theory that an emotion­-arousing stimulus simultaneously triggers (1) physiological responses and (2) the subjective experience of emotion.
case study
an observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles.
catharsis
emotional release. In psychology, the catharsis hypothesis maintains that “releasing” aggressive energy (through action or fantasy) relieves aggressive urges.
central nervous system (CNS)
the brain and spinal cord.
cerebellum [sehr­-uh­-BELL-um]
the “little brain” attached to the rear of the brainstem; its functions include processing sensory input and coordinating movement output and balance.
cerebral [seh­-REE-bruhl] cortex
the intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells that covers the cerebral hemispheres; the body’s ultimate control and information­-processing center
chromosomes
threadlike structures made of DNA molecules that contain the genes.
chunking
organizing items into familiar, manageable units; often occurs automatically.
circadian [ser­-KAY-dee­-an] rhythm
the biological clock; regular bodily rhythms (for example, of temperature and wakefulness) that occur on a 24-hour cycle.
classical conditioning
a type of learning in which an organism comes to associate stimuli. A neutral stimulus that signals an unconditioned stimulus (US) begins to produce a response that anticipates and prepares for the unconditioned stimulus. Also called Pavlovian or respondent conditioning.