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99 Cards in this Set

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Neuron
A cell that receives signals from other neurons or sense organs, processes these signals, and sends the signals to other neurons, muscles, or organs; the basic unit of the nervous system.
Sensory Neuron
A neuron that responds to input from sense organs.
Motor Neuron
A neuron that sends signals to muscles to control movement.
Interneuron
A neuron that is connected to other neurons, not to sense organs or muscles.
Brain Circuit
A set of neurons that affect one another.
Cell Body
The central part of a neuron (or other cell), which contains the nucleus.
Cell Membrane
The skin of a cell
Axon
The sending end of the neuron; the long cable-like structure extending from the cell body.
Terminal Button
A structure at the end of a branch of an axon that, when the neuron is triggered, releases chemicals into the space between neurons.
Dendrite
The treelike part of a neuron that receives messages from the axons of other neurons.
Resting Potential
The negative charge within a neuron when it is at rest.
Ion
An atom that has a positive or negative charge.
Action Potential
The shifting change in charge that moves down the axon.
All-Or-None Law
States that if the neuron is sufficiently stimulated, it fires, sending the action potential all the way down the axon and releasing chemicals from the terminal buttons; either the action potential occurs or it doesn’t.
Myelin
A fatty substance that helps impulses travel down the axon more efficiently.
Synapse
The place where an axon of one neuron can send signals to the membrane (on a dendrite or cell body) of another neuron.
Synaptic Cleft
The gap between the axon of one neuron and the membrane of another, across which communication occurs.
Neurotransmitter
A chemical that carries a signal from the terminal button on one neuron to the dendrite or cell body of another.
Neuromodulator
A chemical that alters the effect of a neurotransmitter.
Endogenous Cannabinoids
Neuromodulators released by the receiving neuron that then influence the activity of the sending neuron.
Receptor
A site on a dendrite or cell body where a messenger molecule attaches itself; like a lock that is opened by one key, a receptor receives only one type of neurotransmitter or neuromodulator.
Reuptake
The process by which surplus neurotransmitter is reabsorbed back into the sending neuron so that the neuron can effectively fire again.
Agonist
A chemical that mimics the effects of a neurotransmitter by activating a type of receptor.
Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)
A chemical that blocks the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Antagonist
A chemical that interferes with the effect of a neurotransmitter (often by blocking a receptor).
Glial Cell
A type of cell that surrounds neurons, influences the communication amoung neurons, and generally helps in the “care and feeding” of neurons.
Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)
The autonomic nervous system and the sensory-somatic nervous system.
Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
Controls the smooth muscles in the body, some glandular functions, and many of the body’s self-regulating activities, such as digestion and circulation.
Sympathetic Nervous System
Part of the ANS that readies an animal to fight or to flee by speeding up the heart, increasing breathing rate to deliver more oxygen, dilating the pupils, producing sweat, decreasing salivation, inhibiting activity in the stomach, and relaxing the bladder.
Parasympathetic Nervous System
Part of the ANS that is “next to” the sympathetic system and that tends to counteract its effects.
Sensory-Somatic Nervous System (SSNS)
Part of the PNS that consists of neurons in the sensory organs (such as the eyes and ears) that convey information to the brain, as well as neurons that actually trigger muscles and glands.
Skeletal System
Consists of nerves that are attached to striated muscles.
Spinal Cord
The flexible rope of nerves that runs inside the backbone, or spinal column.
Central Nervous System (CNS)
The spinal cord and the brain.
Reflex
An automatic response to an event.
Meninges
Membranes that cover the brain.
Cerebral Hemisphere
A left or right half brain, shaped roughly like half a sphere.
Lobes
The four major parts of each cerebral hemisphere—occipital, temporal, parietal, and frontal.
Corpus Callosum
The large band of nerve fibers that connects the two halves of the brain.
Cerebral Cortex
The convoluted pinkish-gray outer layer of the brain, where most mental processes take place.
Sulcus
A crease in the cerebral cortex.
Gyrus
A bulge between sulci in the cerebral cortex.
Subcortical Structures
Parts of the brain located under the cerebral cortex and beneath the ventricles.
Occipital Lobe
The brain lobe at the back of the head; concerned entirely with different aspects of vision.
Temporal Lobe
The brain lobe under the temples, in front of the ears, where sideburns begin to grow down; among its many functions are visual memory and hearing.
Parietal Lobe
The brain lobe across the top part of the brain behind the ears, which is involved in registering spatial location, attention, and motor control.
Somatosensory Strip
The brain area, located immediately behind the central sulcus, that registers sensation on the body and is organized by body part.
Frontal Lobe
The brain lobe located behind the forehead; the seat of planning, memory search, motor control, and reasoning, as well as numerous other functions.
Motor Strip
The brain area, located immediately in front of the central sulcus, that controls fine movements and is organized by body part; also called primary motor cortex.
Split-Brain Patient
A person whose corpus callosum has been severed for medical reasons, so that neuronal impulses no longer pass from one hemisphere to the other.
Forebrain
The cortex, thalamus, limbic system, and basal ganglia.
Thalamus
A subcortical structure that receives inputs from sensory and motor systems and plays a crucial role in attention; often thought of as a switching center.
Hypothalamus
A brain structure that sits under the thalamus and plays a central role in controlling eating and drinking and in regulating the body’s temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Hippocampus
A subcortical structure that plays a key role in allowing new information to be stored in the brain’s memory banks.
Amygdala
A subcortical structure that plays a special role in fear and is involved in other sorts of emotions, such as anger.
Limbic System
A set of brain areas, including the hippocampus, amygdale, and other areas, that have long been thought of as being involved in fighting, fleeing, feeding, and sex.
Basal Ganglia
Subcortical structures that play a role in planning and producing movement.
Brainstem
The set of neural structures at the base of the brain, including the medulla and pons.
Medulla
The lowest part of the lower brainstem, which plays a central role in automatic control of breathing, swallowing, and blood circulation.
Reticular Formation
A collection of small structures in the brainstem, organized into two main parts: the “ascending” part plays a key role in keeping a person awake and alert; the “descending” part is important in producing autonomic nervous system reactions.
Hormone
A chemical that is produced by a gland and can act as a neuromodulator.
Neuroendocrine System
The system, regulated by the CNS, that makes hormones that affect many bodily functions and that also provides the CNS with information.
Testosterone
The hormone that causes males to develop facial hair and other sex characteristics and to build up muscle volume.
Estrogen
The hormone that causes breasts to develop and is involved in the menstrual cycle.
Cortisol
A hormone produced by the outer layer of the adrenal glands that helps with body cope with the extra energy demands of stress by breaking down and converting protein and fat to sugar.
Pituitary Gland
The “master gland” that regulates other glands but is itself controlled by the brain, primarily via connections from the hypothalamus.
Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis
The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, which work together to fight off infection.
Lesion
A region of impaired tissue.
Stroke
A source of brain damage that occurs when blood (with its life-giving nutrients and oxygen) fails to reach part of the brain, causing neurons in that area to die.
Electroencephalograph
A machine that records electrical current produced by the brain.
Electroencephalogram (EEG)
A recording from the scalp of electrical activity in the brain over time, which produces a tracing of pulses at different frequencies.
Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
A technique for assessing brain activity that relies on recording magnetic waves from outside of the head.
Microelectrode
A tiny probe inserted into the brain to record the electrical activity of individual neurons.
Neuroimaging
Brain-scanning techniques that produce a picture of the structure or functioning of neurons.
Computer-Assisted Tomography (CT, formerly CAT)
A neuroimaging technique that produces a three-dimensional image of brain structures using X rays.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A technique that uses magnetic properties of atoms to take sharp pictures of the structures of the brain.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
A neuroimaging technique that uses small amounts of a radioactive substance to track blood flow or energy consumption in the brain.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
A type of MRI that usually detects the amount of oxygen being brought to a particular place in the brain while a task is being performed.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
A technique in which the brain is stimulated from outside by putting a wire coil on a person’s head and delivering a magnetic pulse. The magnetic fields are so strong that they make neurons under the coil fire.
Mendelian Inheritance
The transmission of characteristics by individual elements of inheritance (genes), each acting separately.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)
A molecule that contains genes.
Gene
A stretch of DNA that produces a specific protein.
Genotype
The genetic code within an organism.
Phenotype
The observable structure and behavior of an organism.
Complex Inheritance
The joint action of combinations of genes working together.
Pruning
A process whereby certain connections among neurons are eliminated.
Plasticity
The brain’s ability to be molded by experience.
Passive Interaction
Occurs when genetically shaped tendencies of parents or siblings produce an environment that is passively received by the child.
Evocative (Or Reactive) Interaction
Occurs when genetically influenced characteristics draw out behaviors from other people.
Active Interaction
Occurs when people choose, partly based on genetic tendencies, to put themselves in specific situations and to avoid others.
Behavioral Genetics
The field in which researchers attempt to determine the extent to which the differences among people are due to their genes or to the environment.
Heritability
The degree to which variability in a characteristic is due to genetics.
Twin Study
A study that compares identical and fraternal twins to determine the relative contribution of genes to variability in a trait or characteristic.
Monozygotic
From the same egg and having identical genes.
Dizygotic
From different eggs and sharing only as many genes as any pair of brothers or sisters—on average, half.
Adoption Study
A study in which characteristics of children adopted at birth are compared to those of their adoptive parents or siblings versus their biological parents or siblings (often twins). These studies often focus on comparisons of twins who were raised in the same household and twins raised in different households.
Evolution
Gene-based changes in the characteristics of members of a species over successive generations.
Natural Selection
Changes in the frequency of genes in a population that arise because genes allow an organism to have more offspring that survive.
Adaptation
A characteristic that increases an organism’s fitness for an environment.