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117 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
action potential
An abrupt change from a negative to a positive charge of a nerve cell, also called a neural impulse.
adoptee studies
Studies that examine whether adoptees are more similar to their biological or adoptive parents with respect to their psychological traits or to the disorders they develop.
adrenal glands
A pair of endocrine glands located just above the kidneys that produce various stress-related hormones.
agonists
Drugs that either increase the availability or effectiveness of neurotransmitters or mimic their actions.
all-or-none principle
The principle by which neurons will fire only when a change in the level of excitation occurs that is sufficient to produce an action potential.
amphetamines
A class of synthetically derived stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine or “speed.”
amygdala
A set of almond-shaped structures in the limbic system believed to play an important role in aggression, rage, and fear.
antagonists
Drugs that block the actions of neurotransmitters by occupying the receptor sites in which the neurotransmitters dock.
antidepressants
Drugs that combat depression by affecting the levels or activity of neurotransmitters.
aphasia
Loss or impairment of the ability to understand or express language.
association areas
Areas of the cerebral cortex that piece together sensory information to form meaningful perceptions of the world and perform higher mental functions.
autonomic nervous system
The part of the peripheral nervous system that automatically regulates involuntary bodily processes, such as breathing, heart rate, and digestion.
axon
The tubelike part of a neuron that carries messages away from the cell body toward other neurons.
basal ganglia
An assemblage of neurons lying in the forebrain that is important in controlling movement and coordination.
brain
The mass of nerve tissue encased in the skull that controls virtually everything we are and everything we do.
brainstem
The “stalk” in the lower part of the brain that connects the spinal cord to higher regions of the brain.
Broca’s area
An area of the left frontal lobe involved in speech.
central nervous system
The part of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord.
cerebellum
A structure in the hindbrain involved in controlling coordination and balance.
cerebral cortex
The wrinkled, outer layer of gray matter that covers the cerebral hemispheres; controls higher mental functions, such as thought and language.
cerebral hemispheres
The right and left masses of the cerebrum, which are joined by the corpus callosum.
cerebrum
The largest mass of the forebrain, consisting of two cerebral hemispheres.
chromosomes
Rodlike structures in the cell nucleus that house the individual’s genes.
concordance rates
In twin studies, the percentages of cases in which both members of twin pairs share the same trait or disorder.
corpus callosum
The thick bundle of nerve fibers that connects the two cerebral hemispheres.
CT (computed tomography) scan
A computer enhanced imaging technique in which an X-ray beam is passed through the body at different angles to generate a three-dimensional image of bodily structures (also called a CAT scan, short for computerized axial tomography).
delusions
Fixed but patently false beliefs, such as believing that one is being hounded by demons.
dendrites
Rootlike structures at the end of axons that receive neural impulses from neighboring neurons.
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
The basic chemical material in chromosomes that carries the individual’s genetic code.
depolarization
A positive shift in the electrical charge in the neuron’s resting potential, making it less negatively charged.
EEG (electroencephalograph)
A device that records electrical activity in the brain.
electrical recording
As a method of investigating brain functioning, a process of recording the electrical changes that occur in a specific neuron or groups of neurons in the brain in relation to particular activities or behaviors.
electrical stimulation
As a method of investigating brain functioning, a process of electrically stimulating particular parts of the brain to observe the effects on behavior.
electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback
A form of BFT that involves feedback about changes in the level of muscle tension in the forehead or elsewhere in the body.
endocrine system
The body’s system of glands that release their secretions, called hormones, directly into the bloodstream.
endorphins
Natural chemicals released in the brain that have pain-killing and pleasure-inducing effects.
enzymes
Organic substances that produce certain chemical changes in other organic substances through a catalytic action.
epilepsy
A neurological disorder characterized by seizures that involve sudden, violent discharges of electrical activity in the brain.
familial association studies
Studies that examine the degree to which disorders or characteristics are shared among family members.
forebrain
The largest and uppermost part of the brain; contains the thalamus, hypothalamus, limbic system, basal ganglia, and cerebral cortex.
fraternal twins
Twins who developed from separate zygotes and so have 50 percent of their genes in common (also called dizygotic, or DZ, twins).
frontal lobes
The parts of the cerebral cortex, located at the front of the cerebral hemispheres, that are considered the “executive center” of the brain because of their role in higher mental functions.
genes
Basic units of heredity that contain the individual’s genetic code.
genotype
An organism’s genetic code.
germ cells
Sperm and egg cells from which new life develops.
glands
Body organs or structures that produce secretions called hormones.
glial cells
Small but numerous cells in the nervous system that support neurons and that form the myelin sheath found on many axons.
gonads
Sex glands (testes in men and ovaries in women) that produce sex hormones and germ cells (sperm in the male and egg cells in the female).
hallucinations
Perceptions experienced in the absence of corresponding external stimuli.
hindbrain
The lowest and, in evolutionary terms, oldest part of the brain; includes the medulla, pons, and cerebellum.
hippocampus
A structure in the limbic system involved in memory formation.
homeostasis
The tendency of systems to maintain a steady, internally balanced state.
hormones
Secretions from endocrine glands that help regulate bodily processes.
hypothalamus
A small, pea-sized structure in the forebrain that helps regulate many vital bodily functions, including body temperature and reproduction, as well as emotional states, aggression, and responses to stress.
identical twins
Twins who developed from the same zygote and so have identical genes (also called monozygotic, or MZ, twins).
interneurons
Nerve cells within the central nervous system that process information.
ions
Electrically charged chemical particles.
lateralization
The specialization of the right and left cerebral hemispheres for particular functions.
lesioning
In studies of brain functioning, the intentional destruction of brain tissue in order to observe the effects on behavior.
limbic system
A formation of structures in the forebrain that includes the hippocampus, amygdala, and parts of the thalamus and hypothalamus.
medulla
A structure in the hindbrain involved in regulating basic life functions, such as heartbeat and respiration.
midbrain
The part of the brain that lies on top of the hindbrain and below the forebrain.
migraine headache
A prolonged, intense headache brought on by changes in blood flow in the brain’s blood vessels.
motor cortex
A region of the frontal lobes involved in regulating body movement.
motor neurons
Neurons that convey nerve impulses from the central nervous system to muscles and glands.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
A technique that uses a magnetic field to create a computerized image of internal bodily structures.
myelin sheath
A layer of protective insulation that covers the axons of certain neurons and helps speed transmission of nerve impulses.
nature–nurture problem
The debate in psychology about the relative influences of genetics (nature) and environment (nurture) in determining behavior.
nerve
A bundle of axons from different neurons that transmit nerve impulses.
nervous system
The network of nerve cells and support cells for communicating and processing information from within and outside the body.
neuromodulators
Chemicals released in the nervous system that influence the sensitivity of the receiving neuron to neurotransmitters.
neurons
Nerve cells.
neurotransmitters
Chemical messengers that transport nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another.
nodes of Ranvier
Gaps in the myelin sheath that create noninsulated areas along the axon.
occipital lobes
The parts of the cerebral cortex, located at the back of both cerebral hemispheres, that process visual stimuli.
ovaries
The female gonads, which secrete the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone and produce mature egg cells.
pancreas
An endocrine gland located near the stomach that produces the hormone insulin.
parasympathetic nervous system
The branch of the autonomic nervous system that regulates bodily processes, such as digestion, that replenish stores of energy.
parietal lobes
The parts of the cerebral cortex, located on the side of each cerebral hemisphere, that process bodily sensations.
Parkinson’s disease
A progressive brain disease involving destruction of dopamine-producing brain cells and characterized by muscle tremors, shakiness, rigidity, and difficulty in walking and controlling fine body movements.
peripheral nervous system
The part of the nervous system that connects the spinal cord and brain with the sensory organs, muscles, and glands.
PET (positron emission tomography) scan
An imaging technique in which a radioactive sugar tracer is injected into the bloodstream and used to measure levels of activity of various parts of the brain.
phenotype
The observable physical and behavioral characteristics of an organism, representing the influences of the genotype and environment.
pineal gland
A small endocrine gland in the brain that produces the hormone melatonin, which is involved in regulating sleep-wake cycles.
pituitary gland
An endocrine gland in the brain that produces various hormones involved in growth, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and childbirth.
plasticity
The ability of the brain to adapt itself after trauma or surgical alteration.
polygenic traits
Traits that are influenced by multiple genes interacting in complex ways.
pons
A structure in the hindbrain involved in regulating states of wakefulness and sleep.
prefrontal cortex
The area of the frontal lobe that lies in front of the motor cortex and that is involved in higher mental functions, including thinking, planning, impulse control, and weighing the consequences of behavior.
premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
A cluster of physical and psychological symptoms occurring in the few days preceding the menstrual flow.
receptor site
A site on the receiving neuron in which neurotransmitters dock.
reflex
An automatic, unlearned response to particular stimuli.
refractory period
A temporary state in which a neuron is unable to fire in response to continued stimulation.
resting potential
The electrical potential across the cell membrane of a neuron in its resting state.
reticular formation
A weblike formation of neurons involved in regulating states of attention, alertness, and arousal.
reuptake
The process by which neurotransmitters are reabsorbed by the transmitting neuron.
schizophrenia
A severe and chronic psychological disorder characterized by disturbances in thinking, perception, emotions, and behavior.
sensory neurons
Neurons that transmit information from sensory organs, muscles, and inner organs to the spinal cord and brain.
soma
The cell body of a neuron that contains the nucleus of the cell and carries out the cell’s metabolic functions.
somatic nervous system
The part of the peripheral nervous system that transmits information between the central nervous system and the sensory organs and muscles; also controls voluntary movements.
somatosensory cortex
The part of the parietal lobe that processes information about touch and pressure on the skin, as well as the position of the parts of our bodies as we move about.
spinal cord
The column of nerves that transmits information between the brain and the peripheral nervous system.
spinal reflex
A reflex controlled at the level of the spinal cord that may involve as few as two neurons.
spine
The protective bony column that houses the spinal cord.
split-brain patients
Persons whose corpus callosum has been surgically severed.
stimulant
A drug that activates the central nervous system, such as amphetamines and cocaine.
sympathetic nervous system
The branch of the autonomic nervous system that accelerates bodily processes and releases stores of energy needed to meet increased physical demands.
synapse
The small fluid-filled gap between neurons through which neurotransmitters carry neural impulses.
temporal lobes
The parts of the cerebral cortex lying beneath and somewhat behind the frontal lobes that are involved in processing auditory stimuli.
terminal buttons
Swellings at the tips of axons from which neurotransmitters are dispatched into the synapse.
testes
The male gonads, which produce sperm and secrete the male sex hormone testosterone.
thalamus
A structure in the forebrain that serves as a relay station for sensory information and that plays a key role in regulating states of wakefulness and sleep.
thermal biofeedback
A form of BFT that involves feedback about changes in temperature and blood flow in selected parts of the body; used in the treatment of migraine headaches.
thyroid gland
An endocrine gland in the neck that secretes the hormone thyroxin, which is involved in regulating metabolic functions and physical growth.
twin studies
Studies that examine the degree to which concordance rates between twin pairs for particular disorders or characteristics vary in relation to whether the twins are identical or fraternal.
Wernicke’s area
An area of the left temporal lobe involved in processing written and spoken language.
zygote
A fertilized egg cell.