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226 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

absence seizure

a small seizure in which there is a sudden temporary loss of consciousness lasting only a few seconds


a chemical substance in the body tissues that facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses from one nerve to another. it has a stimulant (or excitatory) effect on some parts of the body (such as skeletal muscles) and a depressant (or inhibitory) effect on other parts of the body (such as the heart muscle); aka neurotransmitter.

afferent nerves

transmitters of nerve impulses toward the CNS; aka as sensory nerves


loss of mental ability to understand sensory stimuli (such as sight, sound, or touch) even though the sensory organs themselves are functioning properly (eg: the inability to recognize or interpret the images the eye is seeing is known as optic agnosia)


the inability to convert one's thoughts into writing


the inability to understand written words


without sensitivity to pain


without feeling or sensation


pertaining to partially or completely numbing or eliminating sensitivity with or without loss of consciousness


a localized dilatation in the wall of an artery that expands with each pulsation of the artery; usually caused by hypertension or artherosclerosis


inability to communicate through speech, writing, or signs because of an injury to or disease in certain areas of the brain


inability to perform coordinated movements or use objects properly; not associated with sensory or motor impairment or paralysis

arachnoid membrane

the weblike middle layer of the three membranous layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord


a star-shaped neuroglial cell found in the CNS


a tumor of the brain or spinal cord composed of astrocytes


without muscular coordination


the sensation an individual experiences prior to the onset of a migraine headache or an epileptic seizure. it may be a sensation of light or warmth and may precede the attack by hours or only a few seconds.

autonomic nervous system

the part of the nervous system that regulates the involuntary vital functions of the body, such as the activities involving the heart muscle, smooth muscles, and the glands. the autonomic nervous system has two divisions: the SNS and the PNS (defined separately).


the part of the nerve cell that transports nerve impulses away from the nerve cell body

blood-brain barrier

a protective characteristic of the capillary walls of the brain that prevents the passage of harmful substances from the bloodstream into the brain tissue or CSF


abnormally slow movement

brain stem

the stemlike portion of the brain that connects the cerebral hemisphere with the spinal cord. the brain stem contains the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla oblongata

Brudzinski's sign

a positive sign of meningitis, in which there is an involuntary flexion of the arm, hip, and knee when the patient's neck is passively flexed

burr hole

a hole drilled into the skull using a form of drill

cauda equina

the lower end of the spinal cord and the roots of the spinal nerves that occupy the spinal canal below the level of the first lumbar vertebra; so named because it resembles a horse's tail


a sensation of an acute burning pain along the path of a peripheral nerve, sometimes accompanied by erythema of the skin; due to injury to peripheral nerve fibers

cell body

the part of the cell that contains the nucleus and the cytoplasm

central nervous system

one of the two main divisions of the nervous system, consisting of the brain and the spinal cord


pain in the head; headache


the part of the brain responsible for coordinating voluntary muscular movement; located behind the brain stem

cerebral concussion

a brief interruption of brain function, usually with a loss of consciousness lasting for a few seconds. this transient loss of consciousness is usually caused by blunt trauma (a blow) to the head

cerebral contusion

small scattered venous hemorrhages in the brain; better described as a "bruise" of the brain tissue occurring when the brain strikes the inner skull

cerebral cortex

the thin outer layer of nerve tissue, known as gray matter, that covers the surface of the cerebrum

cerebrospinal fluid

the fluid flowing through the brain and around the spinal cord that protects them from physical blow or impact


the largest and uppermost part of the brain. it controls consciousness, memory, sensations, emotions, and voluntary movements

cervical radiculopathy

any disease of the spinal nerve roots in the neck; caused by pressure on the nerve roots

Cheyne-Stokes respirations

an abnormal pattern of breathing characterized by periods of apnea followed by deep rapid breathing


a deep sleep in which the individual cannot be aroused and does not respond to external stimuli


pertains to being in a coma


a permanent shortening of a muscle causing a joint to remain in an abnormally flexed position, with resultant physical deformity


one of the many elevated folds of the surface of the cerebrum; also called a gyrus


a surgical incision into the cranium or skull


any deficiency or variation of the normal, as in a weakness deficit resulting from a cerebrovascular accident (CVA)


a progressive irreversible mental disorder in which the person has deteriorating memory, judgement, and ability to think


destruction or removal of the myelin sheath that covers a nerve or nerve fiber


a projection that extends from the nerve cell body, it receives impulses and conducts them on to the cell body


the part of the brain located between the cerebrum and the midbrain. its main structures consist of the thalamus, hypothalamus, and pineal gland.


double vision; also called ambiopia

dura mater

the outermost of the three membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord


a condition characterized by an impairment of the ability to read. letters and words are often reversed when reading


difficult speech

efferent nerves

transmitters of nerve impulses away from the CNS; aka motor nerves


an abnormal condition in which a blood clot (embolus) becomes lodged in a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood within the vessel

epidural space

the space immediately outside the dura mater that contains a supporting cushion of fat and other connective tissues


a neurological condition characterized by recurrent episodes of sudden brief attacks of seizures. the seizure may vary from mild and unnoticeable to full-scale convulsive seizures


the style of walking


a knotlike mass of nerve tissue found outside the brain or spinal cord (plural: ganglia)

gray matter

the part of the nervous system consisting of axons that are not covered with myelin sheath, giving a gray appearance


one of the many elevated folds of the surface of the cerebrum (plural: gyri)


slight or partial paralysis of one half of the body (ie: left or right side)


paralysis of one half of the body


excessive sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as pain or touch


excessive muscular movement and physical activity; hyperactivity


a chronic abnormal concern about the health of the body, characterized by extreme anxiety, depression, and an unrealistic interpretation of real or imagined physical symptoms as indications of a serious illness or disease despite rational medical evidence that no disorder is present


a part of the brain located below the thalamus that controls many functions, such as body temp, sleep, and appetite


connecting neurons that conduct impulses from afferent nerves to or toward motor nerves

Kernig's sign

a diagnostic sign for meningitis marked by the person's inability to extend the leg completely when the thigh is flexed upon the abdomen and the person is sitting or lying down


a state of being sluggish; stupor

longitudinal fissure

a deep groove in the middle of the cerebrum that divides the cerebrum into the right and left hemispheres

medulla oblongata

one of the three parts of the brain stem. the medulla oblongata is the most essential part of the brain in that it contains the cardiac, vasomotor, and respiratory centers of the brain


the three layers of protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord


small neuroglial cells found in the interstitial tissue of the nervous system that engulf cellular debris, waste products, and pathogens within the nerve tissue


the uppermost part of the brain stem

motor nerves

efferent nerves

myelin sheath

a protective sheath that covers the axons of many nerves in the body. it acts as an electrical insulator and helps speed the conduction of nerve impulses


uncontrolled, sudden attacks of sleep


a cordlike bundle of nerve fibers that transmit impulses to and from the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body. a nerve is macroscopic (ie: able to be seen without the aid of a microscope)

nerve block

the injection of a local anesthetic along the course of a nerve or nerves to eliminate sensation to the area supplied by the nerve(s); also called conduction anesthesia


severe, sharp, spasmlike pain that extends along the course of one or more nerves


inflammation of a nerve


the supporting tissue of the nervous system


a physician who specializes in treating the diseases and disorders of the nervous system


the study of the nervous system and its disorders


a nerve cell


a physician who specializes in surgery of the nervous system


any surgery involving the nervous system (ie: of the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves)


a chemical substance within the body that activates or inhibits the transmission of nerve impulses at synapses

nuchal rigidity

rigidity of the neck. the neck is resistant to flexion. this condition is seen in patients with meningitis




a type of neuroglial cell found in the interstitial tissue of the nervous system. its dendrite projections coil around the axons of many neurons to form the myelin sheath



parasympathetic nerves

nerves of the ANS that regulate essential involuntary body functions such as slowing the heart rate, increasing peristalsis of the intestines, increasing glandular secretions, and relaxing sphincters


copying or producing the same effects as those of the parasympathetic nerves; "to mimic"


a sensation of numbness or tingling

peripheral nervous system

the part of the nervous system outside the CNS, consisting of 12 pairs of cranial nerves and 31 pairs of spinal nerves


the process by which certain cells engulf and destroy microorganisms and cellular debris

pia mater

the innermost of the three membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord

pineal body

a small cone-shaped structure (located in the diencephalon of the brain) thought to be involved in regulating the body's biological clock and that produces melatonin; also called the pineal gland


a network of interwoven nerves


the part of the brain located between the medulla oblongata and the midbrain. it acts as a bridge to connect the medulla oblongata and the cerebellum to the upper portions of the brain


the surgical resection of a spinal nerve root (a procedure performed to relieve pain); also called a rhizotomy


a sensory nerve ending (ie: a nerve ending that receives impulses and responds to various types of stimulation


inflammation of the sciatic nerve; characterized by pain along the course of the nerve, radiating through the thigh and down the back of the leg


pertaining to sensation


a tube or passage that diverts or redirects body fluid from one cavity or vessel to another; may be a congenital defect or artificially constructed for the purpose of redirecting fluid, as a shunt used in hydrocephalus

somatic nervous system

the part of the PNS that provides voluntary control over skeletal muscle contractions


any agent or factor capable of initiating a nerve impulse


a state of lethargy. the person is unresponsive and seems unaware of his or her surroundings

subarachnoid space

the space located just under the arachnoid membrane that contains cerebrospinal fluid

subdural space

the space located just beneath the dura mater that contains serous fluid


a depression or shallow groove on the surface of an organ; as a sulcus that separates any of the convolutions of the cerebral hemispheres (plural: sulci)

sympathetic nerves

nerves of the ANS that regulate essential involuntary body functions such as increasing the heart rate, constricting blood vessels, and raising the blood pressure


"to mimic" the sympathetic nerves


the space between the end of one nerve and the beginning of another, through which nerve impulses are transmitted




the part of the brain located between the cerebral hemispheres and the midbrain. the thalamus receives all sensory stimuli, expect those of smell, and relays them to the cerebral cortex


an abnormal condition in which a clot develops in a blood vessel

tonic-clonic seizure

a seizure characterized by the presence of muscle contraction or tension followed by relaxation, creating a "jerking" movement of the body


a small hollow within the brain that is filled with CSF


an injury to the C/S and their supporting structures due to the sudden back-and-forth jerking movement of the head and neck. whiplash may occur as a result of an automobile being struck suddenly from the rear

white matter

the part of the nervous system consisting of axons covered with myelin sheath, giving a white appearance










sensation or feeling


feeling, sensation


feeling, nervous sensation or sense of perception


neuroglia or gluey substance


seizure, attack






spinal cord or bone marrow






partial paralysis












tension, tone


ventricle of the heart or brain

Alzheimer's disease

Deterioration of a person's intellectual functioning. AD is progressive and extremely debilitating. It begins with minor memory loss and progresses to complete loss of mental, emotional, and physical functioning, frequently occurring in persons over 65 years of age.

Stage 1: 1-3 years, Stage 2: 2-10 years, Stage 3: 8-10 years

amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

ALS is a severe weakening and wasting of the involved muscle groups, usually beginning with the hands and progressing to the shoulders, upper arms, and legs. It is caused by decreased nerve innervation to the muscle groups.


An absence of the brain and spinal cord at birth, a congenital disorder

Bell's palsy

A temporary or permanent unilateral weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face following trauma to the face, an unknown infection, or a tumor pressing on the facial nerve rendering it paralyzed

brain abscess

A localized accumulation of pus located anywhere in the brain tissue due to an infectious process - either a primary local infection or an infection secondary to another infectious process in the body (such as bacterial endocarditis, sinusitis, otitis, or dental abscess).

carpal tunnel syndrome

A pinching or compression of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel due to inflammation and swelling of the tendons, causing intermittent or continuous pain that is greatest at night.

cerebral palsy

CP is a collective term used to describe congenital (at birth) brain damage that is permanent but not progressive. It is characterized by the child's lack of control of voluntary muscles.

Four major types: Spastic, Ataxic, Athetoid, and Mixed

cerebrovascular accident (CVA)

CVA involves death of a specific portion of brain tissue, resulting from a decrease in blood flow (ischemia) to that area of the brain; also called stroke.


The inflammation of the brain largely caused by a virus that enters the CNS when the person experiences a viral disease such as measles or mumps or through the bite of a mosquito or tick.

grand mal seizure

An epileptic seizure characterized by a sudden loss of consciousness and by generalized involuntary muscular contraction, vacillating between rigid body extension and an alternating contracting and relaxing of muscles.

petit mal seizure

A small seizure in which there is a sudden temporary loss of consciousness lasting only a few seconds; aka as an absence seizure

Guillain-Barre syndrome

An acute polyneuritis of the PNS in which the myelin sheaths on the axons are destroyed, resulting in decreased nerve impulses, loss of reflex response, and sudden muscle weakness, which usually follows a viral gastrointestinal or respiratory infection.

migraine headache

Recurring, pulsating, vascular headache usually developing on one side of the head. It is characterized by a slow onset that may be preceded by an aura, during which a sensory disturbance occurs such as confusion or some visual interference (eg: flashing lights).

cluster headache

Occurs typically two or three hours after falling asleep; described as extreme pain around one eye that wakens the person from sleep.

tension headache

Occurs from long, endured contraction of the skeletal muscles around the face, scalp, upper back, and neck.

epidural hematoma

A collection of blood (hemotoma) located above the dura mater and just below the skull.

subdural hematoma

A collection of blood below the dura mater and above the arachnoid layer of the meninges.

Huntington's chorea

An inherited neurological disease characterized by rapid, jerky, involuntary movements and increasing dementia due to the effects of the basal ganglia on the neurons.


An abnormal increase of CSF in the brain that causes the ventricles of the brain to dilate, resulting in an increased head circumference in the infant with open fontanel(s); a congenital disorder.

intracranial tumors

Occur in any structural region of the brain. They may be malignant or benign, classified as primary or secondary, and are named according to the tissue from which they originate.

primary intracranial tumors

Arise from gliomas, malignant glial cells that are a support for nerve tissue, and from tumors that arise from the meninges.

pg 288

metastatic intracranial tumors (secondary)

Occurs as a result of metastasis from a primary site such as the lung or breast. They occur more frequently than primary neoplasms.

meningitis (acute bacterial)

A serious bacterial infection of the meninges - the covering of the brain and spinal cord - that can have residual debilitating effects or even a fatal outcome if not diagnosed and treated promptly with appropriate antibiotic therapy.

multiple sclerosis (MS)

A degenerative inflammatory disease of the CNS attacking the myelin sheath in the spinal cord and brain, leaving it sclerosed (hardened) or scarred and interrupting the flow of nerve impulses.

myasthenia gravis

A chronic progressive neuromuscular disorder causing severe skeletal muscle weakness (without atrophy) and fatigue, which occurs at different levels of severity.


A highly malignant tumor of the sympathetic nervous system. It most commonly occurs in the adrenal medulla, with early metastasis spreading widely to liver, lungs, lymph nodes, and bone.

Parkinson's disease

A degenerative, slowly progressive deterioration of nerves in the brain stem's motor system characterized by a gradual onset of symptoms such as a stooped posture wit the body flexed forward; a bowed head; a shuffling gait; pill-rolling gestures; an expressionless, mask-like facial appearance; muffled speech; and swallowing difficulty.

peripheral neuritis

A general term indicating inflammation of one or more peripheral nerves, the effects being dependent on the particular nerve involved.


An infectious viral disease entering through the upper respiratory tract and affecting the ability of spinal cord and brain motor neurons to receive stimulation. Muscles affected become paralyzed without the motor nerve stimulation (ie: respiratory paralysis requires ventilatory support).

postpolio syndrome

A progressive weakness occurring at least 30 years after the initial poliomyelitis attack.

Reye's syndrome

An acute brain encephalopathy along with fatty infiltration of the internal organs that may follow acute viral infections; occurs in children under the age of 18, often with a fatal result. There are confirmed studies linking the onset of Reye's syndrome to aspirin administration during a viral illness.

spina bifida cystica

A congenital defect of the CNS in which the back portion of one or more vertabrae is not closed normally and a cyst protrudes through the opening in the back, usually at the level of the 5th lumbar or 1st sacral vertabrae.


*challenge word*

A cyst-like sac covered with skin or a thin membrane protruding through the bony defect in the vertebrae containing meninges and CSF.


*challenge word*

A cyst-like sac covered with skin or a thin membrane protruding through the bony defect in the vertabrae that contains meninges, CSF, and spinal cord segments.

spina bifida occulta

A congenital defect of the CNS in which the back portion of one or more vertebrae is not closed. A dimpling over the area may occur.

Tay-Sachs disease

A congenital disorder caused by altered lipid metabolism, resulting from an enzyme deficiency.

trigeminal neuralgia

Short periods of severe unilateral pain, which radiates along the fifth cranial nerve.

Babinski's reflex

Can be tested by stroking the sole of the foot, beginning at midheel and moving upward and lateral to the toes. A positive Babinski's occurs when there is no dorsiflexion of the great toe and fanning of the other toes.

brain scan

A brain scan is a nuclear counter scanning of cranial content two hours after an IV injections of radioisotopes.

cerebral angiography

A visualization of the cerebral vascular system via X-ray after the injection of a radiopaque contrast medium into an arterial blood vessel (carotid, femoral, or brachial).

CSF analysis

CSF obtained from a lumbar puncture is analyzed for the presence of bacteria, blood, or malignant cells as well as for the amount of protein and glucose present.

CT scan of the brain

Computed tomography (CT) is the analysis of a 3D view of brain tissue obtained as X-ray beams pass through successive horizontal layers of the brain; also called computerized axial tomography (CAT scan).


A neurosurgical procedure for pain control accomplished through a laminectomy, in which there is surgical interference of pathways within the spinal cord that control pain.

cisternal puncture

Involves insertion of a short, beveled spinal needle into the cisterna magna (a shallow reservoir of CSF between the medulla and the cerebellum) to drain CSF or to obtain a CSF specimen.


A surgical procedure that makes an opening into the skull.


Ultrasound used to analyze the intracranial structures of the brain

electroencephalography (EEG)

Measurement of electrical activity produced by the brain and recorded through electrodes placed on the scalp


The surgical removal of the bony arches from one or more of the vertebrae to relieve pressure on the spinal cord

lumbar puncture

Involves the insertion of a hollow needle and stylet into the subarachnoid space, generally between the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae below the level of the spinal cord under strict aseptic technique.

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

A noninvasive scanning procedure that provides visualization of fluid, soft tissue, and bony structures without the use of radiation.


The introduction of contrast medium into the lumbar subarachnoid space through a lumbar puncture to visualize the spinal cord and vertebral canal through X-ray examination.


A neurosurgical procedure to relieve pain in a localized or small area by incision of cranial or peripheral nerves


PSG is a sleep study or sleep test that evaluates physical factors affecting sleep. Physical activity and level of sleep are monitored by a technician while the patient sleeps.

positron emission tomography (PET)

PET scan produces computerized radiographic images of various body structures when radioactive substances are inhaled or injected.

Romberg test

Used to evaluate cerebellar function and balance.

stereotaxic neurosurgery

Performed on a precise location of an area within the brain that controls specific function(s) and may involve destruction of brain tissue with various agents such as heat, cold, and sclerosing or corrosive fluids.


A surgical procedure used to interrupt a portion of the sympathetic nerve pathway for the purpose of relieving chronic pain.


adrenocorticotrophic hormone


amyotrophic lateral sclerosis


autonomic nervous system


computerized axial tomography


central nervous system


cerebrospinal fluid


computed tomography


cerebrovascular accident; stroke


electroconvulsive therapy






intracranial pressure


level of consciousness


magnetic resonance imaging


multiple sclerosis


multiple sleep latency test


nerve conduction study


normal-pressure hydrocephalus


non-rapid eye movement


positron nervous system


peripheral nervous system




rapid eye movement


reading test


somatic nervous system


transient ischemic attack