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49 Cards in this Set

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  • Back


a mass of cells whose growth is uncontrolled and that serves no useful function


a tumor that lacks a distinct border and may metastasize ("cancerous")


a tumor with a distinct border that cannot metastasize


the process by which cells break off of a tumor, travel through the vascular system, and growelsewhere in the body


a cancerous brain tumor composed ofone of several types of glial cells


a benign brain tumor composed of the cells that constitute the meninges

Partial Seizure (simple and complex)

A seizure that begins at a focus and remains localized, not generalizing to the rest of the brain. Simple partial seizures start from a focus and remains localized, not producing loss of consciousness. A complex partial seizure starts from a focus and remains localized (typically in the temporal lobe), that produces loss of consciousness.

Generalized Seizure

a seizure that involves most of the brain,as contrasted with a partial seizure, which remains localized

Grand Mal/Petit Mal

a generalized, tonic-clonic seizure, which results in a convulsion


a sensation that precedes a seizure; its exact nature depends on the location of the seizure focus

Tonic/Clonic Phase

The tonic phase is the first phase of a grand mal seizure, in which all of the patient’s skeletal muscles are contracted. The clonic phase is the phase of a grand mal seizure in which the patient shows rhythmic jerking movements.

Status Epilepticus

a condition in which a patient undergoes a series of seizures without regaining consciousness

Interictal Inhibition

The seizure focus, usually a region of scar tissue, irritates thebrain tissue surrounding it, causing increased neural activity that tends to spread to adjacent regions. Between seizures this increased excitatory activity is held in check by a compensatory increase in inhibitory activity. Inhibitory neurons in the region surrounding the seizure focus become more active. A seizure occurs when the excitation overcomes the inhibition. The problem is that the compensatory inhibition does more than hold the excitation in check; it also suppresses the normal functions of a rather large region of brain tissue surrounding the seizure focus. Thus, even though the focus may be small, its effects are felt over a much larger area even between seizures. Removing the seizure focus and some surrounding brain tissue eliminates the source of the irritation and makes the compensatory inhibition unnecessary. Freed from interictal inhibition, the brain tissue located near the site of theformer seizure focus can now function normally, and the patient’s neuropsychological abilities will show an improvement.

Strokes (hemorrhagic & ischemic)

A hemorrhagic stroke is a cerebrovascular accident caused by the rupture of a cerebral blood vessel. An ischemic stroke is a cerebrovascular accident caused by occlusion of a blood vessel and interruption of the blood supply to a region of the brain.

Thrombus & Embolus

A thrombus is a blood clot that forms within a blood vessel, whichmay occlude it. An embolus is a piece of matter (such as a blood clot, fat, or bacterial debris) that dislodges from its site of origin and occludes an artery; in the brain an embolus can lead to a stroke.

Free Radicals

a molecule with unpaired electrons; acts as a powerful oxidizing agent; toxic to cells


A process in which the linings of arteries develop a layer of plaque, which consists of deposits of cholesterol, fats, calcium, and cellular waste products, is a precursor to heart attacks and ischemic stroke, caused by clots that form around atherosclerotic plaques in cerebral and cardiac blood vessels.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A brain injury caused by trauma to the head, frequently resulting in excessive pressure in the brain due to internal bleeding. This bleeding in caused my the brain smashing into the walls of the skull, referred to as the 'coup and contrecoup'. TBIs increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's later in life.


German measles toxic to fetal development

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

a birth defect caused by ingestion of alcohol by a pregnant woman; includes characteristic facial anomalies and faulty brain development

Neural Adhesion Protein

a protein that plays a role in brain development; helps to guide the growth of neurons


a hereditary disorder caused by the absence of an enzyme that converts the amino acid phenylalanine to tyrosine; the accumulation of phenyl-alanine causes brain damage unless a special diet is implemented soon after birth

Tay-Sachs Disease

a heritable, fatal, metabolic storage disorder; lack of enzymes in lysosomes causes accumulation of waste product and swelling of cells of the brain

Down Syndrome

A disorder caused by the presence of an extra twenty-first chromosome, characterized by moderate to severe mental retardation and often by physical abnormalities.


a disorder that one is born with, not necessarily hereditary

TSE (Trnasmissible Spongeform Encephalopathy)

a contagious brain disease whose degenerative process gives the brain a sponge-like appearance; caused by accumulation of misfolded prion protein

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative, invariably fatal brain disorder. It affects about one person in every one million people per year. CJD is the most common of the known human TSEs. In acquired CJD, the disease is transmitted by exposure to brain or nervous system tissue, usually through certain medical procedures, although 85% of cases are sporadic.

Fatal Familial Insomnia

A very rare autosomal dominant inherited prion disease of the brain. It is almost always caused by a mutation to the protein PrPC, but can also develop spontaneously in patients with a non-inherited mutation variant called sporadic fatal insomnia (sFI).


a TSE transmitted by cannibalism; members of a South Pacific tribe ate deceased tribe members' brainsand sometimes thus contracted the disease


A protein that can exist in two forms that differ only in their three-dimensional shape; accumulation of misfolded prion protein is responsible for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Prion proteins are resistant to proteolytic enzymes—enzymes that are able to destroy proteins by breaking the peptide bonds thathold a protein’s amino acids together. Prion proteins are also resistant to levels of heat that denature normalproteins.

"Sporadic" diseases

a disease that occurs rarely and is not obviously caused by heredity or an infectious agent


a “killer enzyme” that plays a role in apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

Lewy Bodies

Abnormal circular structures with a dense core consisting of a-synuclein protein; found in the cytoplasm of nigrostriatal neurons in people with Parkinson’s disease.


a protein normally found in the presynaptic membrane, where it is apparently involved in synaptic plasticity. Abnormal accumulations are apparently the cause of neural degeneration in Parkinson’s disease.

Toxic Gain of Function

a genetic disorder caused by a dominant mutation that involves a faulty gene that produces a protein with toxic effects

Parkin (proteasomes & ubiquitin)

A protein that plays a role in ferrying defective or misfolded proteins to the proteasomes; mutated parkin is a cause of familial Parkinson’s disease. Proteasomes are an organelle responsible for destroying defective or degraded proteins within the cell. Ubiquitin is a protein that attaches itself to faulty or misfolded proteins and thus targets them for destruction by proteasomes.


the precursor of the catecholamines; often used to treat Parkinson’s disease because of its effect as a dopamine agonist


A division of the globus pallidus that provides inhibitory input to the motor cortex via the thalamus; sometimes stereotaxically lesioned to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The GPi can receive inhibitory signal form the caudate & putamen, and excitatory signals from the STN.

Deep Brain Stimulation (in the STN)

deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus is as effective as brain lesions in suppressing tremors and has fewer adverse side effects. There is no evidence of cognitive deterioration in patients who received implants for deep brain stimulation. DBS treats only the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, not the affective and cognitive symptoms such as depression and dementia.


A protein that may serve to facilitate the production and transport of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Abnormal huntingtin is the cause of Huntington’s disease.

Amyloid Plaques

An extracellular deposit containing a dense core of b-amyloid protein surrounded by degenerating axons and dendrites and activated microglia and reactive astrocytes.

Neurofibrillary Tangles (and Tau protein)

A dying neuron containing intracellular accumulations of abnormally phosphorylated tau-protein filaments that formerly served as the cell’s internal skeleton. Tau is a protein that normally serves as a component of microtubules, which provide the cell’s transport mechanism and cytoskeleton.

Beta-Amyloid (and immunization against Ab)

b-amyloid (Ab) is a protein found in excessive amounts in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

ApoE (Apolipoprotein E)

A glyco-protein that transports cholesterol in the blood and plays a role in cellular repair; presence of the E4 allele of the apoE gene increases the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.


a class of enzymes that cut the b-amyloid precursor protein into smaller fragments, including b-amyloid

Huntington's Disease

An inherited disorder that causes degeneration of the basal ganglia; characterized by progressively more severe uncontrollable jerking movements, writhing movements, dementia, and finally death.

Multiple Sclerosis

An autoimmune demyelinating disease. At scattered locations within the central nervous system, the person’s immune system attacks myelin sheaths, leaving behind sclerotic plaques.

Interferon beta
A protein that modulates the responsiveness of the immune system. Administration of interferon 􏰁has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks and to slow the progression of neurological disabilities in some patients.

Glatiramer acetate

A mixture of synthetic peptides composed from random sequences of the amino acids tyrosine, glutamate, alanine, and lysine, thought to stimulate anti-inflammatory responses. It is thought to potentially be a decoy for the immune system to attack instead of myelin. It does not slow the progression of disability, but reduces the frequency of relapses.