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Nason Ch 2

Neuroscience and Behavior Vocab

Vocab WordDefinition
Biological Psychology a branch of psychology concerned with the links between biology and behavior (sometimes called behavior neuroscience, behavior genetics, or biopsychology
Neuron a nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system
Dendrite the bushy, branching extension of a neuron that recieves messages and conducts impulses toward the cell body
Axon the extension of a neuron, ending in branching terminal fibers, through which messages pass on to other neurons or to muscles or glands
Myelin Sheath a layer of fatty tissue segmentally encasing the fibers of many neurons, enables vastly greater transmission speed of neural impulses as the impulse hops from one node to the next
Action Potential a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon. This is generated by the movement of postively charged atoms in and out of channels in the axon's membrane
Threshold the level of stimulation required to trigger a neural impulse
Synapse the junction between the axon tip of the sending neuron and the dendrite or cell body of the recieving neuron
Neurotransmitters chemical messengers that traverse the synaptic gaps between neurons. When released by the sending neuron, they travel across the synapse and bind to receptor sites on the recieving neuron
Acetylcholine a neurotransmitter that enables learning and memory and also triggers muscle contraction
Endorphins "morphine within"- natural opiate-like transmitters linked to pain control and pleasure
Nervous System the body's speedy, electrochemical communication network, consisting of all the nerve cells of the peripheral and central nervous system
Central Nervous System the brain and spinal cord
Peripheral Nervous System the sensory and motor neurons that connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body
Nerves neural "cables" containing many axons. These bundled axons, which are part of the peripheral nervous system, connect the central nervous system with the muscles, glands, and sense organs
Sensory Neurons neurons that carry incoming informing information from the sense receptors to the central nervous system
Motor Neurons neurons that carry outgoing information from the central nervous system to the muscles and glands
Interneurons central nervous system neurons that internally communicate and intervene between the sensory inputs and motor outputs
Somatic Nervous System the division of the peripheral nervous system that controls the body's skeletal muscles (aka skeletal nervous system)
Autonomic Nervous System the part of the peripheral nervous system that controls the glands and the muscles of the internal organs (such as the heart). Its sympathetic division arrouses; its parasympathetic division calms
Sympathetic Nervous System the division of the autonomic nervous system that arrouses the body, mobilizing its energy in stressful situations
Parasympathetic Nervous System the division of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body, conserving its energy
Reflex a simple, automatic, inborn response to a sensory stimulus, such as the knee-jerk response
Neural Networks interconnected neural cells. With experience, networks can learn, as feedback strengthens or inhibits connections that produce certain results. Computer simulations show analogous learning
Endocrine System the body's "slow" chemical communication system; a set of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream
Hormones chemical messengers, mostly those manufactured by the endocrine system and glands that are produced in one tissue and affect another
Adrenal Glands a pair of glands just above the kidneys. They secrete the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) and nonrepinephrine (nonadrenaline) which help to arrouse the body in times of stress
Pituitary Gland the endocrine system's most influential gland. Under the influence of the hypothalmus, it regulates growth and controls other endocrine glands
Lesion tissue destruction
Electroencephalogram (EEG) an amplified recording of the waves of electrical activity that sweeps across the brain's surface. These waves are measured by electrodes placed on the scalp
PET (Postion Emission Tomography) Scan a visual display of brain activity that detects where a radioactive form of glucose goes while the brain performs a given task
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) a technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce computer generated images that distinguish among different types of soft tissue; allows us to see structures within the brain
fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) a technique for revealing blood flow and, therefore, brain activity by comparing sucessive MRI scans.
Brain Stem the oldest part and central core of the brain, beginning where the spinal cord swells as it enters the skull; it is responsible for automatic survivial functions
Medulla the base of the brain stem; controls heartbeat and breathing
Reticular Formation a nerve network in the brainstem that plays an important role in controlling arrousal
Thalamus the brain's sensory switchboard, located on top of the brainstem; it directs messages to the sensory recieving areas in the cortex and transmits replies to the cerebellum and medulla
Cerebellum the "little brain" attatche to the rear of the brainstem; it directs messages to the sensory input to coordinate movement output and balance
Limbic System a doughnut shaped system of neural structures at the border of the brainstem and cerebral hemispheres; associated with emotions such as fear and agression and drives such as those for food and sex. Includes the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus
Amygdala two lima bean sized neural clusters that are components of the limbic system and are linked to emotion
Hypothalamus a neural structure lying below the thalamus; it directs several maintenance activities (eating, drinking, body temperature, etc.), helps govern the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, and is linked to emotion
Cerebral Cortex the intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells that covers the cerebral hemispheres; the body's ultimate control and information processing center
Glial Cells (Glia) cells in the nervous system that support, nourish, and protect neurons
Frontal Lobe the portion of the cerebral cortex lying just behind the forehead; involved in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgements
Parietal Lobes the portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the top of the head and toward the rear; recieves sensory input for touch and body position
Occipital Lobes the portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the back of the head; includes the visual areas, which recieve visual information from the opposite visual field
Temporal Lobes the portion of the cerebral cortex lying roughly above the ears; includes the auditory areas, each of which recieve auditory information primarily from the opposite ear
Motor Cortex an area at the rear of the frontal lobes that control voluntary movements
Sensory Cortex the area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and processes body touch and movement sensations
Association Areas areas of the cerebral cortex taht are not involved in primary motor or sensory functions; rather, they are involved in higher mental functions such as learning, remembering, thinking, and speaking
Aphasia impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage either to Broca's area (speaking) or Wernicke's area (understanding)
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
Wernicke's Area controls language reception; a brain area involved in language comprehension and expression; usually in the left temperal lobe
Plasticity the brain's capacity for modification, as evident in brain reorganization following damage (especially in children) and in experiments on the effects of experience on brain development
Corpus Callosum the large band of neural fibers connecting the two brain hemispheres and carrying messages between them
Split Brain a condition in which the two hemispheres of the brain are isolated by cutting the connecting fibers (mainly those of the corpus callosum) between them
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