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Psych Ch 2 Vocab

The Biological Basis of Behavior

QuestionAnswer
psychobiology the area of psychology that focuses on the biological foundations of behavior and mental processes
neurons individual cells that are the smallest units of the nervous system
dendrites short fibers that branch out from the cell body and pick up incoming messages
axon single long fiber extending from the cell body; it carries outgoing messages
nerve (tract) group of axons bundled together
myelin sheath white fatty covering found on some axons
sensory (afferent) neurons neurons that carry messages from sense organs to the spinal cord or brain
motor (efferent) neurons neurons that carry messages from the spinal cord or brain to the muscles and glands
interneurons (association neurons) neurons that carry messages from one meuron to another
glial cells (glia) cells that form the myelin sheath; they insulate and support neurons by holding them together, removing waste prodcuts, and preventing harmful substances from passing from the bloodstream into the brain
ions electrically charged particles found both inside and outside the neuron
resting potential electrical charge across a neuron membrane due to excess positive ions concentrated on the outside and excess negative ions on the inside
polarization the condition of a neuron when the inside is negatively charged relative to the outside; for example, when the neuron is at rest
neural impulse (action potential) the firing of a nerve cell
graded potential a shift the electrical charge of in a tiny area of a neuron
threshold of excitation the level an impulse must exceed to cause a neuron to fire
all-or-none law principle that the action potential in a neuron does not vary in strength; the neuron either fires at full strength or it does not fire at all
absolute refractory period a period after firing when a neuron will not fire again no matter how strong the incoming messages may be
relative refractory period a period after firing when a neuron is returning to its normal polarized state and will fire again only if the incoming message is much stronger than usual
synaptic space (synaptic cleft) tiny gap betweeen the axon terminal of one neuron and the dendrites or cell body of the next neuron
terminal button (synaptic knob) structure at the end of an axon terminal branch
synapse area composed of the axon terminal of one neuron, the synaptic space, and the dendrite or cell body of the next neuron
synaptic vesicles tiny sacs in a terminal button that release chemicals into the synapse
neurotransmitters chemicals released by the synaptic vesicles that travel across the synaptic space and affect adjacent neurons
receptor site a location on a receptor neuron into which a specific neurotransmitter fits like a key into a lock
neural plasticity the ability of the brain to change in response to experience
neurogenesis the growth of new neurons
central nervous system division of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord
peripheral nervous system division of the nervous system that connects the central nervous system to the rest of the body
hindbrain area containing the medulla, pons, and cerebellum
cerebellum structure int he hindbrain that controls certain reflexes and coordinates the body's movements
midbrain region between the hindbrain and the forebrain; it is important for hearing and sight, and it is one of several places in the brain where pain is registered
thalamus forebrain region that relays and translates incoming messages from the sense receptors, except those for smell
hypothalamus forebrain region that governs motivation and emotional responses
reticular formation (RF) network of neurons int he hindbrain, the midbrain, and part of the forebrain whose primary function is to alert and arouse the higher parts of the brain
limbic system ring of structures that play a role in learning and emotional behavior
cerebral cortex the outer surface of the two cerebral hemispheres that regulates most complex behavior
association areas areas of the cerebral cortex where incoming messages from the separate senses are combined into meaningful impressions and outgoing messages from the motor areas are integrated
occipital lobe part of the cerebral hemisphere that receives and interprets visual information
temporal lobe part of the cerebral hemisphere that helps regulate hearing, balance and equilibrium, and certain emotions and motivations
parietal lobe part of the cerebral cortex that receives sensory information from throughout the body
primary somatosensory cortex area of the parietal lobe where messages from the sense recptors are registered
frontal lobe part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for voluntary movement; it is also important for attention, goal-directed behavior, and appropriate emotional experiences
primary motor cortex the section of the frontal lobe responsible for voluntary movement
corpus callosum a thick band of nerve fibers connecting the left and right cerebral cortex
spinal cords complex cable of neurons that runs down the spine, connecting the brain to most of the rest of the body
somatic nervous system the part of the peripheral nervous system that carries messages from the senses to the central nervous system and between the central nervous system and the skeletal muscles
autonomic nervous system the part of the peripheral nervous system that carries messages between the central nervous system and the internal organs
sympathetic division branch of the autonomic nervous system; it prepares the body for quick action in an emergency
parasympathetic division branch of the autonomic nervous system; it calms and relaxes the body
endocrine glands glands of the endocrine system that release hormones into the bloodstream
hormones chemical substances released by the endocrine glands; they help regulate bodily activities
thyroid gland endocrine gland located below the voice box; it produces the hormone thyroxin
parathyroids four tiny glands embedded in the thyroid; they secrete parathormone
pineal gland a gland located roughly in the center of the brain that appears to regulate activity levels over the course of a day
pancreas organ lying between the stomach and small intestine; it secretes insulin and glucagon to regulate blood-sugar levels
pituitary gland gland located on the inderside of the brain; it produces the largest number of the body's hormones
adrenal glands two endocrine glands located just above the kidneys
behavior genetics study of the relationship between heredity and behavior
evolutionary psychology a subfield of psychology concerned with the origins of behaviiors and mental processes, their adaptive value, and the purposes they continue to serve
genetics study of how traits are transmitted from one generation to the next
genes elements that control the transmission of traits; they are found on the chromosomes
chromosomes pairs of threadlike bodies within the cell nucleus that contain the genes
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) complex molecule in a double-helix configuration that is the main ingredient of chromosomes and genes and forms the code for all genetic information
human genome the full complement of genes within a human cell
dominant gene member of a gene pair that controls the appearance of a certain trait
recessive gene member of a gene pair that can control the appearance of a certain trait only if it is paired with another recessive gene
polygenic inheritance process by which several genes interact to produce a certain trait; responsible for our most important traits
strain studies studies of the heritability of behavioral traits using animals that have been inbred to produce strains that are genetically similar to one another
selection studies studies that estimate the heritability of a trait by breeding animals with other animals that have the same trait
family studies studies of heritability in humans based on the assumption that if genes influence a certain trait, close relatives should be more similar on that trait than distant relatives
twin studies studies of identical and fraternal twins to determine the relative influence of heredity and environment on human behavior
identical twins twins developed from a single fertilized ovum and therefore identical in genetic makeup at the time of conception
fraternal twins twins developed from two separate fertilized ova and therefore different in genetic makeup
adoption studies research carried out on children, adopted at birth by parents not related to them, to determine the relative influence of heredity and environment on human behavior
natural selection the mechanism proposed by Darwin in his theory of evolution; organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive, transmitting their genetic chars to succeeding generations, whereas organisms with less adaptive chars tend to vanish from the earth
Created by: Jenn Gallo Jenn Gallo on 2010-04-24



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