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MCAT Nervous System

Nervous System Physiology

TermDefinition
motor neurons begin in the central nervous system projecting their axons outside the CNS and directly or indirectly controlling muscles
axoplasmic transport responsible for movement of mitochondria, lipids, synaptic vesicles, proteins, and other cell parts to and from a neuron's cell body through the cytoplasm of its axon; also called axonal transport
dopamine a phenethylamine hormone and neurotransmitter. as a hormone, it inhibits the release of prolactin from the anterior lobe of the pituitary. as a neurotransmitter in the brain, it activates five types of receptors and their variants
reflex action an autonomic (involuntary) neuromuscular action elicited by a defined stimulus
brain the control center of the central nervous system; also known at the encephalon
enteric nervous system the part of the nervous system that directly controls the gastrointestinal system
spinal canal the space in the vertebrae through which the spinal cord passes; also known as the spinal cavity
hyperpolarization any change in a cell's membrane potential that makes it more polarized
dura mater the tough and inflexible outermost of the three layers of the meninges surrounding the brain and spinal cord; also known as the pachymeninx
ganglion A tissue mass composed mainly of somata and dendritic structures. They are often connected interconnected with each other to form a complex known as a plexus
autonomic nervous system the part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system, maintaining homeostasis in the body
arachnoid mater One of the three meninges. It is interposed between the more superficial dura mater and the deeper pia mater
pineal gland A small endocrine gland in the brain which produces melatonin
substance P associated in the regulation of mood disorders, anxiety, stress, reinforcement, neurogenesis, respiratory rhythm, neurotoxicity, nausea/emesis, and pain; also called tachykinin neuropeptide
neuropeptide any of the variety of peptides found in neural tissue; examples include the endorphins and enkephalins
medulla oblongata the lower portion of the brainstem
axon guidance describes the means by which neurons send out axons to reach the correct targets; also called axon pathfinding
parietal lobe a lobe in the brain positioned above the occipital lobe and behind the frontal lobe which integrates sensory information from different modalities, particularly determining spatial sense and navigation
reflex arc the neural pathway that mediates a reflex action
limbic system the part of the human brain involved in emotion, motivation, and emotional association with memory
cerebrum a large region within the brain to which many functions are attributed; also known as the forebrain or telencephalon
GABA the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and also in the retina; gamma-aminobutyric acid
resting potential the membrane potential that would be maintained if there were no action potentials, synaptic potentials, or other active changes in the membrane potential
cerebellum a region of the brain that plays an important role in the integration of sensory perception and motor control, using constant feedback on body position to fine-tune motor movements
parasympathetic ganglia mostly small terminal ganglia or intramural ganglia lying near or within the organs they innervate
bipolar cell a type of neuron having two extensions, which is a specialized sensory neuron for the transmission of special senses
axon hillock the anatomical part of a neuron that connects the cell body, called soma, to the axon
white matter composed of myelinated nerve cell processes, or axons, which connect various gray matter areas of the brain to each other
sympathetic trunk a bundle of nerve fiber, a chain of ganglia, that runs from the base of the skull to the coccyx
saltatory conduction the means by which action potentials are transmitted along myelinated nerve fibers
action potential a spike of electrical discharge that travels along the membrane of a cell
synaptic vesicles store the various neurotransmitters that are released during calcium-regulated exocytosis into the synaptic cleft of a synapse
ventricular system a set of structures in the brain continuous with the central canal of the spinal cord through which cerebrospinal fluid flows
broca's area a section of the human brain that is involved in language processing, speech production, and comprehension
dendrites the branched projections of a neuron that act to conduct the electrical stimulation received from other neural cells to the cell body of the neuron
hypothalamus located just below the thalamus; links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland
axolemma the membrane of a neuron's axon
neurotransmitters chemicals that are used to relay, amplify, and modulate signals between a neuron and another cell
neural network refers to a network or circuitry of biological neurons
dendritic spine a small membranous extrusion that protrudes from a dendrite and forms one half of a synapse
mesencephalon the middle of three vesicles that arise from the neural tube that forms the brain of developing animals; also known as the midbrain
preganglionic fibers fibers from the CNS to the ganglion; found in the autonomic nervous system
synaptic plasticity the ability of the connection, or synapse, between two neurons to change in strength.
efferent nerves carry nerve impulses away from the central nervous system to effectors such as muscles or glands; also known as motor or effector neurons
neuromuscular junction the synapse or junction of the axon terminal of a motoneuron with the motor end plate
myelin an electrically insulating phospholipid layer that surrounds the axons of many neurons
spinal cord a thin, tubular bundle of nerves that is an extension of the central nervous system from the brain, enclosed and protected by the bony vertebral column
fight-or-flight response states that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system
neurons electrically excitable cells in the nervous system that process and transmit information
pia mater the delicate innermost layer of the meninges
occipital lobe the visual processing center of the mammalian brain, containing most of the anatomical region of the visual cortex
Created by: kameyer85