Glossary of Psychology- the brain (college level)
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- What is a neuron?
- a nerve cell, the basic building block of the nervous system
- What is a dendrite and what does it do?
- the branching extensions of a neuron that receive messages and send impulses toward the cell body
- What is an axon and what does it do?
- the extension of a neuron, ending in branching
terminal fibers, through which messages are sent to
other neurons or to muscles or glands
- What is the myelin sheath and what does it do?
- a layer of fatty cells segmentally encasing the fibers of many neurons; makes possible greater transmission speed of neutral impulses
- What is a threshold
- the level of stimulation required to trigger a
- What is Action Potential?
- a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon;
generated by the movement of positively charges atoms in and out of channels in the
- What is a synapse?
- junction between the axon tip of the sending neuron
and the dendrite or cell body of the receiving neuron
- What are neurotransmitters?
- chemical messengers that traverse the synaptic gaps
- What is acetylcholine?
- a neurotransmitter that, among its functions, triggers muscle contraction
- What are endorphins
- linked to pain control and to pleasure; natural, opiatelike neurotransmitters
- What is the Nervous System?
- the body’s speedy, electrochemical
- What body parts does the Central Nervous System (CNS)consist of?
- the brain and spinal cord
- What is the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)
- the sensory and motor neurons that connect the central nervous system (CNS) to the rest of the body
- What are nerves and what do they do?
- neural “cables” containing many axons, part of the PNS; connect the central nervous system with muscles, glands, and sense organs
- What are sensory neurons and what do they do?
- neurons that carry incoming information from the sense receptors to the central nervous system
- What are Interneurons and what do they do?
- CNS neurons that internally communicate and intervene between the sensory inputs and motor outputs
- What is the job of motor neurons?
- carry outgoing information from the CNS to muscles and glands
- What is the skeletal nervous system and what does it do?
- the division of the peripheral nervous system
that controls the body’s skeletal muscles
- What is the job of the 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)
- What does the Sympathetic Nervous System do?
- division of the autonomic nervous system that arouses the body, mobilizing its energy in stressful situations
- What is the Parasympathetic Nervous System and what does it do?
- division of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body, conserving its energy
- What is a reflex?
- automatic response to a sensory stimulus
- What is a lesion?
- a naturally or experimentally caused destruction of brain tissue
- Electroencephalogram (EEG)
- an amplified
recording of the waves of electrical activity that sweep across the brain’s
- CT (computed tomograph) Scan
- a series of x-ray photographs taken from different angles
- PET (positron emission tomograph) Scan
- a visual display of brain activity that detects where a
radioactive form of glucose goes while the brain performs a given task (dye is injected into body)
- 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.
- What is the brain stem, where is it located, and what is it responsible for?
- central core of the brain,
beginning where the spinal cord swells as it enters the skull; responsible for automatic survival functions
- Where is the medulla located and what does it do?
- base of the brainstem; controls heartbeat and breathing
- What is Reticular Formation?
- a nerve network in the brainstem that plays
an important role in controlling arousal
- What is the thalamus, where is it located, and what does it do?
- the brain’s sensory switchboard, located on
top of the brainstem; it directs messages to the sensory receiving areas in the cortex and transmits replies to the cerebellum and medulla
- What is the cerebellum known as, where is it located, and what does it do?
- the “little brain” attached to the rear of the
brainstem; it helps coordinate voluntary
movement and balance
- Where is the limbic system located, what does it do, and what parts of the brain are involved?
- system of neural structures at the border of the brainstem and cerebral hemispheres; associated with emotions such as fear and aggression and drives such as those for food and sex; includes the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus.
- What is the amygdala?
- two almond-shaped neural clusters that are
components of the limbic system and are linked to
- What is the Hypothalamus and what does it do?
- neural structure lying below the thalamus; directs several maintenance activities (eating, drinking, body temperature); helps govern the endocrine system via the pituitary gland; is linked to emotion
- What does the Cerebral Cortex do?
- it's the body’s ultimate control and information processing center
- What are Glial Cells?
- cells in the nervous system that are not neurons but that support, nourish, and protect neurons
- What is the job of the frontal lobes?
- involved in speaking and muscle movements and in
making plans and judgments
- What do the parietal lobes include?
- the sensory cortex
- What do the occipital lobes do?
- include the visual areas, which receive visual
information from the opposite visual field
- What do the temporal lobes include?
- include the auditory areas
- Where is the Motor Cortex located and what does it do?
- area at the rear of the frontal lobes that controls voluntary movements
- Where is the Sensory Cortex located and what does it do?
- area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and processes body sensations
- What is Aphasia?
- impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage either to Broca’s area (impairing speaking) or to Wernicke’s
area (impairing understanding)
- What is Broca's area responsible for and where is it located?
- an area of the left frontal lobe that directs
the muscle movements involved in speech
- What is Wernicke's area responsible for and where is it located?
- an area of the left temporal lobe involved in
- What is plasticity?
- the brain’s capacity for
modification as evident in brain reorganization following damage
- What is the corpus collosum and how does it function?
- largest bundle of neural fibers; connects the two brain hemispheres; carries
messages between the hemispheres
- What is a 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
- What is the Endocrine System and what does it do?
- the body’s “slow” chemical
communication system; a set of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream
- What are hormones?
- chemical messengers, mostly those manufactured by the
endocrine glands, that are produced in one tissue and
- What are Adrenal glands, where are they located, and what do they do?
- a pair of endocrine glands just above the kidneys; secrete the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which help to arouse the body in times of stress
- What do the Pituitary glands do?
- under the influence of the hypothalamus, the pituitary
regulates growth and controls other endocrine glands