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Biological Basis of Behavior


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Applied Psychology
The branch of psychology concerned with everyday, practical problems.
Any overt (observable) response or activity by an organism.
Absolute refractory period
The minimum length of time after an action potential during which another action potential cannot begin.
Action potential
A brief change in a neuronUs electrical charge.
Adoption studies
Research studies that assess hereditary influence by examining the resemblance between adopted children and both their biological and their adoptive parents.
An inherited characteristic that increased in a population (through natural selection) because it helped solve a problem of survival or reproduction during the time it emerged.
Afferent nerve fibers
Axons that carry information inward to the central nervous system from the periphery of the body.
A chemical that mimics the action of a neurotransmitter.
A chemical that opposes the action of a neurotransmitter.
Autonomic nervous system (ANS)
The system of nerves that connect to the heart, blood vessels, smooth muscles, and glands.
A long, thin fiber that transmits signals away from the neuron cell body to other neurons, or to muscles or glands.
Central nervous system (CNS)
The brain and the spinal cord.
Cerebral cortex
The convoluted outer layer of the cerebrum.
Threadlike strands of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecules that carry genetic information.
Critical period
A limited time span in the development of an organism when it is optimal for certain capacities to emerge because the organism is especially responsive to certain experiences.
Efferent nerve fibers
Axons that carry information outward from the central nervous system to the periphery of the body.
Endocrine system
A group of glands that secrete chemicals into the bloodstream that help control bodily functioning.
The entire family of internally produced chemicals that resemble opiates in structure and effects.
Family studies
Scientific studies in which researchers assess hereditary influence by examining blood relatives to see how much they resemble each other on a specific trait.
DNA segments that serve as the key functional units in hereditary transmission.
The part of the brain that includes the cerebellum and two structures found in the lower part of the brainstem: the medulla and the pons.
The chemical substances released by the endocrine glands.
A structure found near the base of the forebrain that is involved in the regulation of basic biological needs.

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