Neuroscience - AP Psychology - Mrs. Welle

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82 terms · Terms for neuroscience unit in AP Psychology. Includes structures of the brain, parts of and functions of the neuron, and the nervous system in general.

central nervous system (CNS)

Division of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord

peripheral nervous system

division of the nervous system that consists of neural fibers lying outside the brain and spinal cord

somatic division

division of the peripheral nervous system involved in controlling VOLUNTARY muscle & joint movement


basic cells of the nervous system

sensory (afferent) neurons

neurons that carry information from the receptors to the spinal cord and brain

motor (efferent) neurons

neurons that carry information from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles

autonomic nervous system

division of the peripheral nervous system involved in the control of (generally unconscious/automatic) bodily functioning through organs and glands

sympathetic nervous system

subdivision of the autonomic nervous system responsible for mobilizing the body in times of stress, and preparing for flight or fight

parasympathetic nervous system

subdivision of the autonomic nervous system responsible for returning the body to a resting or balanced state


automatic behavior in response to a specific stimulus; does not involve communication with the brain

lower level structures

oldest of the three main divisions of the brain; its major structures include the medulla, pons, and cerebellum; also known as the "hindbrain"


structure of the hindbrain that allows for communication between the cerebellum, cerebral cortex, & brain stem; has nuclei that are important for sleep and arousal


structure located in the hindbrain that regulates automatic responses such as breathing, swallowing, and blood circulation

reticular formation

band of nerve fibers that run through the center of the brain stem; important in controlling arousal levels


structure of the hindbrain that coordinates voluntary muscular movements

corpus callosum

wide band of neural fibers that connects the two hemispheres of the brain

limbic system

structures located beneath the cerebral cortex that are involved in regulating emotions and motivated behaviors


subcortical structure that relays incoming sensory information to the cerebral cortex and other parts of the brain; a.k.a "sensory switchboard"

EEG (electroenchephalograph)

device that monitors and records electric activity within the brain

PET scan (positron emission tomography)

imaging technique that involves monitoring the metabolic activity of the brain

CT scan (computerized tomography)

imaging technique that involves the production of a large number of X-rays interpreted by a computer

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

imaging technique that involves the use of radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce a signal that can be interpreted by computer


short, branchlike structures of a neuron that receive information from receptors and other neurons


a modification of the standard MRI procedure that allows both structural and functional images to be gathered


cell body of a neuron


part of a neuron tha transmits information to other neurons and to muscles and glands

myelin sheath

fatty protein substance that covers some axons, increasing speed of transmission

terminal buttons

structures located at the ends of the axon in which neurotransmitters are stored before release

multiple sclerosis

disease caused by degeneration of myelin in the CNS


chemical substances, stored in the terminal buttons, that facilitate the transmission of information from one neuron to another


site where two or more neurons interact but do not touch


method of clearing a neurotransmitter from the synaptic cleft, in which the neurotransmitter is taken back into the terminal buttons

synaptic vesicles

small pockets or sacs located in terminal buttons that contain a neurotransmitter


drug that enhances the operation of a neurotransmitter


drug that blocks the operation of a neurotransmitter


natural painkillers that are produced by the body

resting potential

electrical charge (negative) of a neuron when it is not firing

action potential

brief electrial charge that travels down the axon; a process also called "depolarization"


the level of stimulation required to trigger a neural impulse

refractory period

period, after firing, during which the neuron is unable to fire because it is repolarizing


loss of ability to speak or understand written or spoken language

endocrine system

system of glands that produce and secrete chemicals


chemicals produced by the glands of the endocrine system that are carried by the bloodstream to other organs

pituitary gland

gland located below the thalamus and hypothalamus; called the "master gland" because it controls many other glands

biological psychology

branch of psychology concerned with the links between biology and behavior


a neurotransmitter that enables muscle action, learning and memory; an undersupply is linked with Alzheimer's disease


a neurotransmitter that influences movement, learning and attention; overactivity of receptors linked to schizophrenia while an undersupply linked to Parkinson's disease


an undersupply of this neurotransmitter is linked with depression; exercise increases production of it


a neurotransmitter that controls alertness and arousal; undersupply can depress mood


a major inhibitory neurotransmitter


a major excitatory neurotransmitter; oversupply can overstimulate brain, producing migraines or seizures


neural "cables" containing many axons


central nervous system neurons that internally communicate and intervene between sensory inputs and motor outputs


brain destruction; can be naturally caused or created for experimentation


structure in the limbic system important in processing memories


structure in the limbic system responsible for directing several maintenance activities (eating, drinking, body temp); helps govern endocrine system via the pituitary gland

Paul Broca

responsible for discovering the area on the left frontal lobe responsible for coordinating muscle movements involved in spoken language

Carl Wernicke

discovered a brain area responsible for interpreting meaning of language


process of neural firing; when action potential is generated and the neuron briefly takes on a positive charge

all-or-none principle

refers to the fact that a neuron will fire when threshold is reached, but not before


the two almond-shaped nerve clusters in the limbic system believed to be responsible for fear and aggressive responses

cerebral cortex

wrinkled, gray covering of the brain that accounts for 80% of brain weight is responsible for complex processing of information, planning, learning, memory storage, etc.

Phineas Gage

famous case study in neuroscience; sustained catastrophic damage to his frontal lobes

motor cortex

located on the back of the frontal lobe; responsible for directing voluntary movement on the opposite side of the body

sensory cortex

located on the front of the parietal lobes; responsible for processing sensory information received by the opposite side of the body

angular gyrus

brain area believed to be important in transferring visual (written) language into sound (auditory) information

occipital lobe

portion of the cerebral cortex at the "back" of the head; contains the visual cortex

temporal lobe

portion of the cerebral cortex located on the "sides" of the brain; contains auditory cortex

Roger Sperry & Michael Gazzaniga

studied split brain patients


early, somewhat misguided attempt at studying the functions of parts of the brain; held that bumps on the skull revealed the person's personality traits

Franz Gall

early comparative brain anatomist; developed phrenology

gray matter

outer layer of the cortex; mostly glia, neuronal cell bodies, and axons

white matter

inner layer of the cortex; composed of myelinated axons that reach between the lobes of the cerebral cortex and other parts of the brain

Broca's area

area (usually in the left frontal lobe) that directs the muscle movements involved in speech

Wernicke's area

brain area involved in language comprehension; usually in left temporal lobe

association areas

Areas of the cerebral cortex that are not involved in primary motor or sensory functions; rather, they are involved in higher mental functions such as learning, remembering, thinking, and speaking

angular gyrus

transforms visual representations into an auditory code; damage to this leaves the person unable to speak and understand, but able to read


Brain's ability to reorganize and change its structure and function throughout the life span, in reponse to injury or new learning

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

blow to head or a penetrating head injury that damages brain

alien hand syndrome

A neurological disorder in which the afflicted person's hand appears to take on a mind of its own; most common in split brain patients.

hemispheric specialization

This is also called lateralization; refers to the fact that the left and right hemispheres of the brain have some specific functions that exist only in those hemispheres.

contralateral control

The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controls the left side.

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