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bumps on a skull that can reveal mental abilities and character traits

biological psychologists

those who study the links between biological activity and psychological events


cells that receive, translate, and send messages throughout the body

sensory neurons

neurons that carry messages to the brain that activate the sensory glands

motor neurons

neurons that carry instructions from brain to other body tissues that cause movement


neurons that communicate with each other and process information


specialized to receive information (branches out from soma)

cell body

or soma


transmit messages to other neurons, muscles, and glands

myelin sheath

wraps around axon to protect it

action potential

the spike of electric activity passed from one neuron to the next (through axon)

resting potential

when no electric charge is happening

selectively permeable

prevents ions from mixing

positively charged ions

Na+ & K+

depolarized irons



the minimum intensity it takes to trigger a neural impulse


neuron will either fire an impulse or not

synapse (synaptic cleft)

the lapse between the axon of the sending neuron and the dendrite of the receiving neuron (the space between the terminal button on the end of a dendrite and another cell)


help carry electrical charge across synapse


when neurotransmitters excite cell into firing


when neurotransmitters inhibit cell from firing


the process when the "sending neuron" reabsorbs the excess neurotransmitters

acetylcholine (ACh)

a type of neurotransmitter associated with motor movement (can cause Alzheimer's if excess of deficit)


natural, opiate-like, neurotransmitters that act like morphine and link pain control and pleasure


drugs that mimic neurotransmitters


drugs that block neurotransmitters


(morphine, heroin) causes drowsiness and a euphoria associated with elevated endorphin levels (can change brain chemistry and create tolerance and withdrawal symptoms

endocrine system

a communication system which has glands that secrete hormones that travel through the blood stream and affect other tissues and the brain, influencing out interest in sex, food, and aggression


chemical messengers created by the endocrine system that travel through the body and affect other tissues


endocrine glands located on the top of the kidney that secrete hormones that help arouse the body during times of stress


endocrine glands located at the core of the brain that regulates growth and controls other endocrine glands under the influence of the hypothalamus


controls metabolic functions

nervous system

the electro-chemical communication system that transports information throughout the body

central nervous system

includes the brain and the spinal cord


includes the somatic and automatic system which regulate movement and work without conscious thought


bundled axons that act as "electrical cables" and send messages through the nervous system through sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons


enables voluntary control of out skeletal muscles by reporting to the brain the current state of the skeletal muscle and carrying instructions back, triggering the body to react


operates on its own and controls glands and muscles of the internal organs, influencing glandular activity, heartbeat, and digestion


part of autonomic nervous system which arouses and expends energy


part of the autonomic nervous system which conserves energy and calms the body

neural networks

cluster of brain neurons


automatic responses to stimuli that are governed by neural pathways


reactions that occur when impulses reach the spinal cord


the destruction of brain tissue either naturally or experimentally

clinical observation

reveal connections between the brain and the mind

electroencephalogram (EFG)

amplified record of waves caused when electrical activity sweeps neurons across the brain's surface

CT scan

examines brain by taking x-ray photographs that reveal possible brain damage

PET scan

shows picture of brain's activity by showing each brain area's consumption of sugar glucose --> reveals gamma rays which are picked up by detectors on a person's head shows which parts of the brain are active when performing certain tasks

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging

takes detailed pictures of soft brain tissue (and other body parts) by using a strong magnetic field that manipulates atoms into releasing signals

functional MRI

reveals function and structure of the brain by detecting blood flow (blood flow is increased oxygen-laden)


oldest and innermost region where the spinal cord swells before entering the skull


swell of spinal cord after entering the skull (controls functions such as breathing and heartbeat)


sits above medulla and help coordinate movements

reticular formation

network of neurons that extend from the spinal cord to the thalamus (involved in arousal and alertness electrical stimulation) severing can cause coma


egg-shaped structures that receive info from senses (except smell) and directs it to the higher brain regions that deal with those senses (directs higher brain replies to medulla and cerebellum)


"little brain", rear of brainstream that processes sensory input and coordination/balance (enables one type of nonverbal learning and memory)


brain processes most information outside of our awareness


border between older brain parts and cerebral hemispheres that is associated with emotions and drives


processes memory


part of limbic system that influences agression and fear (neural clusters) perceives emotions and processes emotional memory


keeps the body's internal environment in a steady state (below the thalamus)/ monitors blood chemistry and takes orders from parts of the brain

Influences by hypothalamus:

-hunger, thirst, body temp,
-sex ->stimulate->secretes hormones->triggers master endocrine gland->influences hormones released by other glands
-provides pleasure of reward (1954 rat experiment)

addictive disorders

stems from reward deficiency syndrome

reward deficiency syndrome

a genetically disposed deficiency in the natural brain systems for pleasure, and well-being that leads people to crave what provides the missing pleasure or relieves negative feelings

cerebral cortex

layer of interconnected neural cells that is the ultimate control and information processing center that covers the cerebral hemispheres

glial cells

"give cells" that support neurons (may participate in information transmissions and memory with interaction between the neurons)

frontal lobe

subdivision separated by fissures at the top (front) of the brain/ involved with speaking and muscle movements, making plans, and judgments

parietal lobe

top rear of brain that receives sensory input for touch and body body position

occipital lobe

back of brain that receives information from visual fields


above the ears that receives information from the opposite hemisphere

frontal lobe influence:

-frontal cortex caused movement (1870)
-controlling movement by matching neural brain activity to help those who are paralyzed

neural prosthetic

artificial body part replacements

parietal lobe influence:

receives input from senses (more sensitive has larger sensory cortex devoted to it)

sensory cortex

-left hemisphere section that receives input from the body's right side (processes body touch and movement sensations)

occipital influence:

visual info and visual cortex (back of brain) goes to other areas to identify words, detecting emotions, and recognizing faces

temporal influence

sound is processed/ travels through route and received in opposite hemisphere

association areas

area in cerebral cortex which are not evolved in motor or sensory functions and integrate information ( memory, learning, thinking, speaking)


impairment of language resulting from damage to any of the critical areas

Broca's area

area of left frontal lobe when damaged disrupts speaking (1865)

Wernicke's area

specific area of left temporal love, when damaged, disrupts understanding

visual area

received visual info goes to angular gyrus which re-codes it into auditory form, which Wernicke's area uses to derive it's meaning/ damage leaves a person able to speak, understand, but unable to read out loud

unified whole

specialization and integration create brain as a unified whole (coordination of many brain areas and also specific neural networks)


the brain's ability to modify itself after damage (most plastic when child)

explanation on how we use language (Geschwind)

visual area->angular gyrus (auditory cortex)->received & understood by Wernicke's area->sent to Broca's area->controls motor cortex (pronounce words)

constraint-induced therapy

rewire brain by restraining a functional limb and forcing the use of uncooperative limb

reorganize therapy

therapy reprograms the brain/ brain modification


formation of new neurons

stem cells

can develop into any type of brain cell (debated)/ discovered in human embryo/ neural stem cells can replace for lost brain cells


hemispheric specialization (apparent after brain damage)/ left is "dominant" because it can effect reading, writing, speaking, and understanding

corpus callosum

band of neural fibers which connect the two hemispheres and carry messages between them

Right Brain

-things appearing on left of visual field are transmitted to the right hemisphere
-controls perception (inferences)
-more engaged when quick, intuitive, responses are needed

Left Brain

-things appearing on right of visual field are transmitted to the left hemisphere
-more active when a person deliberates over decisions
-speaking and calculation, quick, literal interpretations


awareness of ourselves and the environment

cognitive neuroscience

study of brain activity linked with our mental processes (brain activity linked with cognition->perception, thinking, memory, memory, language)

dual processing

information is simultaneously processed on conscious and unconscious tracks/ perception, memory, thinking, language, and attitudes both result w/ ______________.

visual perception track

reorganize and plan future actions

visual action track

guides moment-to-moment actions

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