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The mind and it's functions.


a nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system

Sensory Neurons

Neurons that carry incoming information from the sensory receptors to the brain and spinal cord

Motor Neurons

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


Neurons within the brain and spinal cord that communicate internally and intervene between the sensory inputs and motor outputs


The bushy, branching extensions of a neuron that receive messages and conduct impulses toward the cell body


the extension of a neuron, ending in branching terminal fibers, through which messages pass to other neurons or to muscles or glands


a fatty substance that helps insulate neurons and speeds the transmission of nerve impulses

Action Potential

a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon


the level of stimulation required to trigger a neural impulse


The junction between the axon tip of the sending neuron and the dendrite or cell body of the receiving neuron


Chemicals that transmit information from one neuron to another


a neurotransmitter's re-absorption by the sending neuron


natural, opiatelike neurotransmitters linked to pain control and to pleasure

Nervous System

the body's speedy, electrochemical communication system, consisting of all the nerve cells of the peripheral and central nervous systems

Central Nervous System

brain and spinal cord

Peripheral Nervous System

the sensory and motor neurons that connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body


Bundled axons that form neural "cables" connecting the central nervous system with muscles, glands, and sense organs

Somatic Nervous System

The division of the peripheral nervous system that controls the body's skeletal muscles. Also called the skeletal nervous system

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). Its sympathetic division arouses; its parasympathetic division calms.

Sympathetic Nervous System

the division of the autonomic nervous system that arouses the body, mobilizing its energy in stressful situations

Parasympathetic Nervous System

the division of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body, conserving its energy


a simple, automatic, inborn response to a sensory stimulus, such as the knee-jerk response


a pair of endocrine glands just above the kidneys. The adrenals secrete the hormones epinephrine(adrenaline) and norepinephrine, which help to arouse the body in times of stress.

Pituitary Gland

the endocrine system's most influential gland. Under the influence of the hypothalamus, the pituitary regulates growth and controls other endocrine glands


tissue destruction. A brain lesion is a naturally or experimentally caused destruction of brain tissue


eletroencephalogram; an amplified recording of the waves of electrical activity that sweep across the brain's surface. These waves are measured by electrodes placed on the scalp

Positron Emission Tomography Scan

a visual display of brain activity that detects where a radioactive form of glucose goes while the brain performs a given task


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


a technique for revealing blood flow and, therefore, brain activity by comparing successive MRI scans. MRI scans show brain anatomy; fMRI scans show brain function.


the oldest part and central core of the brain, beginning where the spinal cord swells as it enters the skull; the brainstem is responsible for automatic survival functions


the base of the brainstem; controls heartbeat and breathing

Reticular Formation

a nerve network in the brainstem that plays an important role in controlling arousal

Limbic System

Neural system (including the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus) located below the cerebral hemispheres; associated with emotions and drives.


two almond-shaped neural clusters that are components of the limbic system and are linked to emotion

Motor Cortex

an area at the rear of the frontal lobes that controls voluntary movements

Sensory Cortex

the area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and processes body sensations


the brain's ability to change, especially during childhood, by reorganizing after damage or by building new pathways based on experience

Corpus Callosum

the large band of neural fibers connecting the two brain hemispheres and carrying messages between them.

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.

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