Biology of the Brain

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Neuron
a nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system
Dendrite
the busty, branching extensions at a neuron that receive messages and conduct impulses toward the cell body
Myelin Sheath
a layer of fatty tissue segmentally encasing the fibers of many neurons: enables vastly greater transmission speed of neutral impulses as the impulse hops from one node to the next
Action Potential
a neutral impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon. The action potential is generated by the movement of positively charged atoms in and out of channels in the axon's membrane.
Neural impulse
electrical signal traveling down the axon
Biological psychologists
a branch of psychology concerned with the links between biology and behavior
Multiple sclerosis
a chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Synapse
the junction between the axon-tip of the sending neuron and the dendrite or cell body of the receiving neuron. The tiny gap at this junction is called the synaptic gap or cleft.
Neurotransmitters
chemical messengers that transverse the synaptic gaps between neurons. When released by sending the neuron, neurotransmitters travel across the synapse and blind to receptor sites on the receiving neuron, thereby influencing whether that neuron will generate a neural impulse.
Acetylcholine
a neurotransmitter that enables learning and memory and also triggers muscle contraction
Endorphines
natural, opiate-like neurotransmitter linked to pain control and to pleasure
Excitatory neurotransmitter
revs neurons up
GABA
a major inhibitory neurotransmitter; stops neurons from firing
Dopamine
influences movement, learning, attention, and emotion
Alzheimer's
progressive neurological deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain.
Schizophrenia
a long-term psychiatric disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotions, and behavoir.
Hormones
chemical messengers that are manufactured by the endocrine glands, travel through the bloodstream, and affect other tissues.
Nervous system
the body's speedy, electrochemical communication network, consisting of all the nerve cells of the peripheral and central nervous systems.
Central nervous system
the brain and spinal cord
Peripheral nervous system
the sensory and motor neurons that connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body
Nerves
neural "cables" containing many axons. These bundled axons, which are part of the peripheral nervous system, connect the central nervous system with muscles, glands, and sense organs
Sensory neurons
neurons that carry incoming information from the sense receptors to the central nervous system
Motor neurons
neurons that carry outgoing information from the central nervous system to the muscles and glands.
Interneurons
central nervous system neurons that internally communicate and intervene between the sensory inputs and motor outputs
Somatic neurons system
the division of the peripheral nervous system that controls the body's skeletal muscles
Autonomic nervous system
the part of the peripheral nervous system that controls the glands and the muscles of the internal organs. 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.
Reflex
a simple, automatic, inborn response to a sensory stimulus, such as the knee-junk response.
Neural networks
interconnected neural cells. With experience, networks can learn, as .feedback strengthens or inhibits connections that produce certain results. Computer simulations of neural networks show analogous learning
Endocrine system
the body's "slow" chemical communication system; a set of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream.
Hormones
chemical messengers, mostly those manufactured by the endocrine glands, that are produced in one tissue and affect another.
Adrenal glands
a pair of endocrine glands just above the kidneys. The adrenals secrete the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which helps 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.
Lesion
tissue destruction. A brain lesion is a naturally or experimentally caused destruction of brain tissue
Electroencephalogram
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.
PET (Position emission tomography scan)
a visual display of brain activity that detects where a radioactive form of glucose goes where the brain preforms a given task
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imagining)
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
fMRI
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
Brainstem
the oldest part and central core of the brain, beginning where the spinal cord swells as it enters the skull: the brainstorm is responsible for automatic survival functions
Medulla
the base of the brainstem: controls heartbeat and breathing.
Reticular formation
a nerve network in the brainstem that plays on important role in controlling arousal
Thalamus
the brains 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.
Cerebellum
the "little brain" attached to the rear of the brainstem; its functions include processing sensory input and coordinating movement output and balance.
Limbic system
a doughnut-shaped 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 fro food and sex. Includes the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus.
Amygdala
two lima bean-sized neural clusters that are components of the limbic system and are linked to emotion
Hypothalamus
a neural structuring lying below the thalamus; it directs several maintenance activities, helps govern the endocrine system the pituitary gland, and is linked to emotion.
Cerebral Cortex
the intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells that covers the cerebral hemispheres; the body's ultimate control and information processing center
Glial cells
cells in the nervous system that support, nourish, and protect neurons
Frontal lobes
speaking, planning, judging
Parietal lobe
sense of touch, body position
Occipital lobes
information related to sight
Temporal lobes
comprehension sound speech
Frontal lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying just behind the forehead; involved in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgements
Parietal lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the top of the head and toward the rear; receives sensory input for touch and body position
Occipital lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the back of the head; includes the visual areas, which receive visual information from the opposite visual field.
Temporal lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying roughly above the ears, includes the auditory areas, each of which receives auditory information primarily from the opposite ear.
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 touch and movement sensations
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
Aphasia
impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage either to Broca's area of to Wernicke's area
Broca's area
controls language expression - an area of the frontal lobe, usually in the left hemisphere that directs the muscle movements involved in speech
Wernicke's area
controls language reception - a brain area involved in language comprehension and expression; usually in the left temporal lobe
Plasticity
the brain's capacity for modifications, as evident in brain reorganization following damage and in experiments on the effects of experience on brain development.
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