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biological psychology

a branch of psychology concerned with the links between biology and behavior


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


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


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

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 juntion 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 of cleft.


chemical messengers that traverse the synaptic gaps between neurons. They bind to receptor sites on the receiving neuron, thereby influencing whether that neuron will generate a neural impulse.


"morphine within"; natural, opiatelike neurotransmitters linked to pain control and to pleasure

nervous system

the sensory and control apparatus consisting of a network of nerve cells

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


bundled axons connect the central nervous system with musceles, 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 sense receptors to the central nervous system to the mucles and glands


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

somatic nervous system

the skeletal nervous system

automatic nervous system

controls the glands and the muscles of the internal organs

sympathetic nervous system

part of the nervous system that arouses the body, mobilizing its energy in stressful situations.

parasympathetic nervous system

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


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

endocrine system

the body's slow chemical communication system; a set of glands that secrete hormones into the blood stream


chemical messangers, 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.

pituitary gland

the master gland of the endocrine system

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