AP Psychology– Biological Bases of Behavior Vocabulary

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Neuroscience
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any or all of the sciences, such as neurochemistry and experimental psychology, which deal with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain.
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Neuron
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a nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system.
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Dendrite
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the bushy, branching extensions of a neuron that receive messages and conduct impulses toward the cell body.
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Axon
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the extension of a neuron, ending in branching terminal fibers, through which messages pass to other neurons or to muscles or glands.
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Cell Body
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Terminal Buttons
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Efferent (motor) neurons
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neurons that carry outgoing information from the ventral nervous system to the muscles and glands.
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Afferent (sensory) neurons
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neurons that carry incoming information from sense receptors to central nervous system.
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Interneurons
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central nervous system neurons that internally communicate and intervene between sensory inputs and motor outputs.
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Synapse
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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.
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Action Potential
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a neural 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.
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Depolarization
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Hyperpolarization
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Refractory Period
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a resting period after orgasm, during which a man cannot achieve another orgasm.
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Substance P
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All-Or-Nothing Principle
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A neuron will either fire or not; no in between.
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Glial Cells
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Cells in the nervous system that support, nourish, and protect neurons.
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Myelin Sheath
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a layer of fatty tissue segmentally encasing the fibers of many neurons; enables vastly greater transmission speed of neural impulses as the impulse hops from one node to the next.
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Neurotransmitters
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chemical messengers that traverse the synaptic gaps between neurons. When released by the sending neuron, neurotransmitters travel across the synapse and bind to receptor sites on the receiving neuron, thereby influencing whether that neuron will generate a neural impulse.
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Agonists
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mimics a neurotransmitter, like a medication
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Antagonists
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blocks neurotransmitter
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Acetylcholine
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ACh; a neurotransmitter that enables learning and memory and also triggers muscle contraction.
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Norepinephrine
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function: physcial arousal, mood, learning too little: depression too much: anxiety, high blood pressure
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Dopamine
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function: pleasure/reward, movement too little: Parkinson’s too much: Schitzophrenia
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Seratonin
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function: emotional state/mood, sleep too little: depression, anxiety disorders, insomnia too much: confusion/agitation, sweating
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GABA (Gamma aminobutyric acid)
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function: best known inhibitory transmitter, sleep too little: anxiety, allergies, seizures
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Glutamate
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function: major excitatory neurotransmitter, learning & memory too little: Schitzophrenic negative symptoms too much: migraines, seizures
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Endorphins
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function: pain control, pleasure
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Peripheral nervous system
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the sensory and motor neurons that connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body
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Somatic nervous system
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the division of the peripheral nervous system that controls the body’s skeletal muscles. Also called skeletal nervous system.
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Autonomic nervous system
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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.
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Sympathetic nervous system
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the division of the autonomic nervous system that arouses the body, mobilizing its energy in stressful situations.
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Parasympathetic nervous system
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the division of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body, conserving its energy.
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Central nervous system
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the brain and the spinal cord.
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CT scan
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Electroencephalogram (EEG)
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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.
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PET (Positron emission tomography) scan
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a visual display of brain activity that detects where a radioactive from of glucose goes while the brain performs a given task.
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MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
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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.
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Functional MRI
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Lesion
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tissue destruction. A brain lesion is a naturally or experimentally caused destruction of brain tissue.
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Hindbrain/Brainstem
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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.
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Medulla
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the base of the brainstem; controls heartbeat and breathing.
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Pons
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Reticular Formation (RAS)
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a nerve network in the brainstem that plays an important role in controlling arousal.
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Cerebellum
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the “little brain” attached to the rear of the brainstem; its functions include processing sensory input and coordinating movement output and balance.
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Midbrain
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helps to process visual and auditory information
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Forebrain
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Thalamus
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the brain’s 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
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Hypothalamus
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a neural structure lying below the thalamus; it directs several maintenance activities (eating, drinking, body temperature), helps govern the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, and is linked to emotion.
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Amygdala
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two lima bean sized neural clusters that are components of the limbic system and are linked to emotion.
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Hippocampus
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a neural center located in the limbic system that helps process explicit memories for storage.
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Limbic system
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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 for food and sex. Includes the hippocampus, amygdada, and hypothalamus.
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Cerebral cortex
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the intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells that covers the cerebral hemispheres; the body’s ultimate control and information-processing center.
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Frontal lobes
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the portion of the cerebral cortex lying just behind the forehead; involved in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgements.
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Parietal lobes
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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.
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Occipital lobes
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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.
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Temporal lobes
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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 ears.
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(Somato) sensory cortex
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the area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and processes body touch and movement sensations.
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Motor cortex
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an area at the rear of the frontal lobes that controls voluntary movements.
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Broca’s area
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controls language expression- an area of the frontal lobe, usually in the left hemisphere, that directs the muscle movements involved in speech.
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Wernicke’s area
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controls language reception- a brain area involved in language comprehension and expression; usually in the left temporal lobe.
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Angular gyrus
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Association areas cortex
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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.
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Corpus callosum
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the large band of neural fibers connecting the two brain hemispheres and carrying messages between them.
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Endocrine system
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the body’s “slow” chemical communication system; a set of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream.
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Hormones
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chemical messengers, mostly those manufactured by the endocrine glands, that are produced in one tissue and affect another.
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Thyroid gland
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Parathyroid
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Adrenal glands
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a pair of endocrine glands just above the kidneys. The adrenals secrete the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), which help to arouse the body in times of stress.
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Ovary
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Testis
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Pancreas
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Pituitary gland
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the endocrine system’s most influential gland. Under the influence of the hypothalamus, the pituitary regulates growth and controls other endocrine glands.
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Receptive aphasia
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Expressive aphasia
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Split brain
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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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Brain Plasticity
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Roger Sperry
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One Brain or Two?
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Michael Gazzaniga
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All other articles
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Phineas Gage
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pole went through his head

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