Psychology from Inquiry to Understanding – Chapter 3 Terms

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neuron
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Nerve cell specialized for communication
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dendrite
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Portion of neuron that receives signals
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axon
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Portion of neuron that sends signals
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synaptic vesicle
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Spherical sac containing neurotransmitters
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neurotransmitter
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Chemical messenger specialized for communication from neuron to neuron
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synapse
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Space between two connecting neurons through which messages are transmitted chemically
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synaptic cleft
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A gap into which neurotransmitters are released from the axon terminal
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glial cell
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Cell in the nervous system that plays a role in the formation of myelin and the blood-brain barrier, responds to injury, removes debris, and enhances learning and memory
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myelin sheath
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Glial cells wrapped around axons that act as insulators of the neuron’s signal
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resting potential
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Electrical charge difference (-60 millivolts) across the neuronal membrane, when the neuron is not being stimulated or inhibited
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threshold
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membrane potential necessary to trigger action potential
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action potential
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electrical impulse that travels down the axon, triggering the release of neurotransmitters; positive particles rapidly flow into the axon until a maximal level is reached
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absolute refractory period
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time during which another action potential is impossible; limits maximal firing rate
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graded potential
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postsynaptic potentials that can be excitatory or inhibitory depending on whether positively or negatively charged particles flow across the neuronal membrane and in which direction they flow
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excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP)
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graded potential in a dendrite that is caused by excitatory synaptic transmission; positive ions allowed in which depolarizes the neuron
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inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP)
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graded potential that is caused by inhibitory synaptic transmission; negative ions move in which hyperpolarizes the neuron
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receptor site
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location that uniquely recognizes a neurotransmitter
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reuptake
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means of recycling neurotransmitters; process by which the synaptic vesicle reabsorbs the neurotransmitter
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endorphin
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chemical in the brain that plays a specialized role in pain reduction
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plasticity
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ability of the nervous system to change
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stem cell
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a cell, often originating in embryos, having the capacity to differentiate into a more specialized cell
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neurogenesis
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creation of new neurons in the adult brain
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central nervous system
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part of the nervous system containing the brain and spinal cord that controls the mind and behaviour
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peripheral nervous system
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nerves in the body that extend outside the central nervous system
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cerebral ventricles
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pockets in the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which provides the brain with nutrients and cushions against injury
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forebrain
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forward part of the brain that allows advanced intellectual abilities; aka cerebrum
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frontal lobe
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forward part of the cerebral cortex responsible for motor function, language, memory and planning
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motor cortex
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part of the frontal lobe responsible for body movement
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prefrontal cortex
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part of the frontal lobe responsible for thinking, planning and language
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Broca’s area
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language area in the prefrontal cortex that helps to control speech production
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parietal lobe
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upper middle part of the cerebral cortex lying behind the frontal lobe that is specialized for touch and perception
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temporal lobe
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lower part of the cerebral cortex that plays roles in hearing, understanding language, and memory
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Wernicke’s area
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part of the temporal lobe involved in understanding speech
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occipital lobe
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back part of the cerebral cortex specialized for vision
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primary sensory cortex
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regions of the cerebral cortex that initially process information from the senses
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association cortex
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regions of the cerebral cortex that integrate simpler functions to perform more complex functions
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basal ganglia
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structures in the forebrain that help to control movement
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limbic system
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emotional centre of the brain that also plays roles in smell, motivation and memory
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thalamus
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gateway from the sense organs to the primary sensory cortex
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hypothalamus
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part of the brain responsible for maintaining a constant internal state
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amygdala
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part of the limbic system that plays key roles in fear, excitement and arousal
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hippocampus
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part of the brain that plays a role in spatial memory
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brain stem
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part of the brain between the spinal cord and the cerebral cortex that contains the midbrain, pons, and medulla
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midbrain
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part of the brain stem that contributes to movement, tracking of visual stimuli, and reflexes triggered by sound
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reticular activating system
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brain area that plays a key role in arousal
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hindbrain
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region below the midbrain that contains the cerebellum, pons, and medulla
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cerebellum
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brain structure responsible for our sense of balance
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pons
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part of the brain stem that connects the cortex with the cerebellum
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medulla
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part of the brain stem involved in basic functions such as heartbeat and breathing
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spinal cord
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thick bundle of nerves that conveys signals between the brain and the body
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interneuron
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neuron that sends messages to other neurons nearby
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reflex
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automatic motor response to a sensory stimulus
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somatic nervous system
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part of the nervous system that conveys information between the CNS and the body, controlling and coordinating voluntary movement
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autonomic nervous system
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part of the nervous system controlling involuntary actions of our internal organs and glands; along with the limbic system, it participates in emotion regulation
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sympathetic nervous system
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division of the autonomic NS engaged during a crisis or after actions requiring fight or flight
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parasympathetic nervous system
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division of autonomic nervous system that controls rest and digestion
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endocrine system
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system of glands and hormones that controls secretion of blood-borne chemical messengers
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hormone
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chemical released into the bloodstream that influences particular organs and glands
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pituitary gland
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master gland that, under the control of the hypothalamus, directs the other glands of the body
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adrenal gland
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tissue located on top of the kidneys that releases adrenalin and cortisol during states of emotional arousal
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lateralization
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cognitive function that relies more on one side of the brain than the other
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cerebral hemispheres
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two halves of the cerebral cortex, each of which serves distinct yet highly integrated functions
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corpus callosum
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large band of fibres connecting the two cerebral hemispheres
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cerebral cortex
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outermost part of forebrain, responsible for analyzing sensory processing and higher brain functions

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