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Biological Perspective

Concerned with the links between biology and behavior. Includes psychologists working in neuroscience, behavior genetics, and evolutionary psychology. These researchers may call themselves behavioral neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, behavior geneticists, physiological psychologists, or biopsychologists.

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Neuron

a nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system.
Generates electrical activity through chemical events.

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Dendrites

a neuron’s bushy, branching extensions that receive messages and conduct impulses toward the cell body.

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Axon

the neuron extension that passes messages through its branches to other neurons or to muscles or glands.

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Myelin Sheath

a fatty tissue layer segmentally encasing the axons of some neurons; enables vastly greater transmission speed as neural impulses hop from one node to the next.

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'biopsychosocial' systems

A system that is composed of biological and psychological systems which participates is a social system.

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Action Potential

a brief electrical charge that travels down the axon.
Carries the neuron's message to the synapse

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Resting Potential

A neuron's inactive state, positively charged exterior, negatively charged interior.

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How does a neuron fire?

Either chemical messengers cross the synaptic gap, activating the cell body or dendrites sense a change in it's area, making the axon's selectively permeable cell walls open, allowing positively charged sodium ions in, in a cascading electrical transmission down the axon to the end of the cell.

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Resting Period (refractory period)

The time when the activated interior of the axon transfers it's positively charged ions back out of the wall.

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inhibatory vs excitatory

inhibatory slows down the speed of the neural impulse, excitatory speeds up the neural impulse.

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Threshold

level of stimulation required to trigger a neural impulse, excitatory minus inhibitory must reach this level.

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Synapse

The meeting point between neurons.
Includes the synapse, neurotransmitters, and synaptic gap

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Synaptic Gap

The space between the sending neurons axon and the recieving neuron

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Neurotransmitters

Chemical messengers that cross the synaptic gap.

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Reuptake

When the sending neurons reabsorbs excess neurotransmitters.

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Acetylcholine

Enables muscle action, learning, and memory.

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Dopamine

Influences movement, learning, attention, and emotion.

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Serotonin

Affects mood, hunger, sleep, and arousal.

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Norepinephrine

Helps control alertness and arousal.

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GABA (gamma - aminobutyric acid)

A major inhibitory neurotransmitter.

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Glutamate

A major excitatory neurotransmitter; involved in memory.

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Endorphin

A painkilling, and pleasure associated neurotransmitter that is similar in chemical structure to morphine.
Literally means morphine produced within.

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Agonist

A drug that mimics a neurotransmitter and activates the neurons.

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Antagonist

A drug that inhibits neurotransmitter's firing.

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Nervous System

the body’s speedy, electrochemical communication network, consisting of all the nerve cells of the peripheral and central nervous systems.

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Central Nervous System (CNS)

The brain and spinal cord.

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Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

the sensory and motor neurons that connect the central nervous system (CNS) to the rest of the body.

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Nerves

bundled axons that form neural “cables” connecting the central nervous system with muscles, glands, and sense organs.

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Sensory Neurons

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

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Motor Neurons

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

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Interneurons

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

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Somatic Nervous System

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

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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.

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Sympathetic Nervous System

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

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Parasympathetic Nervous System

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

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Reflexes

Automatic Responses to Stimuli

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Endocrine System

the body’s “slow” chemical communication system; a set of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream.

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Hormones

chemical messengers that are manufactured by the endocrine glands, travel through the bloodstream, and affect other tissues.

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Adrenal Glands

a pair of endocrine glands that sit just above the kidneys and secrete hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) that help arouse the body in times of stress.

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Pituitary Glands

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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Oxytocin

A pituitary secretion that promotes pair bonding, group cohesion, and social trust, and is associated with birthing, milk flow during nursing, and orgasm.

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Growth Hormone

A pituitary secretion that influences physical growth

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How do the nervous system and Endocrine System relate

The pituitary gland, under control of the hypothalamus, influences glands when the nervous system is in communication with such glands, causing the nervous system to be influenced by secretions in endocrine system glands.

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Lesion

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

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Electroencephalogram (EEG)

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

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

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MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

a technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce computer - generated images of soft tissue. MRI scans show brain anatomy.

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fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging)

a technique for revealing bloodflow and, therefore, brain activity by comparing successive MRI scans. fMRI scans show brain function.

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Brainstem

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

the base of the brainstem; controls heartbeat and breathing.

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Thalamus

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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Reticular Formation

a nerve network that travels through the brainstem and plays an important role in controlling arousal.

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Cerebellum

the “little brain” at the rear of the brainstem; functions include processing sensory input and coordinating movement output and balance.

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Limbic System

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

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Amygdala

two limabean- sized neural clusters in the limbic system; linked to emotion.

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Hypothalamus

helps keep the body’s internal environment in a steady states, provides pleasure rewards. Regulates the pituitary gland.

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nucleus accumbens

Provides pleasure, located in front of the hypothalamus.

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reward deficiency syndrome

A deficiency in the reward centres of the brain that causes sufferers to crave substances that relieve negative feelings, or provide positive feelings.

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Hippocampus

Linked to Memory

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Cerebral Cortex

the intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells covering the cerebral hemispheres; the body’s ultimate control and information - processing center.

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Glial Cells

cells in the nervous system that support, nourish, and protect neurons; they may also play a role in learning and thinking.

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Frontal Lobes

portion of the cerebral cortex lying just behind the forehead; in volved in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgments.

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Parietal Lobes

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

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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Temporal Lobes

portion of the cerebral cortex lying roughly above the ears; includes the auditory areas, each receiving information primarily from the opposite ear.

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Motor Cortex

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

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Sensory Cortex

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

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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.

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Plasticity

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

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Neurogenesis

the formation of new neurons.

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Corpus Callosum

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

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Split Brain

a condition resulting from surgery that isolates the brain’s two hemispheres by cutting the fibers (mainly those of the corpus callosum) connecting them.

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Left-Brain

Forms theories, responsible for language

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Right-Brain

Excels at making inferences, helps orchestrate our sense of self, helps modulate our speech.