ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
WEBSITE GLOSSARY


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BRAIN GLOSSARY INDEX
July 18, 2018

NOTE = The highlighted RED NAMES of the major brain structures and mental functions are the names of the 15 major brain ideas presented on this website for study.

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A =============================

ACTION POTENTIAL (SPIKE) = A brief pulse or "spike" of biochemical current that is generated by neurons. This communication process involves biochemical signals that are transmitted down axon filaments and through synapses to neighboring neuron cells. See also POTENTIATION; LONG-TERM POTENTIATION; AXONS; CELL BODY OF A NEURON; NEURONS; and SYNAPSES.

ACETYLCHOLINE ("ACh") = A neurotransmitter chemical that is involved in learning and that regulates memory. It enables the sending of biochemical messages from the motor nerves to control skeletal and smooth muscle action in the peripheral nervous system including the visceral muscles that control your body's internal organs.

ADRENALINE = A hormone and neurotransmitter that boots up the body to participate in the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. It is also known as epinephrine. See also EPINEPHRINE and NOREPINEPHRINE.

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE = A progressive, neurodegenerative disease that is a fatal form of dementia caused by cell death in several areas of the brain but particularly along the memory pathways to and from the prefrontal cortex to the hippocampus. It primarily involves losing one's self-identity and losing control of language skills. See also DEMENTIAS.

AMNESIA = A general term for memory deficit or dysfunction.

AMPHETAMINE = A psychostimulant drug that prompts wakefulness and focus and is the basis of many drugs for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD"). It is also known as "speed".

AMYGDALA GLANDS =The survival-oriented part of the brain that regulates emotional learning and the primitive emotions and the fight-flight-or-fright syndrome. The glands involve two paired clusters of neurons (nuclei) located in the limbic area of your medial temporal lobes on both cerebral hemispheres. These two glands consist of two parts linked together in the limbic system complex to activate and regulate feelings of anxiety, fear, and pleasure as well as memory functions. It is also known as your "emotional brain". See also LIMBIC SYSTEM.

AMYLOID PLAQUES = Deposits found in the spaces between nerve cells in the brain that are made of beta-amyloid plaques and other materials. They are involved in the destruction of neuronal connections, which is one of the causes Alzheimer's Disease. See also LIMBIC SYSTEM.

ANDROGENS = The sex steroid hormones including testosterone, which are responsible for male sexual maturation and associated with stereotypical masculine behavioral traits.

ANGIOTENSIN-CONVERTING ENZYME ("ACE") INHIBITORS = A medication prescribed for lowering blood pressure.

ANS = See AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM.

ANTERIOR = Toward or at the front side of the body.

ANTERIOR CINGULATE CORTEX ("ACC") = The part of your prefrontal cortex involved in emotion and other functions such as paying attention. This area of your cerebral cortex makes up the sides of your longitudinal fissure. It is closely connected to the underlying limbic system as well as to cortical areas of your brain. It is important in combining "top-down" and "bottom-up" information to guide actions. See also CEREBRAL CORTEX; HIPPOCAMPUS; LIMBIC SYSTEM; LONGITUDINAL FISSURE; and PREFRONTAL CORTEX.

ANGULAR GYRUS= A ridge of the neocortex in the parietal lobe, next to the temporal and occipital lobes that regulates the position of the body in space and links sound and meaning. See also GYRUS and SULCUS.

ANTAGONIST = A molecule that blocks or prevents activation of a receptor.

APLASIA CALIFORNICA = An invertebrate sea slug whose synaptic mechanisms for learning and memory are particularly well understood.

ARCUATE FASCICULES = The nerve-fiber tract that connects Broca's Area and Wernick's Area. See also BROCA'S AREA and WERNICKE'S AREA.

AROUSAL = A bodily state characterized by increased behavioral activity and sensitivity to sensory stimuli. Arousal states are graded, and related to the emotion properties of intensity or scalability. There may be different types of arousal associated with different emotion states.

ASCENDING RETICULAR FORMATION = A part of the reticular formation, on the backside of your brainstem. It is responsible for the arousal and sleep/wake cycle in conjunction with the two pineal glands of your limbic system complex. See also RETICULAR FORMATION.

ASSOCIATION AREAS = The regions of the brain that combine different types of information to produce a "whole" experience.

ASTROCYTES = The most prevalent type of support cells that provide neurons with myelin sheeths that provide nutrients and insulation so neurons can fire faster. They are the "white matter" that distinguishes them from neurons, which are known as "gray matter".

ATAXIA = A symptom of neurological disorder in which a person experiences difficulty with balance and coordinated movement.

ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER ("ADHD") = A syndrome of learning and behavioral problems characterized by a short attention span and often by inappropriately energetic behavior or frenzied activity it usually occurs first in early childhood.

AUDITORY CORTEX = The region of the brain that deals with receiving and processing information relating to sound.

AUTOMATICITY = A property of emotions describing their priority over behavioral control, a common component of scientific "dual process modes".

AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM ("ANS") = A component of your peripheral nervous system, which deals with regulating the activity of internal organs. Your ANS is distinct from your somatic nervous system, which controls your skeletal muscles. It is the part of your CNS and PNS that controls smooth muscles (such as those that influence the pupil of your eye) and hormones (such as cortisol). Therefore, it influences both your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. See also CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM; PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM; and SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM.

AXONS = The filaments (fiberlike extensions) of neurons that transmit outgoing electrical potentials (biochemical signals) from the nucleus (cell body) of neurons to other neurons, muscles, organs, or glands. Most of your 85-100 billion neurons have only one axon, which are usually very short but are often very long. Each axon attachs to an average of 10,000 dendrites. See also DENDRITES; GLIAL CELLS; NEURONS; NUCLEUS OF A NEURON; POTENTIATION; and SYNAPSES.

B =================================

BASAL GANGLIA = This bundle of nuclei (clump of neurons) at the bottom of both sides of your limbic system complex is divided into several sections including the striatum; and globus pallidus. The striatum is composed of the caudate and the putamen. It deals primarily with selecting and mediating your movement. See also CAUDATE; GLOBUS PALLIDUS; PUTAMEN; and STRIATUM.

BILATERAL = On both sides of the body: for example, both brain hemispheres.

BIPOLAR DISORDER = An illness that is characterized by dramatic mood swings.

BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER = A network of tightly packed cells surrounding the brain. It prevents toxic molecules from entering the brain.

BOTTOM-UP INFORMATION PROCESSING = Usually refers to relatively "raw" information flowing from the primary sensory areas of your brain rather than from areas involved in thinking, imagining, or creating expectations.

BRAINSTEM = The lower part of your brain that becomes your spinal cord in your neck. It has four unique physical structures with separate essential functions: midbrain, pons, reticular formation, and medulla oblongata. The top is connected to your thalamus, which is the "gateway" to your brain. See also MEDULLA; MIDBRAIN; PONS; RETICULAR FORMATION; and THALAMUS.

BROCA'S AREA = The brain region in the left temporal lobe that has connections to the left frontal lobe involved with articulating speech. See also WERNICKE'S AREA.

BRODMANN'S AREAS = The microscopically distinct cortical areas (areas of your cerebrum) that were mapped out by neurologist Korbinian Broadmann (1868-1918).

C =================================

CAUDATE NUCLEUS = A part of the striatum.

CELL BODY OF A NEURON = The central structure of a neuron, which is also known as the soma.

CENTRAL FISSURE = A long, deep fissure that runs across the brain, dividing the parietal and frontal lobes. It is also called the central sulcus.

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM = Your nervous system that connects your brain and spinal cord also known as your CNS. See also AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM; PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM; PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM; and SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM.

CEREBELLUM = This major part of your brain structure is sometimes called your "small brain" or "second brain" and is situated behind your cerebrum and brainstem. It regulates your posture, balance, and coordination in conjunction with parts of your brainstem, such as your pons and medulla. Together, they mediate two of your most important unconscious brain functions: breathing and heart rate. See also CEREBRUM and BRAINSTEM.

CEREBRAL CORTEX = The outer, thin, wrinkled "gray" part of your two cerebral hemispheres. It is also called the cover of your brain or cortex. See also CEREBRUM; FRONTAL LOBES; PREFRONTAL CORTEX; and HEMISPHERES.

CEREBRAL HEMISPHERES = The two halves of your brain that are further divided by membranes into eight separate sections or lobes.

CEREBROSPINAL FLUID or (CSF) = The fluid in the brain's ventricles, which bring nutrients to the brain and removes waste from the brain.

CEREBRUM = The major part of your brain that includes your cerebral cortex. It is the newest evolutionarily speaking, compared to the other older parts of your brain: your brainstem; cerebellum; and limbic system. See also BRAINSTEM; CEREBELLUM; CEREBRAL CORTEX; and LIMBIC SYSTEM.

CEREBELLAR PENDUCLES = The short stalk like extensions of the cerebellum, which connect it to the brainstem.

CHOLINERGIC SYSTEM = The nerve pathways that are activated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. See also ACETYLCHOLINE and NEOPROTON.

CINGULATE CORTEX = The area of cortex that makes up the sides of the longitudinal fissure. It is closely connected to the underlying limbic system as well as to cortical areas of the brain, and is important in combining "top-down" and "bottom-up" information to guide actions. See also HIPPOCAMPUS; LIMBIC SYSTEM; LONGITUDINAL FISSURE; and PREFRONTAL CORTEX.

COGNITION = Conscious and unconscious brain processes, such as perceiving, thinking, and resulting in temporary loss of consciousness and possibly later permanent brain damage. See also THINKING and METATHINKING.

CONE = A color-sensitive receptor cell in the retina of the eye. It is used primarily for daytime vision. See also EYE.

CONNECTOME = The massive bodily communication pattern involving all of the interactive relationships among your brain and nervous system. It refers specifically to the mapping of the entire brain connections with the human nervous system. This includes all the information sent via the biochemical signaling of your sensory system and motor system in all of your neuronal pathways. In addition, it involves the signaling in your memory systems that function as feedback loops connecting your limbic system and your cerebrum. See also CEREBRUM; CEREBELLUM; LIMBIC SYSTEM; and BRAINSTEM.

CORPUS COLLOSUM = The thick band of nerve tissue that connects the left hemisphere and right hemisphere of your brain. It carries biochemical signals between the two sides of your brain. See also CEREBRAL HEMISPHERES; LEFT HEMISPHERE; and RIGHT HEMISPHERE.

CORTEX See CEREBRAL CORTEX.

CRANIAL NERVES = The 12 pairs of nerves that arise from the brainstem. These include the olfactory nerve, which conveys information about smell to the brain, and the optic nerve, which carries data about vision.

D =================================

DECUSSATION = The crossing of nerve fibers, as in the optic chiasm.

DELUSION = A false belief that is not easily eradicated by exposure to evidence that reveals its falsity.

DEMENTIA = A Loss of brain function due to degeneration through aging or cumulative damage to the brain from such injuries as concussions from blows to the head or tumors.

DENDRITES = They are branches that extend from a neuron's cell body to receive biochemical signals from the 85-100 billion neurons in your brain and nervous system

DENTATE GYRUS = The part of your hippocampus that contains nerve cells that receive input from the entorhinal cortex.

DEPRESSION = A common illness characterized by intense and chronically Low mood and energy levels.

DOPAMINE = A neurotransmitter that produces motivation and strong feelings of pleasurable anticipation. See also AMYGDALA; LIMBIC SYSTEM; and PLEASURE CIRCUIT.

DORSAL = At or toward the (upper) back of your brain.

DORSAL HORN = The back part of the spinal cord, where nerve fibers, especially pain-carrying fibers, merge with the spinal cord to travel upward toward the brain.

DORSAL ROUTE = The pathway in the visual system that connects the visual cortex to the parietal lobe, also referred to as the "where" or "how" pathway. See also VENTRAL ROUTE.

DORSOLATERAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX = The forward area of your frontal lobe involved with planning, organization, and various other executive cognitive functions of your cerebrum. See also FRONTAL LOBE; PREFRONTAL CORTEX; and CEREBRUM.

DURA MATER = The top of the three layers of tissue separating the brain from the skull. See also MENINGES.

DYSLEXIA = A condition associated with difficulty in learning to read and write in the absence of any other intellectual problems.

E =================================

EFFERENT = Leading away from. See also AFFERENT.

EXCITATORY NEUROTRANSMITTER = A type of neurotransmitter that encourages neurons to fire. See also INHIBITORY NEUROTRANSMITTER.

EMOTIONAL BRAIN = The limbic system is often referred to as your "emotional brain" since it contains your amygdala glands and your pituitary glands and is directly wired for the processing of sensory signals coming up through your brainstem from the senses in your body to the top of your brainstem where your thalamus mediates where the signals go for further processing. See also LIMBIC SYSTEM.

EXPLICIT MEMORY = The memories that can be consciously retrieved and reported from thinking or experiences. See also IMPLICIT MEMORY; WORKING MEMORY; and LONG-TERM MEMORY.

F =================================

FISSURE = A deep cleft, or sulcus, on the surface of the brain.

FOUR LOBES = The four main regions of your brain that are delineated by function on both sides or cerebral hemispheres of your brain, which means that there are actually eight areas that have different functions based upon their different structures and functions.

FRONTAL LOBES = The two areas at the front of your cerebrum, which are covered by your cerebral cortex on both sides of your brain. It is the specific cause of your thinking, making judgments, planning activities, decision-making, and your conscious feelings and emotions as well as the location of your prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is the cause of your executive functions, including reason, imagination, and memory resources. See also FOUR LOBES; OCCIPITAL LOBES; PARIETAL LOBES; TEMPORAL LOBES; LEFT HEMISPHERE; and RIGHT HEMISPHERE.

G =================================

GANGLIONS = The cluster of interactive nuclei (clumps of neurons) in many parts of your body. The term also refers to light-sensitivity in your brain.

GLIAL CELLS = They are the brain cells that support neurons by performing a variety of "housekeeping" functions in the brain. The most prevalent type are astrocytes. They may also mediate signals between neurons. See also ASTROCYTES.

GLOBUS PALLIDUS = A part of your basal ganglia involved in controlling your movements. See also BASAL GANGLIA; BRAINSTEM; PUTAMEN; and STRIATUM.

GYRUS = A bulge of tissue on the surface of the brain. Many bulges are called gyri.

H =================================

HALLUCINATIONS = False perceptions that occur in the absence of any sensory stimuli. See also ILLUSIONS.

HEMISPHERES = The two major halves of your brain known as your left hemisphere and right hemisphere or "left brain" and "right brain". They usually have distinct functions. The right cerebral hemisphere primarily controls the left side of your body and the left cerebral hemisphere primarily controls the right side of your body. When one side of the brain is damaged, the opposite side of the body is also affected since it can sometimes partially take over damaged functions of the other side. Your left brain is associated with language skills and your right brain is associated with music and deep feeling. However, there are many overlapping interactive connections through neuronal pathways and nerves such as your corpus collosum, which involves three thick neuronal cables. See also CORPUS COLLOSUM; LEFT HEMISPHERE; and RIGHT HEMISPHERE.

HIPPOCAMPUS = A part of your limbic system that lies on the inside of each temporal lobe and which is crucial for spatial movement (navigation) and encoding and retrieving long term memories. See also LIMBIC SYSTEM; WORKING MEMORY; and LONG-TERM MEMORY.

HORMONES = The chemical messengers secreted by endocrine glands to regulate the activity of target cells. They play a role in sexual development, metabolism, growth, and many other physiological processes.

HYPOTHALAMUS = The is a cluster of nuclei, that controls many body functions, including feeding, drinking, and the release of many hormones. It consists of one physical structure that is part of your limbic system complex, which is connected to the inside structures of both of your temporal lobes. Also, it is divided into two separate parts with many essential functions for regulating consciousness, such as mood, motivation, hunger, and sleep. See also LIMBIC SYSTEM.

I =================================

ILLUSION = A false perception or distortion of the senses often caused by unconscious brain processes. See also HALLUCINATIONS.

IMPLICIT MEMORY = The memories that cannot be retrieved consciously, but are activated as part of particular skills or actions, or in the form of an emotion linked to an event that cannot be made conscious. Implicit memories underlie the learning of physical skills such as playing a sport, riding a bicycle, or tying one's shoes. Implicit memories, including procedural memories ("muscle memory"), can be accessed through mindful introspection, such as formal or informal education, or skill training sessions with professionals such as coaches. See also PROCEDURAL MEMORY; EXPLICIT MEMORY; WORKING MEMORY; and LONG-TERM MEMORY.

L =================================

LIMBIC SYSTEM = The set of brain structures situated along the inner borders of the two hemispheres of your cerebrum at the most protected inside of your brain. It's functions are crucial for the expression of your emotions, the operation of your memory systems, and the mediating of your conscious self-awareness.

LONG-TERM MEMORY = The final phase of memory consolidation, in which information storage may last anywhere from hours up to a lifetime. New research has proven that memories are not permanent precise copies of the original experiences that are remembered. Instead, they are constructed as fragments of what actually happened in the event being remembered that can be remembered as completely different from the actual events remembered. See also EXPLICIT MEMORY; IMPLICIT MEMORY; SHORT-TERM MEMORY; and WORKING MEMORY.

LONG-TERM POTENTIATION = A change in neurons that increases the likelihood of them firing in unison with others that have fired before. It is also called potentiation and explains synaptic plastiity and neurogenesis. See also NUCLEUS OF A NEURON; DENDRITES; AXONS; SYNAPSES; GLIAL CELLS, NEUROGENESIS; PLASTICITY; and POTENTIATION.

M ===============================

MEDULLA OBLONGATA (BRAINSTEM) = A part of the brainstem situated between the pons and the spinal cord that maintains vital bodily processes, such as breathing and heart rate. See also BRAINSTEM.

MEMORY = See AUTOBIOGRAPHIC MEMORY; EPISODIC MEMORY; EXPLICIT MEMORY; IMPLICIT MEMORY; LONG-TERM MEMORY; PROCEDURAL MEMORY; SEMANTIC MEMORY; SHORT-TERM MEMORY; and WORKING MEMORY.

METATHINKING = Thinking about thinking.

MICROBE = A great inclusive word for all the tiniest microscopic creatures in the world. It includes viruses, bacteria, archaea, fungus, protists, and other single-celled life-forms.

MIDBRAIN = Your midbrain is located in your brainstem between your thalamus and your medulla. It is involved in eye movement, body movement, and hearing. It is directly connected to your basal ganglia located in your limbic system, which is an area sometimes called your mesencephalon. See also BASAL GANGLIA; BRAINSTEM; LIMBIC SYSTEM; MEDULLA; and THALAMUS.

N =================================

NEUROGENESIS = The generation of new neurons in the brain. See also NEURONS; and PLASTICITY.

NEURONS = The name of your nerve cells, which have the capacity to send signals to other neurons by generating and passing on electrochemical signals. They are now often called "biochemical signals" which enable interactive communication among all parts of your body. This interactive communication process involves your brain and entire nervous system. See CONNECTOME.

NEUROPLASTICITY See PLASTICITY. NEUROTRANSMITTERS = They are biochemical molecules that are secreted by neurons. They carry signals between neurons across synapses. See also NEURONS; PRE-SYNAPTIC NEURONS; POST-SYNAPTIC NEURONS; and SYNAPSES.

NUCLEUS OF A NEURON = The nucleus of neuron cells is the bounded area (surrounded by a membrane) in neurons that create biochemical signals or electrochemical charges. The signals are transmitted down axon filaments and through synapses to other neurons, muscles, glands, or internal organs. See also AXONS; DENDRITES; and NEURONS.

O ===============================

OCCIPITAL LOBE = The back part of your cerebrum, mainly dedicated to visual processing. See also CEREBRUM.

OLFACTORY BULBS These two bulbs, which are located on each side of your limbic system complex at the front, are attached inside your two nostrils to give you the sense of smell.

P =================================

PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM = A branch of the autonomic nervous system concerned with the conservation of your body's energy. It inhibits the sympathetic nervous system. See also AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM; CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM; PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM; and SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM.

PARIETAL LOBE = The top-back subdivision of your cerebrum, covered by your cerebral cortex layer of billions of neurons, that is mainly concerned with spatial computation, body orientation, and attention.

PEPTIDES = The chains of amino acids that can function as neurotransmitters or hormones.

PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (PNS) = The part of your nervous system that includes all nerves and neurons outside your brain and nervous system. See also CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM.

PIA MATTER = The innermost layer of the meninges. It is a thin elastic tissue that covers the surface of your brain.

PINEAL GLANDS = These two glands are on both sides of your limbic system complex. They produce melatonin to regulate sleep behavior, and are, therefore, able to control your circadian clock.

PITUITARY GLAND = This single organ structure is known as the "master gland" since it controls the release of many neurotransmitters and hormones. See also LIMBIC SYSTEM.

PLASTICITY =The word is short for the technical term neuroplasticity. It means that your brain has the power to change itself and that your mind has the ability to change your behavior or habits based upon your current self-awareness and thinking. It is used by professional brain scientists and psychologists to stand for the essential process of your evolutionary brain's ability to adapt to changes in nature and the general environment, including your own perceptions in order to survive and thrive.

PLEASURE CIRCUIT = Your limbic system structures are involved in creating feelings of pleasure. They mainly reduce activity in your amygdala and in the parts of your cerebrum that deal with anxiety. Anticipation and pleasure-seeking are influenced by the "reward circuit", which involves your HYPOTHALAMUS and AMYGDALA, which secrete DOPAMINE and GABA. See also AMYGDALA; DOPAMINE; and LIMBIC SYSTEM.

PONS (in BRAINSTEM) = This structure of your brainstem is located in the upper middle part of your brainstem under your thalamus and midbrain and above your medulla. It has two over-arching roles: the regulation of breathing and the transmission of signals to and from other structures in the brain. It contains a structure called the pneumotaxic center, which controls the amount of air breathed and your breaths per minute, which is known as your breathing rate. In addition, your pons is involved in transmitting signals to your cerebrum and your cerebellum and also it is involved in mediating sensations such as hearing, taste, and balance as well as regulating deep sleep. See also BRAINSTEM; CEREBELLUM.

POSTSYNAPTIC NEURONS = They are neurons that receive biochemical signals from other neurons. See also NEURONS and PRESYNAPTIC NEURONS.

PREFRONTAL CORTEX = The region of your brain in the forward-most part of your cerebrum, especially frontal lobe, that is involved in planning and other higher-level cognition, including your working memory. See also CEREBRAL CORTEX; CEREBRUM; FRONTAL LOBES.

PREMOTOR CORTEX = A part of the frontal cortex involved with planning movements.

PRESYNAPTIC NEURONS = They are neurons that release neurotransmitters that carry signals across a synapse to other neurons. See also POSTSYNAPTIC NEURONS.

PRIMARY CORTEX = A region of the brain that first receives sensory information from organs, such as the primary visual cortex.

PRESYNAPTIC NEURONS = Neurons that release a neurotransmitter to carry biochemical signals across a synapse to another neuron. See also POSTSYNAPTIC NEURONS.

PRIMARY CORTEX = A region of the brain that first receives sensory information from the organs of your body, such as your primary visual cortex.

PROCEDURAL MEMORY (MUSCLE MEMORY) = A form of implicit memory relating to learned movements, such as riding a bicycle or brushing your teeth. See also CEREBELLUM; MEMORY and PUTAMEN.

PROPRIOCEPTION = Sensory information relating to balance and the position of your body in space. It is sometimes called your "sixth sense", since it involves neuron clusters in your joints such as elbows, shoulders, and knees.

PROSOPAGNOSIA = Inability to recognize faces.

PSYCHODELIC = A drug that distorts perception, thought, and feeling.

PSYCHOACTIVE = Changing brain function, usually referring to drugs.

PSYCHOSIS = A condition in which a person loses touch with reality.

PSYCHOTHERAPY = The treatment of a mental disorder using psychological rather than medical methods.

PUTAMEN = A part of the striatum, which itself is part of the basal ganglia. It mainly regulates movement and procedural learning. See also BASAL GANGLIA and STRIATUM.

PYRAMIDAL NEURON = An excitatory neuron with a distinctive triangular body. It is located in your cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala. See also NEURONS.

Q =================================

R =================================

RAPHE NUCLEI ("RN") = A small cluster of neurons that form a ridge, or seam, down the center of your brainstem that produces serotonin and distributes it to your amygdala, your hypothalamus, your LC, and your forebrain. Your RN influences your wakefulness, cognition, and mood. See also BRAINSTEM and SEROTONIN. [Nuclei = plural]

RAPID EYE MOVEMENT (REM) = A phase of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements and vivid dreams.

REFLEX = An involuntary movement controlled by neurons in the spinal cord.

RETICULAR FORMATION = A complex area in the brainstem containing various nuclei (clumps of neurons) that affect arousal, sensation, motor function, and vegetative functions such as your breathing and heart rate. See also ASCENDING RETICULAR FORMATION

RETINA = The part of the eye containing light-sensitive cells, which send electrical signals to the visual area of the brain for processing into visual imagery. See also ROD.

REUPTAKE = The process by which excess neurotransmitters are removed by transporter cells back into the axon terminals that first released them.

ROD = A sensory neuron in the outer edge of the retina. It is sensitive to low-intensity light and is specialized for night vision. See also RETINA.

S =================================

SCHIZOPHRENIA = An illness characterized by intermittent psychosis.

SEIZURE = A disruption of normal neuronal activity. For example, Grand mal seizures involve widespread synchronous neuronal firing which produces unconsciousness.

SEROTONIN = A neurotransmitter that regulates many functions, including mood, appetite, and sensory perception.

SHORT-TERM MEMORY = A phase of memory in which a limited amount of information may be held for several seconds to minutes: see also WORKING MEMORY.

SOMATOSENSORY CORTEX = An area of the brain concerned with receiving and processing information about body sensations, such as pain and touch.

SPECT = see single photon emission computed tomography.

STRIATE CORTEX = An area of the visual cortex (in cross-section) by visually distinct strips of cells.

STRIATUM= A section in the basal ganglia composed of the caudate and the putamen. See also BASAL GANGLIA and PUTAMEN.

SULCUS (plural = sulci) = A valley or groove in the brain surface: the opposite of gyrus. See also GYRUS.

SUPERIOR COLLICULI = Paired structures of nuclei of the midbrain that play a part in relaying visual information. See also BRAINSTEM and MIDBRAIN.

SUPPLEMENTARY MOTOR CORTEX = An area in the front of the motor cortex involved in planning actions that are under internal control, such as actions done from memory rather than guided by current sensations (situational awareness).

SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM = A part of the autonomic nervous system that speeds up heart rate, among other things, in response to stimulation. See also AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM; CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM; PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM; and PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM.

SYNAPSES = Gaps between two neurons that are bridged by neurotransmitters through special biochemical molecular receptors. See also AXONS; DENDRITES; and NUCLEUS OF A NEURON.

T =================================

TEMPORAL LOBE = A division of the cerebral cortex at the side of your head concerned with hearing, language, and memory.

THALAMUS = This single brain structure in your limbic system complex connects your brainstem to the rest of your brain and is known as the "gateway" to your brainstem.

W =================================

WERNICKE'S AREA = The major language area, in the temporal lobe, involved with comprehension. It is located in most people in their left hemisphere near the junction with the parietal lobe. See also BROCA'S AREA.

WORKING MEMORY = A mental process by which information is held in your consciousness as active neuronal signals until it is forgotten or encoded in long-term memory. See also MEMORY; LONG-TERM MEMORY; SHORT-TERM MEMORY.

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