ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
ALPHABETICAL BRAIN VOCABULARY GLOSSARY
June 3, 2021
NOTE = The names and the numbers of the 15 brain ideas are highlighted in BOLD RED. Their physical structures and their mental functions
are easy to see among the hundreds of important other brain ideas that describe your complex and complicated brain functions and brainpower potential (mental force).
This alphabetical list is one way to express the linguistic context of the 15 major brain ideas: Axons = #4; Cerebrum = #11; Connectome = #9; Dendrites = #3; Glial Cells = #6; Limbic System = #13; Long-Term Memory = #15; Neurons = #2; Nucleus of a Neuron = #5; Plasticity = #10; Pleasure Circuit = #14; Potentiation = #8; Prefrontal Cortex = #12; Synapses = #7; and Working Memory = #1.
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 AXONS; CELL BODY OF A NEURON; LONG-TERM POTENTIATION; NEURONS; POTENTIATION; 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.
AFFERENT NEURONS = Your afferent neurons (also known as sensory neurons or afferent nerve fibers) are the neuronal pathways that carry sensory information from the body to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). These neurons receive information from sensory stimuli and carry impulses from receptors in muscles, organs, and glands to the central nervous system where it is perceived by the brain. The opposite of this are efferent neurons, which conduct cells that carry information from the central nervous system to muscles and organs throughout the body. They carry electrical impulses that tell organs and muscles what to do. See also EFFERENT NEURONS.
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 AMYLOID PLAQUES and DEMENTIA.
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. Since these glands function as an essential part of your limbic system, they are a key part of what is 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 many causes of Alzheimer's Disease. See also ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE; DEMENTIA; and 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 Wernicke's Area. See also BROCA'S AREA; TEMPORAL LOBES; 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". See also CEREBRUM.
ASTROCYTES = The most prevalent type of support cells that provide neurons with myelin sheaths 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". See also GLIAL CELLS and OLIGODENDROCYTES.
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. See also TEMPORAL LOBES.
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 (#4) = The output fibers from your 100-200 billion neurons whose ends are known as "buttons" or "boutons." The terminal boutons of your 1,000 trillion synapses contain the necessary organelles, proteins and molecules needed to transmit chemical/electrical information from a presynaptic cell to a postsynaptic cell. The filaments (fiberlike extensions) of neurons transmit outgoing electrical "potentials" (biochemical signals) from the nucleus of a neuron cell body to other neurons, muscles, organs, or glands. Most of your billions of neurons have 10-15 thousand synapses but some have only one axon. Axons are usually short but can be very long, such as your two sciatica nerves. See also DENDRITES; GLIAL CELLS; NEURONS; NUCLEUS OF A NEURON; POTENTIATION; and SYNAPSES.
BASAL GANGLIA = This bundle of nuclei (clumps 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 bodily movements. [Reference note = "The basal ganglia play a part in motor control but have been recycled (by evolution) to act as a neural switch in aspects of cognition such as comprehending distinctions in meaning conveyed by syntax, changing the direction of a thought process, or responding to changing external circumstances." Book source = THEORY THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING - "ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES" AS A WORK IN PROGRESS by Philip Lieberman. Columbia University Press, 2018, pages 25-26.] 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. "A major role by the brainstem... is that it arouses the rest of the brain to conscousness. Our level of arousal goes up and down all the time, most dramatically in the sleep-wake cycle. Several populations of brainstem neurons, collectively called the reticular activating system, send their axons widely over the brain. These neurons secrete special neurotransmitters known as neuromodulators, chemicals that 'wake up' the thalamus and cerebral cortex. Without them the patient cannot be conscious, even if the rest of the brain is intact." (from pages 246-237) Book = Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are by Sebastian Seung. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012 (i-xxii, 359 pages) See also MEDULLA; MIDBRAIN; PONS; RETICULAR FORMATION; and THALAMUS.
BROCA'S AREA = The brain's major speech production region located near the intersection of the left temporal and frontal lobes that involves articulating speech. See also TEMPORAL LOBES and 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).
CAUDATE NUCLEUS = A part of the striatum.
CELL BODY OF A NEURON = The nucleus-containing central structure of a neuron exclusive of its axons and dendrites that is the major structural element of the gray matter of the brain and spinal cord, the ganglia, and the retina. The cell body is also called perikaryon, soma. See also NUCLEUS OF A NEURON.
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 (CNS) = Your nervous system that connects your brain and spinal cord. It is also known as your CNS. See also AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (ANS) ; 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 BRAINSTEM; CEREBRUM; and LIMBIC SYSTEM.
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 BRAINSTEM; CEREBELLUM; CEREBRAL HEMISPHERES; CEREBRUM; FRONTAL LOBES; LIMBIC SYSTEM; and PREFRONTAL CORTEX.
CEREBRAL HEMISPHERES = The two halves of your brain that are further divided by membranes into eight separate sections or lobes, left and right. See also FRONTAL LOBE; OCCIPITAL LOBE; PARIETAL LOBE; and TEMPORAL LOBE.
CEREBROSPINAL FLUID or (CSF) = The fluid in the brain's ventricles, which bring nutrients to the brain and removes waste from the brain.
CEREBRUM (#11) = 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. See also BRAINSTEM and CEREBELLUM.
CHOLINERGIC SYSTEM = The nerve pathways that are activated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. See also ACETYLCHOLINE and NEOPROTON.
CINGULATE CORTEX = See ANTERIOR CINGULATE CORTEX.
COGNITION = The mental processes involved in conscious and unconscious brain processes, such as perceiving, thinking, and gaining knowledge and comprehension. These processes include thinking, knowing, remembering, judging and problem-solving. They are higher-level functions of the brain and encompass language, imagination, perception, and planning. See also METACOGNITION and THINKING.
CONES = A color-sensitive receptor cell in the retina of the eye. It is used primarily for daytime vision. See also RETINA and RODS.
CONFORMATION BIAS = The propensity to seek out, interpret, and remember information that supports your pre-existing ideas and beliefs, while overlooking and dismissing evidence to the contrary.
CONNECTOME (#9) = 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. Also, it involves the signaling in your memory systems that function as feedback loops connecting your limbic system and your cerebrum. [In short, it is "a map of the trillions of the connections among your brain's neurons" from the book by Blanchard It's All in Your Head 2017, page 186.] See also BRAINSTEM; CEREBELLUM; CEREBRUM; and LIMBIC SYSTEM.
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.
CORRELATION = A predictive relationship between two variables.
CORTEX See CEREBRAL CORTEX.
CORTICO-CORTICAL FIBERS = The white matter axons that interconnect different parts of the cerebral cortex to itself.
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.
CYBERNETICS = The scientific study of control and communication in animal or machine.
DECLARATIVE MEMORY = Your long-term memory system can be divided into two main types: declarative (explicit) memory and procedural (implicit) memory. There are three types of declarative memory known as  semantic memory (memory of facts and data),  episodic memory (memory of events), and  autobiographic memory (memory specifically about yourself). Declarative memory is "knowing what" and refers to those memories that can be consciously recalled (or "declared").
The other type of long-term memory is known as procedural memory (or "muscle memory"). It is the memory of "how to do things," and is known as "motor skills." [Sources: Google and brain books with basic memory facts.] See also PROCEDURAL MEMORY; and MEMORY.
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 ("senility") = A broad category of brain diseases that cause long-term reductions in thinking and memory abilities. It involves the loss of brain function due to degeneration through aging or cumulative damage to the brain from injuries such as tumors or concussions from blows to the head.
DENDRITES (#3) = 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. See also AXONS; NEURONS; and NEUROTRANSMITTERS.
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. [Alternative definition = "The brain's key neurotransmitter responsible for the good feelings you get after doing something pleasurable" from book by Blanchard, It's All in Your Head 2017] 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 PARIETAL LOBE; VENTRAL ROUTE; and VISUAL CORTEX.
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.
EFFERENT = Leading away from. Your efferent neurons conduct cells that carry information from the central nervous system to muscles and organs throughout the body. They carry electrical impulses that tell organs and muscles what to do. 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 AMYGDALA; LIMBIC SYSTEM; and PITUITARY GLANDS.
ENTANGLEMENT = A fundamental holistic phenomenon in which groups of individual particles become correlated when confined to the same location. Individual particles cannot be described independently; rather, the system as a whole exists in a quantum state. [Book Source: The New Science of Consciousness by Paul L. Nunez. 2016 page 336.]
EXPLICIT MEMORY = One of the two types of long-term memory that can be consciously retrieved an demand. See also DECLARATIVE MEMORY; IMPLICIT MEMORY; WORKING MEMORY; and LONG-TERM MEMORY; and PROCEDURRAL MEMORY.
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.
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 (#6) = They are the brain cells that support and protect your neurons by performing a variety of maintenance functions in the brain. The most prevalent type are astrocytes but oligodendrocytes produce the myelin sheath covers of neurons in the central nervous system. They insulate and mediate biochemical signals so the ionic currents can flow faster between and among neurons. See also ASTROCYTES and OLIGODENDROCYTES.
GLOBAL WORKPLACE MODEL = A conceptual framework that views consciousness as the global sharing of information between many local networks or "processors."
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". See also SULCUS.
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; LONG-TERM MEMORY; and WORKING 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. See also LIMBIC SYSTEM and PLEASURE CIRCUIT.
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 structure that is part of your limbic system, which is also connected to the inside structures of both temporal lobes. 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 and TEMPORAL LOBES OF CEREBRUM.
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. They are known as procedural memories (or "muscle memory") and can be changed through mindful introspection, such as formal or informal education, or skill training sessions with professionals such as coaches. See also EXPLICIT MEMORY; LONG-TERM MEMORY; PROCEDURAL MEMORY; and WORKING MEMORY.
LIMBIC SYSTEM (#13) = The set of brain structures situated along the inner borders of the two cerebral hemispheres of your cerebrum at the most protected inside part of your brain. It's functions are crucial for the expression of your emotions and the operation of your memory systems and ultimately your conscious self-awareness. See also PREFRONTAL CORTEX
LONG-TERM MEMORY (#15) = 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 = See POTENTIATION.
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; MUSCLE MEMORY; PROCEDURAL MEMORY; SEMANTIC MEMORY; SHORT-TERM MEMORY; and WORKING MEMORY.
METACOGNITION = Thinking about thinking. See also COGNITION and 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 (BRAINSTEM) = 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.
MUSCLE MEMORY = It is the common name for how the neuro-muscular system learns skills. See also MEMORY
NEUROGENESIS = The generation of new neurons in the brain. See also HIPPOCAMPUS; NEURONS; OLFACTORY GLANDS; and PLASTICITY.
NEURONS (#2) = The microscopic nerve cells, located in your brain and nervous system and around your stomach, all have the capacity to send biochemical energy to other neurons. They generate electrochemical signals or charges in their "cell bodies," which are passed along down axons and through synapses to an average of 10,000 dendrites to other neurons. The other neurons are attached to still other neurons, or muscles, or senses, or organs throughout your whole body. This interactive communication process involves hundreds of billions of tiny brain cell bodies in your connectome. See CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM; CONNECTOME; NERVOUS SYSTEM; NUCLEUS OF A NEURON; and PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM.
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 (#5) = The nucleus of a neuron is surrounded by a membrane (bounded area) within the cell body of a neuron. It contains organelles. A cell body generates biochemical energy which is transmitted down axon filaments as electrochemical signals or charges through synapses to other neurons, muscles, glands, or internal organs. See also AXONS; CELL BODY OF A NEURON; DENDRITES; and NEURONS.
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. See also LIMBIC SYSTEM.
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; PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM; and SYMPATHETIC 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 (#10) = The word is short for the technical term neuroplasticity. It means that your brain has the power to change itself by itself. This fact ultimately means that your mind has the ability to change your behavior or habits based upon your current conscious self-awareness and adaptable self-identity. Plasticity is the essential process that makes possible your evolutionary brain's ability to adapt to changes in nature and the general environment as well as personal changes in your life based upon your own perceptions when you need to change to survive or thrive.
PLEASURE CIRCUIT (#14) = The structures of your limbic system are involved in creating feelings of pleasure since they secrete the neurotransmitters dopamine and GABA. The circuits are known as your "reward system" and they involve both your hypothalamus (gateway to your brain) and your amygdala (emotional brain). Your pleasure circuit can reduce activity in your amygdala and in the parts of your cerebrum, which deal with anxiety, and also increase pleasure-seeking (the anticipation of pleasure). See also AMYGDALA; DOPAMINE; GABA; LIMBIC SYSTEM; and SEROTONIN.
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: (1) the regulation of breathing; and (2) the transmission of signals to and from other structures in your brain. Also, it contains a structure called the pneumotaxic center that controls the amount of air you breath and your breaths per minute, which is your breathing rate. In addition, your pons is involved in transmitting signals to your cerebrum and your cerebellum and is involved in mediating sensations such as hearing, taste, and balance as well as regulating deep sleep. See also BRAINSTEM; CEREBELLUM: and CEREBRUM.
POSTSYNAPTIC NEURONS = They are neurons that receive neurotransmitters that carry biochemical signals across synapses from other neurons. See also NEURONS; NEUROTRANSMITTERS; PRESYNAPTIC NEURONS; and SYNAPSES.
POTENTIATION (#8) = A change in neurons that increases the likelihood of them firing in unison with others that have fired before. It is also called long-term potentiation. It is the microscopic communication process necessary for synaptic plastisity and neurogenesis. See also AXONS; DENDRITES; GLIAL CELLS; NEUROGENESIS; NEURONS; NUCLEUS OF A NEURON; PLASTICITY; and SYNAPSES.
PREFRONTAL CORTEX (#12) = This region of your brain is in the front part of your cerebrum primarily in the cerebral cortex cover of your two frontal lobes. It is involved in planning and other higher-level cognitive functions, including your working memory and your executive control functions, such as reasoning, imagining, and remembering. It is often called your "PFC". See also CEREBRAL CORTEX; CEREBRUM; FRONTAL LOBE; and LOBES.
PREMOTOR CORTEX = A part of the frontal cortex involved with planning movements.
PRESYNAPTIC NEURONS = They are neurons that release neurotransmitters to carry biochemical signals across synapses to other neurons. See also NEURONS; NEUROTRANSMITTERS; POSTSYNAPTIC NEURONS; and SYNAPSES.
PRIMARY CORTEX = A region of the brain that first receives sensory information from organs, such as the primary visual cortex. See also CEREBRAL CORTEX and CEREBRUM.
PROCEDURAL MEMORY (MUSCLE MEMORY) = One of the two forms of Long-Term Memory that is known as implicit memory and relates to learned movements, such as riding a bicycle or brushing your teeth. See also BRAINSTEM; CEREBELLUM; EXPLICIT MEMORY; IMPLICIT MEMORY; MEMORY; and PUTAMEN.
PROPRIOCEPTION = This sense deals with sensory information related to balance and the position of your body in space (gravity sensor). It involves specialized neuron clusters in your joints, such as your elbows, shoulders, and knees that can detect whether your body is balanced or not. It is sometimes called your "sixth sense".
PROSOPAGNOSIA = Inability to recognize faces.
PSYCHOACTIVE = Changing brain function, usually referring to drugs.
PSYCHODELIC = A drug that distorts perception, thought, and feeling.
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 is itself a part of the basal ganglia. It mainly regulates movement and procedural learning. See also BASAL GANGLIA; PROCEDURAL MEMORY; 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.
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 limbic system, and your forebrain. Your RN influences your wakefulness, cognition, and mood. See also AMYGDALA; BRAINSTEM; FOREBRAIN; HYPOTHALAMUS; LIMBIC SYSTEM; and SEROTONIN. [Nuclei = plural for nucleus]
RAPID EYE MOVEMENT ("REM") = A phase of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements and vivid dreams.
REFLEX = An involuntary movement controlled by neurons in your spinal cord.
RETICULAR FORMATION = A complex area in the brainstem, which contain various nuclei (clumps of neurons) that can affect arousal, sensation, motor function, and vegetative functions. Their primary functions are to control your breathing rate 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 association area of the brain for processing into visual imagery. See also CONES and RODS.
RIBOSOME = The part of every cell that enables proteins to be constructed. It is the enormous molecular machine made up of a million atoms, which makes DNA come to life, turns our genetic code into proteins, and, therefore, into us. [See book source = Gene Machine: the race to decipher the secrets of the ribosome by Venki Ramakrishnan. Basic Books, 2018]
REUPTAKE = The process by which excess neurotransmitters are removed by transporter cells back into the axon terminals that first released them.
RODS = 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 and CONES.
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.
SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY = Any belief or expectation, positive or negative, about a future situation or event that affects an individualís behavior in such a manner that it causes that expectation to be fulfilled. For example, if you wake up and immediately think that today is going to be a terrible day, your attitude might make your prediction come true.
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 = An original kind of brain scanning called Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography.
STRIATE CORTEX = An area of the visual cortex with visually distinct strips of cells when seen in a cross-section microscopic view.
STRIATUM= A section of your limbic system, that is known as your basal ganglia. It is composed of the caudate and the putamen. See also BASAL GANGLIA; CAUDATE; and LIMBIC SYSTEM; and PUTAMEN.
SULCUS (plural = "sulci") = Convuluted valleys or grooves in the brain's surface: it is opposite of gyrus. See also GYRUS.
SUPERIOR COLLICULI = Paired structures of nuclei in the midbrain section of your brainstem. They play a part in relaying visual information around your brain. 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 (#7) = They are the very tiny gaps between two neurons that are bridged by neurotransmitters through special molecular biochemical receptors. See also AXONS; DENDRITES; NEURONS; NUCLEUS OF A NEURON; and POTENTIATION.
TEMPORAL LOBES = Two divisions of your cerebrum, one on each side of your head, with a cerebral cortex cover over both. The temporal lobe in your Left Hemisphere is involved with hearing, language, and memory. See also BROCA'S AREA; CEREBRAL CORTEX; CEREBRUM; TEMPORAL LOBES; and WERNICKE'S AREA.
THALAMUS = This single structure in your limbic system complex connects your brainstem to the rest of your brain. It is known as the "gateway" from your brainstem to your brain. See also BRAINSTEM and LIMBIC SYSTEM.
THINKING = The human process of using knowledge and information to make plans, interpret and model the world, and constructively interact with and make predictions about the world in general. See also COGNITION and METACOGNITION.
WERNICKE'S AREA = The major language area, in your left temporal lobe, that is involved with comprehension. It is usually located in the Left Hemisphere near the junction with the parietal lobe. See also BROCA'S AREA; PARIETAL LOBE; TEMPORAL LOBES; and CEREBRAL HEMISPHERES.
WORKING MEMORY (#1) = 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 LONG-TERM MEMORY; MEMORY; PREFRONTAL CORTEX; and SHORT-TERM MEMORY.
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