AP Psych Ch 4

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57 Terms
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biological psychology
the psychological specialty focused on the physical and chemical changes that cause, and occur in response to, behavior and mental processes
nervous system
a complex combination of cells whose primary function is to allow an organism to gain information about what is going on inside and outside the body and to respond appropriately
fundamental unit of the nervous system; nerve cells
glial cells
cells in the nervous system that hold neurons together and help them communicate with one another
fibers that carry signals from the body of a neuron out to where communication occurs with other neurons
neuron fibers that receive signals from the axons of other neurons and carry those signals to the cell body
the tiny gaps between neurons across which they communicate
action potential
an abrupt wave of electrochemical changes traveling down an axon when a neuron becomes depolarized
a fatty substance that wraps around some axons and increases the speed of action potentials
refractory period
a short rest period between action potentials
chemicals that assist in the transfer of signals from one neuron to another
neural receptors
sites on the surface of a cell that allow only one type of neurotransmitter to fit into them, triggering a chemical response that may lead to an action potential
postsynaptic potential
the change in the membrane potential of a neuron that has received stimulation from another neuron
excitatory postsynaptic potential
a postsynaptic potential that depolarizes the neuronal membrane, making the cell more likely to fire an action potential
inhibitory postsynaptic potential
a postsynaptic potential that hyper polarizes the neuronal membrane, making a cell less likely to fire an action potential
neural networks
neurons that operate together to preform complex functions
central nervous system
the parts of the nervous system encased in bone; specifically the brain and the spinal cord
peripheral nervous system
the parts of the nervous system not housed in bone
autonomic nervous system
a subsystem of the peripheral nervous system that carries messages between the central nervous system and the heart, lungs, and other organs and glands
sympathetic nervous system
the subsystem of the autonomic nervous system that readies the body for vigorous activity
parasympathetic nervous system
the subsystem of the autonomic nervous system that typical influences activity related to the protection, nourishment, and growth in the body
spinal cord
the part of the central nervous system within the spinal column that relays signals from peripheral senses to the brain and conveys messages from the brain to the rest of the body
involuntary, unlearned, reactions in the form of swift, automatic, and finely coordinated movements in response to external stimuli
an extension of the spinal cord contained inside the skull where nuclei control blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and other vital functions
medulla oblongata
an area in the hindbrain that controls blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and other vital functions
reticular formation
a network of cells and fibers threaded throughout the hindbrain and midbrain that alters the activity of the rest of the brain
lorcus coeruleus
a small nucleus in the reticular formation that is involved in directing attention
the part of the hindbrain whose main functions include controlling finely coordinated movements and storing memories about movement but which may also be involved in impulse control, emotion, and language
a small structure between the hindbrain and forebrain that relays information from the eyes, ears, and skin and that controls certain types of automatic behaviors
substantia nigra
an area of the midbrain involved in the smooth beginning of movement
a structure within the forebrain that is involved in the smooth beginning of movement
the most highly developed part of the brain; it is responsible for the most complex aspects of behavior and mental life
a forebrain structure that relays signals from most sense organs to higher levels in the brain and plays an important role in processing and making sense out of this information.
a structure in the forebrain that connects to and from the autonomic nervous system that regulates hunger, thirst, and sex drive
superchiasmatic nuclei
nuclei in the hypothalamus that generate biological rhythms
a structure in the forebrain associated with the formation of new memories
limbic system
a set of brain structures that play important roles in regulating emotion and memory
cerebral hemispheres
the left and right halves of the rounded, outermost part of the brain
cerebral cortex
the outer surface of the brain
sensory cortex (sensory area)
the parts of the cerebral cortex that receive stimulus information from the senses
motor cortex
the part of the cerebral cortex whose neurons control voluntary movements in the specific parts of the body
association cortex
the parts of the cerebral cortex that receive information from more than one sense or that combine sensory and motor information to preform complex cognitive tasks
lateral dominance (lateralization)
the tendency for one cerebral hemisphere to excel at a particular function or skill compared with the other hemisphere
corpus callosum
a massive bundle of fibers that connects the right and left cerebral hemispheres and allows them to communicate with each other
neural plasticity
the ability to create new synapses and to change the strength of synapses
neural stem cells
special cells in the nervous system that are capable of dividing to form new tissue, including new neurons
a neurotransmitter used by neurons in the peripheral and central nervous systems in the control of functions ranging from muscle contraction and heart rate to digestion
a neurotransmitter involved in arousal, as well as in learning and mood regulation
a neurotransmitter used by cells in parts of the brain involved in the regulation of sleep, mood, and eating
a neurotransmitter used in the parts of the brain involved in regulating movement and experiencing pleasure
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
a neurotransmitter that inhibits the firing of neurons
an excitatory neurotransmitter that helps strengthen synaptic connections between neurons.
a class of neurotransmitters that bind to opiate receptors and moderate pain
endocrine system
cells that form organs called glands and that communicate with one another by secreting chemicals called hormones
organs that secrete hormones into the bloodstream
chemicals secreted by a gland into the bloodstream, which carries them throughout the body
fight or flight syndrome
a physical reaction triggered by the sympathetic nervous system that prepares the body to fight or to run from a threatening situation