Chapter III: Biopsychology

Biopsychology is the scientific study of the intersection of biology, mental processes and behavior.

Evolution is a biological process in which organisms mutate genetically over many generations and those with the best adaptations will eventually become more common in the population.

Natural selection is a biological process during the environment in which a species inhabits triggers evolution.

Genotype is the genetic composition stored within the DNA of an organism.

Phenotype is the physical appearance of an organism when its genotype is expressed.

DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is a complex double-helix molecule that stores an organism’s main genetic information.

Gene is a section of the DNA that contains the information needed to synthesize a specific protein.

Chromosome is tightly compressed version of the DNA molecule that occurs when the cell prepares for mitosis.

Sex chromosomes are the X and Y chromosomes in humans that determine their genders.

Neuron is a cell that specializes in transmitting electro-chemical signals within the body.

Sensory neuron is a nerve cell that transmits data collected by sensors to the central nervous system for analysis, aka afferent neuron.

Motor neuron is a nerve cell that transmits directions from the central nervous system to muscles and glands, aka efferent neuron.

Interneuron is a nerve cell that carries messages between other nerve cells.

Dendrites are branches of a neuron extending from the soma that receive chemical signals from another neuron.

Soma is the body of a neuron that contains its organelles.

Axon is an elongated section of a neuron that carries electrical impulses from the soma to the terminal bulb.

Resting potential is the stored electrical charge of the axon during inactivity.

Action potential is the electrical impulse that travels down the axon and causes neurotransmitters to be released from the terminal bulb.

All-or- one principle is the fact that a neuron’s action potential is used at full strength or not at all.

Synapse is the tiny gap between neurons through which neurotransmitters travel.

Terminal buttons is the end of a neuron and contains neurotransmitters ready to be released into the synapse.

Synaptic transmission is the sending of information across the gap between two neurons by neurotransmitters.

Synaptic vesicle is a molecular sac that contains a neurotransmitter and releases it into the synapse when the electrical impulse reaches the terminal bulb.

Neurotransmitters are molecules that carry signals across the synapse.

Plasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt according to necessity.

Glial cells are cells that insulate a neuron’s axon in order to ensure that electrical impulses travel towards the terminal bulb.

Nervous system is a division of the body consisting of neurons.

Central nervous system is a unit of the nervous system consisting of the brain and the spinal cord.

Reflex is a simple automatic action directed by the spinal cord in response to certain stimuli.

Peripheral nervous system is a unit of the nervous system consisting of all neurons except those in the brain and spinal cord.

Somatic nervous system is a subunit of the peripheral nervous system that carries sensory (afferent) messages to and motor (efferent) directions from the central nervous system.

Autonomic nervous system is a subunit of the peripheral nervous system that communicates with glands and internal organs.

Sympathetic nervous system is a division of the autonomic nervous system that invokes energetic responses.

Parasympathetic nervous system is a division of the autonomic nervous system that restores calmness to the body.

Endocrine system is a division of the body consisting of every glands and organs that communicate by chemical messages called hormones.

Hormones are chemical messages used by glands of the endocrine system.

Pituitary gland is an organ of the endocrine system that regulates some vital functions and communicates with other gland.

Agonist is a drug that imitates a particular neurotransmitter.

Antagonist is a drug that negates a particular neurotransmitter.

Neural pathway is a connection of neurons that secrete the same neurotransmitter.

Brain stem, aka lizard brain, is a section of that brain that is the most simple and controls alertness and some vital functions.

Medulla is a part of the the brain stem that regulates breathing and heartbeat.

The Pons is a part of the brain stem that is responsible for sleep and dreams.

Reticular Activating Formation is a part of the brain stem that maintains alertness.

Thalamus is a part of the brain stem that relays messages come to and from the brain.

Cerebellum, literally little brain, is a part of the nervous system that is responsible for coordinated movement.

Limbic system, aka mammalian brain, is a section of the brain that regulates emotions and memory.

Hippocampus is a part of the limbic system that regulates long-term memory.

Amygdala is a part of the limbic system that helps regulate memory and emotions.

Hypothalamus is a part of the limbic system that monitors the body’s internal conditions and directs the pituitary gland.

Cerebral cortex, aka cerebrum or primate brain, is the most complicated section of the brain that is responsible for high-level mental processes.

Frontal lobe is a unit of the cerebral cortex that is involved in thinking and moving.

Motor cortex is a division of the frontal lobe responsible for voluntary movement.

Parietal lobe is a unit of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for the senses of body position and spatial relationships.

Somatosensory cortex is a division of the parietal lobe that is responsible to the sense of touch.

Occipital lobe is a unit the the cerebral cortex that processes visual input.

Visual cortex is an area of the brain that is part of both the occipital lobe and the temporal lobe.

Temporal lobe is a unit of the cerebral cortex that processes auditory input and is involved in long-term memory.

Association cortex is different areas of the brain that work to connect information from those areas.

Cerebral dominance is the tendency of each hemisphere of the brain to control certain functions.

Corpus callosum is the group of neurons located between the brain’s hemispheres that allows them to communicate.

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