Afferent nerves

Nerves that carry messages to the brain or spinal cord.


Due to damage of Wernicke’s area. An inability to recognize objects, words, or faces.


Due to damage of the Broca’s area. An inability to produce or understand words.

Arcuate fasciculus

A fiber tract that connects Wernicke’s and Broca’s speech areas.

Autonomic nervous system

A part of the peripheral nervous system that connects to glands and smooth muscles. Consists of sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions.

Broca’s area

An area in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere. Implicated in language production.

Central sulcus

The major fissure that divides the frontal and the parietal lobes.


A nervous system structure behind and below the cerebrum. Controls motor movement coordination, balance, equilibrium, and muscle tone.


Consists of left and right hemispheres that sit at the top of the nervous system and engages in a variety of higher-order functions.

Cingulate gyrus

A medial cortical portion of the nervous tissue that is a part of the limbic system.

Computerized axial tomography

A noninvasive brain-scanning procedure that uses X-ray absorption around the head.


The outermost layer of a developing fetus.

Efferent nerves

Nerves that carry messages from the brain to glands and organs in the periphery.


A technique that is used to measure gross electrical activity of the brain by placing electrodes on the scalp.

Event-related potentials A physiological measure of large electrical change in the brain produced by sensory stimulation or motor responses.


A part of the nervous system that contains the cerebral hemispheres, thalamus, and hypothalamus.


(plural form, fornices) A nerve fiber tract that connects the hippocampus to mammillary bodies.

Frontal lobe

The most forward region (close to forehead) of the cerebral hemispheres.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging

(or fMRI) A noninvasive brain-imaging technique that registers changes in blood flow in the brain during a given task (also see magnetic resonance imaging).

Globus pallidus

A nucleus of the basal ganglia.

Gray matter

Composes the bark or the cortex of the cerebrum and consists of the cell bodies of the neurons (see also white matter).


(plural form, gyri) A bulge that is raised between or among fissures of the convoluted brain.


(plural form, hippocampi) A nucleus inside (medial) the temporal lobe implicated in learning and memory.

Homo habilis

A human ancestor, handy man, that lived two million years ago.

Homo sapiens

Modern man, the only surviving form of the genus Homo.


Part of the diencephalon. Regulates biological drives with pituitary gland.


A method of staining tissue including the brain, using antibodies.

Lateral geniculate nucleus

(or LGN) A nucleus in the thalamus that is innervated by the optic nerves and sends signals to the visual cortex in the occipital lobe.

Lateral sulcus

The major fissure that delineates the temporal lobe below the frontal and the parietal lobes.

Lesion studies

A surgical method in which a part of the animal brain is removed to study its effects on behavior or function.

Limbic system

A loosely defined network of nuclei in the brain involved with learning and emotion.

Magnetic resonance imaging

Or MRI is a brain imaging noninvasive technique that uses magnetic energy to generate brain images (also see fMRI).

Magnification factor

Cortical space projected by an area of sensory input (e.g., mm of cortex per degree of visual field).

Medulla oblongata

An area just above the spinal cord that processes breathing, digestion, heart and blood vessel function, swallowing, and sneezing.

Neural crest

A set of primordial neurons that migrate outside the neural tube and give rise to sensory and autonomic neurons in the peripheral nervous system.

Neural induction

A process that causes the formation of the neural tube.


Brain progenitor cells that asymmetrically divide into other neuroblasts or nerve cells.


The lining of the neural tube.

Occipital lobe

The back part of the cerebrum, which houses the visual areas.

Parasympathetic nervous system

A division of the autonomic nervous system that is slower than its counterpart—that is, the sympathetic nervous system—and works in opposition to it. Generally engaged in “rest and digest” functions.

Parietal lobe

An area of the cerebrum just behind the central sulcus that is engaged with somatosensory and gustatory sensation.


A bridge that connects the cerebral cortex with the medulla, and reciprocally transfers information back and forth between the brain and the spinal cord.

Positron Emission Tomography

(or PET) An invasive procedure that captures brain images with positron emissions from the brain after the individual has been injected with radio-labeled isotopes.

Primary Motor Cortex

A strip of cortex just in front of the central sulcus that is involved with motor control.

Primary Somatosensory Cortex

A strip of cerebral tissue just behind the central sulcus engaged in sensory reception of bodily sensations.


A front-back plane used to identify anatomical structures in the body and the brain.

Somatic nervous system

A part of the peripheral nervous system that uses cranial and spinal nerves in volitional actions.

Spina bifida

A developmental disease of the spinal cord, where the neural tube does not close caudally.


(plural form, sulci) The crevices or fissures formed by convolutions in the brain.

Sympathetic nervous system

A division of the autonomic nervous system, that is faster than its counterpart that is the parasympathetic nervous system and works in opposition to it. Generally engaged in “fight or flight” functions.

Temporal lobe

An area of the cerebrum that lies below the lateral sulcus; it contains auditory and olfactory (smell) projection regions.


A part of the diencephalon that works as a gateway for incoming and outgoing information.


A process in which physical energy converts into neural energy.

Wernicke’s area

A language area in the temporal lobe where linguistic information is comprehended (Also see Broca’s area).

White matter

Regions of the nervous system that represent the axons of the nerve cells; whitish in color because of myelination of the nerve cells.

Working memory

Short transitory memory processed in the hippocampus.



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UPEI Introduction to Psychology 1 Copyright © by Philip Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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