AP Psychology Brain Unit

Limbic System

the overall system of the brain that regulates emotions and controls behavior. Includes the Hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus, and other structures


a component of the limbic system involved in establishing long term memories (Limbic system)


The brain's central "relay station" situated on top of the brain stem (brain stem)


the "little brain" attached to the brain stem, is responsible for coordinated movements (brain stem)

Reticular Formation

A pencil shaped structure forming the core of the brain stem, arouses the cortex to keep the brain alert and attentive to new stimulation (brain stem)


A brain-stem structure that controls breathing and heart rate. The sensory and motor pathways cross here. (brain stem)


a brain stem structure that regulates brain activity during sleep, fine movement (brain stem)


A limbic system structure involved in memory and emotion, particularly fear and agression (Limbic System)


A limbic structure that serves as the brains blood testing laboratory, constantly monitoring the blood to determine the condition of the body, detects changes in body fluids (Limbic System)

Cerebral cortex

The thin grey matter covering of the cerebral hemispheres, carries on the major portion of higher metal processing, including thinking and perceiving.

frontal lobes

Cortical regions at the front of the brain that are involved in movement and in thinking. (cerebral cortex)

motor cortex

a narrow vertical strip of cortex in the frontal lobes, controls voluntary movement (cerebral cortex)

parietal lobes

cortical areas lying toward the back and top of the brain; involved in touch sensation and in perceiving spatial relationships.(cerebral cortex)

Somatosensory cortex

A strip of the parietal lobe lying just behind the central fissure. Involved with sensations of touch. (Parietal Lobe)

Occipital lobes

regions at the back of the brain, housing the visual cortex (Cerbral cortex)

Visual cortex

visual processing areas of cortex in the occipital and temporal lobes.

Temporal lobes

lobes that process sounds, including speech, involved in storing long term auditory memories (Cerebral cortex)

Corpus Callosum

communication link between the left and right cerebral hemispheres

Peripheral Nervous System

nervous system that carries messages to and from the Central Message System (consists of the Somatic, Autonomic, Sympathetic, and Parasympathetic Nervous systems)

Somatic Nervous system

nervous system involved with voluntary muscle movement

Autonomic Nervous System

nervous system that controls involuntary body functions

Sympathetic Nervous System

nervous system that arouses the body to expend energy

Parasympathetic Nervous System

nervous system that calms the body to conserve and maintain energy


part of the neuron that receives signals


cell body of the neuron, provides energy for functioning


neuron tube that action potential travels through

Myelin sheath

provides insulation for the myelin sheath

Node of Ranvier

gaps that increase reaction rate of action potential in myelin sheath


gap between dendrites where chemical exchanges occur


a neurotransmitter that produces sensations of pleasure and reward


a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and dreaming, mood


a neurotransmitter that produce pleasurable sensations and control of pain


the primary neurotransmitter used for muscle movement and mental memory


Neurotransmitter used by almost every region of the brain, used to control basic life functions (heart rate, stress, sleep...)


The primary excitatory neurotransmitter, the inducer chemical, also involved in learning and memory, agonist


The primary inhibitory neuron, slows down reactions, antagonist

Terminal buttons

area of the neuron where action potential triggers the release of neurotransmitters into the synapse

Resting Potential

the electrical charge of a neuron in it's inactive state (-70 microvolts)


the phase in a neuron when the charge starts to become less negative and more positive

Action Potential

the phase when a neuron "fires," a positive charge travels down the axon and triggers the terminal buttons, pertains to the all-or-nothing principle

Refractory period

the phase when a neuron regains it's resting potential

Central Nervous System

Nervous system that consists of the brain and the spinal cord.

Broca's Area

area of the brain that involves speech production

Wernicke's Area

area of the brain that involves understanding speech

Left Hemisphere of the brain

hemisphere of the brain involved in words, letters, language sounds, verbal memory, and speech

Right Hemisphere of the brain

hemisphere of the brain involved in geometric patterns, faces, emotional expressions, nonlanguage sounds, music, nonverbal memory, and distances