Ap Psychology Unit 3a vocabulary

biological psychology

a branch of psychology concerned with the links between biology and behavior. (some biological psychologists call themselves behavioral neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, behavior geneticists, physiological psychologists, or biopsychologists.)


a nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system

sensory neurons

neurons that carry incoming information from the sensory receptors to the brain and spinal cord

motor neurons

neurons that carry outgoing information from the central nervous system to the muscles and glands


neurons within the brain and spinal cord that communicate internally and intervene between the sensory inputs and motor outputs


the bushy, branching extensions of a neuron that receive messages and conduct impulses toward the cell body.


the extension of a neuron, ending in branching terminal fibers, through which messages pass to other neurons or to muscles or glands

myelin sheath

a layer of fatty tissue segmentally encasing the fibers of many neurons; enables vastly greater transmission speed of neural impulses as the impulse hops from one node to the next

action potential

a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon


the level of stimulation required to trigger a neural impulse


the junction between the axon tip of the sending neuron and the dendrite or cell body of the receiving neuron. The tiny gap at this junction is called the synaptic gap or cleft.


chemical messengers that traverse the synaptic gaps between neurons. When released by the sending neuron, neurotransmitters travel across the synapse and bind to receptor sites on the receiving neuron, thereby influencing whether that neuron will generate a neural impulse.


a neurotransmitter's reabsorption by the sending neuron


morphine within"--natural, opiatelike neurotransmitters linked to pain control and to pleasure.

nervous system

the body's speedy, electrochemical communication system, consisting of all the nerve cells of the peripheral and central nervous systems

central nervous system

the brain and the spinal cord

peripheral nervous system

the sensory and motor neurons that connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body.


bundled axons that form neural "cables" connecting the central nervous system with muscles, glands, and sense organs

somatic nervous system

the division of the peripheral nervous system that controls the body's skeletal muscles. Also called the skeletal nervous system

autonomic nervous system

The part of the peripheral nervous system that controls the glands and the muscles of the internal organs (such as the heart). Its sympathetic division arouses; its parasympathetic division calms.

parasympathetic nervous system

the division of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body, conserving its energy


a simple, automatic, inborn response to a sensory stimulus, such as the knee-jerk response

endocrine system

the body's "slow" chemical communication system; a set of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream


chemical messengers that are manufactured by the endocrine glands, travel through the bloodstream, and affect other tissues

adrenal glands

a pair of endocrine glands just above the kidneys. the adrenals secrete the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), which help to arouse the body in times of stress.

pituitary gland

the endocrine system's most influential gland. Under the influence of the hypothalamus, the pituitary regulates growth and controls other endocrine glands

sympathetic nervous system

the division of the autonomic nervous system that arouses the body, mobilizing its energy in stressful situations