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8.4: Nervous System Glossary

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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anorexia nervosa
an eating disorder characterized by an irrational fear of being fat.
astrocytes (AS-trow-sites)
star-shaped cells that play a role in the blood-brain barrier. Parts of these cells wrap around and cover the brain's small blood vessels to help control which substances enter the brain.
a process of a neuron that carries a message away from the cell body.
blood-brain barrier
a mechanism that prevents the passage of germs and some chemicals from the blood to the brain, keeping germs and some chemicals from entering the brain.
the structure located inside the skull that coordinates almost everything the body does.
brain stem
the structure at the end of the spinal cord leading to the brain from the spinal cord. The brain stem includes the medulla (meh-DOOL-Iuh), pons (PAHNS), and midbrain.
an eating disorder characterized by periods of excessive eating, called bingeing, that are followed by vomiting.
cardiac (KAR-dee-ak) muscle
the type of muscle that makes up the heart.
cell body
the part of the neuron, which contains its nucleus and other important cell parts.
the part of the brain located at the back of the brain stem below the bump at the back of your head that controls movement.
cerebral cortex
a thin layer of grayish-beige material that covers the cerebrum.
the dorsal anterior portion of the forebrain. Lobes in the cerebrum are responsible for motion, speech, judgment, personality, some memory, hearing, understanding speech, touch, pressure, pain, vision, and awareness of language, reading, and the body.
cerebral hemispheres (ser-REE-bruhl HEM-i-sfeers)
the two sections that make up the cerebrum.
cerebrospinal (ser-REE-broh-spi-nul) fluid
a fluid found between the skull and the membranes covering the brain that works like a water bed to cushion the brain.
cochlea (KOH-klee-ull)
a winding, cone-shaped tube containing a fluid and forming a portion of the inner ear.
cornea (KOR-nee-uh)
a clear protective sheath that covers the iris and pupil of the eye.
a process of a neuron that carries messages toward the cell body of the neuron.
a thin piece of skin stretched across the ear canal. Sounds traveling through the ear canal make the eardrum vibrate.
electroencephalogram (ee-LEK-troh-en-CEF-loh-gram), or EEG,
a record of electrical activity measurements of huge numbers of neurons measured by electrodes attached to the skull.
electrodes (ee-LEK-trohdes)
very fine wires that are used to record the nerve impulse sent by neurons.
frontal lobe
the anterior part of the cerebrum.
glial (GLEE-uhl) cells
cells such as astrocytes that help neurons do their jobs.
hammer, anvil, and stirrup
three tiny bones that cross the middle ear from the back of the eardrum. These tiny bones move whenever the eardrum moves.
homeostasis (hoh-mee-oh-STAY-sis)
the state of internal balance by which the body keeps conditions about the same, even if conditions in the environment change.
hypothalamus (hypo means below)
a structure in the brain below the thalamus that regulates body temperature, eating, drinking, and sexual functions. The hypothalamus is located at the center of the cerebral hemispheres and, with the thalamus, joins the cerebrum to the brain stem.
the circular, pigmented, muscular membrane around the pupil and behind the cornea.
an elastic, naturally curved tissue controlled by tiny muscles called ciliary muscles.
meninges (meh-NIN-jeez)
membranes that look like a thin sheet of plastic and cover and protect the brain.
nerve fibers
structures that run throughout all parts of the body and transmit information between all tissues and the nervous system.
neurobiologists (NUR-oh-bi-AHL-uh-jists)
scientists who study the brain and nervous system.
nerve cells, which are the building blocks of the nervous system.
neurotransmitters (NUR-oh-trans-MIT-urs)
chemicals released at the synapse from the end of an axon of one neuron. The neurotransmitters travel across the synapse to the dendrites of the next neuron to be converted to an electrical signal and carry on the nerve impulse.
occipital lobe
the part of the brain that controls vision.
parietal lobe
the part of the cerebral cortex that receives information about touch, pressure, and pain. The parietal lobe also acts as a language, reading, and body awareness center.
the part of the ear that surrounds the hole that goes into the skull.
the hole that is the dark spot in the center of the eye.
an automatic reaction to a stimulus.
retina (RET-ihn-uh)
a structure of the eye made of cells that capture the light energy that falls on them and converts the light patterns into nerve impulses that go to the brain.
skeletal (SKELL-ih-tuhl) muscle
the type of muscle that moves the bones of the body.
smooth muscle
the type of muscle that lines the blood vessels and digestive tract and many other organs in the body.
spinal cord
a freeway of thousands of information tracks going to and from the brain. The spinal cord runs down the center of the backbone and joins the brain at the base of the skull.
anything that causes an action or response.
a space or gap between neurons.
temporal lobe
a section of the brain located along the sides of the head, just above the ears that is responsible for hearing and understanding speech.
a structure in the brain that works like a switchboard. It receives messages from sensory nerves and passes them on to the correct part of the cortex maps. The thalamus is located at the center of the cerebral hemispheres and, with the hypothalamus, joins the cerebrum to the brain stem.

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