Vocabulary

Ablation
Surgical removal of brain tissue.
Absolute threshold
The smallest amount of stimulation needed for detection by a sense.
Acceptance and commitment therapy
A therapeutic approach designed to foster nonjudgmental observation of one’s own mental processes.
Action potential
A transient all-or-nothing electrical current that is conducted down the axon when the membrane potential reaches the threshold of excitation.
Action Potential
A transient all-or-nothing electrical current that is conducted down the axon when the membrane potential reaches the threshold of excitation.
Adaptation
The fact that after people first react to good or bad events, sometimes in a strong way, their feelings and reactions tend to dampen down over time and they return toward their original level of subjective well-being.
Adaptations
Evolved solutions to problems that historically contributed to reproductive success.
Adoption study
A behavior genetic research method that involves comparison of adopted children to their adoptive and biological parents.
Afferent nerves
Nerves that carry messages to the brain or spinal cord.
Agender
An individual who may have no gender or may describe themselves as having a neutral gender.
Agnosia
Loss of the ability to perceive stimuli.
Agnosias
Due to damage of Wernicke’s area. An inability to recognize objects, words, or faces.
Agonists
A drug that increases or enhances a neurotransmitter’s effect.
Agoraphobia
A sort of anxiety disorder distinguished by feelings that a place is uncomfortable or may be unsafe because it is significantly open or crowded.
Agreeableness
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be compassionate, cooperative, warm, and caring to others. People low in agreeableness tend to be rude, hostile, and to pursue their own interests over those of others.
Alogia
A reduction in the amount of speech and/or increased pausing before the initiation of speech.
Ambivalent sexism
A concept of gender attitudes that encompasses both positive and negative qualities.
Ambulatory assessment
An overarching term to describe methodologies that assess the behavior, physiology, experience, and environments of humans in naturalistic settings.
Amnesia
The loss of memory.
Amygdala
A region located deep within the brain in the medial area (toward the center) of the temporal lobes (parallel to the ears). If you could draw a line through your eye sloping toward the back of your head and another line between your two ears, the amygdala would be located at the intersection of these lines. The amygdala is involved in detecting relevant stimuli in our environment and has been implicated in emotional responses.
Amygdala
A brain structure in the limbic system involved in fear reactivity and implicated in the biological basis for social anxiety disorder.
Anecdotal evidence
A piece of biased evidence, usually drawn from personal experience, used to support a conclusion that may or may not be correct.
Anhedonia
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities one previously found enjoyable or rewarding.
Anhedonia/amotivation
A reduction in the drive or ability to take the steps or engage in actions necessary to obtain the potentially positive outcome.
Animism
The belief that everyone and everything had a “soul” and that mental illness was due to animistic causes, for example, evil spirits controlling an individual and his/her behavior.
Anosmia
Loss of the ability to smell.
Antagonist
A drug that blocks a neurotransmitter’s effect.
Anterograde amnesia
Inability to form new memories for facts and events after the onset of amnesia.
Antisocial
A pervasive pattern of disregard and violation of the rights of others. These behaviors may be aggressive or destructive and may involve breaking laws or rules, deceit or theft.
Antisocial personality disorder
Counterpart diagnosis to psychopathy included in the third through fifth editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; APA, 2000). Defined by specific symptoms of behavioral deviancy in childhood (e.g., fighting, lying, stealing, truancy) continuing into adulthood (manifested as repeated rule-breaking, impulsiveness, irresponsibility, aggressiveness, etc.).
Anxiety
A state of worry or apprehension about future events or possible danger that usually involves negative thoughts, unpleasant physical sensations, and/or a desire to avoid harm.
Anxiety
A mood state characterized by negative affect, muscle tension, and physical arousal in which a person apprehensively anticipates future danger or misfortune.
Anxiety disorder
A group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) classification system where anxiety is central to the person’s dysfunctioning. Typical symptoms include excessive rumination, worrying, uneasiness, apprehension, and fear about future uncertainties either based on real or imagined events. These symptoms may affect both physical and psychological health. The anxiety disorders are subdivided into panic disorder, specific phobia, social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Aphasia
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.
Asylum
A place of refuge or safety established to confine and care for the mentally ill; forerunners of the mental hospital or psychiatric facility.
Attributional style
The tendency by which a person infers the cause or meaning of behaviors or events.
Audition
Ability to process auditory stimuli. Also called hearing.
Auditory canal
Tube running from the outer ear to the middle ear.
Auditory hair cells
Receptors in the cochlea that transduce sound into electrical potentials.
Autobiographical memory
Memory for the events of one’s life.
Automatic bias
Automatic biases are unintended, immediate, and irresistible.
Automatic process
When a thought, feeling, or behavior occurs with little or no mental effort. Typically, automatic processes are described as involuntary or spontaneous, often resulting from a great deal of practice or repetition.
Automatic thoughts
Thoughts that occur spontaneously; often used to describe problematic thoughts that maintain mental disorders.
Autonomic nervous system
A part of the peripheral nervous system that connects to glands and smooth muscles. Consists of sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions.
Aversive racism
Aversive racism is unexamined racial bias that the person does not intend and would reject, but that avoids inter-racial contact.
Avoidant
A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.
Awareness
A conscious experience or the capability of having conscious experiences, which is distinct from self-awareness, the conscious understanding of one’s own existence and individuality.
Axial plane
See “horizontal plane.”
Axon
Part of the neuron that extends off the soma, splitting several times to connect with other neurons; main output of the neuron.
Axon
Part of the neuron that extends off the soma, splitting several times to connect with other neurons; main output of the neuron.
Basal ganglia
Subcortical structures of the cerebral hemispheres involved in voluntary movement.
Behavioral genetics
The empirical science of how genes and environments combine to generate behavior.
Benevolent sexism
The “positive” element of ambivalent sexism, which recognizes that women are perceived as needing to be protected, supported, and adored by men.
Big Five
Five, broad general traits that are included in many prominent models of personality. The five traits are neuroticism (those high on this trait are prone to feeling sad, worried, anxious, and dissatisfied with themselves), extraversion (high scorers are friendly, assertive, outgoing, cheerful, and energetic), openness to experience (those high on this trait are tolerant, intellectually curious, imaginative, and artistic), agreeableness (high scorers are polite, considerate, cooperative, honest, and trusting), and conscientiousness (those high on this trait are responsible, cautious, organized, disciplined, and achievement-oriented).
Bigender
An individual who identifies as two genders.
Binary
The idea that gender has two separate and distinct categories (male and female) and that a person must be either one or the other.
Binocular advantage
Benefits from having two eyes as opposed to a single eye.
Binocular disparity
Difference is images processed by the left and right eyes.
Binocular vision
Our ability to perceive 3D and depth because of the difference between the images on each of our retinas.
Biological vulnerability
A specific genetic and neurobiological factor that might predispose someone to develop anxiety disorders.
Biopsychosocial model
A model in which the interaction of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors is seen as influencing the development of the individual.
Blatant biases
Blatant biases are conscious beliefs, feelings, and behavior that people are perfectly willing to admit, are mostly hostile, and openly favor their own group.
Blocking
In classical conditioning, the finding that no conditioning occurs to a stimulus if it is combined with a previously conditioned stimulus during conditioning trials. Suggests that information, surprise value, or prediction error is important in conditioning.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): a measure of the percentage of alcohol found in a person’s blood. This measure is typically the standard used to determine the extent to which a person is intoxicated, as in the case of being too impaired to drive a vehicle.
Blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD)
The signal typically measured in fMRI that results from changes in the ratio of oxygenated hemoglobin to deoxygenated hemoglobin in the blood.
Borderline
A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity.
Borderline Personality Disorder
This personality disorder is defined by a chronic pattern of instability. This instability manifests itself in interpersonal relationships, mood, self-image, and behavior that can interfere with social functioning or work. It may also cause grave emotional distress.
“Bottom-up” or external causes of happiness
Situational factors outside the person that influence his or her subjective well-being, such as good and bad events and circumstances such as health and wealth.
Bottom-up processing
Building up to perceptual experience from individual pieces.
Brain stem
The “trunk” of the brain comprised of the medulla, pons, midbrain, and diencephalon.
Brain Stem
The “trunk” of the brain comprised of the medulla, pons, midbrain, and diencephalon.
Broca’s Area
An area in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere. Implicated in language production.
Broca’s area
An area in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere. Implicated in language production.
Callosotomy
Surgical procedure in which the corpus callosum is severed (used to control severe epilepsy).
Cartesian catastrophe
The idea that mental processes taking place outside conscious awareness are impossible.
Case study
A thorough study of a patient (or a few patients) with naturally occurring lesions.
Catatonia
Behaviors that seem to reflect a reduction in responsiveness to the external environment. This can include holding unusual postures for long periods of time, failing to respond to verbal or motor prompts from another person, or excessive and seemingly purposeless motor activity.
Categorize
To sort or arrange different items into classes or categories.
C​athartic method
A therapeutic procedure introduced by Breuer and developed further by Freud in the late 19th century whereby a patient gains insight and emotional relief from recalling and reliving traumatic events.
Causality
In research, the determination that one variable causes—is responsible for—an effect.
Cell membrane
A bi-lipid layer of molecules that separates the cell from the surrounding extracellular fluid.
Central Nervous System
The portion of the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord.
Central nervous system
The part of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord.
Central sulcus
The major fissure that divides the frontal and the parietal lobes.
Cerebellum
The distinctive structure at the back of the brain, Latin for “small brain.”
Cerebellum
The distinctive structure at the back of the brain, Latin for “small brain.”
Cerebellum
A nervous system structure behind and below the cerebrum. Controls motor movement coordination, balance, equilibrium, and muscle tone.
Cerebral cortex
The outermost gray matter of the cerebrum; the distinctive convolutions characteristic of the mammalian brain.
Cerebral hemispheres
The cerebral cortex, underlying white matter, and subcortical structures.
Cerebrum
Consists of left and right hemispheres that sit at the top of the nervous system and engages in a variety of higher-order functions.
Cerebrum
Usually refers to the cerebral cortex and associated white matter, but in some texts includes the subcortical structures.
Cerebrum
Usually refers to the cerebral cortex and associated white matter, but in some texts includes the subcortical structures.
Chemical senses
Our ability to process the environmental stimuli of smell and taste.
Chronic stress
Discrete or related problematic events and conditions which persist over time and result in prolonged activation of the biological and/or psychological stress response (e.g., unemployment, ongoing health difficulties, marital discord).
Cingulate gyrus
A medial cortical portion of the nervous tissue that is a part of the limbic system.
Circadian Rhythm
Circadian Rhythm: The physiological sleep-wake cycle. It is influenced by exposure to sunlight as well as daily schedule and activity. Biologically, it includes changes in body temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Cisgender
A term used to describe individuals whose gender matches their biological sex.
Classical conditioning
The procedure in which an initially neutral stimulus (the conditioned stimulus, or CS) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus (or US). The result is that the conditioned stimulus begins to elicit a conditioned response (CR). Classical conditioning is nowadays considered important as both a behavioral phenomenon and as a method to study simple associative learning. Same as Pavlovian conditioning.
Cochlea
Spiral bone structure in the inner ear containing auditory hair cells.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Psychotherapy approach that incorporates cognitive techniques (targeting unhelpful thoughts) and behavioral techniques (changing behaviors) to improve psychological symptoms.
Cognitive bias modification
Using exercises (e.g., computer games) to change problematic thinking habits.
Cognitive failures
Every day slips and lapses, also called absentmindedness.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
A family of approaches with the goal of changing the thoughts and behaviors that influence psychopathology.
Comorbidity
Describes a state of having more than one psychological or physical disorder at a given time.
Computerized axial tomography
A noninvasive brain-scanning procedure that uses X-ray absorption around the head.
Conditioned compensatory response
In classical conditioning, a conditioned response that opposes, rather than is the same as, the unconditioned response. It functions to reduce the strength of the unconditioned response. Often seen in conditioning when drugs are used as unconditioned stimuli.
Conditioned response
A learned reaction following classical conditioning, or the process by which an event that automatically elicits a response is repeatedly paired with another neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus), resulting in the ability of the neutral stimulus to elicit the same response on its own.
Conditioned response (CR)
The response that is elicited by the conditioned stimulus after classical conditioning has taken place.
Conditioned stimulus (CS)
An initially neutral stimulus (like a bell, light, or tone) that elicits a conditioned response after it has been associated with an unconditioned stimulus.
Cones
Photoreceptors that operate in lighted environments and can encode fine visual details. There are three different kinds (S or blue, M or green and L or red) that are each sensitive to slightly different types of light. Combined, these three types of cones allow you to have color vision.
Cones
Photoreceptors of the retina sensitive to color. Located primarily in the fovea.
Confounds
Factors that undermine the ability to draw causal inferences from an experiment.
Conscientiousness
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be careful, organized, hardworking, and to follow rules.
Conscious
Having knowledge of something external or internal to oneself; being aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.
Conscious experience
The first-person perspective of a mental event, such as feeling some sensory input, a memory, an idea, an emotion, a mood, or a continuous temporal sequence of happenings.
Consciousness
Consciousness: the awareness or deliberate perception of a stimulus
Consciousness
The quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.
Consolidation
The process occurring after encoding that is believed to stabilize memory traces.
Consolidation
Process by which a memory trace is stabilized and transformed into a more durable form.
Contemplative science
A research area concerned with understanding how contemplative practices such as meditation can affect individuals, including changes in their behavior, their emotional reactivity, their cognitive abilities, and their brains. Contemplative science also seeks insights into conscious experience that can be gained from first-person observations by individuals who have gained extraordinary expertise in introspection.
Context
Stimuli that are in the background whenever learning occurs. For instance, the Skinner box or room in which learning takes place is the classic example of a context. However, “context” can also be provided by internal stimuli, such as the sensory effects of drugs (e.g., being under the influence of alcohol has stimulus properties that provide a context) and mood states (e.g., being happy or sad). It can also be provided by a specific period in time—the passage of time is sometimes said to change the “temporal context.”
Contingency management
A reward or punishment that systematically follows a behavior. Parents can use contingencies to modify their children’s behavior.
Continuous distributions
Characteristics can go from low to high, with all different intermediate values possible. One does not simply have the trait or not have it, but can possess varying amounts of it.
Contralateral
Literally “opposite side”; used to refer to the fact that the two hemispheres of the brain process sensory information and motor commands for the opposite side of the body (e.g., the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body).
Contralateral
Literally “opposite side”; used to refer to the fact that the two hemispheres of the brain process sensory information and motor commands for the opposite side of the body (e.g., the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body).
Contrast
Relative difference in the amount and type of light coming from two nearby locations.
Contrast gain
Process where the sensitivity of your visual system can be tuned to be most sensitive to the levels of contrast that are most prevalent in the environment.
Converging evidence
Similar findings reported from multiple studies using different methods.
Coronal plane
A slice that runs from head to foot; brain slices in this plane are similar to slices of a loaf of bread, with the eyes being the front of the loaf.
Corpus Callosum
The thick bundle of nerve cells that connect the two hemispheres of the brain and allow them to communicate.
Correlation
In statistics, the measure of relatedness of two or more variables.
Correlation
Measures the association between two variables, or how they go together.
Cortisol
A hormone made by the adrenal glands, within the cortex. Cortisol helps the body maintain blood pressure and immune function. Cortisol increases when the body is under stress.
Cross-sectional design
Research method that involves observation of all of a population, or a representative subset, at one specific point in time.
Cue overload principle
The principle stating that the more memories that are associated to a particular retrieval cue, the less effective the cue will be in prompting retrieval of any one memory.
Cues
Cues: a stimulus that has a particular significance to the perceiver (e.g., a sight or a sound that has special relevance to the person who saw or heard it)
Cultural relativism
The idea that cultural norms and values of a society can only be understood on their own terms or in their own context.
Daily Diary method
A methodology where participants complete a questionnaire about their thoughts, feelings, and behavior of the day at the end of the day.
Dark adaptation
Adjustment of eye to low levels of light.
Dark adaptation
Process that allows you to become sensitive to very small levels of light, so that you can actually see in the near-absence of light.
Data (also called observations)
In research, information systematically collected for analysis and interpretation.
Day reconstruction method (DRM)
A methodology where participants describe their experiences and behavior of a given day retrospectively upon a systematic reconstruction on the following day.
Decay
The fading of memories with the passage of time.
Declarative memory
Conscious memories for facts and events.
Deductive reasoning
A form of reasoning in which a given premise determines the interpretation of specific observations (e.g., All birds have feathers; since a duck is a bird, it has feathers).
Defensive coping mechanism
An unconscious process, which protects an individual from unacceptable or painful ideas, impulses, or memories.
Delusions
False beliefs that are often fixed, hard to change even in the presence of conflicting information, and often culturally influenced in their content.
Dendrite
Part of a neuron that extends away from the cell body and is the main input to the neuron.
Dendrites
Part of a neuron that extends away from the cell body and is the main input to the neuron.
Deoxygenated hemoglobin
Hemoglobin not carrying oxygen.
Dependent
A pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation.
Dependent variable
The variable the researcher measures but does not manipulate in an experiment.
Depolarization
A change in a cell’s membrane potential, making the inside of the cell more positive and increasing the chance of an action potential.
Depressants
Depressants: a class of drugs that slow down the body’s physiological and mental processes.
DES
Dissociative Experiences Scale.
Developmental intergroup theory
A theory that postulates that adults’ focus on gender leads children to pay attention to gender as a key source of information about themselves and others, to seek out possible gender differences, and to form rigid stereotypes based on gender.
Diagnostic criteria
The specific criteria used to determine whether an individual has a specific type of psychiatric disorder. Commonly used diagnostic criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and the Internal Classification of Disorders, Version 9 (ICD-9).
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
A treatment often used for borderline personality disorder that incorporates both cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness elements.
Dialectical worldview
A perspective in DBT that emphasizes the joint importance of change and acceptance.
Dichotic listening
A task in which different audio streams are presented to each ear. Typically, people are asked to monitor one stream while ignoring the other.
DID
Dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is at the far end of the dissociative disorder spectrum. It is characterized by at least two distinct, and dissociated personality states. These personality states – or ‘alters’ - alternately control a person’s behavior. The sufferer therefore experiences significant memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness.
Differential threshold (or difference threshold)
The smallest difference needed in order to differentiate two stimuli. (See Just Noticeable Difference (JND))
Diffuse optical imaging (DOI)
A neuroimaging technique that infers brain activity by measuring changes in light as it is passed through the skull and surface of the brain.
Diffuse Optical Imaging​ (DOI)
A neuroimaging technique that infers brain activity by measuring changes in light as it is passed through the skull and surface of the brain.
Diffusion
The force on molecules to move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration.
Discrimination
Discrimination is behavior that advantages or disadvantages people merely based on their group membership.
Discriminative stimulus
In operant conditioning, a stimulus that signals whether the response will be reinforced. It is said to “set the occasion” for the operant response.
Disorganized behavior
Behavior or dress that is outside the norm for almost all subcultures. This would include odd dress, odd makeup (e.g., lipstick outlining a mouth for 1 inch), or unusual rituals (e.g., repetitive hand gestures).
Disorganized speech
Speech that is difficult to follow, either because answers do not clearly follow questions or because one sentence does not logically follow from another.
Dissociation
A disruption in the usually integrated function of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment.
Dissociation
Dissociation: the heightened focus on one stimulus or thought such that many other things around you are ignored; a disconnect between one’s awareness of their environment and the one object the person is focusing on
Dissociative amnesia
Loss of autobiographical memories from a period in the past in the absence of brain injury or disease.
Distinctiveness
The principle that unusual events (in a context of similar events) will be recalled and recognized better than uniform (nondistinctive) events.
Distractor task
A task that is designed to make a person think about something unrelated to an impending decision.
Distribution
In statistics, the relative frequency that a particular value occurs for each possible value of a given variable.
Dopamine
A neurotransmitter in the brain that is thought to play an important role in regulating the function of other neurotransmitters.
Dorsal pathway
Pathway of visual processing. The “where” pathway.
Drug diversion
When a drug that is prescribed to treat a medical condition is given to another individual who seeks to use the drug illicitly.
Early adversity
Single or multiple acute or chronic stressful events, which may be biological or psychological in nature (e.g., poverty, abuse, childhood illness or injury), occurring during childhood and resulting in a biological and/or psychological stress response.
Ecological momentary assessment
An overarching term to describe methodologies that repeatedly sample participants’ real-world experiences, behavior, and physiology in real time.
Ecological validity
The degree to which a study finding has been obtained under conditions that are typical for what happens in everyday life.
Ectoderm
The outermost layer of a developing fetus.
EEG
(Electroencephalography) The recording of the brain’s electrical activity over a period of time by placing electrodes on the scalp.
Efferent nerves
Nerves that carry messages from the brain to glands and organs in the periphery.
Ego defenses
Mental strategies, rooted in the ego, that we use to manage anxiety when we feel threatened (some examples include repression, denial, sublimation, and reaction formation).
Ego depletion
The idea that people have a limited pool of mental resources for self-control (e.g., regulating emotions, willpower), and this pool can be used up (depleted).
Electroencephalogram
A measure of electrical activity generated by the brain’s neurons.
Electroencephalography
A technique that is used to measure gross electrical activity of the brain by placing electrodes on the scalp.
Electroencephalography (EEG)
A neuroimaging technique that measures electrical brain activity via multiple electrodes on the scalp.
Electroencephalography (EEG)
A neuroimaging technique that measures electrical brain activity via multiple electrodes on the scalp.
Electronically activated recorder, or EAR
A methodology where participants wear a small, portable audio recorder that intermittently records snippets of ambient sounds around them.
Electrostatic pressure
The force on two ions with similar charge to repel each other; the force of two ions with opposite charge to attract to one another.
Emotion regulation
The ability to recognize emotional experiences and respond to situations by engaging in strategies to manage emotions as necessary.
Empirical
Concerned with observation and/or the ability to verify a claim.
Empirical methods
Approaches to inquiry that are tied to actual measurement and observation.
Encoding
Process by which information gets into memory.
Encoding
The initial experience of perceiving and learning events.
Encoding specificity principle
The hypothesis that a retrieval cue will be effective to the extent that information encoded from the cue overlaps or matches information in the engram or memory trace.
Endophenotypes
A characteristic that reflects a genetic liability for disease and a more basic component of a complex clinical presentation. Endophenotypes are less developmentally malleable than overt behavior.
Engrams
A term indicating the change in the nervous system representing an event; also, memory trace.
Enzyme
A protein produced by a living organism that allows or helps a chemical reaction to occur.
Enzyme induction
Process through which a drug can enhance the production of an enzyme.
Episodic memory
The ability to learn and retrieve new information or episodes in one’s life.
Episodic memory
Memory for events in a particular time and place.
Error management theory (EMT)
A theory of selection under conditions of uncertainty in which recurrent cost asymmetries of judgment or inference favor the evolution of adaptive cognitive biases that function to minimize the more costly errors.
Ethics
Professional guidelines that offer researchers a template for making decisions that protect research participants from potential harm and that help steer scientists away from conflicts of interest or other situations that might compromise the integrity of their research.
Etiology
The causal description of all of the factors that contribute to the development of a disorder or illness.
Euphoria
Euphoria: an intense feeling of pleasure, excitement or happiness.
Eureka experience
When a creative product enters consciousness.
A physiological measure of large electrical change in the brain produced by sensory stimulation or motor responses.
Measures the firing of groups of neurons in the cortex. As a person views or listens to specific types of information, neuronal activity creates small electrical currents that can be recorded from non-invasive sensors placed on the scalp. ERP provides excellent information about the timing of processing, clarifying brain activity at the millisecond pace at which it unfolds.
Evolution
Change over time. Is the definition changing?
Excitatory postsynaptic potentials
A depolarizing postsynaptic current that causes the membrane potential to become more positive and move towards the threshold of excitation.
Experience-sampling method
A methodology where participants report on their momentary thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at different points in time over the course of a day.
Experimenter expectations
When the experimenter’s expectations influence the outcome of a study.
Exposure therapy
A form of intervention in which the patient engages with a problematic (usually feared) situation without avoidance or escape.
Exposure treatment
A technique used in behavior therapy that involves a patient repeatedly confronting a feared situation, without danger, to reduce anxiety.
External cues
Stimuli in the outside world that serve as triggers for anxiety or as reminders of past traumatic events.
External validity
The degree to which a finding generalizes from the specific sample and context of a study to some larger population and broader settings.
Extinction
Decrease in the strength of a learned behavior that occurs when the conditioned stimulus is presented without the unconditioned stimulus (in classical conditioning) or when the behavior is no longer reinforced (in instrumental conditioning). The term describes both the procedure (the US or reinforcer is no longer presented) as well as the result of the procedure (the learned response declines). Behaviors that have been reduced in strength through extinction are said to be “extinguished.”
Extraversion
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be sociable, outgoing, active, and assertive.
Facets
Broad personality traits can be broken down into narrower facets or aspects of the trait. For example, extraversion has several facets, such as sociability, dominance, risk-taking and so forth.
Fact
Objective information about the world.
Factor analysis
A statistical technique for grouping similar things together according to how highly they are associated.
False memories
Memory for an event that never actually occurred, implanted by experimental manipulation or other means.
Falsify
In science, the ability of a claim to be tested and—possibly—refuted; a defining feature of science.
Fantasy proneness
The tendency to extensive fantasizing or daydreaming.
Fear conditioning
A type of classical or Pavlovian conditioning in which the conditioned stimulus (CS) is associated with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US), such as a foot shock. As a consequence of learning, the CS comes to evoke fear. The phenomenon is thought to be involved in the development of anxiety disorders in humans.
Fear of negative evaluation
The preoccupation with and dread of the possibility of being judged negatively by others.
Fear of positive evaluation
The dread associated with favorable public evaluation or acknowledgment of success, particularly when it involves social comparison.
Fight or flight response
The physiological response that occurs in response to a perceived threat, preparing the body for actions needed to deal with the threat.
Fight or flight response
A biological reaction to alarming stressors that prepares the body to resist or escape a threat.
First-person perspective
Observations made by individuals about their own conscious experiences, also known as introspection or a subjective point of view. Phenomenology refers to the description and investigation of such observations.
Five-Factor Model
Five broad domains or dimensions that are used to describe human personality.
Five-Factor Model
(also called the Big Five) The Five-Factor Model is a widely accepted model of personality traits. Advocates of the model believe that much of the variability in people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be summarized with five broad traits. These five traits are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Flashback
Sudden, intense re-experiencing of a previous event, usually trauma-related.
Flashbulb memory
Vivid personal memories of receiving the news of some momentous (and usually emotional) event.
Flat affect
A reduction in the display of emotions through facial expressions, gestures, and speech intonation.
Flavor
The combination of smell and taste.
Flexible Correction Model
Flexible Correction Model: the ability for people to correct or change their beliefs and evaluations if they believe these judgments have been biased (e.g., if someone realizes they only thought their day was great because it was sunny, they may revise their evaluation of the day to account for this “biasing” influence of the weather)
Foils
Any member of a lineup (whether live or photograph) other than the suspect.
Forebrain
A part of the nervous system that contains the cerebral hemispheres, thalamus, and hypothalamus.
Fornix
(plural form, fornices) A nerve fiber tract that connects the hippocampus to mammillary bodies.
Free association
In psychodynamic therapy, a process in which the patient reports all thoughts that come to mind without censorship, and these thoughts are interpreted by the therapist.
Frontal lobe
The front most (anterior) part of the cerebrum; anterior to the central sulcus and responsible for motor output and planning, language, judgment, and decision-making.
Frontal lobe
The most forward region (close to forehead) of the cerebral hemispheres.
Frontal Lobe
The front most (anterior) part of the cerebrum; anterior to the central sulcus and responsible for motor output and planning, language, judgment, and decision-making.
Full-cycle psychology
A scientific approach whereby researchers start with an observational field study to identify an effect in the real world, follow up with laboratory experimentation to verify the effect and isolate the causal mechanisms, and return to field research to corroborate their experimental findings.
Functional capacity
The ability to engage in self-care (cook, clean, bathe), work, attend school, and/or engage in social relationships.
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).
Functional magnetic resonance imaging
A measure of changes in the oxygenation of blood flow as areas in the brain become active.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): A neuroimaging technique that infers brain activity by measuring changes in oxygen levels in the blood.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): A neuroimaging technique that infers brain activity by measuring changes in oxygen levels in the blood.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Entails the use of powerful magnets to measure the levels of oxygen within the brain that vary with changes in neural activity. That is, as the neurons in specific brain regions “work harder” when performing a specific task, they require more oxygen. By having people listen to or view social percepts in an MRI scanner, fMRI specifies the brain regions that evidence a relative increase in blood flow. In this way, fMRI provides excellent spatial information, pinpointing with millimeter accuracy, the brain regions most critical for different social processes.
Functional neuroanatomy
Classifying how regions within the nervous system relate to psychology and behavior.
Gender
The cultural, social, and psychological meanings that are associated with masculinity and femininity.
Gender constancy
The awareness that gender is constant and does not change simply by changing external attributes; develops between 3 and 6 years of age.
Gender discrimination
Differential treatment on the basis of gender.
Gender identity
A person’s psychological sense of being male or female.
Gender roles
The behaviors, attitudes, and personality traits that are designated as either masculine or feminine in a given culture.
Gender schema theory
This theory of how children form their own gender roles argues that children actively organize others’ behavior, activities, and attributes into gender categories or schemas.
Gender stereotypes
The beliefs and expectations people hold about the typical characteristics, preferences, and behaviors of men and women.
Genderfluid
An individual who may identify as male, female, both, or neither at different times and in different circumstances.
Genderqueer or gender nonbinary
An umbrella term used to describe a wide range of individuals who do not identify with and/or conform to the gender binary.
Gene Selection Theory
The modern theory of evolution by selection by which differential gene replication is the defining process of evolutionary change.
General population
A sample of people representative of the average individual in our society.
Generalize
Generalizing, in science, refers to the ability to arrive at broad conclusions based on a smaller sample of observations. For these conclusions to be true the sample should accurately represent the larger population from which it is drawn.
Generalize
In research, the degree to which one can extend conclusions drawn from the findings of a study to other groups or situations not included in the study.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Excessive worry about everyday things that is at a level that is out of proportion to the specific causes of worry.
Globus pallidus
A nucleus of the basal ganglia.
Goal-directed behavior
Instrumental behavior that is influenced by the animal’s knowledge of the association between the behavior and its consequence and the current value of the consequence. Sensitive to the reinforcer devaluation effect.
Grandiosity
Inflated self-esteem or an exaggerated sense of self-importance and self-worth (e.g., believing one has special powers or superior abilities).
Gray matter
Composes the bark or the cortex of the cerebrum and consists of the cell bodies of the neurons (see also white matter).
Gray matter
The outer grayish regions of the brain comprised of the neurons’ cell bodies.
Gustation
Ability to process gustatory stimuli. Also called taste.
Gyri
(plural) Folds between sulci in the cortex.
Gyrus
A fold between sulci in the cortex.
Gyrus
(plural form, gyri) A bulge that is raised between or among fissures of the convoluted brain.
Habit
Instrumental behavior that occurs automatically in the presence of a stimulus and is no longer influenced by the animal’s knowledge of the value of the reinforcer. Insensitive to the reinforcer devaluation effect.
Hallucinations
Perceptual experiences that occur even when there is no stimulus in the outside world generating the experiences. They can be auditory, visual, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), or somatic (touch).
Hallucinogens
Hallucinogens: substances that, when ingested, alter a person’s perceptions, often by creating hallucinations that are not real or distorting their perceptions of time.
Happiness
The popular word for subjective well-being. Scientists sometimes avoid using this term because it can refer to different things, such as feeling good, being satisfied, or even the causes of high subjective well-being.
Hemoglobin
The oxygen-carrying portion of a red blood cell.
Heritability coefficient
An easily misinterpreted statistical construct that purports to measure the role of genetics in the explanation of differences among individuals.
HEXACO model
The HEXACO model is an alternative to the Five-Factor Model. The HEXACO model includes six traits, five of which are variants of the traits included in the Big Five (Emotionality [E], Extraversion [X], Agreeableness [A], Conscientiousness [C], and Openness [O]). The sixth factor, Honesty-Humility [H], is unique to this model.
High-stakes testing
Settings in which test scores are used to make important decisions about individuals. For example, test scores may be used to determine which individuals are admitted into a college or graduate school, or who should be hired for a job. Tests also are used in forensic settings to help determine whether a person is competent to stand trial or fits the legal definition of sanity.
Hippocampus
(plural form, hippocampi) A nucleus inside (medial) the temporal lobe implicated in learning and memory.
Histrionic
A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking.
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.
Honeymoon effect
The tendency for newly married individuals to rate their spouses in an unrealistically positive manner. This represents a specific manifestation of the letter of recommendation effect when applied to ratings made by current romantic partners. Moreover, it illustrates the very important role played by relationship satisfaction in ratings made by romantic partners: As marital satisfaction declines (i.e., when the “honeymoon is over”), this effect disappears.
Horizontal plane
A slice that runs horizontally through a standing person (i.e., parallel to the floor); slices of brain in this plane divide the top and bottom parts of the brain; this plane is similar to slicing a hamburger bun.
Hormones
Chemicals released by cells in the brain or body that affect cells in other parts of the brain or body.
Hostile sexism
The negative element of ambivalent sexism, which includes the attitudes that women are inferior and incompetent relative to men.
Humorism (or humoralism)
A belief held by ancient Greek and Roman physicians (and until the 19th century) that an excess or deficiency in any of the four bodily fluids, or humors—blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm—directly affected their health and temperament.
Hyperpolarization
A change in a cell’s membrane potential, making the inside of the cell more negative and decreasing the chance of an action potential.
Hypersomnia
Excessive daytime sleepiness, including difficulty staying awake or napping, or prolonged sleep episodes.
Hypnosis
Hypnosis: the state of consciousness whereby a person is highly responsive to the suggestions of another; this state usually involves a dissociation with one’s environment and an intense focus on a single stimulus, which is usually accompanied by a sense of relaxation
Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy: The use of hypnotic techniques such as relaxation and suggestion to help engineer desirable change such as lower pain or quitting smoking.
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis
A system that involves the hypothalamus (within the brain), the pituitary gland (within the brain), and the adrenal glands (at the top of the kidneys). This system helps maintain homeostasis (keeping the body’s systems within normal ranges) by regulating digestion, immune function, mood, temperature, and energy use. Through this, the HPA regulates the body’s response to stress and injury.
Hypothalamus
Part of the diencephalon. Regulates biological drives with pituitary gland.
Hypotheses
A logical idea that can be tested.
Hypothesis
A tentative explanation that is subject to testing.
Hysteria
Term used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to describe a disorder believed to be caused by a woman’s uterus wandering throughout the body and interfering with other organs (today referred to as conversion disorder, in which psychological problems are expressed in physical form).
Immunocytochemistry
A method of staining tissue including the brain, using antibodies.
Implicit Association Test
Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures relatively automatic biases that favor own group relative to other groups.
Implicit Associations Test
Implicit Associations Test (IAT): A computer reaction time test that measures a person’s automatic associations with concepts. For instance, the IAT could be used to measure how quickly a person makes positive or negative evaluations of members of various ethnic groups.
Implicit motives
These are goals that are important to a person, but that he/she cannot consciously express. Because the individual cannot verbalize these goals directly, they cannot be easily assessed via self-report. However, they can be measured using projective devices such as the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).
Inattentional blindness
The failure to notice a fully visible, but unexpected, object or event when attention is devoted to something else.
Inattentional deafness
The auditory analog of inattentional blindness. People fail to notice an unexpected sound or voice when attention is devoted to other aspects of a scene.
Independent
Two characteristics or traits are separate from one another-- a person can be high on one and low on the other, or vice-versa. Some correlated traits are relatively independent in that although there is a tendency for a person high on one to also be high on the other, this is not always the case.
Independent variable
The variable the researcher manipulates and controls in an experiment.
Induction
To draw general conclusions from specific observations.
Inductive reasoning
A form of reasoning in which a general conclusion is inferred from a set of observations (e.g., noting that “the driver in that car was texting; he just cut me off then ran a red light!” (a specific observation), which leads to the general conclusion that texting while driving is dangerous).
Ingroup
A social group to which an individual identifies or belongs.
Inhibitory postsynaptic potentials
A hyperpolarizing postsynaptic current that causes the membrane potential to become more negative and move away from the threshold of excitation.
Insomnia
A sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired. Symptoms also include waking up too early, experience many awakenings during the night, and not feeling rested during the day.
Instrumental conditioning
Process in which animals learn about the relationship between their behaviors and their consequences. Also known as operant conditioning.
Integrative ​or eclectic psychotherapy​
Also called integrative psychotherapy, this term refers to approaches combining multiple orientations (e.g., CBT with psychoanalytic elements).
Integrative or ​eclectic psychotherapy
Also called integrative psychotherapy, this term refers to approaches combining multiple orientations (e.g., CBT with psychoanalytic elements).
Interference
Other memories get in the way of retrieving a desired memory
Internal bodily or somatic cues
Physical sensations that serve as triggers for anxiety or as reminders of past traumatic events.
Internal validity
The degree to which a cause-effect relationship between two variables has been unambiguously established.
Interoceptive avoidance
Avoidance of situations or activities that produce sensations of physical arousal similar to those occurring during a panic attack or intense fear response.
Intersexual selection
A process of sexual selection by which evolution (change) occurs as a consequences of the mate preferences of one sex exerting selection pressure on members of the opposite sex.
Intrasexual competition
A process of sexual selection by which members of one sex compete with each other, and the victors gain preferential mating access to members of the opposite sex.
Invasive Procedure
A procedure that involves the skin being broken or an instrument or chemical being introduced into a body cavity.
Ion channels
Proteins that span the cell membrane, forming channels that specific ions can flow through between the intracellular and extracellular space.
Ionotropic receptor
Ion channel that opens to allow ions to permeate the cell membrane under specific conditions, such as the presence of a neurotransmitter or a specific membrane potential.
Jet Lag
Jet Lag: The state of being fatigued and/or having difficulty adjusting to a new time zone after traveling a long distance (across multiple time zones).
Just noticeable difference (JND)
The smallest difference needed in order to differentiate two stimuli. (see Differential Threshold)
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 inhibition
A signal produced by a neuron aimed at suppressing the response of nearby neurons.
Lateral sulcus
The major fissure that delineates the temporal lobe below the frontal and the parietal lobes.
Lateralized
To the side; used to refer to the fact that specific functions may reside primarily in one hemisphere or the other (e.g., for the majority individuals, the left hemisphere is most responsible for language).
Law of effect
The idea that instrumental or operant responses are influenced by their effects. Responses that are followed by a pleasant state of affairs will be strengthened and those that are followed by discomfort will be weakened. Nowadays, the term refers to the idea that operant or instrumental behaviors are lawfully controlled by their consequences.
Lesion
A region in the brain that suffered damage through injury, disease, or medical intervention.
Lesion studies
A surgical method in which a part of the animal brain is removed to study its effects on behavior or function.
Lesions
Damage or tissue abnormality due, for example, to an injury, surgery, or a vascular problem.
Lesions
Abnormalities in the tissue of an organism usually caused by disease or trauma.
Letter of recommendation effect
The general tendency for informants in personality studies to rate others in an unrealistically positive manner. This tendency is due a pervasive bias in personality assessment: In the large majority of published studies, informants are individuals who like the person they are rating (e.g., they often are friends or family members) and, therefore, are motivated to depict them in a socially desirable way. The term reflects a similar tendency for academic letters of recommendation to be overly positive and to present the referent in an unrealistically desirable manner.
Levels of analysis
In science, there are complementary understandings and explanations of phenomena.
Lexical hypothesis
The lexical hypothesis is the idea that the most important differences between people will be encoded in the language that we use to describe people. Therefore, if we want to know which personality traits are most important, we can look to the language that people use to describe themselves and others.
Life satisfaction
A person reflects on their life and judges to what degree it is going well, by whatever standards that person thinks are most important for a good life.
Light adaptation
Adjustment of eye to high levels of light.
Limbic system
A loosely defined network of nuclei in the brain involved with learning and emotion.
Limbic System
Includes the subcortical structures of the amygdala and hippocampal formation as well as some cortical structures; responsible for aversion and gratification.
Limbic system
Includes the subcortical structures of the amygdala and hippocampal formation as well as some cortical structures; responsible for aversion and gratification.
Linguistic inquiry and word count
A quantitative text analysis methodology that automatically extracts grammatical and psychological information from a text by counting word frequencies.
Lived day analysis
A methodology where a research team follows an individual around with a video camera to objectively document a person’s daily life as it is lived.
Longitudinal study
A study that follows the same group of individuals over time.
Lucid dreams
Any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming.
Magnetic resonance imaging
Or MRI is a brain imaging noninvasive technique that uses magnetic energy to generate brain images (also see fMRI).
Magnetic resonance imaging
A set of techniques that uses strong magnets to measure either the structure of the brain (e.g., gray matter and white matter) or how the brain functions when a person performs cognitive tasks (e.g., working memory or episodic memory) or other types of tasks.
Magnification factor
Cortical space projected by an area of sensory input (e.g., mm of cortex per degree of visual field).
Maladaptive
Term referring to behaviors that cause people who have them physical or emotional harm, prevent them from functioning in daily life, and/or indicate that they have lost touch with reality and/or cannot control their thoughts and behavior (also called dysfunctional).
Malingering
Fabrication or exaggeration of medical symptoms to achieve secondary gain (e.g., receive medication, avoid school).
Mechanoreceptors
Mechanical sensory receptors in the skin that response to tactile stimulation.
Medial prefrontal cortex
An area of the brain located in the middle of the frontal lobes (at the front of the head), active when people mentalize about the self and others.
Medial temporal lobes
Inner region of the temporal lobes that includes the hippocampus.
Medulla oblongata
An area just above the spinal cord that processes breathing, digestion, heart and blood vessel function, swallowing, and sneezing.
Melatonin
Melatonin: A hormone associated with increased drowsiness and sleep.
Memory traces
A term indicating the change in the nervous system representing an event.
Mentalizing
The act of representing the mental states of oneself and others. Mentalizing allows humans to interpret the intentions, beliefs, and emotional states of others.
Mere-exposure effects
The result of developing a more positive attitude towards a stimulus after repeated instances of mere exposure to it.
Mesmerism
Derived from Franz Anton Mesmer in the late 18th century, an early version of hypnotism in which Mesmer claimed that hysterical symptoms could be treated through animal magnetism emanating from Mesmer’s body and permeating the universe (and later through magnets); later explained in terms of high suggestibility in individuals.
Metabolism
Breakdown of substances.
Metabolite
A substance necessary for a living organism to maintain life.
Mindfulness
A process that reflects a nonjudgmental, yet attentive, mental state.
Mindfulness
Mindfulness: a state of heightened focus on the thoughts passing through one’s head, as well as a more controlled evaluation of those thoughts (e.g., do you reject or support the thoughts you’re having?)
Mindfulness-based therapy
A form of psychotherapy grounded in mindfulness theory and practice, often involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and other features of mindfulness exercises.
Misinformation effect
When erroneous information occurring after an event is remembered as having been part of the original event.
Misinformation effect
A memory error caused by exposure to incorrect information between the original event (e.g., a crime) and later memory test (e.g., an interview, lineup, or day in court).
Mnemonic devices
A strategy for remembering large amounts of information, usually involving imaging events occurring on a journey or with some other set of memorized cues.
Mock witnesses
A research subject who plays the part of a witness in a study.
Mood disorder
A group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) classification system where a disturbance in the person’s mood is the primary dysfunction. Mood disorders include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, dysthymic and cyclothymic disorder.
Motor cortex
Region of the frontal lobe responsible for voluntary movement; the motor cortex has a contralateral representation of the human body.
Multimodal perception
The effects that concurrent stimulation in more than one sensory modality has on the perception of events and objects in the world.
Myelin
Fatty tissue, produced by glial cells (see module, “Neurons”) that insulates the axons of the neurons; myelin is necessary for normal conduction of electrical impulses among neurons.
Myelin sheath
Substance around the axon of a neuron that serves as insulation to allow the action potential to conduct rapidly toward the terminal buttons.
Myelin Sheath
Fatty tissue, that insulates the axons of the neurons; myelin is necessary for normal conduction of electrical impulses among neurons.
Narcissistic
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
Natural selection
Differential reproductive success as a consequence of differences in heritable attributes.
Negative feelings
Undesirable and unpleasant feelings that people tend to avoid if they can. Moods and emotions such as depression, anger, and worry are examples.
Nervous System
The body’s network for electrochemical communication. This system includes all the nerves cells in the body.
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.
Neural plasticity
The ability of synapses and neural pathways to change over time and adapt to changes in neural process, behavior, or environment.
Neuroblasts
Brain progenitor cells that asymmetrically divide into other neuroblasts or nerve cells.
Neurodevelopmental
Processes that influence how the brain develops either in utero or as the child is growing up.
Neuroendocrinology
The study of how the brain and hormones act in concert to coordinate the physiology of the body.
Neuroepithelium
The lining of the neural tube.
Neurons
Individual brain cells
Neuropsychoanalysis
An integrative, interdisciplinary domain of inquiry seeking to integrate psychoanalytic and neuropsychological ideas and findings to enhance both areas of inquiry (you can learn more by visiting the webpage of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society at http://www.neuropsa.org.uk/).
Neuroscience methods
A research method that deals with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain.
Neuroticism
A personality trait that reflects the tendency to be interpersonally sensitive and the tendency to experience negative emotions like anxiety, fear, sadness, and anger.
Neurotransmitter
A chemical substance produced by a neuron that is used for communication between neurons.
Neurotransmitters
Chemical substance released by the presynaptic terminal button that acts on the postsynaptic cell.
Neurotransmitters
Chemical substance released by the presynaptic terminal button that acts on the postsynaptic cell.
Nightmares
An unpleasant dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the mind, typically fear or horror, but also despair, anxiety, and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror. Sufferers usually awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep for a prolonged period of time.
Nociception
Our ability to sense pain.
Nomenclature
Naming conventions.
Noninvasive procedure
A procedure that does not require the insertion of an instrument or chemical through the skin or into a body cavity.
Nucleus
Collection of nerve cells found in the brain which typically serve a specific function.
Null-hypothesis significance testing (NHST)
In statistics, a test created to determine the chances that an alternative hypothesis would produce a result as extreme as the one observed if the null hypothesis were actually true.
Object relations theory
A modern offshoot of the psychodynamic perspective, this theory contends that personality can be understood as reflecting mental images of significant figures (especially the parents) that we form early in life in response to interactions taking place within the family; these mental images serve as templates (or “scripts”) for later interpersonal relationships.
Objective
Being free of personal bias.
Observational learning
Learning by observing the behavior of others.
Obsessive-compulsive
A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
This anxiety disorder is characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions), by repetitive behaviors (compulsions), or both. Obsessions produce uneasiness, fear, or worry. Compulsions are then aimed at reducing the associated anxiety. Examples of compulsive behaviors include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; and nervous rituals, such as switching the light on and off a certain number of times when entering a room. Intrusive thoughts are often sexual, violent, or religious in nature...
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
A disorder characterized by the desire to engage in certain behaviors excessively or compulsively in hopes of reducing anxiety. Behaviors include things such as cleaning, repeatedly opening and closing doors, hoarding, and obsessing over certain thoughts.
Occipital lobe
The back most (posterior) part of the cerebrum; involved in vision.
Occipital Lobe
The back most (posterior) part of the cerebrum; involved in vision.
Occipital lobe
The back part of the cerebrum, which houses the visual areas.
Odorants
Chemicals transduced by olfactory receptors.
Olfaction
Ability to process olfactory stimuli. Also called smell.
Olfactory epithelium
Organ containing olfactory receptors.
Openness to Experience
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to seek out and to appreciate new things, including thoughts, feelings, values, and experiences.
Operant
A behavior that is controlled by its consequences. The simplest example is the rat’s lever-pressing, which is controlled by the presentation of the reinforcer.
Operant conditioning
See instrumental conditioning.
Operational definitions
How researchers specifically measure a concept.
Opponent Process Theory
Theory of color vision that assumes there are four different basic colors, organized into two pairs (red/green and blue/yellow) and proposes that colors in the world are encoded in terms of the opponency (or difference) between the colors in each pair. There is an additional black/white pair responsible for coding light contrast.
Opponent-process theory
Theory proposing color vision as influenced by cells responsive to pairs of colors.
Oppositional defiant disorder
A childhood behavior disorder that is characterized by stubbornness, hostility, and behavioral defiance. This disorder is highly comorbid with ADHD.
Ossicles
A collection of three small bones in the middle ear that vibrate against the tympanic membrane.
Outgroup
A social group to which an individual does not identify or belong.
Oxygenated hemoglobin
Hemoglobin carrying oxygen.
Panic disorder (PD)
A condition marked by regular strong panic attacks, and which may include significant levels of worry about future attacks.
Paranoid
A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent.
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.
Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)
One of the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system, responsible for stimulation of “rest and digest” activities.
Parent management training
A treatment for childhood behavior problems that teaches parents how to use contingencies to more effectively manage their children’s behavior.
Parietal Lobe
The part of the cerebrum between the frontal and occipital lobes; involved in bodily sensations, visual attention, and integrating the senses.
Parietal lobe
The part of the cerebrum between the frontal and occipital lobes; involved in bodily sensations, visual attention, and integrating the senses.
Parietal lobe
An area of the cerebrum just behind the central sulcus that is engaged with somatosensory and gustatory sensation.
Participant demand
When participants behave in a way that they think the experimenter wants them to behave.
Pathologizes
To define a trait or collection of traits as medically or psychologically unhealthy or abnormal.
Pavlovian conditioning
See classical conditioning.
Perception
The psychological process of interpreting sensory information.
Peripheral Nervous System
All of the nerve cells that connect the central nervous system to all the other parts of the body.
Peripheral nervous system
The part of the nervous system that is outside the brain and spinal cord.
Personality
Enduring predispositions that characterize a person, such as styles of thought, feelings and behavior.
Personality
Characteristic, routine ways of thinking, feeling, and relating to others.
Personality disorders
When personality traits result in significant distress, social impairment, and/or occupational impairment.
Personality traits
Enduring dispositions in behavior that show differences across individuals, and which tend to characterize the person across varying types of situations.
Person-centered therapy
A therapeutic approach focused on creating a supportive environment for self-discovery.
Person-situation debate
The person-situation debate is a historical debate about the relative power of personality traits as compared to situational influences on behavior. The situationist critique, which started the person-situation debate, suggested that people overestimate the extent to which personality traits are consistent across situations.
Phantom limb
The perception that a missing limb still exists.
Phantom limb pain
Pain in a limb that no longer exists.
Pharmacokinetics
The action of a drug through the body, including absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion.
Pharmacotherapy
A treatment approach that involves using medications to alter a person’s neural functioning to reduce psychological symptoms.
Photo spreads
A selection of normally small photographs of faces given to a witness for the purpose of identifying a perpetrator.
Photoactivation
A photochemical reaction that occurs when light hits photoreceptors, producing a neural signal.
Phrenology
A now-discredited field of brain study, popular in the first half of the 19th century that correlated bumps and indentations of the skull with specific functions of the brain.
Pinna
Outermost portion of the ear.
Placebo effect
When receiving special treatment or something new affects human behavior.
Polypharmacy
The use of many medications.
Pons
A bridge that connects the cerebral cortex with the medulla, and reciprocally transfers information back and forth between the brain and the spinal cord.
Population
In research, all the people belonging to a particular group (e.g., the population of left handed people).
Positive feelings
Desirable and pleasant feelings. Moods and emotions such as enjoyment and love are examples.
Positron
A particle having the same mass and numerically equal but positive charge as an electron.
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.
Positron emission tomography
A technique that uses radio-labelled ligands to measure the distribution of different neurotransmitter receptors in the brain or to measure how much of a certain type of neurotransmitter is released when a person is given a specific type of drug or does a particularly cognitive task.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
A neuroimaging technique that measures brain activity by detecting the presence of a radioactive substance in the brain that is initially injected into the bloodstream and then pulled in by active brain tissue.
Positron emission tomography (PET)
A neuroimaging technique that measures brain activity by detecting the presence of a radioactive substance in the brain that is initially injected into the bloodstream and then pulled in by active brain tissue.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A sense of intense fear, triggered by memories of a past traumatic event, that another traumatic event might occur. PTSD may include feelings of isolation and emotional numbing.
Prediction error
When the outcome of a conditioning trial is different from that which is predicted by the conditioned stimuli that are present on the trial (i.e., when the US is surprising). Prediction error is necessary to create Pavlovian conditioning (and associative learning generally). As learning occurs over repeated conditioning trials, the conditioned stimulus increasingly predicts the unconditioned stimulus, and prediction error declines. Conditioning works to correct or reduce prediction error.
Prejudice
Prejudice is an evaluation or emotion toward people merely based on their group membership.
Preparedness
The idea that an organism’s evolutionary history can make it easy to learn a particular association. Because of preparedness, you are more likely to associate the taste of tequila, and not the circumstances surrounding drinking it, with getting sick. Similarly, humans are more likely to associate images of spiders and snakes than flowers and mushrooms with aversive outcomes like shocks.
Prevalence
The number of cases of a specific disorder present in a given population at a certain time.
Primacy of the Unconscious
The hypothesis—supported by contemporary empirical research—that the vast majority of mental activity takes place outside conscious awareness.
Primary auditory cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing auditory stimuli.
Primary Motor Cortex
A strip of cortex just in front of the central sulcus that is involved with motor control.
Primary somatosensory cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing somatosensory stimuli.
Primary Somatosensory Cortex
A strip of cerebral tissue just behind the central sulcus engaged in sensory reception of bodily sensations.
Primary visual cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing visual stimuli.
Primary visual cortex (V1)
Brain region located in the occipital cortex (toward the back of the head) responsible for processing basic visual information like the detection, thickness, and orientation of simple lines, color, and small-scale motion.
Priming
Priming: the activation of certain thoughts or feelings that make them easier to think of and act upon
Principle of inverse effectiveness
The finding that, in general, for a multimodal stimulus, if the response to each unimodal component (on its own) is weak, then the opportunity for multisensory enhancement is very large. However, if one component—by itself—is sufficient to evoke a strong response, then the effect on the response gained by simultaneously processing the other components of the stimulus will be relatively small.
Probability
A measure of the degree of certainty of the occurrence of an event.
Probability values
In statistics, the established threshold for determining whether a given value occurs by chance.
Processing speed
The speed with which an individual can perceive auditory or visual information and respond to it.
Projective hypothesis
The theory that when people are confronted with ambiguous stimuli (that is, stimuli that can be interpreted in more than one way), their responses will be influenced by their unconscious thoughts, needs, wishes, and impulses. This, in turn, is based on the Freudian notion of projection, which is the idea that people attribute their own undesirable/unacceptable characteristics to other people or objects.
Pseudoscience
Beliefs or practices that are presented as being scientific, or which are mistaken for being scientific, but which are not scientific (e.g., astrology, the use of celestial bodies to make predictions about human behaviors, and which presents itself as founded in astronomy, the actual scientific study of celestial objects. Astrology is a pseudoscience unable to be falsified, whereas astronomy is a legitimate scientific discipline).
Psychic causality
The assumption that nothing in mental life happens by chance—that there is no such thing as a “random” thought or feeling.
Psychoactive drugs
A drug that changes mood or the way someone feels.
Psychoanalytic therapy
Sigmund Freud’s therapeutic approach focusing on resolving unconscious conflicts.
Psychodynamic therapy
Treatment applying psychoanalytic principles in a briefer, more individualized format.
Psychogenesis
Developing from psychological origins.
Psychological adaptations
Mechanisms of the mind that evolved to solve specific problems of survival or reproduction; conceptualized as information processing devices.
Psychological vulnerabilities
Influences that our early experiences have on how we view the world.
Psychomotor agitation
Increased motor activity associated with restlessness, including physical actions (e.g., fidgeting, pacing, feet tapping, handwringing).
Psychomotor retardation
A slowing of physical activities in which routine activities (e.g., eating, brushing teeth) are performed in an unusually slow manner.
Psychopathology
Illnesses or disorders that involve psychological or psychiatric symptoms.
Psychopathy
Synonymous with psychopathic personality, the term used by Cleckley (1941/1976), and adapted from the term psychopathic introduced by German psychiatrist Julius Koch (1888) to designate mental disorders presumed to be heritable.
Psychophysiological methods
Any research method in which the dependent variable is a physiological measure and the independent variable is behavioral or mental (such as memory).
Psychosexual stage model
Probably the most controversial aspect of psychodynamic theory, the psychosexual stage model contends that early in life we progress through a sequence of developmental stages (oral, anal, Oedipal, latency, and genital), each with its own unique mode of sexual gratification.
Psychotropic drug
A drug that changes mood or emotion, usually used when talking about drugs prescribed for various mental conditions (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.).
PTM
Post-traumatic model of dissociation.
Punisher
A stimulus that decreases the strength of an operant behavior when it is made a consequence of the behavior.
Quantitative genetics
Scientific and mathematical methods for inferring genetic and environmental processes based on the degree of genetic and environmental similarity among organisms.
Quantitative law of effect
A mathematical rule that states that the effectiveness of a reinforcer at strengthening an operant response depends on the amount of reinforcement earned for all alternative behaviors. A reinforcer is less effective if there is a lot of reinforcement in the environment for other behaviors.
Quasi-experimental design
An experiment that does not require random assignment to conditions.
Random assignment
Assigning participants to receive different conditions of an experiment by chance.
Reappraisal, or ​Cognitive restructuring
The process of identifying, evaluating, and changing maladaptive thoughts in psychotherapy.
Recoding
The ubiquitous process during learning of taking information in one form and converting it to another form, usually one more easily remembered.
Recurrent dreams
The same dream narrative or dreamscape is experienced over different occasions of sleep.
Reference group effect
The tendency of people to base their self-concept on comparisons with others. For example, if your friends tend to be very smart and successful, you may come to see yourself as less intelligent and successful than you actually are. Informants also are prone to these types of effects. For instance, the sibling contrast effect refers to the tendency of parents to exaggerate the true extent of differences between their children.
Reinforced response
Following the process of operant conditioning, the strengthening of a response following either the delivery of a desired consequence (positive reinforcement) or escape from an aversive consequence.
Reinforcer
Any consequence of a behavior that strengthens the behavior or increases the likelihood that it will be performed it again.
Reinforcer devaluation effect
The finding that an animal will stop performing an instrumental response that once led to a reinforcer if the reinforcer is separately made aversive or undesirable.
Reliablility
The consistency of test scores across repeated assessments. For example, test-retest reliability examines the extent to which scores change over time.
Renewal effect
Recovery of an extinguished response that occurs when the context is changed after extinction. Especially strong when the change of context involves return to the context in which conditioning originally occurred. Can occur after extinction in either classical or instrumental conditioning.
Representative
In research, the degree to which a sample is a typical example of the population from which it is drawn.
Resting membrane potential
The voltage inside the cell relative to the voltage outside the cell while the cell is a rest (approximately -70 mV).
Retina
Cell layer in the back of the eye containing photoreceptors.
Retrieval
The process of accessing stored information.
Retrieval
Process by which information is accessed from memory and utilized.
Retroactive interference
The phenomenon whereby events that occur after some particular event of interest will usually cause forgetting of the original event.
Retrograde amnesia
Inability to retrieve memories for facts and events acquired before the onset of amnesia.
Right-wing authoritarianism
Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) focuses on value conflicts but endorses respect for obedience and authority in the service of group conformity.
Rods
Photoreceptors that are very sensitive to light and are mostly responsible for night vision.
Rods
Photoreceptors of the retina sensitive to low levels of light. Located around the fovea.
Rostrocaudal
A front-back plane used to identify anatomical structures in the body and the brain.
SAD performance only
Social anxiety disorder which is limited to certain situations that the sufferer perceives as requiring some type of performance.
Safety behaviors
Actions people take to reduce likelihood of embarrassment or minimizing anxiety in a situation (e.g., not making eye contact, planning what to say).
Sagittal plane
A slice that runs vertically from front to back; slices of brain in this plane divide the left and right side of the brain; this plane is similar to slicing a baked potato lengthwise.
Sample
In research, a number of people selected from a population to serve as an example of that population.
Schema
A mental representation or set of beliefs about something.
Schema (plural: schemata)
A memory template, created through repeated exposure to a particular class of objects or events.
Schemas
The gender categories into which, according to gender schema theory, children actively organize others’ behavior, activities, and attributes.
Schizoid
A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings.
Schizophrenia
This mental disorder is characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and emotional responses. Symptoms include auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking. Sufferers from this disorder experience grave dysfunctions in their social functioning and in work.
Schizotypal
A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior.
SCID-D
Structural Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders.
Scientific theory
An explanation for observed phenomena that is empirically well-supported, consistent, and fruitful (predictive).
Selective listening
A method for studying selective attention in which people focus attention on one auditory stream of information while deliberately ignoring other auditory information.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
A class of antidepressant medications often used to treat SAD that increase the concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.
Self-categorization theory
Self-categorization theory develops social identity theory’s point that people categorize themselves, along with each other into groups, favoring their own group.
Self-enhancement bias
The tendency for people to see and/or present themselves in an overly favorable way. This tendency can take two basic forms: defensiveness (when individuals actually believe they are better than they really are) and impression management (when people intentionally distort their responses to try to convince others that they are better than they really are). Informants also can show enhancement biases. The general form of this bias has been called the letter-of-recommendation effect, which is the tendency of informants who like the person they are rating (e.g., friends, relatives, romantic partners) to describe them in an overly favorable way. In the case of newlyweds, this tendency has been termed the honeymoon effect.
S​elf-report measure
A type of psychological test in which a person fills out a survey or questionnaire with or without the help of an investigator.
Semantic memory
The more or less permanent store of knowledge that people have.
Sensation
The physical processing of environmental stimuli by the sense organs.
Sensory adaptation
Decrease in sensitivity of a receptor to a stimulus after constant stimulation.
Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
A class of antidepressant medications often used to treat SAD that increase the concentration of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Sex
Biological category of male or female as defined by physical differences in genetic composition and in reproductive anatomy and function.
Sexual harassment
A form of gender discrimination based on unwanted treatment related to sexual behaviors or appearance.
Sexual orientation
Refers to the direction of emotional and erotic attraction toward members of the opposite sex, the same sex, or both sexes.
Sexual selection
The evolution of characteristics because of the mating advantage they give organisms.
​Sexual strategies theory
A comprehensive evolutionary theory of human mating that defines the menu of mating strategies humans pursue (e.g., short-term casual sex, long-term committed mating), the adaptive problems women and men face when pursuing these strategies, and the evolved solutions to these mating problems.
Shape theory of olfaction
Theory proposing that odorants of different size and shape correspond to different smells.
Sibling contrast effect
The tendency of parents to use their perceptions of all of their children as a frame of reference for rating the characteristics of each of them. For example, suppose that a mother has three children; two of these children are very sociable and outgoing, whereas the third is relatively average in sociability. Because of operation of this effect, the mother will rate this third child as less sociable and outgoing than he/she actually is. More generally, this effect causes parents to exaggerate the true extent of differences between their children. This effect represents a specific manifestation of the more general reference group effect when applied to ratings made by parents.
Signal detection
Method for studying the ability to correctly identify sensory stimuli.
Simulation
Imaginary or real imitation of other people’s behavior or feelings.
Sleep deprivation
A sufficient lack of restorative sleep over a cumulative period so as to cause physical or psychiatric symptoms and affect routine performances of tasks.
Sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis occurs when the normal paralysis during REM sleep manifests when falling asleep or awakening, often accompanied by hallucinations of danger or a malevolent presence in the room.
Sleep-wake cycle
A daily rhythmic activity cycle, based on 24-hour intervals, that is exhibited by many organisms.
Social anxiety
Excessive anticipation and distress about social situations in which one may be evaluated negatively, rejected, or scrutinized.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
A condition marked by acute fear of social situations which lead to worry and diminished day to day functioning.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
An anxiety disorder marked by severe and persistent social anxiety and avoidance that interferes with a person’s ability to fulfill their roles in important life domains.
Social brain
The set of neuroanatomical structures that allows us to understand the actions and intentions of other people.
Social categorization
The act of mentally classifying someone into a social group (e.g., as female, elderly, a librarian).
Social dominance orientation
Social dominance orientation (SDO) describes a belief that group hierarchies are inevitable in all societies and even good, to maintain order and stability.
Social identity theory
Social identity theory notes that people categorize each other into groups, favoring their own group.
Social Learning Theory
The theory that people can learn new responses and behaviors by observing the behavior of others.
Social learning theory
This theory of how children form their own gender roles argues that gender roles are learned through reinforcement, punishment, and modeling.
Social models
Authorities that are the targets for observation and who model behaviors.
Social support
A subjective feeling of psychological or physical comfort provided by family, friends, and others.
Social zeitgeber
Zeitgeber is German for “time giver.” Social zeitgebers are environmental cues, such as meal times and interactions with other people, that entrain biological rhythms and thus sleep-wake cycle regularity.
Socioeconomic status (SES)
A person’s economic and social position based on income, education, and occupation.
Sodium-potassium pump
An ion channel that uses the neuron’s energy (adenosine triphosphate, ATP) to pump three Na+ ions outside the cell in exchange for bringing two K+ ions inside the cell.
Soma
Cell body of a neuron that contains the nucleus and genetic information, and directs protein synthesis.
Soma
Cell body of a neuron that contains the nucleus and genetic information, and directs protein synthesis.
Somatic nervous system
A part of the peripheral nervous system that uses cranial and spinal nerves in volitional actions.
Somatogenesis
Developing from physical/bodily origins.
Somatosensation
Ability to sense touch, pain and temperature.
Somatosensory (body sensations) cortex
The region of the parietal lobe responsible for bodily sensations; the somatosensory cortex has a contralateral representation of the human body.
Somatotopic map
Organization of the primary somatosensory cortex maintaining a representation of the arrangement of the body.
Sound waves
Changes in air pressure. The physical stimulus for audition.
Spatial Resolution
A term that refers to how small the elements of an image are; high spatial resolution means the device or technique can resolve very small elements; in neuroscience it describes how small of a structure in the brain can be imaged.
Spatial resolution
A term that refers to how small the elements of an image are; high spatial resolution means the device or technique can resolve very small elements; in neuroscience it describes how small of a structure in the brain can be imaged.
Spatial resolution
The degree to which one can separate a single object in space from another.
Specific vulnerabilities
How our experiences lead us to focus and channel our anxiety.
Spina bifida
A developmental disease of the spinal cord, where the neural tube does not close caudally.
Spines
Protrusions on the dendrite of a neuron that form synapses with terminal buttons of the presynaptic axon.
Split-brain Patient
A patient who has had most or all of his or her corpus callosum severed.
Split-brain patient
A patient who has had most or all of his or her corpus callosum severed.
Spontaneous recovery
Recovery of an extinguished response that occurs with the passage of time after extinction. Can occur after extinction in either classical or instrumental conditioning.
State
When a symptom is acute, or transient, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours.
Stereotype Content Model
Stereotype Content Model shows that social groups are viewed according to their perceived warmth and competence.
Stereotypes
The beliefs or attributes we associate with a specific social group. Stereotyping refers to the act of assuming that because someone is a member of a particular group, he or she possesses the group’s attributes. For example, stereotyping occurs when we assume someone is unemotional just because he is man, or particularly athletic just because she is African American.
Stereotypes
Stereotype is a belief that characterizes people based merely on their group membership.
Stimulants
Stimulants: a class of drugs that speed up the body’s physiological and mental processes.
Stimulus control
When an operant behavior is controlled by a stimulus that precedes it.
Storage
The stage in the learning/memory process that bridges encoding and retrieval; the persistence of memory over time.
Stress
A threat or challenge to our well-being. Stress can have both a psychological component, which consists of our subjective thoughts and feelings about being threatened or challenged, as well as a physiological component, which consists of our body’s response to the threat or challenge (see “fight or flight response”).
Structural model
Developed to complement and extend the topographic model, the structural model of the mind posits the existence of three interacting mental structures called the id, ego, and superego.
Subcortical
Structures that lie beneath the cerebral cortex, but above the brain stem.
Subjective well-being
The name that scientists give to happiness—thinking and feeling that our lives are going very well.
Subjective well-being scales
Self-report surveys or questionnaires in which participants indicate their levels of subjective well-being, by responding to items with a number that indicates how well off they feel.
Subtle biases
Subtle biases are automatic, ambiguous, and ambivalent, but real in their consequences.
Suicidal ideation
Recurring thoughts about suicide, including considering or planning for suicide, or preoccupation with suicide.
Sulci
(plural) Grooves separating folds of the cortex.
Sulcus
A groove separating folds of the cortex.
Sulcus
(plural form, sulci) The crevices or fissures formed by convolutions in the brain.
Superadditive effect of multisensory integration
The finding that responses to multimodal stimuli are typically greater than the sum of the independent responses to each unimodal component if it were presented on its own.
Superior temporal sulcus
The sulcus (a fissure in the surface of the brain) that separates the superior temporal gyrus from the middle temporal gyrus. Located in the temporal lobes (parallel to the ears), it is involved in perception of biological motion or the movement of animate objects.
Supernatural
Developing from origins beyond the visible observable universe.
Sympathetic nervous system
A branch of the autonomic nervous system that controls many of the body’s internal organs. Activity of the SNS generally mobilizes the body’s fight or flight response.
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.
Sympathetic nervous system (SNS)
One of the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system, responsible for stimulation of “fight or flight” activities.
Synapse
Junction between the presynaptic terminal button of one neuron and the dendrite, axon, or soma of another postsynaptic neuron.
Synapse
The tiny space separating neurons.
Synapses
Junction between the presynaptic terminal button of one neuron and the dendrite, axon, or soma of another postsynaptic neuron.
Synaptic gap
Also known as the synaptic cleft; the small space between the presynaptic terminal button and the postsynaptic dendritic spine, axon, or soma.
Synaptic Gap
Also known as the synaptic cleft; the small space between the presynaptic terminal button and the postsynaptic dendritic spine, axon, or soma.
Synaptic vesicles
Groups of neurotransmitters packaged together and located within the terminal button.
Syndrome
Involving a particular group of signs and symptoms.
Synesthesia
The blending of two or more sensory experiences, or the automatic activation of a secondary (indirect) sensory experience due to certain aspects of the primary (direct) sensory stimulation.
Systematic observation
The careful observation of the natural world with the aim of better understanding it. Observations provide the basic data that allow scientists to track, tally, or otherwise organize information about the natural world.
Tastants
Chemicals transduced by taste receptor cells.
Taste aversion learning
The phenomenon in which a taste is paired with sickness, and this causes the organism to reject—and dislike—that taste in the future.
Taste receptor cells
Receptors that transduce gustatory information.
Temporal lobe
An area of the cerebrum that lies below the lateral sulcus; it contains auditory and olfactory (smell) projection regions.
Temporal lobe
The part of the cerebrum in front of (anterior to) the occipital lobe and below the lateral fissure; involved in vision, auditory processing, memory, and integrating vision and audition.
Temporal Lobe
The part of the cerebrum in front of (anterior to) the occipital lobe and below the lateral fissure; involved in vision, auditory processing, memory, and integrating vision and audition.
Temporal parietal junction
The area where the temporal lobes (parallel to the ears) and parieta lobes (at the top of the head toward the back) meet. This area is important in mentalizing and distinguishing between the self and others.
Temporal resolution
The degree to which one can separate a single point in time from another.
Temporal Resolution
A term that refers to how small a unit of time can be measured; high temporal resolution means capable of resolving very small units of time; in neuroscience it describes how precisely in time a process can be measured in the brain.
Temporal resolution
A term that refers to how small a unit of time can be measured; high temporal resolution means capable of resolving very small units of time; in neuroscience it describes how precisely in time a process can be measured in the brain.
Temporally graded ​​retrograde amnesia
Inability to retrieve memories from just prior to the onset of amnesia with intact memory for more remote events.
Terminal button
The part of the end of the axon that form synapses with postsynaptic dendrite, axon, or soma.
Thalamus
A part of the diencephalon that works as a gateway for incoming and outgoing information.
Theories
Groups of closely related phenomena or observations.
Third-person perspective
Observations made by individuals in a way that can be independently confirmed by other individuals so as to lead to general, objective understanding. With respect to consciousness, third-person perspectives make use of behavioral and neural measures related to conscious experiences.
Thought-action fusion
The tendency to overestimate the relationship between a thought and an action, such that one mistakenly believes a “bad” thought is the equivalent of a “bad” action.
Threshold of excitation
Specific membrane potential that the neuron must reach to initiate an action potential.
“Top-down” or internal causes of happiness
The person’s outlook and habitual response tendencies that influence their happiness—for example, their temperament or optimistic outlook on life.
Top-down processing
Experience influencing the perception of stimuli.
Topographic model
Freud’s first model of the mind, which contended that the mind could be divided into three regions: conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. (The “topographic” comes from the fact that topography is the study of maps.)
Trait
When a symptom forms part of the personality or character.
“Traitement moral” (moral treatment)
A therapeutic regimen of improved nutrition, living conditions, and rewards for productive behavior that has been attributed to Philippe Pinel during the French Revolution, when he released mentally ill patients from their restraints and treated them with compassion and dignity rather than with contempt and denigration.
Trance States
Trance: a state of consciousness characterized by the experience of “out-of-body possession,” or an acute dissociation between one’s self and the current, physical environment surrounding them.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
A neuroscience technique that passes mild electrical current directly through a brain area by placing small electrodes on the skull.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
A neuroscience technique whereby a brief magnetic pulse is applied to the head that temporarily induces a weak electrical current that interferes with ongoing activity.
Transduction
A process in which physical energy converts into neural energy.
Transduction
The conversion of one form of energy into another.
Transgender
A term used to describe individuals whose gender does not match their biological sex.
Transverse plane
See “horizontal plane.”
Trauma
An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption, and that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person.
Trephination
The drilling of a hole in the skull, presumably as a way of treating psychological disorders.
Triarchic model
Model formulated to reconcile alternative historic conceptions of psychopathy and differing methods for assessing it. Conceives of psychopathy as encompassing three symptomatic components: boldness, involving social efficacy, emotional resiliency, and venturesomeness; meanness, entailing lack of empathy/emotional-sensitivity and exploitative behavior toward others; and disinhibition, entailing deficient behavioral restraint and lack of control over urges/emotional reactions.
Trichromacy theory
Theory that proposes that all of your color perception is fundamentally based on the combination of three (not two, not four) different color signals.
Trichromatic theory
Theory proposing color vision as influenced by three different cones responding preferentially to red, green and blue.
Twin studies
A behavior genetic research method that involves comparison of the similarity of identical (monozygotic; MZ) and fraternal (dizygotic; DZ) twins.
Tympanic membrane
Thin, stretched membrane in the middle ear that vibrates in response to sound. Also called the eardrum.
Type I error
In statistics, the error of rejecting the null hypothesis when it is true.
Type II error
In statistics, the error of failing to reject the null hypothesis when it is false.
Unconditional positive regard
In person-centered therapy, an attitude of warmth, empathy and acceptance adopted by the therapist in order to foster feelings of inherent worth in the patient.
Unconditioned response (UR)
In classical conditioning, an innate response that is elicited by a stimulus before (or in the absence of) conditioning.
Unconditioned stimulus (US)
In classical conditioning, the stimulus that elicits the response before conditioning occurs.
Unconscious
Not conscious; the part of the mind that affects behavior though it is inaccessible to the conscious mind.
Validity
Evidence related to the interpretation and use of test scores. A particularly important type of evidence is criterion validity, which involves the ability of a test to predict theoretically relevant outcomes. For example, a presumed measure of conscientiousness should be related to academic achievement (such as overall grade point average).
Value
Belief about the way things should be.
Ventral pathway
Pathway of visual processing. The “what” pathway.
Vestibular system
Parts of the inner ear involved in balance.
Vestibulo-ocular reflex
Coordination of motion information with visual information that allows you to maintain your gaze on an object while you move.
Vicarious reinforcement
Learning that occurs by observing the reinforcement or punishment of another person.
Visual hemifield
The half of visual space (what we see) on one side of fixation (where we are looking); the left hemisphere is responsible for the right visual hemifield, and the right hemisphere is responsible for the left visual hemifield.
Vivid dreams
A dream that is very clear, where the individual can remember the dream in great detail.
Voltage
The difference in electric charge between two points.
Weber’s law
States that just noticeable difference is proportional to the magnitude of the initial stimulus.
Wernicke’s area
A language area in the temporal lobe where linguistic information is comprehended (Also see Broca’s area).
What pathway
Pathway of neural processing in the brain that is responsible for your ability to recognize what is around you.
Where-and-How pathway
Pathway of neural processing in the brain that is responsible for you knowing where things are in the world and how to interact with them.
White coat hypertension
A phenomenon in which patients exhibit elevated blood pressure in the hospital or doctor’s office but not in their everyday lives.
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.
White matter
The inner whitish regions of the cerebrum comprised of the myelinated axons of neurons in the cerebral cortex.
Working memory
Short transitory memory processed in the hippocampus.
Working memory
The ability to maintain information over a short period of time, such as 30 seconds or less.