CARTA Glossary

Displaying 201 - 300 of 799 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
Developmental Tasks

Psychosocial milestones or accomplishments expected of people of different ages in a given cultural and historical context; Common developmental tasks include bonding with caregivers, walking, talking, learning to read, getting along with other people, and caring for one’s children.

Diffusor Tensor Imaging (DTI)

Neuroimaging of the location, orientation, and anisotropy of the brain’s white matter tracts through MRI.

Digestive system

The organs of the body that are involved in the breakdown and absorption of food, and elimination of wastes. This includes the mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and accessory digestive organs such as the salivary glands, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.


Organisms with two sets of each chromosome except for XY sex chromosomes in male mammals.

Disease Phenotype

Outwardly apparent effects of a disease.

Displaced Reference

The ability to refer to entities, properties, and events at some spatial and/or temporal remove from the immediate communicative situation (Kluender, 2020).


Change in genetic content or phenotype between isolated populations or species.

Djurab Desert

Northern Chad.  A fossil rich desert that is most famous for the discovery of Sahelenthropous tchadensis (Toumai) in 2001. 


Deoxyribonucleic acid. The molecule of inheritance, which consists of sequences of the four nucleotide bases: Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine.

DNA Methylation

A process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule. Methylation can change the activity of a DNA segment without changing the sequence. When located in a gene promoter, DNA methylation typically acts to repress gene transcription.

DNA sequence

The specific order of the nucleotide bases Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine.


A neurotransmitter that is involved in reward circuits, motor control, and in the release of various hormones.

Dose or Risk Gradient

A graph showing a pattern of rising problems or undesirable outcomes as the level of trauma, exposure to disaster, or number of cumulative risk factors or ACEs increases.


A gene that encodes the dopamine receptor D2 protein, a receptor targeted by many antipsychotic drugs.

Drug addiction

A chronically relapsing disorder characterized by loss of control and compulsive drug seeking.

Dual Inheritance

A theory that human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution. Genes and culture continually interact in a feedback loop.

Duality of Patterning

The ability to combine and recombine meaningless linguistic elements (sounds in spoken language, or manual features like handshape, palm orientation, movement, etc. in signed language) into meaningful units (words or signs) (Kluender, 2020).


A class of endogenous opioid peptides that have been shown to play a role in the complex molecular changes in the brain that result from cocaine addiction.


A general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpreting words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.


A state of unease or general dissatisfaction.

Early-night wake therapy (EWT)

A sleep schedule therapy hypothesized to relieve peripartum depression by altering melatonin and sleep timing (sleep from 3:00 - 7:00 am).

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

A rare but serious and often fatal infection of Togavirus that causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The virus is maintained via a bird- to-mosquito cycle, primarily by mosquitos that feed on the blood of birds. Transmission of EEE to mammals (including horses and humans) occurs via “bridge vectors,” mosquito (including those from the Aedes genus) that feed on the blood of both birds and mammals and transfer the virus. Origin: Americas.

Eccrine sweat gland

A type of secretory gland found in the skin. These glands are found throughout the body of humans and other primates. In response to neural stimulation, these glands secret water (sweat) onto the skin. In humans, eccrine sweat glands are the most abundant glands in the skin and are essential for the main mechanism of cooling in our species, which occurs when water (sweat) secreted by these glands causes evaporative cooling.


The interaction of organisms with their physical environment, along with other organisms.


The outermost of the three primary germ layers formed in embryonic development and develops into the nervous system and skin.

Ectodermal appendage

A class of organs that all develop from the outer layer of the embryo, the ectoderm, through a series of coordinated and reciprocal interactions between the embryonic ectoderm and underlying dermal layer. This class of organs includes, sweat glands, hairs, mammary glands, teeth and nails. A largely shared set of genetic pathways initiate and control the development of this organ class.

Effective Population Size (Ne)

The size of an idealized population (random mating, no selection, mutation or migration) with the same rate of genetic drift as the study population.


The relationship between the work performed to move a certain distance to the energy cost of transport.

Elephants (Elephantidae)

Large herbivorous mammals recognized by their long trunks, tusks, large ear flaps, and pillar-like legs. Elephants are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia and consist of three species, the Africa bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), the African forest elephant (L. cyclotis), and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).


The use of individualized machine learning applied to functional MRI data to measure diverse mental states during meditation.


The development of an embryo after fertilization of an egg cell.


The gradual acquisition of cultural traits (the characteristics and norms of a culture or group) by an individual or another culture.


In epidemiology, an infection that is constantly maintained at a baseline level in a population in a geographic area without external inputs.


The innermost of the three primary germ layers formed in embryonic development and develops into some of the body’s internal organs, including the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary tract, the respiratory tract, endocrine glands, and the auditory system.

Endothelia PAS Domain Protein 1 (EPAS1) gene

A protein encoding gene for EPAS1. This gene is implicated in high altitude adaptation in humans, specifically in Tibetan populations that admixed with Denisovan archaic hominins and inherited this advantageous gene variant.

Endothelia PAS Domain Protein 1 (EPAS1) protein

A transcription factor involved in the response to changes in oxygen concentration, such as hypoxia, through the induction of oxygen regulated genes.

Endothelial cells

The cell type that forms the interior lining of blood and lymphatic vessels, and controls the transfer of materials, including white blood cells, into and out of the bloodstream.


Short region of DNA that can be bound by proteins to alter transcription of a gene.

Enveloped viruses

Viruses that possess an outer lipid membrane formed by cell membrane of the host cells from which the virus buds. The envelope protects the virus as it travels between hosts and cells.


Proteins that catalyze chemical reactions inside and outside cells.


The rapid spread of a disease to a significant percent of a given population.


The branch of medicine that studies and analyzes the incidence, distribution, patterns, determinants, and possible control of diseases and other health factors.


Biological information not encoded directly in DNA.


A term first coined by the developmental biologist, Conrad Waddington, in 1942 to explain how a singular genotype might produce variations in phenotype across development. He argued that some level of regulation must exists “above” or “over” genes to determine when and where they are expressed. Today the term refers to stable alterations in gene expression without changes to the underlying DNA sequence.


Molecular modifications of the DNA and its associated histone proteins, affecting its function.

Epithelial cells

The cell type that lines the surfaces of the body, including skin, blood vessels, urinary tract, and organs to provide protection.

Erythrocytes (red blood cells - RBCs)

The most common type of blood cell and the vertebrate’s principal means of oxygen delivery from lungs or gills to all tissues of the body. Erythrocytes of most mammals do not contain a nucleus with chromosomes.


An estrogen steroid hormone and the major female sex hormone that is involved in the regulation of reproductive cycles, the development of female secondary sexual characteristics, the development and maintenance of female reproductive tissues, and has important effects on bone, fat, skin, liver, and the brain. Estradiol also has important roles in males, but is produced in much lower levels.


The category of sex hormones that includes estrone, estradiol, and estriol that are involved in the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics.


An intravenous agent used for general anesthesia and sedation for short procedures that suppresses corticosteroid synthesis.


Open chromatin, allowing information to be read.


Organisms whose cells have a nucleus enclosed within membranes. (see Prokaryotes)


The most common type of melanin found in human skin and hair. There are two types, brown eumelanin and black eumelanin, which are involved in pigmentation. Deficiency causes albinism.

Evolutionary Medicine

The application of modern evolutionary theory to understanding health and disease.

Evolutionary neuroscience

The study of the evolution and natural history of nervous system structure, functions, and emergent properties.

Evolutionary psychology

A theoretical approach to psychology that seeks evolutionary connections to human psychological traits such as cognition and language.

Excitatory neurotransmitter

A chemical messenger that increases the likelihood that the neuron will fire an electrical signal (depolarization of the membrane) called an action potential.


Sequences at a locus that encode parts of a protein.


A type of extracellular vesicle that contain constituents (protein, DNA, and RNA) of the cells that secrete them. They are taken up by distant cells, where they can affect cell function and behavior.

Extended amygdala

A paired macrostructure in the brain that is involved in reward cognition.

Extracellular matrix

The structural network of enzymes, glycoproteins, and collagen that support surrounding cells.

Falciparum Malaria

Human-specific (malignant) malaria caused by the protozoan parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

Falémé Valley

Eastern Senegal. Excavations have led to the the discovery of paleolithic occupations from different periods, cultures, and lithic technologies.  

False Beliefs

The ability to recognize that others can have beliefs about the world that are diverging. An important component of Theory of Mind.

Fatty Acid

A molecule composed of a long chain of lipid-carboxylic acid, which is either saturated (single bonds between the components of the fatty acid chain) or unsaturated (at least one double bond within the fatty acid chain).

Female- vs. male -biased fertile sex ratios

The relative numbers of individuals capable of having children. In female-biased situations, males face less competition for mating opportunities. In male-biased situations, these opportunities are lower, thus greater male-male competition for each one.

Fitness (Darwinian)

The relative likelihood that an allele will be represented in future generations (relative to other alleles in the same population). Compare with Reproductive Success.

Fixed Alleles

Replaced all other alleles in a population.


Inanimate objects (clothes, furniture, door handles, etc.) that when contaminated can transfer disease.


The point in time when a foot (or hand in the forelimb) first touches the ground.

Footfall sequence

The distribution of footsteps, relative to one another; some gaits may be defined by footfall sequence.


Searching for wild food or provisions as opposed to cultivating food crops or breeding livestock.

Fore limb

The front limbs and feet of a quadrupedal animal (also, the upper limbs/arms of a human).

Foregut fermentation

A digestive process in which plant materials are fermented in a specialized combination of stomach compartments together called the reticulorumen. In ruminants, the fermented cud of the reticulorumen is regurgitated and chewed again to further break down the plant material, a process called rumination. After rumination, the food is finally digested in other stomach compartments, the omasum and abomsum (true stomach). Foregut fermentation also exists in some species that do not ruminate, such as leaf monkeys.


A protein that is rapidly synthesized in neurons when they become active and therefore is used as a marker of neuron activity and is involved in regulating gene expression.

FOXP2 A gene in humans that encodes for a transcription factor protein and is involved in the production of speech.
Fragmented Maternal Care

A measure of abnormal mothering in rodents. Fragmentation score reflects disruptions in the temporal pattern of care typically displayed by rodents. High fragmentation scores indicate shorter nursing bouts and generally erratic behavior.

Frontal Lobe (Brain)

The largest of the four major lobes of the brain in mammals, and is located at the front of each hemisphere. It is devoted to action such as skeletal movement, ocular movement, speech control, the expression of emotions. In humans, the largest part of the frontal cortex is the prefrontal cortex.

Frontoparietal Networks

Human frontal and parietal lobes form a network that is crucially involved in the selection of sensory contents by attention.

Functional DNA

Encodes biological information.
~2% of all DNA: Codes for proteins.
~80% of all DNA: Regulates gene activity.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

A neuroimaging technique for measuring and mapping brain activity that is noninvasive and safe. The phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is used to generate a signal that can be mapped and turned into an image of brain activity.


Intentional, ritualistic disposal of the deceased. May include behaviors such as placement of grave goods (artefacts and/or natural materials such as flowers) and positioning of interred body(ies).

GABA receptors

A class of membrane proteins that act as receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA and are mostly found on inhibitory neurons.


How a person or animal moves; different categories of movement are different gaits (e.g. a run vs. a walk, a trot vs. a gallop).


A number of species of prosimians that are small, nocturnal, and native to continental Africa. Also known as bushbabies. Galagos often nest in tree hollows during the day. Chimpanzees have been observed hunting with “spears” for nested galagos, and they are also hunted by Hadza hunter-gatherers.


A genus of Gram-variable-staining facultative anaerobic bacteria of which Gardnerella vaginalis is the only species.

Gardnerella vaginalis

A facultatively anaerobic Gram-variable rod that is involved, together with many other bacteria, in bacterial vaginosis in some women as a result of a disruption in the normal vaginal microflora.


Inflammation of the stomach and small intestine typically caused by a virus, but can also be caused by bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.


A DNA sequence which encodes a specific function.

Gene conversion

A type of concerted evolution where one gene on a chromosome can “paste” its sequence over a neighboring gene of high sequence similarity such that the sequences become identical after the conversion event. This phenomenon is common between similar genes located on the same chromosome region.

Gene Expression

The process by which the information contained within a gene (nucleotide sequence) is used to direct protein synthesis and dictate cell function. Nearly all of the cells in the body contain identical genes, but only a subset of this information is used or expressed at any time. The genes expressed in a cell determine what that cell can do.

Gene Flow

Movement of alleles between populations as is achieved by mating.

Gene Regulation

Alterations of gene expression/activity.

Gene-Culture Co-Evolution Theory

A branch of theoretical population genetics that models the transmission of genes and cultural traits from one generation to the next, exploring how they interact. Also known as “biocultural evolution” or “biological enculturation” (feedback between culture and biology).

General anesthesia

A combination of medications that put you in a sleep-like state before medical procedures.

Genetic Adaptation

A biological characteristic with a heritable basis that improves reproduction and/or survival and results from evolution by natural selection.

Genetic Drift

Change in allele frequencies, including fixation and loss, by chance.

Genetic variant

A version of a DNA sequence that differs from others found at the same locus. For example, the difference can consist in a single base pair (as in single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNP) or in the deletion/insertion of a DNA base(s). See: indel.


The study of genes and their inheritance.


A person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect.