CARTA Glossary

Displaying 401 - 500 of 650 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
Mutation

Change in a DNA or RNA sequence.

MYA

Million years ago.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis

The pathogenic bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

Myelin Sheaths

Sleeves of fatty tissue (wrapped cell membrane) that protect nerve cells.

Neanderthals

An extinct Eurasian hominin species that existed from 500-30 kya and interbred with ancient humans and Denisovans.

Negative reinforcement

A response or behavior that is strengthened by stopping, removing, or avoiding a negative outcome or aversive stimulus.

Neglect

The failure to provide for the development of the child in all spheres: health, education, emotional development, nutrition, shelter, and safe living conditions (including protecting the child from harm). It is the most common form of child maltreatment. In rodents, neglect it is similarly defined as inconsistent care, failure to group displaced infants in the nest, infant avoidance and failure to protect infants from harm or potential harm.

Neocortex

A part of the cerebral cortex concerned with sight, hearing, and touch in mammals, regarded as the most recently evolved part of the cortex.

Nerve A bundle of fibers that transmits impulses of sensation to the brain or spinal cord, and impulses from these to the muscles and organs.
Nervous System

The network of nerve cells and fibers that transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body.

Neural circuit

A neural circuit is a functional entity of interconnected neurons that is able to regulate its own activity using a feedback loop.

Neural Progenitor Cell

Cells that are capable of dividing a limited number of times and have the capacity to differentiate into a restricted repertoire of neuronal and glial cell types.

Neural Stem Cell A self-renewing, multipotent cell that generates the neurons and glia of the nervous system of all animals during embryonic development. Some persist in the adult vertebrate brain and continue to produce neurons throughout life.
Neurobiology

The study of the morphology, behavior, and other qualities of the nervous system.

Neurogenetics

The study of the role of genetics in the development and function of the nervous system.

Neurological

Relating to the anatomy, functions, and organic disorders of nerves and the nervous system.

Neuromodulators

A subset of neurotransmitters that regulate diverse populations of other neurons.

Neuron

A specialized cell that transmits nerve impulses.

Neuropsychology

The study of the relationship between behavior, emotion, and cognition and brain function.

Neurostransmitter

A type of chemical messenger that transmits signals across a chemical synapse, such as a neuromuscular junction, from one neuron (nerve cell) to another “target” neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell.

Neurotransmitter

A chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other cells.

Neurotransmitter receptors

A membrane receptor protein that is activated by a neurotransmitter.

Neurotypical

Not displaying or characterized by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior.

Never

A bundle of fibers that transmits impulses of sensation to the brain or spinal cord, and impulses from these to the muscles and organs.

Nicotine

A natural alkaloid and insecticide produced by several plant species (tobacco and jimson weed). It also functions as a central nervous system stimulant as an analog of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

A receptor polypeptide that responds to the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, and also responds to nicotine.

Non-Hormonal Basis of Maternal Care

The finding that care giving behavior can occur in female rats and mice that have not reproduced themselves through repeated exposure to infants.

Non-Invasive Neuroimaging

The use of various techniques, such as Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, to image the structure, function, or pharmacology of the nervous system.

Non-seasonal depression

Depression that is not related to changes in the seasons.

Nootropics

So called “smart drugs” or cognitive enhancers that are claimed to improve cognitive function. E.g., Modafinil.

Norepinephrine (noradrenaline)

A hormone and neurotransmitter that mobilizes the brain and body for action.

Novel (Disease)

A new strain of a disease that has not been previously identified in a species. (See de Novo)

Nuclear Pore Complex Protein and ribonucleoprotein transport channels in the nuclear envelop of eukaryotic cells. Evolved ~ 1.5 billion years ago. While the primary role of NPCs is to regulate nucleo–cytoplasmic transport, recent research suggests that certain NPC proteins have additionally acquired the role of affecting gene expression at the nuclear periphery and in the nucleoplasm in metazoans.
Nucleic Acids

One of the four classes of major biomolecules. The overall name for DNA and RNA, which are composed of nucleotides.

Nucleoporin 98 (Nup98) A protein coding gene that plays a role in the nuclear pore complex assembly and/or maintenance. Associated diseases range from Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Acute Monocytic Leukemia.
Nucleoside

Glycosylamines corresponding to nucleotides lacking a phosphate.

Nucleotides

Molecular building blocks for DNA and RNA Specifically, they consist of three components: a 5-carbon sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. The type of sugar, either deoxyribose or ribose, determines if the resulting nucleic acid is DNA or RNA.

Obesity

Excessive body fat that increases the risk of health problems. Defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher.

Obligate Tool User

Tool use is a necessity for survival. Tool use is an essential part of being human and we are the only known obligate tool users.

Obstetric Dilema

A biological constraint of bipedalism and large fetal brains imposed on the human female pelvis.

Odds Ratio (in GWAS)

The ratio between the odds of individuals having a phenotype associated with a specific allele and the odds of the same phenotype for individuals who do not have that same allele. 

Oldowan (Mode 1)

A stone tool type characterized by simple “choppers” for pounding, breaking, and bashing. ~2.6 - 1.7 mya.

Olfactory Bulb (Brain)

A neural structure of the vertebrate forebrain involved in sense of smell.

Oligodendrocytes (Brain)

A type of neuroglia that supports and insulates axons in the central nervous system of some vertebrates.

Omnivore

An organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet of plant, animal, and fungal origin.

Ontogeny

The origin and development of an organism (from fertilization of the egg to the organism’s mature form). Can also refer to the study of an organism’s lifespan.

Optimism Bias

An almost universally human cognitive bias that seems to cause individuals to believe that they are at less risk of experiencing a negative event and more likely to experience a positive outcome compared to other people.

Optogenetic

A biological technique that involves the use of light to control gene expression and cellular function in living tissue, typically neurons, that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels.

Organoid Cell/tissue culture in vitro that aims to mimic organ structure and function.
Out of Africa

A hypothesis proposing the geographic origins of the genus Homo in Africa and migration of anatomically modern humans. These anatomically modern humans would have completely replaced the archaic human populations (Neanderthals, Denisovans, etc.) that had previously left Africa. This hypothesis emphasizes the African origin of our species but allows for the possibility of minor local contributions from archaic populations.

Outer Radial Glia Found in the outer subventricular zone of the neocortex, outer radial glia preferentially express genes related to extracellular matrix formation, migration, and stemness.
Outer Subventricular Zone A uniquely structured germinal zone that generates the expanded primate supragranular layers.
Pair bonding

Forming a close relationship with another individual through courtship and sexual activity.

Paleolithic

A broad prehistoric period during which stone was used to make tools and weapons and is synonymous with Stone Age. Subdivisions:

  • Lower Paleolithic: ~3.4 mya - 300 kya.
  • Middle Paleolithic: Consists of use of prepared cores (i.e. Levallois Technique) and hafted tools and weapons. ~300 - 30 kya.
  • Upper Paleolithic: Coincides with behavioral modernity and predates the advent of agriculture. Artifacts include finely crafted stone blades and bone and antler tools, such as harpoons and needles. ~50 - 10 kya.
Pandemic

An epidemic that has spread across regions, including multiple continents or worldwide.

Paranthropus

A genus of extinct bipedal hominins dating to ~ 2.6 mya to 1.1 mya that lived throughout eastern and south Africa. Their robust cranialdental anatomy suggests an adaptation to a diet of tough vegetation. Possible tool use is indicated by hands adapted for precision grasping. They probably descended from the gracile australopithecine hominids (Australopithecus) ~2.7 million years ago, hence their alternative name, robust australopithecine, and ongoing debate on genus.

Parasite

An organism that lives on or in a host organism at the expense of the host.

Parasitism (Biology)

A close relationship between two organisms where one benefits at the expense of the other.

Parental Behavior

Any behavior of a member of a species toward an immature conspecific that increases the likelihood that the immature organism will survive to maturity.

Parental Effort

The sex with the lower rate of reproduction invests more in parental effort than in mating effort.

Parental Investment

The investment of resources (time, energy, provisions) into offspring.

Parental Investment Theory

The correlation between parental investment and mate choice where the greater the parental investment the more selective, and the lesser the investment the greater the access to more mates (Trivers, 1972).

Parietal Lobe (Brain)

One of the major lobes in the human brain, roughly located at the upper back in the skull (“crown”). It processes sensory information such as touch, taste, and temperature, spatial senses and navigation (proprioception), and language processing.

Pathogen

A bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease.

Pathogenesis

The biological mechanism (or mechanisms) that leads to a disease state and can also refer to the origin and development of a disease, and whether it is acute, chronic, or recurrent.

Pathogenicity

The absolute ability of an infectious agent to cause disease or damage in a host.

Pathophysiology

Disordered physiological processes associated with disease or injury.

Peer Review (Academic Publishing)

The professional critique by other scholars or scientists from the same field that normally takes place before scholarly or scientific papers are accepted for publication.

Perciption

The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

Peripartum depression

Depression that occurs during pregnancy.

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)

A small, spineless cactus with psychoactive alkaloids (mescaline) that is native to Mexico and southwestern Texas.

Phenotype

Observable traits of an organism that result from interactions between genes and environment during development.

Phonology

The system that combines meaningless speech sounds into meaningful words.

Phylogenetic Tree

A branching diagram showing the evolutionary relationships among biological species, or other entities, based on their physical or genetic characteristics.

Phylogeny

Historical relationships of species or loci.

Plasmodium

A genus of single-celled organisms that are obligate parasites of vertebrates and insects. In humans, malaria is caused by multiple species of Plasmodium and transmitted by mosquitos (commonly female Anopheles mosquitos).

Plasticity

The adaptability of an organism to changes in its environment or differences between its various habitats.

Pleistocene

A geological epoch from ~2.5 mya to 11.7 kya characterized by a period of repeated glaciations. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period and also with the end of the Paleolithic age used in archeology. Subdivisions:

  • Early (Lower) Pleistocene: ~2.58 mya - 781 kya.
  • Middle Pleistocene: Emergence of Homo sapiens. 781 - 126 kya.
  • Late (Upper) Pleistocene: 126 - 11.7 kya.
Pneumococcus

A bacterium that infects the lungs and sometimes the blood stream.

Poised Gene

The idea that some genes are more easily expressed because of their chromatin state.

Polygenic

Relating to a trait determined by two or more genes. Most traits of organisms are polygenic.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

A method of copying a specified locus.

Polymorphism

An allelic difference observed in more than 1% of the population studied.

POM121 A gene that encodes for transmembrane nucleoporin, a protein that localizes to the inner nuclear membrane and forms a core component of the nuclear pore complex, which mediates transport to and from the nucleus.
Population

A defined group of similar individuals among whom interbreeding occurs.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Neuroimaging

A functional imaging technique used to observe metabolic process in the body.

Post-translation Modifications

Alter mature protein.

Posterior Parietal Cortex

The portion of parietal neocortex that plays an important role in planned movements, spatial reasoning, and attention.

Postmenopausal Longevity

The period of time after a woman has ceased ovulating. This life-stage is unique to humans and not expressed in non-human primates.

Postpartum depression

Depression that occurs after pregnancy. 15% of women experience depression after childbirth, making this the most common complication of childbirth.

Prader-Willi Syndrome

A genetic disorder usually caused by deletion of part of chromosome 15 inherited from the father, causing imbalance in sex-specific imprinting. Results in behavioral problems, intellectual disability, and short stature.

Preeclampsia

A pregnancy associated disorder characterized by high blood pressure and large amounts of protein in urine, typically accelerating during the third trimester.

Prefrontal Cortex (Brain)

The cerebral cortex that covers the front part of the frontal lobe and is linked to complex cognitive behavior, personality, long and short-term memory, decision making, speech, language, and a person’s will to live.

Preprint (Academic Publishing)

A version of a scholarly or scientific paper that has not yet been formally peer reviewed. It is freely available before it is published as a finished product in a peer-reviewed scholarly or scientific journal, which often include costly paywalls. It is generally not good practice for news outlets to report on preprinted results because they have not been peer-reviewed.

Presynaptic transport

The transport of vesicles containing neurotransmitters on the presynaptic side prior to release of neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft (chemical synapse).

Primary Somatosensory Cortex

A region of the Neocortex that controls tactile representation from the parts of the body.

Primates

A group of mammals that include humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians.

Prodigy

A person, especially a young one, endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities.

Productivity

The open-ended ability to combine meaningful linguistic units into new higher order units of meaning: for example, roots, prefixes (e.g. anti-), and suffixes (e.g. -ish) into words, and words (or signs) into phrases and sentences (Kluender, 2020).

Prokaryotes

Unicellular organisms that lack a membrane- bound nucleus, mitochondria, or any other membrane-bound organelle. (see Eukaryotes)

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