CARTA Glossary

Displaying 601 - 700 of 799 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
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.

Power

The product of work and speed (velocity).

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 It is generally not good practice for news outlets to report on preprinted results because they have not been peer-reviewed.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.

Primatology

The scientific discipline involving the study of living and extinct primates (monkeys and apes), especially their evolution and behavior. Modern primatology consists of Western and Japanese traditions that developed simultaneously but independently in the 1950s.

Prion

A type of abnormal, pathogenic protein that can cause other, normal, proteins to similarly misfold. Prions are involved in many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease.”

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).

Progesterone

A steroid and sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryogenesis of invertebrates and mammals.

Prokaryotes

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

Prokayotes

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

Promotive Factor

Predictor of positive outcome under most conditions, whether risk is low or high.

Promotor

Region of DNA that initiates transcription of a particular gene.

Propofol (Diprivan)

A short-acting medication, believed to work at least partly via GABA receptors, that is used for the starting and maintenance of general anesthesia, sedation for mechanically ventilated adults, and procedural sedation. Effects include decreased level of consciousness and a lack of memory for events.

Prosimian

A group of primates that includes all living and extinct galagos, lemurs, lorises, and tarsiers. They are considered to have characteristics that are more “primitive” (ancestral) than those of monkeys, apes, and humans.

Protective Factor

Moderator of risk or adversity associated with better outcomes particularly when risk or adversity is high.

Protein

One of the four classes of major biomolecules. Proteins are molecules encoded by DNA sequences and composed of amino acids connected by peptide bonds. These range in size from a few amino acids (short peptides) to large molecules (long polypeptides) comprised of thousands of amino acids.

Protozoa

An informal term for unicellular (single celled) eukaryotes, either free-living or parasitic.

pS6

A ribosomal subunit that is activated by intracellular cascades and therefore used as a marker for neuron activity. This subunit is physically attached to RNA molecules that are being translated into protein and therefore can also provide information about which genes are expressed in active neurons.

Pseudogene

A gene that has lost its function. Some pseudogenes may be translated into a protein, but typically the protein is inactive.

Psychological Evolutionary Barrier

The mental equivalent of a physiological evolutionary barrier (such as the difficulty of evolving from an aquatic existence to living on land). A hypothetical concept.

Psychopathology

The study of mental disorders.

Psychostimulants

A broad class of drugs that stimulate sympathetic nerves and whose effects can include increased movement, arousal, vigilance, anorexia, vigor, wakefulness, and attention. Some psychostimulants, especially at high doses and with a rapid route of administration, can produce euphoria, a sense of power and confidence, and addiction. Cocaine is a psychostimulant.

Pulmonary Hypertension

High blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs. Also affects the right side of the heart.

Punctuated Equilibrium

An evolutionary model in which pronounced change takes place in short bursts followed by periods of evolutionary continuity. Compare with Continuity.

Pup

The term used to refer to an infant rodent (rat or mouse).

Pup Retrieval

An infant transport behavior in which the mother uses her mouth to gently carry a pup by the back of the neck. Mothers do this if pups crawl out of the nest or if she has to move her pups to a new nest location. In the laboratory, this behavior can be used as an index of maternal motivation because it is a proactive, voluntary response to an infant.

Pyramidal neurons

A type of neuron found in the mammalian cerebral cortex, the hippocampus, and amygdala of the brain. They are the most abundant excitatory cell type and receive both excitatory and inhibitory input.

Quantical

Pertaining to quantity-related cognition (e.g., subitizing) that is shared by many species and which provides biological evolved preconditions for numerical cognition and arithmetic, but is itself not about number or arithmetic. Quantical processing seems to be about many sensorial dimensions other than number, and does not, by itself, scale up to produce number and arithmetic.

Quantifier (natural)

Determiners or pronouns which occur in various degrees in all natural languages and indicate the magnitude of quantities, such as the English ‘few’ or ‘many’.

Quantitative

Relating to, measuring, or measured by the quantity of something rather than its quality.

Radial Glia

A primary progenitor cell capable of generating neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Radial glia are defined by their position, morphology, and genetic phenotype. These cells are involved in establishing a temporary scaffold for cortical layer development.

Reading-Frame A way of dividing the sequence of nucleotides in a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) molecule into a set of consecutive, non-overlapping triplets called codons.
Reading-Frame Shift A genetic mutation caused by indels (insertions or deletions) of a number of nucleotides in a DNA sequence that is not divisible by three.
Reality Denial

A subconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge (or rationalization of) unwanted or unpleasant facts, realities, thoughts, or feelings. Related Term: “Denialism.”

Receptor

A molecule on the surface of host cells used by pathogens for attachment and/or invasion. Examples: angiotensin-converting-enzyme 2 (ACE2) used by SARS- CoV- 2; Sialic acid used by influenza A.

Recessive allele

A genetic variant that only has a phenotypic effect if it is present in two copies, except on most of an X-chromosome where a single copy is expressed when paired with a Y-chromosome as much of the Y does not correspond to the X and lacks X-linked genes.

Recombination

Exchanges between chromosomes that causes independent inheritance of alleles.

Regulatory elements

Binding sites on chromosomes for transcription factors, which are involved in gene regulation.

REM sleep

Rapid eye movement sleep, a phase of mammalian sleep characterized by random movement of eyes, low muscle tone, and vivid dreams.

Reproductive Debut

Age at which an individual initiates their reproductive career, influences lifetime reproductive success.

Reproductive Success

An individual’s production of offspring per breeding event or lifetime (also includes the reproductive success of the offspring). Compare with Fitness (Darwninian).

Reproductive Tract (Human Female)

The external (labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening) and internal (clitoris, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries) sex organs that function in reproduction.

Reservoir (Medicine)

A population that is chronically infested with the causative agent of a disease and can act as a source of further infection.

Resilience

Capacity (potential or manifested) of a system to adapt successfully to challenges that threaten system function, survival, or development; positive adaptation in the context of significant adversity exposure.

Respiratory

Associated with the act of respiration or breathing.

Retrotransposons

A type of transposable element, or “jumping gene,” that copies and pastes itself into different genomic locations through reverse transcription (converting RNA back into DNA).

Ribonucleic Acid (RNA)

A molecule essential in gene coding, decoding, regulation, and expression. RNA consists of sequences of the four nucleotide bases: Adenine, Uracil, Guanine, and Cytosine. Types of RNA include messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), small nuclear RNA (snRNA), and other non-coding RNAs. Some viruses including Influenza A and Sars-Cov-2 have RNA genomes.

Rising Star Cave System

A system of caves in the Malmani dolomites of South Africa (and a part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site) where fossils of a previously unknown, extinct species of hominin, Homo naledi, were first discovered in 2013.

Risk

Higher probability of a negative (undesired) outcome.

Risk Factor

Indicator of risk for specified negative outcome in a population.

Rituals

A sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, and are often traditional to a community or religion. In psychology, a ritual is a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety.

RNA Binding Proteins (RBP)

Proteins that bind RNA

RNA virus

A virus that has RNA (ribonucleic acid) as its genetic material. This nucleic acid is usually single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) but may be double-stranded RNA (dsRNA).

Rogue protein

Misfolded proteins that cause damage, particularly resulting in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and mad cow disease. The abnormal shape of these proteins can be triggered by another type of protein, called a prion.

Sabre-tooth felids

Extinct large cats characterized by long, curved sabre-shaped canine teeth that protruded from the mouth when closed. Three genera are known from Early Pleistocene East Africa: Dinofells, Megantereon, and Homotherium.

Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Toumaï)

An extinct archaic species of hominin dating close to the split between the chimpanzee-human split, ~7 mya.  A probable ancestor to Orrorin tugenensis and may have walked bipedally.  

Salmonella

A genus of rod-shaped Gram-negative bacteria of the family Enterobacteriaceae and is divided by serovar type as either “non-typhoidal” Salmonella or “typhoidal” Salmonella. Salmonella enter the body through ingestion, often through consumption of contaminated meat, eggs, milk, or other foods that have come into contact with animal fecal matter. Its niche is in the intestines.

Salmonella enterica

A bacterium species of the genus Salmonella. Most cases of salmonellosis in humans is caused by S. enterica, often via infected cattle or poultry, including eggs. S. enterica can be divided in six subspecies and comprise over 2,000 serovars.

Salmonella enterica typhi

A serovar of Salmonella enterica whose reservoir is the human body. It is usually contracted by ingestion of food or water that is contaminated by the feces of those carrying the organism.

Salmonellosis

An intestinal infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting.

Saltation (Leap)

Discontinuous evolution marked by a sudden mutational change from one generation to the next, and may result in a single-step speciation event.

San People

Members of various Khoisan-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer groups that are the first nations of Southern Africa, and whose territories span Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa. mtDNA and Y chromosome studies show that the San carry some of the most divergent (oldest) human haplogroups.

Savanna

An ecosystem featuring hot, seasonally dry conditions, and vegetation consisting of open-canopy woodland and grassland.

Savanna-Woodland Mosaic

A transitory ecotone between the tropical moist broadleaf forests of Equatorial Africa and the drier savannas and open woodlands to the north and south of the forest belt. The forest-savanna mosaic consists of drier forests, often gallery forest, interspersed with savannas and open grasslands.

Savant

A person affected with a mental disability who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field.

Savant Syndrome

is a loose term that refers to people who have a combination of significant cognitive difficulties, often stemming from autism, and profound skills.

Scavengers

Organisms that search for and feed on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse.

Schizophrenia

A mental disorder characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and other symptoms that cause social or occupational dysfunction (DSM-V, 2013).

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

A type of depression related to changes in the seasons.

Selection

Allele frequency change over time caused by the different replication rate of specific alleles.

Selective Attachment

A specific bond formed between a mother and her offspring, which results in the mother exclusively caring for her own young and actively rejecting non-familiar young.

Selective sweep

The process through which a new beneficial mutation increases in frequency within a population due to its positive effect on survival and reproduction; this process leads to a reduction in genetic variation among neighboring nucleotide sequences.

Self-associated molecular patterns (SAMPS)

A class of molecular patterns that signal intrinsic inhibitory receptors of immune cells to remain in or return to their baseline, non-activated state.

Self-Awareness

Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Semantics (Linguistics)

The study of the logic and meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text.

Sequence

The linear order of the building blocks, which encodes individual form and function.

Sequencing

Reading the order of nucleotides in DNA.

Serious Play

A form of play that uses inquiry and innovation for complex problem-solving.

Serovar

 A subdivision within a species bacteria or viruses, or among immune cells of different individuals grouped together based on cell surface antigens.

Serum (blood)

The fluid, or plasma, constituent of blood and does not contain clotting proteins.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

A contagious and sometimes fatal respiratory illness caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1). SARS was first reported in China in November 2002 and was rapidly spread worldwide by international travelers. Symptoms first appear flu-like with a fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and sometimes diarrhea. This can progress to a dry cough and shortness of breath. A massive global response helped to contain the spread of the disease and no new cases of the original SARS have been reported since 2004.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 1 (SARS- CoV or SARS-CoV-1)

A strain of coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It is a single-stranded RNA virus that infects the epithelial cells within the lungs and can infect humans, bats, and palm civets.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS- CoV-2)

A novel strain of coronavirus closely related to SARS-CoV that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which resulted in a pandemic. It is a naturally evolving virus that crossed to humans from another animal, mostly likely a bat. SARS CoV-2 is completely different from the family that includes influenza viruses though both can cause respiratory symptoms.

Sex hormone

Steroid hormones, such as androgens, estrogens, and progestogens, that interact with steroid hormone receptors.

Sexual dimorphism

The difference in anatomical and physiological characteristics between the sexes of a species, such as body size, weight, and pigmentation.

Sexual selection theory

The selection of and competition for a reproductive partner. Inter-sexual mate selection of the opposite sex is contrasted with intra-sexual competition with same sex members for opposite sex mates.

Short Interspersed Nuclear Elements (SINEs)

A type of retrotransposon, or transposable element (“jumping genes”) that are abundant, non-autonomous, non-coding, and are 100 - 700 base pairs in length such as Alu elements.

Shotgun

Sequencing cuts the genome into short chunks that are read and reassembled by a computer.

Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-type lectins (Siglec)

Cell-surface proteins that bind sialic acid. They are primarily found on immune cell surfaces. These sialic acid–binding proteins that are members of the I-type lectin family and have an outer terminal with a typically conserved amino acid sequence.

Sialic acids

Family of acidic sugars with a nine-carbon backbone. They are found at the outermost fringes of the sugar chains (glycans) that cover all vertebrate cells. The two most common sialic acids in mammals are N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) and N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc).

Sialidase

An enzyme that cleaves sialic acid, an abundant sugar that coats most vertebrate cells.

Sickle Cell Anemia

An inherited red blood cell (RBC) disorder and one of the group of disorders of Sickle Cell Disease. In Sickle Cell Anemia, RBCs assume a sickle, or crescent shape, and degrade prematurely, causing a lack of red blood cells (anemia) to perform gas exchange. Shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children are common conditions.

Sickle Cell Disease

A group of inherited red blood cell disorders caused by the production of hemoglobin S, a protein in red blood cells (RBCs) that causes RBCs to assume a sickle, or crescent, shape. Sickled red blood cells break down prematurely, which causes the group of disorders, including Sickle Cell Anemia (a lack of red blood cells causing shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children), jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin due to rapid breakdown of red blood cells), clotting (sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels depriving tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to organ damage, especially in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and brain), and pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs). Repeated infections, and periodic episodes of pain are also common. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person.

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