Brain Glossary

Auditory Cortex – located in the temporal lobe, it is the part of the brain responsible for the processing and comprehension of sound.

Auditory Processing – the neurological functions associated with the perception and understanding of sound. Auditory Processing is what allows us to interpret spoken word and distinguish important auditory signals from noise.

Axon – specialized projections extending out like antennae that carry information away from the neuron (nerve cell).

Brain Stem – connects the brain to the spinal cord and plays a vital role in basic attention, arousal, and consciousness. All information to-and-from our body passes through the brain stem, and vice versa. The brain stem plays an important role in the regulation of cardiac and respiratory function. It also regulates the central nervous system, and is pivotal in maintaining consciousness and regulating the sleep cycle.

Broca’s – an area of neurons in the left hemisphere of the frontal lobe responsible for the control of speech.

Cerebellum – located just above the brain stem and toward the back of the brain, it is involved in the coordination of voluntary motor movement, balance and equilibrium and muscle tone.

Cognition – the process of gaining knowledge and using that knowledge for comprehension and problem solving.

Cognitive Reserve – our brain’s overall ability to withstand disease and decline. It is protection or a buffer that is created by active engagement in stimulating intellectual, social and physical activities.

Corpus Collosum – a wide flat bundle of neural fibers that connect the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

Declarative Memory – memory that can be consciously recalled such as facts and events. Its two divisions include episodic memory which is the storage of personal experience and semantic memory which is the storage of factual information.

Dendrites – a bunch of thin filaments extending out like antennae that carry information to the neuron through electrical impulses.

Executive Control Function – is a term that refers to the capacity to reflect on one’s situation, to evaluate what is working and what is not, to formulate plans of action, and to carry out such plans successfully. Executive Control includes the capacity to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t make the same ones over and over again. Primarily associated with the prefrontal cortex, it controls the following skills: planning, initiation, time-awareness, self-correction and problem solving.

fMRI – (functional  Magnetic Resonance Imagery) a relatively new procedure that uses MR imaging to measure the tiny metabolic changes that take place in an active part of the brain.

Frontal Lobe – located at the anterior portion of the brain, it is considered our emotional control center and home to our personality. The frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior.

Glial Cells – protect, support, and provide nutrients to neurons

Gray Matter –  is a major component of the central nervous system, consisting of neuronal cell bodies, dendrites, axons, glial cells and capillaries. The grey-brown color comes from capillary blood vessels and neuronal cell bodies

Hippocampus – the part of the brain that is involved in forming, organizing and storing memory. It is particularly important in forming new memories and connecting emotions and senses, such as smell and sound, to memories. The hippocampus is a horseshoe shaped paired structure, with one hippocampus located in the left-brain hemisphere and the other in the right hemisphere. The hippocampus acts as a memory indexer by sending memories out to the appropriate part of the cerebral hemisphere for long-term storage and retrieving them when necessary.

Left Hemisphere/Right Hemisphere – The right side of the brain controls muscles on the left side of the body and the left side of the brain controls muscles on the right side of the body. Also, in general, sensory information from the left side of the body crosses over to the right side of the brain and information from the right side of the body crosses over to the left side of the brain. The left hemisphere’s main functions include language, math and logic.  The right hemisphere’s functions include spatial abilities, facial recognition, visual imagery and music.

Long-Term Memory– a system for permanently storing, managing, and retrieving information for later use. Items of information stored as long term memory may be available for a lifetime

Myelin – compact fatty material that surrounds the axons of some neurons i.e., Schwann cells in the (Peripheral Nervous System) and oligodendrocytes (Central Nervous System). Assist in neurotransmission of synapses to and from the brain

Neurogenesis – creation of new neurons

Neuroplasticity – (also known as brain plasticity) the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

Neurons – nerve cells found in the brain and nervous system.

Neurology -medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system.

Neuropsychology – study of the structure and function of the brain related to specific psychological processes and behaviors.

Neuroscience – study of the nervous system. Neuroscientists use their research to explain how the human brain functions normally, determine how the nervous system develops and maintains itself, and find ways to prevent or cure neurological or psychiatric disorders.

Neurotrophins – chemicals that support, nourish and stimulate the growth of new neurons.

Occipital Lobe – a subdivision of the cerebral cortex. Plays a role in processing visual information.

Parietal Lobe – located in the top, back portion of the brain just above the occipital lobe. The parietal lobes can be divided into two functional regions. One involves sensation and perception and the other is concerned with integrating sensory input, primarily with the visual system. The first function integrates sensory information to form a single perception (cognition). The second function constructs a spatial coordinate system to represent the world around us.

Prefrontal Cortex – located in the anterior regions of the frontal lobes (directly behind the forehead), it is responsible for executive function.

Stroke – a block in the brain’s blood supply.  It can be caused by the rupture of a blood vessel or clot or pressure on the vessel.

Synapse – the small gap between neurons that allows information in the form of an electrical charge to be transferred from one neuron to another.

TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury.  A complex injury to the brain that can have a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities.

Temporal Lobe – located behind and under the frontal lobe and beneath the parietal lobe, its main function involves the processing of auditory information.  It also houses the hippocampus and plays an important role in the formation of long-term memory.

Visual Processing – is the ability to interpret information taken in through the eyes. This processing allows us to perceive, analyze and think in visual images, and it is necessary for reading, remembering, walking, driving and the majority of our everyday tasks.

Wernecke’s – located in the left hemisphere of the temporal lobe it is responsible for the comprehension of speech.  This area is important to the development and usage of language.