Neuroplasticity Terms

Neuron – A neuron is the functioning cell unit in the nervous system that is also known as a nerve cell. Neurons are responsible for sending impulse messages to other neural cells. Impulse messages in a neuron are sent via the release of neurotransmitters. The neuron’s cell body is called the soma. The neuron cell consists of 3 main sections a soma, axon, dendrite.

Dendrite – Is the tree branch like structure connected to the nerve cell body (soma) that sends and receives information between cells. Can be thought of as the brain’s traffic cops routing messages to their desired cell target.

Axon – Is the lengthy thin straight structure that is part of the neuron body (soma) that conducts nerve impulses away from the cell body to the neuron’s terminal buttons.

Synapse – Is the structural space between neurons in the nervous system that is the conduit for a neuron to send a chemical message signal to the targeted neural cell. A synapse is also known as the terminal button. Once a message is received at the postsynaptic cell an electrical message is released and passes through the adjoining neuron to the next presynaptic cell that releases another chemical message. The process will repeat it self until the message reaches it desired target. The word synapse is Greek in origin and means point of contact.

Illustration of neurons firing

Illustration of neural synapses passing chemical messages

Frontal Lobe – Is located at the front of the brain stretching roughly from one side of the temple to the other side of the temple. It is the most dopamine-sensitive area of the brain and houses functions like emotions, personality, problem solving, sexual and social behavior, as well as judgment, language, and problem solving abilities.

Temporal Lobe – The temporal lobe is located around the ears on both sides of the head and stops just before the rounding of the back of the skull. The temporal lobes house many of the brain’s important functions such as auditory interpretation, speech and visual processing, spatial memory as well as short, and long-term memory.

Parietal Lobe – The parietal lobe is located behind the frontal lobe and above the temporal lobe. The parietal portion of the brain contains the areas that are vital for processing sensory information from different areas of the body, our spatial sense, as well being tied to the functioning of solving mathematic problems, reading and writing processes.

Occipital Lobe – The occipital lobe houses the visual cortex of the brain, which contains our visual map of the world we live in.

Cerebral Cortex – Is the neural tissue located around the top front portion of the brain. The cerebral cortex is a very important area of the brain and has a vital role in thought, language, memory, attention, and consciousness.

Cerebellum – Know as the portion of the brain that helps with control of skeletal muscles and in coordination in voluntary motor skills.

Hippocampus – Is the portion of the brain that is part of the limbic system and located in the medial temporal lobe of the human brain. The hippocampus plays roll in spatial navigation and in establishing new long-term memories.

Medulla – Is the small area at the base of the brain that plays a role in the autonomic functioning of the nervous system. It is responsible for automatic functions of the body below the thought process such as respiration, blood pressure, heart beating, and more.

Thalamus – Located in the mid-brain area. The thalamus is responsible for processing of sensory data such as visual, and auditory information. It is also involved in consciousness and levels of arousal.

Hypothalamus – Portion of the brain that is part of the endocrine system. It is responsible for metabolic processes such as hunger, thirst, body temperature and more. The hypothalamus is also responsible for neuro-hormones that influence the pituitary gland.

Pituitary Gland – Is an incredibly important pea sized organ that protrudes at the base of the hypothalamus, and is located at the base of the brain. It is responsible for regulation of body homeostasis. It does this through secreting hormones that regulate body growth, sexual function, metabolism, blood pressure, temperature, and thyroid gland function.