CARTA Glossary

Displaying 101 - 200 of 650 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
Central nervous system (CNS)

The majority of the nervous system that consists of the brain, spinal cord, retina, optic nerves, and olfactory epithelium. The CNS integrates sensory information and coordinates and influences the activity of the body in bilaterally symmetric animals (all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish).

Cerebral Cortex (Brain)

The outer layer of the cerebrum, composed of folded gray matter, and plays an important role in consciousness.

Cerebrum (Brain)

The largest part of the brain that contains the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, basal ganglia, and olfactory bulb.

Cetaceans (Cetacea)

A clade of aquatic mammals consisting of whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

Channel receptor

Proteins located in plasma membranes that form a passageway that can open or close to allow or stop the flow of particular ions across the membrane (see also receptor).

Chemical synapse

A biological junction between neurons where signals are sent from cell to the next via release of chemicals (neurotransmitters).

Chikungunya

An infection caused by the Chikungunya virus, which is spread between people by Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitos. Symptoms include fever and joint pain. Chikungunya typically occurs in Africa and Asia, but recent outbreaks have been reported in Europe and the Americas.

Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV)

A RNA virus that belongs to the genus Alphavirus that is primarily transmitted by two species of Aedes mosquitoes, although the virus can also be transmitted from mother to child during delivery. Before 2013, the virus was found only in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific islands. In late 2013, outbreaks occurred for the first time in the Americas in the Caribbean Islands. Chikungunya (pronounced “chik-en-gun-ye”) comes from the Kimadonde verb meaning “bent over in pain” or “contorted.”

Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

One of the two species comprising the genus, Pan, having branched from bonobos ~1 million years ago. Sometimes referred to as “common chimpanzees”. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, chimpanzees are found in and around the Congo Basin (north of the Congo River) and throughout West Africa. Chimpanzees are divided into four subspecies, based on appearance and distribution. Compared to bonobos, chimpanzees are somewhat larger, more aggressive, and exhibit male social dominance.

Cholera

A bacterial disease causing severe diarrhea and dehydration, usually spread in sewage-contaminated water.

Chromatin

A complex of DNA and proteins (histone and adaptor proteins) forming chromosomes.

Chromatin Accessibility

The idea that the 3D conformation of chromatin and the presence or absence of regulatory proteins (and their chemical modifications) interacting with histone proteins or directly with DNA can impact whether or not, and to what level, gene expression occurs.

Chromosomes

Discrete strands of tightly packaged chromatin.

Chronic Mountain Sickness

A disease characterized loss of adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia. Signs include severe polycythemia (increased blood volume occupied by red blood cells) and hypoxemia (lack of oxygenation).

Clade

A group of organisms consisting of a common ancestor and all descendants on a particular lineage. Represents a single branch on the “tree of life.”

Cladogram

A branching diagram used to show hypothetical relations among groups of organisms and their hypothetical most common ancestors. It is not an evolutionary tree as it does not show how ancestors are related to descendants, nor does it show evolutionary distance or time.

Cloning

Making a copy of an organism or sequence.
Organisms are cloned by moving an entire genome from a cell into an egg. DNA sequences are cloned by moving copies into a bacteria using a vector.

Clotting (Blood)

The process by which blood changes from liquid to a gel, forming a clot. Also known as coagulation.

Coalescence

Time since common ancestor.

Coalescent Theory

Models evolution backward in time to infer historical population size, mutation rate, allele age, and allele frequency change by selection and drift.

Cocaine

A natural alkaloid and insecticide produced by the South American coca plant that also acts as a natural stimulant.

Coccobacillus

A type of short rod-shaped Gram-negative bacteria. Some species of coccobacillus cause disease in humans.

Codon

A sequence of three nucleotides along a DNA or RNA chain encoding a single amino acid, and start or stop.

Cognition

The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

Cognitive enhancers

Drugs that are used to improve memory, increase mental alertness, and concentration, and boost energy levels and wakefulness. E.g., amphetamines; nicotine; caffeine.

Cognitive Trade-off Hypothesis

As proposed by Tetsuro Matsuzawa, postulates that a trade-off between superior language facility at the expense of memory ability based on social life occurred during human evolution.  In comparison to chimpanzees, who possess superior short-term memory  abilities and no known language, humans de-emphasized short term memory for extraordinary language capacity, which may be one mechanism for increased collaboration and altruism in humans.

Combinatorial Phonology

A universal property of human language in which a set of basic, distinct units (phonemes, syllables, or hand shapes) can be combined in many different ways.

Commensal

A relationship between organisms where one derives food or other benefits from the other without hurting or helping it.

Communicable (Disease)

An illnesses that is transmittable from an infected person or animal to another person or animal through direct contact or indirectly via contaminated food, water, or a vector.

Comparative Method

A method of evolutionary analysis that uses comparisons across independently evolved species, as a means for studying historical and physical constraints.

Competence

Capability for effective function in the environment, potential or manifested.

Complex Trait

A phenotypic trait with variability influenced by numerous genes (each with small effects).

Compositionality

The principle governing the combination of meaningful linguistic elements into higher order units of meaning. Compositionality guarantees that the meaning of the whole will be determined by the meaning of its parts and rules used to combine them (Kluender, 2020).

Congenital

A disease or physical abnormality present from birth.

Connectome

A comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain.

Consciousness

The waking state and awareness of existence.

Conspecifics

Members of the same species.

Contagious (Disease)

Infectious diseases that can be spread from organism to organism by direct or indirect contact. Contagious disease is a subset of communicable, infectious, and transmissible.

Contemplative neuroscience

A branch of neuroscience that studies the effects of meditation and other forms of contemplation.

Continuity (aka Phyletic Gradualism)

An evolutionary model in which change occurs gradually over time. Compare with Punctuated Equilibrium.

Control Group

A group of individuals in a medical study who receive either no treatment or the standard treatment, which is compared against a group who receive the treatment being studied.

Cooperative Breeding

A social system in which parents and other individuals within the group provide care for offspring.

Copy Number Variation

A phenomenon in which sections of the genome are repeated on the same or different chromosome and the number of repeats in the genome varies between individuals in the human population.  Such repeats can include functional genes.

Coronary Thrombosis

Blockage of blood flow to the heart, caused by atherosclerosis and blood clotting in a coronary artery. The most common kind of heart attack.

Coronavirus

A member of the large, single-stranded RNA virus family (Coronaviridae) named for their ring, or corona, shape. They are also characterized by a fatty outer lining that is covered with club-shaped spike proteins. Coronaviruses are known to infect many mammals (including us humans) and birds. Different coronaviruses are responsible for causing MERS, SARS, and COVID-19.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

An infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and then spread globally, resulting in a pandemic. Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, sputum production, and muscle and joint pains, and loss of smell and taste. Severe cases may progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), multi-organ failure, septic shock, and blood clots. Spread of the virus occurs between people during close contact, most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, and talking. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face.

Cortical Fields

A segment of the cerebral cortex that carries out a given function.

Corticosteroids

A class of steroid hormones. E.g., cortisol.

Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)

A neuropeptide that regulates the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis response, a major neuroendocrine system.

Corvids (Corvidae)

The family of stout-billed passerine birds (an order of birds characterized by an arrangement of toes with three forward and one backward to facilitate perching) including the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers.

Corvus brachyrhynchos

The American crow.

Coverage

The number of reads for a given locus.

CpG site

Locus where a cytosine nucleotide is followed by guanine nucleotide in the linear sequence of bases. Cytosines in CpG dinucleotides can be methylated to form 5-methyl cytosine, a common epigenetic mark.

Cranial Neural Crest Cells Cells that become the structures of the endocranium and face.
CRISPR

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. A method that can mutate a specified locus.

Culture

Behavior and norms that are shared, learned, and socially transmitted.

Cumulative Cooperative Culture

In human culture, the accumulation of cultural modifications over time (“ratchet effect”) resulting from social learning, active teaching, social motivations for conformity, and normative sanctions against non-conformity.

Cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase (Cmah)

An enzyme that is encoded by the CMAH gene. In most mammals, this enzyme modifies sialic acids [it modifies N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) into N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc)]. The human lineage lost the function of the CMAH gene over 2 million years ago causing human cells to lack Neu5Gc and be coated with an excess of Neu5Ac.

Cytokine “Storm”

A severe immune reaction in which the body releases too many cytokines into the blood too quickly. Signs and symptoms include high fever, inflammation, severe fatigue, and nausea. This may be severe or even life- threatening, leading to multiple organ failure.
 

Cytokines

A broad and loose category of small proteins secreted by certain cells of the immune system and are important in cell signaling and have an effect on other cells.

Daughter Neuron

Resulting cell(s) formed when neural stem cells or progenitor cells undergo cellular division.

de Novo

A Latin adverb meaning “from the new.” A new genetic variant that is the result of a mutation in a germ cell (egg or sperm) of one of the parents, or a variant that arises in the fertilized egg during embryogenesis. (See Novel)

Demography

Study of population size over time.

Dengue Fever

A tropical disease caused by the Dengue virus and spread several species of female Aedes mosquitos, especially A. aegypti. Symptoms may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Severe infections may develop into Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever or Dengue Shock Syndrome.

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

A severe form of Dengue Fever, which includes bleeding and blood platelet and blood plasma leakage.

Dengue Shock Syndrome

A severe form of Dengue Fever in which dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

Dengue Virus

The cause of Dengue Fever. It is a mosquito- borne, single positive-stranded RNA virus of the genus, Flavivirus. Origin: Africa and Asia.

Denisovans

An extinct hominin population contemporary with Neanderthals that hybridized with ancient humans and Neanderthals. Knowledge of Denisovan morphology is limited to two small fossils found in Siberia and a jaw in Tibet.

Dental Calculus

Calcified dental plaque, provides information on diet, disease, health, microbiome and protects the genetic information within the tooth from degradation.

Derived Alleles

Variants arising since last common ancestor.

Developmental Adaptation

An irreversible biological characteristic acquired during growth and development in a stressful environment.

Developmental Amnesia

A selective disorder characterized by marked impairment in episodic memory despite relatively preserved semantic memory.

Developmental Cascade

Spreading effects over time across systems or domains of function that result from interactions in dynamic systems and cumulatively alter development.

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.

Diploid

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).

Divergence

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. 

DNA

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.

Dopamine

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.

DRD2

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).

Dynorphin

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.

Dyslexia

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.

Dysphoria

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.

Ecology

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

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.

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).

EMBODY Task

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

Endemic

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

Enhancer

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

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