CARTA Glossary

Displaying 401 - 500 of 885 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary

A sign that shares perceived physical properties with the thing it refers to (its “referent”) (Kluender, 2020).


Behavior copying. This term has been used to mean everything from social learning in general to the reproduction of action intentions but is now most commonly used in the narrow sense of copying the form or topography of observed movements.

Immediate Return Hunter-Gatherers

Those who do not store food, but consume it within a day or two of obtaining it. This means there is no opportunity to accumulate surplus.

Immune Cells

Cells that are part of the immune system. Most develop from stem cells in the bone marrow and become different types of white blood cells (the microglia of the brain originate in the yolk sack during embryonic development). Immune cells are broadly classified into innate and adaptive immune cells. Innate immune cells include neutrophils, basophils, mast cells, monocytes and eosinophils, dendritic cells, and macrophages. Adaptive immune cells include B-cells and T-cells. T-Cells and Natural Killer T-cells mediate important dialogues between innate (rapid) and adaptive (slower) immune responses. B-cells and T-cells can form long- term immunological memory.

Immune system

The biological defense system of an organism that protects against disease.


The capability of multicellular organisms to resist harmful microorganisms from entering it and compromising its biological systems. The balanced state of adequate biological defenses to fight infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion, while having adequate tolerance to avoid allergy, and autoimmune diseases. It critically relies on recognition of both self and non-self.

Immunoglobulin domain/fold (Ig)

A type of region (domain) present in many different proteins that is self-stabilizing and folds independently.


A type of protein that forms antibodies and other receptors both on cell surfaces and as soluble proteins of vertebrates. Comprised of a massive superfamily, immunoglobulins perform many different functions, including recognition, binding, or adhesion processes of cells.


The branch of biology and biomedicine concerned with the study of immune systems.

Immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM)

A highly conserved region in the cytoplasmic domain of signaling chains of adapter proteins and receptors and typically result in activation of inflammatory responses.

Immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif (ITIM)

A conserved sequence of amino acids, including phosphorylated tyrosine, that is found intracellularly in the cytoplasmic domains of many inhibitory receptors.


An insertion or deletion of a DNA sequence.


A sign that depends for its reference on the physical presence of the thing that it refers (its “referent”) to at some point in space and time (e.g. smoke, a weather vane, a bullet hole, your index finger) (Kluender, 2020).

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)

Somatic (body) cells that are artificially reprogrammed to an embryonic-like stem cell state and differentiated into other types of cells.

Industrial revolution

The transition from agrarian and handcraft manufacture of goods to large scale industrial production starting 1760 in Great Britain and the United States.

Infanticide The killing of infants by males or females.

The invasion of an organism’s organs or tissues by pathogens, their multiplication, and the reaction of the host tissues to the pathogens.

Infectious (disease)

The capability of producing infection or spreading disease to others. Synonymous with communicable and transmissible.

Inferior Frontal Gyrus (Brain)

The lowest positioned gyrus of the frontal gyri, of the frontal lobe, and is part of the prefrontal cortex. It is located in Broca’s area, which is involved in language processing and speech production.

Inferior Temporal Cortex (Brain)

The cerebral cortex on the inferior convexity of the temporal lobe in primates, including humans and is It is crucial for visual object recognition.


A procedure that partially closes the inner or outer labia across the urethral meatus and vaginal opening through cutting, suturing, or sealing to leave a smooth scar.


An often-painful localized redness, swelling, and heat that is the body’s response to an injury or infection. While uncomfortable, it indicates that your body is working hard to repair itself or to defend against infection.


Often referred to as “flu,” this is a highly contagious viral respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, severe body aches, and catarrh. Because it is so contagious, influenza often produces epidemics. There are several influenza viruses that affect humans (A, B, C) - all enveloped RNA viruses.

Inhibitory neurotransmitter

A chemical messenger that decreases the likelihood that the neuron will fire an electrical signal called an action potential (see also excitatory neurotransmitter).


In piercing, the act of putting jewelry into an existing pierced channel, often with the aid of an insertion taper.

Insertion taper

A tapered tool that is designed to facilitate the process of inserting jewelry into a piercing.


The power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs. Refers to the ability of the mind to form representations and should not be confused with intention. Beliefs about others’ beliefs display what is sometimes known as “higher-order intentionality.”

Inter-birth intervals

The time span between live births.

Interactive synchrony

Temporal coordination of behavior, physiology, neural activity, and/or mental representations between individuals.

Interbirth interval (IBI)

The amount of time between consecutive births.

Internal feedback model

A proposition in which some of a system’s output is returned through the input for processing, which allows the system to make adjustments in the output.

Internal model (motor control)

A process that stimulates the response of the system in order to estimate the outcome of a system disturbance.

Intersectional neuroscience framework

A research framework that adapts procedures to be more inclusive of underrepresented groups through community engagement with diverse participants and individualized methods to accommodate neural diversity.

Intracellular Signaling Cascade

The series of sequential events that transmit signals received at the surface of a neuron to internal regulatory molecules, which are then modified by the signal. These pathways allow external signals from the environment to regulate gene expression.

Invasive species

A non-indigenous organism that can destabilize ecosystems when introduced.


A potent inhalational anesthetic used for induction and maintenance of general anesthesia. Works via GABA receptors.


Each of two or more forms of the same element that contain equal numbers of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei, and hence differ in relative atomic mass but not in chemical properties; in particular, a radioactive form of an element.

Isotopic Signature

The ratio of non-radiogenic “stable isotopes,” stable radiogenic isotopes, or unstable radioactive isotopes of particular elements in an investigated material.

Japanese Encephalitis

An infection of the central nervous system caused by the Japanese Encephalitis Virus. Most infections are benign but occasionally can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), headaches, vomiting, fever, confusion and seizures.

Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV)

A RNA virus of the genus Flavivirus that causes Japanese Encephalitis and is generally spread by mosquitoes, such as Aedes mosquitos. JEV is prevalent in much of Asia and the Western Pacific. Pigs and wild birds serve as a reservoir for the virus.


A yellowing of the eyes and skin due to rapid breakdown of red blood cells (RBCs) and release of degraded hemoglobin.

Jebel Irhoud hominins

The oldest known “early” human fossils discovered, dating to roughly 300 kya from an archaeological site in Morocco. The location of this discovery suggests a “pan-African” origin of humans, with a dispersed interbreeding population, likely aided by climactic factors.

John Ssebunya of Uganda

In 1989, at age 4-5, he witnessed his father murder his mother and subsequently fled into the Ugandan jungle. He was accepted as a peripheral member of a group of vervet monkeys who cared for and nourished him for a period of two years. He was found and captured in 1991.


An indigenous population of San people in northeastern Namibia and northwestern Kalahari desert region of Botswana.

Kessler Syndrome

A state in which the accumulation of space-debris in low Earth orbit causes a cascade of collisions with space vehicles and other orbital objects (satellites) results in more space debris, rendering parts of space unusable for human purposes. Proposed by Donald J. Kessler in 1978.

Khoisan (or Khoe-Sān)

A collective term for non-Bantu indigenous people of South Africa, as well as for the related languages they speak.


A description of the motion of objects; how the limbs and joints, or combinations of these bodies, move during a particular type of locomotion.


A description of the forces acting on a body; the forces the body exerts (or resists) during locomotion.


A river and cave system in the Tsitsikamma coast, Humansdorp district, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Evidence for middle stone age-associated human habitation has been found in the nearby cave system dating to ~125 kya.


A palaeoanthropological area in the southern Main Ethiopian Rift that was discovered 1991 The Konso-Gardula sediments span ~ 1.9 mya to 1.3 mya. Early Homo fossils and Acheulean stone tools have been found here. 


Thousand years ago.

Labia stretching

The lengthening of the inner or outer labia through a regimen of pulling and stretching, often with herbs. Formerly included in the World Health Organization (WHO) typology of female genital modifications. Also known as “labia minora elongation,” or LME.


A plastic surgery to cut and remove part of the genital labia, often to reduce the inner labia so they are contained behind the outer labia.


A genus of Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria that convert sugars to lactic acid. In humans, they are a significant component of the microbiome and can survive in the harsh pH conditions of the digestive and genital systems. Lactobacillus species are normally a major part of the vaginal microbiota. While receiving nutrients from their human host, Lactobacilli protect the host against certain pathogens, even helping to treat diarrhea, vaginal infections, and skin disorders such as eczema. Lactobacillus is the most common probiotic, perhaps most notable for its use in yogurt.

Lactobacillus crispatus

A common genus of beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria that produces hydrogen peroxide (H202) and is found in the vagina and gastrointestinal system.

Lactobacillus iners

A common genus of beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria that normally inhabits the lower reproductive system and vagina of healthy women.

Language (human)

A structured system of communication that is generative (combine words/symbols to convey an infinite number of ideas), recursive (builds upon itself without limit), and has displaced reference (describe things not present).

Large language models (LLMs)

Machine learning algorithms that can recognize, summarize, translate, predict, and generate human languages on the basis of very large text-based datasets.

Large quantity discrimination (LQD)

The rough discrimination of collections of discrete items above the subitizing range, whose numerosities usually differ by a substantial amount.

Late Bloomers

Individuals from high-risk backgrounds who begin to manifest resilience later in adolescence or adulthood following a period of maladjustment or problems.

Late-night wake therapy (LWT)

A sleep schedule therapy hypothesized to relieve peripartum depression by altering melatonin and sleep timing (sleep from 9:00 pm - 01:00 am).


A protein that can bind to a glycan without catalyzing a modification of the glycan.


Plants in the Fabaceae family that include beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, lentils, alfalfa, and clover, to name a few. Many legumes have a symbiotic association with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. They also tend to have large, protein-rich seeds.

Levallois Technique (prepared core)

A method of creating stone tools by first striking flakes off the stone, or core, along the edges to create the prepared core and then striking the prepared core in such a way that the intended tool is flaked off with all of its edges pre-sharpened.


A basic unit of lexical meaning core to set of related words (play, plays, playing, played, player, with play as the lexeme).

Lexical semantics

Word meanings.

Lexicon (Linguistics)

The vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge.


Untrue stories the teller wants the listener to believe.

Life History

The schedule of life, including birth to sexual maturity, duration of the reproductive period, duration of the post-reproductive period (if there is one), and mortality rate at each stage.

Life-history theory

An evolutionary framework for understanding the timing of developmental milestones and life stages.


A molecule specifically recognized by another molecule and involved in specific interactions.

Limbic System (Brain)

Structures of the brain that deal with emotions and memory.

Limited Bedding and Nesting

A paradigm used in the laboratory to model scarcity of resources. Mothers (rats/mice) are not given enough nesting materials to build a nest for their infants and neglect/maltreatment occurs as a result.

Limiting nutrient

A chemical compound that causes a plant to grow faster when it is added. Biologically available nitrogen is a limiting nutrient for plants in almost all terrestrial ecosystems that have been studied. Other soil nutrients that are limiting include calcium, phosphate, magnesium and potassium.

LINE1 Retrotransposons

Long interspersed nuclear elements class 1 (LINE1) is a type of transposable element, or “jumping gene,” that randomly copies and inserts itself into different genomic locations through reverse transcription (conversion of RNA into DNA). These active LINE1s can interrupt the genome through insertions, deletions, rearrangements, and copy number variations. LINE1 activity has contributed to the instability and evolution of genomes. As such, they are tightly regulated in the germline, however, they are controlled differently in apes and humans. LINE1 retrotransposons make up to ~17% of the human genome. While the majority are inactive in the human genome, there are roughly 80-100 that have retained the ability to retrotranspose with considerable variation between individuals.


The scientific study of human language.


One of the four classes of major biomolecules. A fatty or waxy organic compound involved in important cellular activities like storing energy, as a component of the cell membrane, and signaling within and between other cells.


Movement causing a person or animal to get from point A to point B.

Lomekwian Technology

The oldest known stone tools consisting of 150 artifacts found in Lomekwi, Kenya, close to Lake Turkana. ~3.3 mya.

Long-read sequencing

A DNA sequencing technology that generates reads that are typically longer than 10 kbp in length. To be distinguished from short read sequencing technology (eg. Illumina), which is typically 100-250 bp in length.


Typical length of life.

Lower Paleolithic

The first subdivision of the Paleolithic, or Stone Age. ~3.4 mya- 300 ky.

Luteal phase

The part of the menstrual cycle between ovulation and menstruation.

Lymphatic vessels

Thin-walled vessels (tubes) of the lymphatic system that are complementary to the cardiovascular system and are devoted to the movement of lymphatic fluid.


A substance required in relatively large amounts by living organisms: Fats, proteins, carbohydrates in an animal diet or chemical elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium as required by plants.


Specialized immune cells involved in the detection, phagocytosis and destruction of bacteria and other harmful organisms. In addition, they can also present antigens to T cells and initiate inflammation by releasing molecules.

Maguey plant (Agave americana)

A flowering plant of the Asparagaceae family that is native to Mexico and the United States (Texas). It is commonly used for ornamentation in arid climates due to its drought tolerance, in cuisine and distilling (tequila), as medicine, and to make ropes, nets, bags, cloth, and paper.

Major depression (clinical depression)

A severe and persistent low mood, profound sadness, or a sense of despair lasting at least two weeks but usually much longer.

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC)

A set of closely linked polymorphic genes that code for cell surface proteins (MHC molecules) that assist the adaptive immune system in detection of foreign molecules.


A genotypic or phenotypic trait that is (or has become) more harmful than helpful in determining survival and reproductive success (in contrast to an adaptation, which is more helpful than harmful).


An infectious disease that affects humans and other animals and caused by single-celled organisms belonging to genus Plasmodium and transmitted by mosquitos (commonly female Anopheles mosquitos). Initial symptoms are flu-
like and may include headache, fever, shivering, joint pain, vomiting, anemia, jaundice, hemoglobin in the urine, retinal damage, and convulsions. The classic symptom of malaria is a cyclical occurrence of sudden coldness and shivering and then fever and sweating. The disease is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of the equator. In 2018, there were 228 million cases of malaria worldwide resulting in an estimated 405,000 deaths. The high levels of mortality caused by malaria has repeatedly placed selective pressure on the human genome, resulting in several genetic factors (including Sickle Cell Trait) that mediate its effect to some degree.

Malignant neoplasm

A cancerous growth capable of invading normal tissues and growing in otherwise hostile environments.

Marine isotope stage 5 (MIS 5)

The geologic temperature record between 130,000-80,000 years ago.


The soft fatty substance in the cavities of bones that produces red and white blood cells and platelets.

Mass extinction

The widespread and rapid loss of biodiversity. Five mass extinctions have been documented and human activity is causing the sixth.

Mate guarding (humans)

The retention of exclusive reproductive access to a mate by attempting to restrict the access of others and discouraging the mate from seeking other sexual opportunities.

Maternal Separation

An experimental paradigm in which the experimenter separates a mother rat or mouse from her offspring for some period of time (minutes to hours) to study the effects of maternal deprivation on offspring development.

Mating effort

The portion of reproductive effort (time and energy invested) in the form of achieving matings (sexual access).

Maxillary central incisor (in humans)

One of the large, two front teeth of the upper jaw.


The term used to refer to (1) a group of indigenous languages spoken from Mexico to Honduras and El Salvador; (2) the people who speak those languages, considered as an ethnic group; (3) the archaeological culture of the ancestors of the contemporary speakers of Maya languages.