CARTA Glossary

Displaying 501 - 600 of 840 defined words
Word Definition Related Vocabulary
Microlithic (Mode 5)

A stone tool type consisting of small blades or points, called microliths, that were typically used in composite tools, such as an arrow point fastened to a haft. ~35 - 3 kya.

Micronutrients

A chemical element or substance required in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms that the organism cannot synthesize itself. 

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)

A contagious and sometimes fatal viral respiratory sickness that can produce severe symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and in some cases death. The MERS virus originated in bats and was first reported affecting other species, camels and humans, in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, it has been identified in many other countries, including the United States.
 

Middle Paleolithic

The second subdivision of the Paleolithic, or Stone Age and consist of use of prepared cores (Levallois Technique) and hafted tools and weapons. ~300 kya -30 kya.

Middle Pleistocene

A period of geological time (781-126,000 years ago). An important time for the diversification of hominins, including the emergence of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.

Mind

The element of an individual that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. 

Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT)

A proposed singular phase in hominid evolution in which maladaptive mortality salience and death anxiety were triggered by acquiring the capacity for Extended Theory of Mind, but were (in this one instance) tolerated by the simultaneous acquisition of Reality Denial in the same minds - allowing gene culture-evolution to fix both capacities in the resulting hominin lineage, at the neurobiological and genetic level.

Mindfulness

The state of being conscious or aware.

Mindfulness meditation

A meditative practice centered around being present in the moment.

Mircofossils

Fossils or fossil fragments of bacteria, protists, fungi, animals, and plants (e.g.: starch granules) that can only be seen with a microscope.

miRNA

Short non-coding regulatory microRNA

Mitochondria

Membrane-bound cell organelles that generate most of the chemical energy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), needed to power the cell’s biochemical reactions. Mitochondria are believed to be endosymbionts that were originally prokaryotic cells that became incorporated into eukaryotic organisms.

Mitochondrial DNA

Maternally inherited DNA found only in the mitochondria, the energy producing organelles of eukaryotic cells. Mitochondria are thought to descend from symbiotic bacteria that have become part of eukaryotic cells.

Molecular Mimicry

The phenomenon whereby one organism produces molecules that are identical or very similar to those of another organism (such as its host). Parasites and pathogens repeatedly evolve molecular mimicry for host manipulation and immune evasion.

Molecule

A group of two or more atoms covalently bonded together to form the smallest fundamental unit of a chemical compound that can take part in a chemical reaction.

Monosaccharides

A simple sugar; the most basic unit of a carbohydrate.

Morbidity

The rate of disease in a population (as opposed to mortality, which is death rate).

Morphology (Biology)

The shape or form (outward appearance) of an organism. The branch of biology interested in the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features.

Morphology (Linguistics)

The sub-discipline of linguistics concerned with the structure and parts of words (stems, root words, prefixes, and suffixes), how words are formed, and their relationship to other words in the same language. Parts of speech, intonation and stress, and contextual pronunciation and meaning are aspects of Morphology.

Mortality Salience

Conscious understanding and realization of personal mortality.

Motor Cortex

The part of the cerebral cortex in the brain where the nerve impulses originate that initiate voluntary muscular activity.

Mousterian (Mode 3)

A stone tool type characterized by hand- axes, scrapers, triangle points, and denticulates (a stone tool with edges of multiple notched shapes, or teeth) produced using a prepared core (i.e. Levallois Technique) and is most associated with Neanderthals. ~315 - 30 kya.

Mucus

A slimy or gooey substance (hydrated bio-gel) produced by mucous membranes and glands for to lubricate or protect the body. The substance we refer to as “snot” or “boogers” are the mucus inside your nose that traps dirt and germs before they can enter further into your body and do you harm. Sneezing expels these invaders from your body but also propels them out towards other unsuspecting victims.

Muscular Dystrophy

A group of genetic diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass.

Music

An auditory form of art composed of pitch (melody and harmony), rhythm (tempo, meter, articulation), dynamics (loudness/softness), timbre and texture.

Musicality (in humans)

A natural, spontaneously developing sensitivity to, knowledge of, or talent for music based on and constrained by our biological and cognitive system, which is then culturally informed and reinforced.

Mutation

Change in a DNA or RNA sequence.

MYA

Million years ago.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis

The pathogenic bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

Myelin Sheaths

Sleeves of fatty tissue (wrapped cell membrane) that protect nerve cells.

N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac)

The most common sialic acid in most vertebrates and was first discovered in animal saliva and brains.

N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc)

A common variant of sialic acid in many vertebrates that is not made by humans but can be incorporated from diets rich in red meat.

Natural Antibodies (NAb)

A type of antibody that exists in the absence of active immunization via infection and/or contact with fetal antigens during pregnancy as a first line of defense until a specific antibody response is mounted.

Neanderthals

An extinct Eurasian hominin species that existed from 500-30 kya and interbred with ancient humans and Denisovans.

Negative reinforcement

A response or behavior that is strengthened by stopping, removing, or avoiding a negative outcome or aversive stimulus.

Neglect

The failure to provide for the development of the child in all spheres: health, education, emotional development, nutrition, shelter, and safe living conditions (including protecting the child from harm). It is the most common form of child maltreatment. In rodents, neglect it is similarly defined as inconsistent care, failure to group displaced infants in the nest, infant avoidance and failure to protect infants from harm or potential harm.

Neocortex

A part of the cerebral cortex concerned with sight, hearing, and touch in mammals, regarded as the most recently evolved part of the cortex.

Neoplasia

The new growth of cells proliferating without regard to stop signals and with attendant new blood vessels that forms a neoplasm.

Neoplasm

A tumor mass, either benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer), that is composed of cells that have lost their regulatory checks and multiply without control or do not undergo pre-programmed cell death.

Nerve A bundle of fibers that transmits impulses of sensation to the brain or spinal cord, and impulses from these to the muscles and organs.
Nervous System

The network of nerve cells and fibers that transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body.

Neural circuit

A neural circuit is a functional entity of interconnected neurons that is able to regulate its own activity using a feedback loop.

Neural Progenitor Cell

Cells that are capable of dividing a limited number of times and have the capacity to differentiate into a restricted repertoire of neuronal and glial cell types.

Neural Stem Cell A self-renewing, multipotent cell that generates the neurons and glia of the nervous system of all animals during embryonic development. Some persist in the adult vertebrate brain and continue to produce neurons throughout life.
Neurobiology

The study of the morphology, behavior, and other qualities of the nervous system.

Neurogenesis

The process by which neural stem cells (NSCs) produce neurons.

Neurogenetics

The study of the role of genetics in the development and function of the nervous system.

Neurological

Relating to the anatomy, functions, and organic disorders of nerves and the nervous system.

Neuromodulators

A subset of neurotransmitters that regulate diverse populations of other neurons.

Neuron

A specialized cell that transmits nerve impulses.

Neuroplasticity

The ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections through growth and reorganization. These changes include new neural connections and cortical remapping resulting from learning, environmental influences, practice, and psychological stress.

Neuropsychology

The study of the relationship between behavior, emotion, and cognition and brain function.

Neurostransmitter

A type of chemical messenger that transmits signals across a chemical synapse, such as a neuromuscular junction, from one neuron (nerve cell) to another “target” neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell.

Neurotransmitter

A chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other cells.

Neurotransmitter receptors

A membrane receptor protein that is activated by a neurotransmitter.

Neurotypical

Not displaying or characterized by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior.

Never

A bundle of fibers that transmits impulses of sensation to the brain or spinal cord, and impulses from these to the muscles and organs.

Niche construction

A form of ecological inheritance in which organisms alter the environment in ways that affect the developmental context and selection pressures acting on subsequent generations.

Nicotine

A natural alkaloid and insecticide produced by several plant species (tobacco and jimson weed). It also functions as a central nervous system stimulant as an analog of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

A receptor polypeptide that responds to the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, and also responds to nicotine.

Nitrogen (N)

A common chemical element with the atomic number 7. Most nitrogen on earth exists as inert gas (N2).

Non-Hormonal Basis of Maternal Care

The finding that care giving behavior can occur in female rats and mice that have not reproduced themselves through repeated exposure to infants.

Non-Invasive Neuroimaging

The use of various techniques, such as Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, to image the structure, function, or pharmacology of the nervous system.

Non-seasonal depression

Depression that is not related to changes in the seasons.

Nootropics

So called “smart drugs” or cognitive enhancers that are claimed to improve cognitive function. E.g., Modafinil.

Norepinephrine (noradrenaline)

A hormone and neurotransmitter that mobilizes the brain and body for action.

Novel (disease)

A new strain of a disease that has not been previously identified in a species.

Nuclear Pore Complex Protein and ribonucleoprotein transport channels in the nuclear envelop of eukaryotic cells. Evolved ~ 1.5 billion years ago. While the primary role of NPCs is to regulate nucleo–cytoplasmic transport, recent research suggests that certain NPC proteins have additionally acquired the role of affecting gene expression at the nuclear periphery and in the nucleoplasm in metazoans.
Nucleating sites

Atmospheric areas that generate particulate matter PM2.5 from dissolved ammonia from agricultural nitrogen pollution.

Nucleic acid

One of the four classes of major biomolecules. The overall name for DNA and RNA, which are composed of nucleotides. DNA is double-stranded and more stable while RNA is single-stranded and less stable.

Nucleoporin 98 (Nup98) A protein coding gene that plays a role in the nuclear pore complex assembly and/or maintenance. Associated diseases range from Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Acute Monocytic Leukemia.
Nucleoside

Glycosylamines corresponding to nucleotides lacking a phosphate.

Nucleotide

Molecular building blocks for DNA and RNA Specifically, they consist of three components: a 5-carbon sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. The type of sugar, either deoxyribose or ribose, determines if the resulting nucleic acid is DNA or RNA.

Number

Exact symbolic quantifier that designates the cardinality of a collection of objects. It is abstract (i.e., it transcends perceptual modalities), relational, and operable. In its most prototypical case it is associated with the familiar counting sequence ‘1, 2, 3, . . . ’

Numeral

A sign for a number, such as the Hindu-Arabic digit ‘5’, the Roman ‘V’, or the French word ‘cinq’, that signify the number five.

Numerosity

A scale of measurement for evaluating the numerousness of stimuli (e.g., a collection of discriminable objects) utilized especially by psychophysicists in the mid-20th century, and by means of which an experimenter establishes the cardinal attribute of physical collections of objects.

Numerousness

A property or attribute of a stimulus (discrete quantities) which can be measured by an investigator in units of numerosity.

Obesity

Excessive body fat that increases the risk of health problems. Defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher. Obesity rates in the US have reached 42%, up 12% in the last 10 years.

Obligate Tool User

Tool use is a necessity for survival. Tool use is an essential part of being human and we are the only known obligate tool users.

Obstetric Dilema

A biological constraint of bipedalism and large fetal brains imposed on the human female pelvis.

Odds Ratio (in GWAS)

The ratio between the odds of individuals having a phenotype associated with a specific allele and the odds of the same phenotype for individuals who do not have that same allele. 

Oldowan (Mode 1)

A stone tool type characterized by simple “choppers” for pounding, breaking, and bashing. ~2.6 - 1.7 mya.

Olfactory Bulb (Brain)

A neural structure of the vertebrate forebrain involved in sense of smell.

Oligodendrocytes (Brain)

A type of neuroglia that supports and insulates axons in the central nervous system of some vertebrates.

Omnivore

An organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet of plant, animal, and fungal origin.

Ontogeny

The origin and development of an organism (from fertilization of the egg to the organism’s mature form). Can also refer to the study of an organism’s lifespan.

Optimism Bias

An almost universally human cognitive bias that seems to cause individuals to believe that they are at less risk of experiencing a negative event and more likely to experience a positive outcome compared to other people.

Optogenetic

A biological technique that involves the use of light to control gene expression and cellular function in living tissue, typically neurons, that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels.

Organoid Cell/tissue culture in vitro that aims to mimic organ structure and function.
Out of Africa

A hypothesis proposing the geographic origins of the genus Homo in Africa and migration of anatomically modern humans. These anatomically modern humans would have completely replaced the archaic human populations (Neanderthals, Denisovans, etc.) that had previously left Africa. This hypothesis emphasizes the African origin of our species but allows for the possibility of minor local contributions from archaic populations.

Outer Radial Glia

Found in the outer subventricular zone of the neocortex, outer radial glia preferentially express genes related to extracellular matrix formation, migration, and stemness.

Outer Subventricular Zone A uniquely structured germinal zone that generates the expanded primate supragranular layers.
Pair bonding

Forming a close relationship with another individual through courtship and sexual activity.

Paired receptors

Related membrane proteins that have similar extracellular appearance but opposite signaling functions and are found in pairs or clusters primarily on immune cells.

Paleolithic

A broad prehistoric period during which stone was used to make tools and weapons and is synonymous with Stone Age. Subdivisions:

  • Lower Paleolithic: ~3.4 mya - 300 kya.
  • Middle Paleolithic: Consists of use of prepared cores (i.e. Levallois Technique) and hafted tools and weapons. ~300 - 30 kya.
  • Upper Paleolithic: Coincides with behavioral modernity and predates the advent of agriculture. Artifacts include finely crafted stone blades and bone and antler tools, such as harpoons and needles. ~50 - 10 kya.
Pandemic

An epidemic that has spread across regions, including multiple continents or worldwide.

Paranthropus

A genus of extinct bipedal hominins dating to ~ 2.6 mya to 1.1 mya that lived throughout eastern and south Africa. Their robust cranialdental anatomy suggests an adaptation to a diet of tough vegetation. Possible tool use is indicated by hands adapted for precision grasping. They probably descended from the gracile australopithecine hominids (Australopithecus) ~2.7 million years ago, hence their alternative name, robust australopithecine, and ongoing debate on genus.

Parasite

An organism that lives on or in a host organism at the expense of the host.

Parasitism

A close relationship between two organisms where one benefits at the expense of the other.

Parental Behavior

Any behavior of a member of a species toward an immature conspecific that increases the likelihood that the immature organism will survive to maturity.

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