Neuroseeds Glossary

This is a compilation for useful words you might encounter with medicinal plants and neuroscience.

Acetylcholine: A chemcial neurotransmitter responsible for communication between neurons and muscle cells.

Action potential: An electrical signal carried along the axon of a neuron. It is an "all-or-none" impulse that transmits information within the nervous system. The action potential is sometimes called a spike.

Adenosine: A chemical neurotransmitter that suppresses activity in the central nervous system and may help promote sleep

Anesthetize: To numb or reduce pain.

Anterior: A directional term used in the field of biology to describe something located in the front
part of the body. In humans, this is our front side. In animals, this is near the head.

Antibiotic: A medicine that is used to fight a bacterial infection. Penicillin is a commonly used antibiotic.

Axon: The part of the neuron that takes information away from the cell body.

Bilateral symmetry: The left and right halves are mirror images of each other.

Caffeine
: A central nervous system stimulant that reduces drowsiness and increases alertness. It is a
chemical found in plants including coffee and tea.

Capsaicin: The chemical found in hot peppers that makes them spicy. Capsaicin is also used as an ingredient in skin creams to reduce pain.

Depressant: Chemicals that decrease mental or physical function by decreasing alertness and increasing sleepiness

Distill: A way to separate mixtures using differences in volatilities.

Dopamine: A chemical neurotransmitter that is produced by nerve cells in the brain. As a neurotransmitter, dopamine is critical for sending messages between the body and brain about muscle activity and movement.

Chemical transmission: Neurons communicate using both electrical and chemical signals. Chemical transmission is when a neurotransmitter is received by a dendrite,  increasing or decreasing the likelihood that an action potential will occur in that cell.

Chemoreception: The ability to sense chemicals in the environment. Humans sense chemicals dissolved in the air using their sense of smell and chemicals dissolved in water using their sense of taste. Animals may have different way of sensing chemicals in their environment.

Depressant: Chemicals that decrease mental or physical function by decreasing alertness and increasing sleepiness.

Decoction: A decoction is similar to an infusion except that the plant material is brought to a boil in the water and simmered for 15 minutes before straining.

Distill: A way to separate mixtures using differences in volatilites

Dorsal: A directional term used in the field of biology to describe something located in the back part of
the body (in animals with a spinal cord, this is towards the spinal cord).

Electrical transmission: Neurons communicate using both electrical and chemical signals. Electrical transmission is the electrical signal that is carried along the receiving neuron after a chemical neurotransmitter is passed from one neuron to another. The response received by the dendrite increases or decreases the chances that the receiving neuron will generate an action potential.

Electrode: A conductor through which electricity enters or leaves an object. The electrodes in the SpikerBox are pins attached to wires.

Essential Oil: Highly concentrated plant extracts made by heating the plants and collecting the steam that is produced (distillation).

Eyespots: Simple eyes that can detect light from dark but cannot form images.

Ganglia: A cluster of nerve cells (neurons).

Glia: Non-neural support cells of the nervous system. 

Meninges: The protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Meningitis: A serious neurological illness that results in inflammation of the meninges. Meningitis is usually caused by bacteria or a virus.

Meniscus: In the field of chemistry, the meniscus is the curve seen at the top of a liquid inside of a container. When measuring a liquid in a container, such as a graduated cylinder, measure according to the center of the meniscus at eye level. For most liquids, this is the bottom of the concave curve.

Model organism: A non-human organism that scientists study to better understand something. The hope is that discoveries made on this organism can be used to help understand other organisms, including humans. Mice, fruit flies, and the bacteria E. coli are all common model organisms.

Nerve: A bundle of fibers composed of neurons through which the brain and body communicate.

Nerve cords: The long nerves running from the ganglia in the head of a planarian through its body. Nerves connect the nerve cord like the rungs of a ladder.

Nervous system: an organ system that controls and responds to body functions and directs behavior

Neuroactive chemicals: Chemicals that interact with or affect the brain or other nervous system cells in animals.

Neuroanatomy: The structure of the nervous system.

Neurological: Having to do with the nervous system

Neuron: Nerve cell


Neurotoxin
: Poison that affects the nervous system.

Neurotransmitter: Chemical that transmit information across the synapse to communicate from one neuron to another.

Nutrient agar: Agar is a substance used in science labs to grow bacteria in a petri dish. Agar looks like jelly and is made from red algae that grows in the ocean. Nutrient agar has nutrients added to it to help the bacteria grow. The nutrient agar used in this lab is Tryptic soy agar which gets its nutrients from soybeans and milk protein.

Omnipotent cells: Stem cells capable of differentiating into any other type of cell. A single omnipotent cell is theoretically capable of growing into an entire organism. Also called totipotent cells.


Peripheral Nervous System (PNS): The part of the nervous system containing all of the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord.

Plant extract: A liquid that contains plant chemicals. Plant extracts include: infusions, decoctions, juices, essential oils, and tinctures.

Receptor: An area of the neuron that is specialized for receiving a neurotransmitter

Regenerate: To replace a lost or damaged body part or organ by growing new tissue. Many animals have this ability, including planaria, some lizards, starfish, sea cucumbers, and more.

Sensory stimuli: Information from the senses. Sensory stimuli include anything you see, hear, taste, smell, or feel.

Solvent: A chemical that dissolves another chemical

Spike: Another word for action potential. An electrical signal carried along a neuron. It is an "all-or-none" impulse that transmits information within the nervous system.

Steep: To soak in water


Stem cells: Undifferentiated cells that can make more of themselves and develop into different cell types (differentiate)—but may not be able to differentiate into all cell types

Stimulant: Chemicals that increase mental or physical function by increasing alertness and decreasing sleepiness 

Synapse: Chemical or electrical junctions that allow electrical signals to pass from neurons to other cells. A synapse includes the synaptic terminal, synaptic gap, and dendrite.


Synaptic gap: The area between neurons that allows neurotransmitters to pass between neurons. It is the functional connection between an axon of one neuron and a dendrite of another

Synaptic terminal: A bulge in the axon that stores and releases neurotransmitters.

Tincture
: Plant extracts made by soaking the plant for weeks in a chemical that dissolves another chemical (a solvent) such as alcohol, glycerin, or vinegar.

Ventral
: A directional term used in the field of biology to describe something located in the front part of
the body. In animals, this is usually the surface towards the ground.

Volatile: Chemicals that evaporate rapidly

Zone of Inhibition: The clear area (with no bacteria) on your petri dish. Because you covered the petri dish with bacteria, this clear area demonstrates the absence (or inhibition) of bacteria due to the plant extract or penicillin.

Comments