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Brain Sketch

Dictionary of Terms

Reference Diana M Goodwin, A Dictionary of Neuropsychology, Springer-Berlag, New York 1989

Neuropsychology - a specialty within the field of psychology that focuses primarily on neurobehavioral functioning and brain behavior relationships.

Developmental aphasia - a specific delay in language acquisition disproportionate to general cognitive development.

Attention deficit - distractability or impaired ability for focused behavior, impaired concentration and mental/conceptional tracking abilities for tasks that require sustained or focused attention and concentration.

Dementia - a mental disorder without clouding of consciousness or disturbance of perception in an otherwise healthy person characterized by by some or all of the following: cognitive dysfunction, disorders of mood and affect, behavior disorders, memory deficit, failing judgement, difficulty in abstract thought, rumination on the past, confusion for time and place, failure to identify relatives, perservaration, confabulization, anxiety, short-tempered, depression, visual hallucinations, disinhibition, intellectual decline, paranoia, pre-senile (onset before age 65), senile (onset after 65).

Abstract thinking - ability to form concepts, use categories, generalize from single instances, apply procedural rules and general principles... be aware to judge what is relevant, essential,and appropriate.

Agnosia - deficit in the formulation and use of symbolic concepts, including the significance of numbers and letters, the names of parts of the body or recognition, knowing and understanding the meaning of stimuli.

Alzheimer's disease (AD/SDAT) - characterized by progressive degenerative nerve cell change within the cerebral hemispheres with global deterioration of intellect and personality.

Amnesia - partial or total loss of memory, often coupled with an inability to form new memory traces or to learn.


Stroke (CVA) - sudden appearance of neurological symptoms as a result of severe interruption of blood flow; can result from a wide variety of different vascular diseases. Can be obstructive or hemorrhagic.

Parkinson's Disease/syndrome - Progressive neuronal degeneration of basal ganglionic structures, particularly the substantia nigra; content of the striatum is depleted, presumably due to a loss of neurons in the substantia nigra and degeneration of the nigrostriatal tract to which they give rise and the loss of the neurotransmitter substance, dopamine, which is produced by the cells of the substantia nigra neucleus.

Substance dependence - (DSM IV - TR) (American Psychiatric Association, published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington DC, 2000) - maladaptive behavior of substance abuse, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by symptoms and signs as outlined in the DSM. Anoxia - Absence of lack of oxygen; reduction of oxygen in body tissues below physiologic levels.

Anoxic Anoxia - anoxia resulting from interference with the source of oxygen; most often refers to diminished oxygen in the arterial blood despite normal ability to contain and carry oxygen.

Wernicke's encephalopathy - serious complication of alcoholism; gross confusion with memory loss, potentially fatal disturbance of brain stem function, extra-ocular nerve palsies, usually the 6th nerve, nystagmus and ataxia.

Image by Martin Adams
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