IQ Glossary

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Abnormal Psychology
Abnormal psychology studies the nature of psychopathology, its causes, and its treatments. Of course the definition of what constitutes 'abnormal' has varied across time and across cultures. Individuals also vary in what they regard as normal or abnormal behavior.

Action Potential
As the traveling signals of nerves and as the localized changes that contract muscle cells, action potentials are an essential feature of animal life. They set the pace of thought and action, may constrain the sizes of evolving anatomies and enable centralized control and coordination of organs and tissues. Non-propagating action potentials occur also in some plants.

Aggression
The act of initiating hostilities or invasion. The practice or habit of launching attacks. Hostile or destructive behavior or actions. In psychology aggression encompasses many different types behaviour, some of which are not clearly related to each other. Consequently, aggression has been a difficult term to provide one concise definition for.

Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is a form of anxiety disorder. The name is literally translated as "a fear of the marketplace", and thus of open or public spaces. Many people suffering from agoraphobia, however, are not afraid of the open spaces themselves, but of situations often associated with these spaces, such as social gatherings. Others are comfortable seeing visitors, but only in a defined space they feel in control of--such a person may live for years without leaving his home, while happily seeing visitors and working, as long as they can stay within their safety zone.

Alternate Hypothesis
The alternate hypothesis, or alternative hypothesis, together with the null hypothesis are the two rival hypothesis whose likelihoods are compared by a statistical hypothesis test. Usually the alternate hypothesis is the possibility that an observed effect is genuine and the null hypothesis is the rival possibility that it has resulted from random chance.

Altruism
Being helpful to other people with little or no interest in being rewarded for one's efforts (the colloquial definition). This is distinct from merely helping others. Actions that benefit others with a net detrimental or neutral effect on the actor, regardless of the actor's own psychology, motivation, or the cause of her actions. This type of altruistic behavior is referred to in ecology as Commensalism. an ethical doctrine that holds that individuals have a moral obligation to help others, if necessary to the exclusion of one's own interest or benefit. One who holds such a doctrine is known as an "altruist."

Amnesia
Amnesia is a condition in which memory is disturbed. The causes of amnesia are organic or functional. Organic causes include damage to the brain, through trauma or disease, or use of certain (generally sedative) drugs. Functional causes are psychological factors, such as defense mechanisms. Hysterical post-traumatic amnesia is an example of this. Amnesia may also be spontaneous, in the case of transient global amnesia. This global type of amnesia is more common in middle-aged to elderly people, particularly males, and usually lasts less than 24 hours.

Amygdala
Located in the brain's medial temporal lobe, the almond-shaped amygdala (in Latin, corpus amygdaloideum) is believed to play a key role in the emotions. It forms part of the limbic system. In humans and other animals, it is linked to both fear responses and pleasure. Its size is positively correlated with aggressive behavior across species. In humans it is the most sexually dimorphic brain structure, and shrinks by more than 30% in males upon castration. Conditions such as anxiety, autism, depression, narcolepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and schizophrenia are suspected of being linked to abnormal functioning of the amygdala owing to damage, developmental problems, or neurotransmitter imbalance.

Analysis Of Variance
In statistics, analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a collection of statistical models and their associated procedures which compare means by splitting the overall observed variance into different parts. The initial techniques of the analysis of variance were pioneered by the statistician and geneticist Ronald Fisher in the 1920s and 1930s, and is sometimes known as Fisher's ANOVA or Fisher's analysis of variance

Anxiety
Anxiety is a complex combination of the feeling of fear, apprehension and worry often accompanied by physical sensations such as palpitations, chest pain and/or shortness of breath. It may exist as a primary brain disorder or may be associated with other medical problems including other psychiatric disorders.

Aphasia
Aphasia is a loss or impairment of the ability to produce or comprehend language, due to brain damage. It is usually a result of damage to the language centres of the brain (like Broca's area). These areas are always located in the left hemisphere and in most people this is where the ability to produce and comprehend language is found. However in a very small number of people language ability is found in the right hemisphere. Damage to these language areas can be caused by a stroke or physical injury. Depending on the area and extent of the damage, someone may be able to speak but not write, or vice versa, or understand more complex sentences than he can produce. The brains of young children with brain damage sometimes restructure themselves to use different areas for speech processing, and regain lost function; adult brains are less "plastic" and lack this ability.

Arousal
Arousal is a physiological and psychological state involving the activation of the reticular activating system in the brain stem, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a condition of alertness and readiness to respond.

Assertiveness
Assertiveness is a skill taught by many personal development experts and psychotherapists and the subject of many popular self-help books. It is linked to self-esteem and considered an important communication skill.

Assimilation
The process of assimilating new ideas into a schema (cognitive structure). See schema (psychology). In the theories of Jean Piaget, the application of a general schema to a particular instance).

Attribution Theory
Attribution theory is a field of social psychology, which was born out of the theoritical models of Fritz Heider, Harold Kelley, Edward E. Jones, and Lee Ross. Attribution theory is concerned with the ways in which people explain (or attribute) the behavior of others. It explores how individuals "attribute" causes to events and how this cognitive perception affects their motivation. Think of "explanation" as a synonym and "why" as the question to be answered.

Autonomic Nervous System
In contrast to the voluntary nervous system, the "involuntary" or autonomic nervous system is responsible for homeostasis, maintaining a relatively constant internal environment by controlling such involuntary functions as digestion, respiration, perspiration, and metabolism, and by modulating blood pressure. Although these functions are generally outside of voluntary control, they are not outside our awareness, and they may be influenced by one's state of mind.

Aversion Therapy
Aversion therapy is a now largely discredited form of psychiatric treatment in which the patient is exposed to a stimulus while simultaneously being hurt or made ill.