Dictionary of Terms


Narrative A mnemonic system in which items to be remembered are linked together by a story.

Natural Concept A category of objects or situations based on peopleís perceptions and interactions with things in the world; based on exemplars.

Natural Selection The tendency of organisms to reproduce differentially, which is caused by behavioral differences among them. Within any given population, some animals (the survivors) will produce more offspring than other animals.

Naturalistic Observation The observation of the behavior of people or other animals in their natural environments.

Negative Afterimage The image seen after a portion of the retina is exposed to an intense visual stimulus; a negative afterimage consists of colors complementary to those of the physical stimulus.

Negative Feedback A process whereby the effect produced by an action serves to diminish or terminate that action. Regulatory systems are characterized by negative feedback loops.

Negative Reinforcement A consequence that increases the frequency of a response that is regularly and reliably followed by the termination of an aversive stimulus.

Negative Symptoms Symptoms of schizophrenia that may include the absence of normal behavior, flattened emotion, poverty of speech, lack of initiative and persistence, and social withdrawal.

Nerve A bundle of nerve fibers that transmit information between the central nervous system and the bodyís sense organs, muscles, and glands.

Neural Network A model of the nervous system based on interconnected networks of elements that have some of the properties of neurons.

Neuromodulator A substance secreted in the brain that modulates the activity of neurons that contain the appropriate receptor molecules.

Neuron A nerve cell; consists of a cell body with dendrites and an axon whose branches end in terminal buttons that synapse with muscle fibers, gland cells, or other neurons.

Neuroticism The tendency to be anxious, worried, and full of guilt.

Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness Personality Inventory (NEO-PI) The instrument used to measure the elements described in the five-factor model of personality (neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness).

Nominal Fallacy The false belief that one has explained the causes of a phenomenon by identifying and naming it; for example, believing that one has explained lazy behavior by attributing it to "laziness."

Norm Data concerning comparison groups that permit the score of an individual to be assessed relative to his or her peers.

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