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Health Psychology Book Cover
Health Psychology, 5/e
Shelley Taylor, University of California, Los Angeles

The Systems of the Body


adrenal glands   Two small glands, located on top of the kidneys, that are part of the endocrine system and secrete several hormones, including cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, that are involved in responses to stress.
angina pectoris   Chest pain that occurs because the muscle tissue of the heart is deprived of adequate oxygen or because removal of carbon dioxide and other wastes interferes with the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.
atherosclerosis   A major cause of heart disease; caused by the narrowing of the arterial walls due to the formation of plaques that reduce the flow of blood through the arteries and interfere with the passage of nutrients from the capillaries into the cells.
autoimmunity   A condition in which the body produces an immune response against its own tissue constituents.
blood pressure   The force that blood exerts against vessel walls.
cardiovascular system   The transport system of the body responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to the body and carrying away carbon dioxide and other wastes to the kidneys for excretion; composed of the heart, blood vessels, and blood.
catecholamines   The neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine that promote sympathetic nervous system activity; released in substantial quantities during stressful times.
cerebellum   Part of the hindbrain responsible for the coordination of voluntary muscle movement, the maintenance of balance and equilibrium, and the maintenance of muscle tone and posture.
cerebral cortex   The main portion of the brain, responsible for intelligence, memory, and the detection and interpretation of sensation.
endocrine system   A system of ductless glands that secrete hormones into the blood to stimulate target organs; interacts with nervous system functioning.
hypothalamus   That part of the forebrain responsible for regulating water balance and controlling hunger and sexual desire; assists in cardiac functioning, blood pressure regulation, and respiration regulation; has a major role in regulation of the endocrine system, which controls the release of hormones including those related to stress.
immunity   The body’s resistance to injury from invading organisms, acquired from the mother at birth, through disease, or through vaccinations and inoculations.
lymphatic system   The drainage system of the body; believed to be involved in immune functioning.
medulla   Section of the hindbrain responsible for the control of reflex activities of the body.
myocardial infarction   Heart attack produced when a clot has developed in a coronary vessel, blocking the flow of blood to the heart.
nervous system   The system of the body responsible for the transmission of information from the brain to the rest of the body and from the rest of the body to the brain; it is composed of the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (which consists of the remainder of the nerves in the body).
neurotransmitters   Chemicals that regulate nervous system functioning.
nonspecific immune mechanisms  A set of responses to infection or disorder that is engaged by the presence of some biological invader.
parasympathetic nervous system  The part of the nervous system responsible for vegetative functions, conservation of energy, and damping down the effects of the sympathetic nervous system.
phagocytosis   The process by which phagocytes ingest and attempt to eliminate a foreign invader.
pituitary gland   A gland located at the base of and controlled by the brain that secretes the hormones responsible for growth and organ development.
platelets   Carried by the blood; they clump together to block holes in blood vessels and are implicated in blood clotting.
renal system  Part of the metabolic system; responsible for the regulation of bodily fluids and the elimination of wastes; regulates bodily fluids by removing surplus water, surplus electrolytes, and waste products generated by the metabolism of food.
respiratory system  The system of the body responsible for taking in oxygen, excreting carbon dioxide, and regulating the relative composition of the blood.
specific immune mechanisms   A set of responses designed to respond to specific invaders; includes cell-mediated and humoral immunity.
sympathetic nervous system   The part of the nervous system that mobilizes the body for action.
thalamus   That portion of the forebrain responsible for the recognition of sensory stimuli and the relay of sensory impulses to the cerebral cortex.