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Neurological Glossary




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Macrocephaly
Head circumference that is more than 2 standard deviations above the mean for age, sex, race, and gestation

Macula
Part of the retina responsible for detailed central vision

Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
Process that involves injection of contrast material into a blood vessel and uses a large, powerful magnet, rather than X-rays, to create pictures of the blood vessels

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A type of scan that uses a large powerful magnet to create an image of part of the body. Provides detailed structural information on the brain, showing inflammation and bleeding, and changes over time. A further development called functional magnetic resonance imaging can also provide information on metabolism, showing how well the brain is functioning.

Mammillary bodies
Pair of nuclei in the posterior, ventral and medial hypothalamus that receive hippocampal inputs via the fornix and project to anterior nucleus of the thalamus and the tegmentum of the midbrain and Pons; involved in memory processing

Massage
Manipulation of the soft tissues of the body with the hands or using an electric massage appliance. Can aid relaxation, and stimulate circulation and elimination of toxins

Mass effect
Structural damage due to a lesion�s bulk (e.g., tumor, infarct, or hemorrhage), the blockage of fluid movement (e.g., compression of a ventricle), or excessive accumulation of fluid

Medial
Nearer the midline

Median Plane
Vertical plane passing through the centre of the body dividing it into a right and left half

Medial geniculate nucleus
Nucleus of the posterior, dorsal thalamus that receives auditory input from the inferior colliculus and relays this information to the primary auditory cortex (Brodmann's areas 41 & 42) in the superior temporal gyrus

Medial lemniscus
Ascending axonal tract in the brainstem that carries tactile and proprioceptive information from the dorsal column nuclei to the ventral posterior lateral nucleus of the thalamus

Medial longitudinal fasciculus
Pathway connecting the ipsilateral 3rd nerve nucleus in the midbrain to the contralateral 6th nerve nucleus in the pons for ocular motor control

Medication overuse headache (analgesic rebound headache)
Headache disorder characterized by headache that is present on 15 or more days per month in association with the use of any analgesic (including aspirin, acetaminophen, narcotics, ergotamine, and triptans) at least two or three days each week, with intake of the drug on at least 10 days per month for at least three months; headache resolves or reverts to its previous patterns within two months after discontinuation of the drug

Medulla
A part of the brainstem that helps regulate respiration and other behaviours

Medulloblastoma
Aggressive tumour in children and young adults typically involving the posterior fossa sometimes with cerebrospinal fluid seeding (drop metastases); characterized histologically by small blue cells and Homer Wright rosettes

Medulla oblongata (myelencephalon)
Caudal aspect of the brainstem located between the Pons and the spinal cord

Megalencephaly
Abnormally large, heavy, and usually malfunctioning brain; thought to be related to a disturbance in the regulation of cell reproduction or proliferation

Meissner corpuscles
Dermal mechanoreceptors that subserve light touch sensation

MELAS (Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy, Lactic Acidosis, and Stroke-like episodes)
Mitochondrial disorder characterized by hearing loss, episodic vomiting and recurrent cerebral insults resembling strokes and causing hemiparesis, hemianopia, or cortical blindness

Memory
Memory is the ability to take in, store and retrieve information

Meningeal carcinomatosis
Diffuse infiltration of the meninges by metastatic tumour cells often with positive cerebrospinal fluid cytology

Meninges
Three distinct connective tissue membranes (from outer to inner: dura, arachnoid, and pia mater) that enclose and protect the central nervous system

Meningioma
Slow-growing WHO grade I meningeal neoplasm that has an extra-axial location and often shows a dural tail sign and hyperostosis of adjacent skull; characterized histologically by whorls and psammoma bodies

Meningitis
Inflammation of meninges and spinal fluid

Meningocele
Form of spina bifida in which there is herniation of only meninges (no spinal cord parenchyma) through defective posterior arches

Meninx
Singular form of meninges

Menstrual (catamenial) migraine
Migraine occurring between one day before and four days after the onset of menses; thought to be due to estrogen withdrawal

Merkel cells
Disk-shaped receptor endings in the skin believed to be involved with the sensation of fine touch

Mesencephalon
see midbrain

Mesial temporal sclerosis
Hippocampal scarring and volume loss; most common cause of temporal lobe epilepsy

Mesulam syndrome
Eponym for primary progressive aphasia

Metachromatic leukodystrophy
Autosomal recessive disease associated with large confluent areas of discoloured gelatinous white matter caused by deficiency of the enzyme arylsulfatase A, which is necessary for the degradation of sulfatide, a myelin constituent

Meyer�s loop
Part of the optic radiations that fans out into the temporal lobe and carries information from the upper visual world

Microcephaly
Head circumference that is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing; most often caused by genetic abnormalities

Microglia
Bone marrow derived phagocytic cells that are involved in immune reactions in the CNS microglial nodules formation of clusters of activated microglia around foci of necrotic brain tissue

Micrographia
Small, cramped handwriting

MID (Multi-Infarct Dementia)
Multi-infarct dementia is a form of dementia caused by a number of small blood clots (emboli) in the brain that starve the brain cells of oxygen. Also known as Vascular Dementia.

Midbrain (mesencephalon)
Rostral aspect of the brainstem located between the pons and the diencephalon

Middle cerebellar peduncle (brachium pontis)
Paired bundle of fibres originating from the pontine nuclei, decussating in the base of the pons, and ending in the contralateral cerebellar cortex

Middle cerebral artery
The artery that most frequently becomes blocked and causes stroke

Middle cranial fossa
Butterfly-shaped portion of the internal base of the skull housing the temporal lobes laterally and the pituitary centrally

Migraine
Migraine is a severe form of a headache, usually one sided and frequently associated with nausea and vomiting. There might be warning symptoms beforehand that usually affect the eyesight and are known as an "aura".

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
Cognitive changes intermediate between normal aging and clinically diagnosed Alzheimer disease; identifies individuals believed to be at risk for Alzheimer disease

Millard-Gubler syndrome
Ipsilateral lateral rectus palsy, ipsilateral peripheral facial palsy, and contralateral hemiplegia due to a ventral pontine lesion affecting the abducens and facial nerve fascicles and corticospinal tract

Miosis
Pupillary constriction

Mitochondrial myopathies
Neuromuscular diseases caused by damage to the mitochondria (small, energy-producing structures found in every cell in the body

MLD
Moderate Learning Difficulties

Mollaret meningitis
Benign recurrent aseptic meningitis

Monoplegia
Paresis or paralysis affecting one limb only

Mononeuropathy multiplex (mononeuritis multiplex)
Condition associated with various systemic disorders (e.g., diabetes, polyarteritis nodosa) characterized by isolated damage to two or more nerves; a multifocal peripheral neuropathy

Monroe-Kellie doctrine
Doctrine stating that an increase in the volume of any of its three components (brain, blood, or CSF) or the addition of a space-occupying lesion (e.g., tumour) occurs at the expense of the volume of the other components; once the components have redistributed as much as they can, any further increase in volume results in increased intracranial pressure

Moro reflex
Normal neonatal reflex consisting of symmetric abduction followed by adduction of both arms, elicited by gently allowing the back of the head to drop; present during the first 4-6 months of life

Motor
Relating to movement

Motor neglect
Inability to look or reach toward left-sided objects

Motor neurons
Nerve cells that direct movement

Motor neuron disease
Dysfunction of alpha motor neurons; motor neuronopathy

Motor unit
Motor neuron axon and the individual muscle fibres it branches to contact

Moyamoya disease
Is a rare, progressive 'cerebrovascular disorder' caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain in an area called the basal ganglia. The disease usually affects children but can also affect adults.

Muller�s muscle
Eyelid muscle innervated by the sympathetic nervous system that functions to elevate the upper eyelid; interruption of these sympathetic fibres results in the ptosis that is part of Horner's syndrome.

Multi-infarct dementia
Form of vascular dementia involving deterioration of mental function caused by infarcts in multiple brain regions

Multiple sclerosis
Inflammatory demyelinising disease with relative axonal sparing of the central nervous system usually characterized by recurrent attacks of focal and multifocal neurological disability

Multisystems atrophy (MSA)
A degenerative neurological disorder associated with the degeneration of nerve cells in specific areas of the brain. This cell degeneration causes problems with movement, balance and autonomic functions of the body such as bladder control.

Muscle spindle
Stretch receptor in vertebrate muscle that is innervated by both sensory and motor neurons axons and sends proprioceptive information about the muscle to the central nervous system

Muscle stretch reflex
Two-neuron reflex in which a sensory neurons senses muscle extension and provides direct excitatory feedback to a motor neurons innervating the same muscle, causing the muscle to contract

Muscle tone
The degree of tension in a muscle when at rest

Mutism
Inability to produce any verbal utterance; may be due to disordered language, speech, or voice

Myasthenia gravis
Myasthenia gravis or ��grave muscle weakness�� is an autoimmune neuromuscular condition affecting the muscles in the body causing varying degrees of weakness. Myasthenia gravis is caused by the body�s immune system attacking the nerves supplying the muscles.

Mycotic aneurysm
Infective aneurysm typically developing distal to the Circle of Willis and reflecting local bacterial or fungal intramural growth with rupture of the vascular wall

Mydriasis
Pupillary dilation

Myelencephalon
see medulla

Myelin
Fatty substance forming an insulating sheath around axons to increase the velocity of action potential conduction

Myelitis
Inflammatory disease of the spinal cord

Myelogram
Diagnostic procedure in which contrast material is injected into the spinal subarachnoid space allowing visualization of the spinal cord and nerve roots

Myelomeningocele
Form of spina bifida in which there is herniation of meninges and spinal cord parenchyma through defective posterior arches

Myelopathy
Symptoms and signs associated with spinal cord compression

Myocardial infarction
The medical term for a heart attack

Myoclonus
Sudden, shock-like, jerking contraction of a group of muscles

Myokymia
Involuntary repetitive contractions of muscle fibres lasting a few seconds and giving a continuous rippling or undulating appearance to the overlying skin; associated with nerve irritation

Myopathy
Myopathy or �muscle disease� is a neuromuscular disorder caused by damage to muscle fibres which results in muscle weakness and impaired function

Myotonia
Muscle disorder characterized by abnormally prolonged contraction (delayed relaxation of the muscle after a forceful contraction)


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