Vocabulary, concepts and resources.

Warning! this is a draft! I am seeking opinions for polishing.

Also this will be a section under continuous change as I add new things and improve the delivery of old things.

Vocabulary, Concepts, and Resources

Wikipedia warning

Relations of these definitions and concepts to others that exist.

I will be using my own definitions combined with other sources here so that I am able to capture parts of these phenomena that I want to be able to talk about (and sometimes add things that may not have been there). I will give abbreviated standard definitions, and will separate my versions or additions with an “Author’s opinion:”.

General organization.

Brain science is challenging to “wrap your brain around”. As a result I two things to define right from the start that organize this page, Minds and Brains.

Minds are first because that is how all of us understand this material first; minds are what brains do and they are generated through inheritance and experience. Minds are what human kind has struggled with for its existence and can be read about in our history, fiction, and mythology.

Brains are the new thing to you and human kind in a general sense. Prior to the modern age we encountered brains in food, war, and curiosity as a grey mass with the consistency of pudding. Brains are biological computers that generate minds as they function. They do this through integrated and networked tissues made from cells that communicate, that form systems that perceive reality, learn from it, and store memories and responses to reality.

This section will mostly contain minds for a long time because that I where I must introduce this subject from, and brains can only be introduced when a proper background is created. Anatomy, networks, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics and more are very hard to get across without something common to everyone that I can use to connect you to.

Shortcut links.


>Mental Conditions

>Psychology and it’s Objects

>>P&O subsection: Emotions and Moods

>>P&O subsection:”Tourette’s Specific”


Medical Terminology

Useful links and Resources


Mental Conditions

Anxiety Disorder

Paraphrased from the DSM-V: Mood disorders that feature excess fear, anxiety and related behaviors. Panic attacks, avoidance behaviors and other things on the flight end of fight/flight/freeze are common. Wikipedia: Anxiety disorder.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

From the DSM-V [1], “A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”. Inattention is less ability in establishing, maintaining, organizing and prioritizing attention, and objects and tasks related to attention relative to the a “normal person”. Hyperactivity and impulsivity is excessive, intense and/or unwanted behavior, actions, mannerisms, speech and/or impatience relative to a “normal person”.  Author’s opinion: additionally, a complex and innate shift in situational attentional awareness, perceptual selectivity and sensitivity, with unique prioritization of the preceding in terms of what is detected and stored or retrieved from memory. The shit that makes it hard to pay attention, organize and behavior yourself at a level considered a problem. All mental diagnoses must involve expressed distress by the patient or affected other people. Wikipedia: Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder.

Conduct Disorder (CD)

From the DSM-V [1]: A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated…” by specific criteria for a period of at least six months. Author’s opinion: A general way of interacting with the world that is aggressive, manipulative, and treats social interactions as dominance conflicts where people are resources instead of persons with the same rights and opportunities as the person with CD. Most often CD is a reasonable response to living in an aggressive, manipulative environment in an objective sense. The shit you do because of how you grew up and the shit the world did to you. All mental diagnoses must involve expressed distress by the patient or affected other people. Wikipedia: Conduct Disorder.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Paraphrasing the the DSM-V: When a person shows repeated behavioral outbursts and lack of control of aggressive impulses through verbal aggression and physical aggression. This must occur three times within 12 months. The outbursts are out of proportion in comparison to what triggered them, they are not premeditated, they are at least six years old. All mental diagnoses must involve expressed distress by the patient or affected other people. Wikipedia: Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

Major Depressive Disorder

There are multiple defined mental health conditions linked to the word depression that are in a general category called “Depressive Disorders”: Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and Substance/Medication-Induced Depressive Disorder. Author’s opinion: depression essentially involves depressed mood which filters the way people see everything into negative, pessimistic outlooks. The world sucks for some reason which becomes a generalized response to everything when it becomes pathological. This can also involve anhedonia which is when someone stops enjoying things as your positive emotions are cut off from things in memory and perception. Wikipedia: Major Depressive Disorder.

Mood Disorder

Disorders affecting mood such as depression and anxiety disorders. Author’s opinion Intermittent explosive disorder might be a mood disorder relating to anger because there are moods related to aggression. Wikipedia: Mood disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Paraphrased from the DSM-V:

Obsessions are persistent and recurring thoughts, urges and images that are unwanted and intrusive to the point that the person has to try to ignore, suppress them or eliminate them by developing compulsions to satisfy the underlying obsession.

Compulsions are repeated or ritualistic physical and mental behaviors that are performed in response to the obsession. They are often precise and detailed and must be performed in a specific way to satisfy the obsession. Compulsions are performed to satisfy the underlying emotions connected to the obsession such as anxiety or other discomforting emotions. For a diagnosis they must be unrealistic and unable to actually prevent a problem, or are excessive.

In general OCD is time consuming and interferes with a persons life when more than an hour or so a day is wasted on the obsessions and related compulsions.

Author’s opinion: OCD represents a harmful expression of perfectly natural human instincts to pay attention to particular things (obsessions) in perception that are instinctual important to us, and responses to the emotions associated with those instincts that satisfy the associated emotions (compulsions). The thing that is paid attention to, the obsession, depends on the nature of the instinct such as concern about sources of disease. The response to the emotions generated by the instinct, the compulsion, makes sense in relation to the obsession but is expressed in a harmful way.

Patterns of behavior that are similar to OCD but are sub-clinical are an individual persons instincts reflected in personality and can be harnessed as advantages when understood by the person. Wikipedia: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

OCD Types is a site with decent general information about obsessions and compulsions.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Paraphrased from the DSM-V: behavior that is angry, irritable, argumentative, defiant and/or vindictive and lasts at least six months while involving at least one non-sibling person. Wikipedia: Oppositional Defiant Disorder.


A variety of OCD commonly understood as the “religion OCD”. It is in fact not necessary to be religious in order to have this condition which begs the question, what is being obsessed about? The obsessions seem to be based on social rules, morals, ethics, punishment, atonement, and associated cultural symbols and language. Wikipedia: Scrupulosity.

Tourette Syndrome (TS)

Paraphrased from the DSM-V: a tic disorder with onset prior to the age of 18 where multiple motor and/or at least one vocal tic that vary in intensity are present for at least one year.

Author’s opinion: an increase in the function, intensity, and sensitivity of the rule-based or habit systems in the human brain. The alteration of the rule/habit systems relative to “normal” results in:

*more easily triggered physical and cognitive rules/habits

*more intensely felt emotions and sensations associated with physical and cognitive rules/habits

*more “random” activation of physical and cognitive rules/habits

The author farther believes that Tourette’s Syndrome is an example of and/or related to intergenerational regulation of human instinct and emotion in the area of social rules. This is a thing the author will attempt to defend through future posts. Wikipedia: Tourette Syndrome.


Psychology and its Objects

Attention (To be defined later)

“Autopilot puppeteer” (To be defined later)


Something done or performed.  In the context of TS these are the result of perceptual cues that indicate a response for what is in perception. This process starts with the cue, retrieves the proper response, and engages the necessary brain circuitry to engage the action. The perceptual cue can be in external sensory perception or the internal cognitive environment (“internal milieu” or internal environment). The shit you do. Wikipedia: Action.

Action, Cognitive (To be defined later)

Action, Physical (To be defined later)

Associative Process (To be defined later)

Brain (To be defined later)

Center of Attention

Objects, people, sensations, concepts, events, and many other possible things that are most immediately in perception. Whatever the senses (any of them) are immediately observing or concentrating on. Contrasted with “peripheral attention”. The part of your perception devoted to directly paying attention to shit. Wikipedia: Selective attention and visual attention.


The detailed function of the mind and brain in terms of what it does (as opposed to what it is or how it does it) from a first-person or second-person perspective. This includes felt (sensible) mental abilities and processes that have to do with knowledge and it’s use such as attention, memory and working memory, judgment & evaluation, reasoning and “computation”, problem solving & decision making, comprehension & production of language, etc (adapted from Wikipedia). The shit your brain and mind does from a users perspective. Wikipedia: Cognition.

Cognitive Bias



Actions that are taken as a result of strong emotional pressure from things in perception that attract attention at high priority relative to other things in perception (objects of Obsession in OCD). These actions are responses connected to strong negative emotions such as anxiety and “discomfort” (discomfort seperates “tourettic OCD” from anxiety based “classical OCD”). Ex: if a person comes into contact with feces or a diseased animal carcass they feel compelled to wash. The shit you absolutely have to do because of something else. Wikipedia: Compulsion.


The sustained, effortful and vigilant management, organization and use of perceptual objects, actions and processes in working memory and perception. All the shit you are carefully paying attention to right now. Wikipedia: Attention control.


The experience of being a mind formed by a brain that is not only aware, but aware of being aware and is able to put itself in a context that includes the past, future and how its actions and presence relate to things. The “stream-of-consciousness” is the immediate, in-the-moment sensation of consciousness in action and its characteristics. Wikipedia: Consciousness.

Dual Process Theory

DPT: System One

DPT:System Two


The experience of something in perception without anything actually present to stimulate a sensory system. Perceiving something that is not really there. Hallucinations may be possible for every sensory system, and not just sight and hearing as are often mentioned. Wikipedia: Hallucination.

Internal Milieu



Mental condition

A specific form that a feature of the mind or cognition can take, where that feature is a category and a number of forms of that category exist. Usually negative in emotional meaning, this term should actually be neutral because conditions can be good or bad, positive or negative. Ex: Optimism and pessimism are both mental conditions within the category of emotional dispositions, attitude, or worldview. Depression is a mental condition creates a negative, pessimistic, and hopeless outlook. This is the shit that shapes how your mind does shit.

Mental Disorder

Author’s opinions: Mental disorder is a term that is often used interchangeably with mental condition. While mental condition is technically neutral and has a negative connotation because of society, mental disorder is explicitly negative because it defines a mental difference as abnormal. If anything called a mental disorder is actually a natural difference in human behavioral regulation this term will not be appropriate for those mental conditions. Wikipedia: Mental Disorder.


A type of non-literal language where one thing is said to be another thing in order to emphasize similarities between the things in an emotionally and conceptually effective way. Wikipedia: Metaphor.





Having to do with Neurology, the medical subject of dealing with disorders of the nervous system and all of it’s sub-systems. Wikipedia: Neurology.


Authors opinion: A category of perceptual information that a person’s attention is drawn to more strongly than other categories. This attraction to the category is often strong enough that it will enter a persons mind without prompting. If this occurs to a level that interferes with a persons life this phenomena is called “intrusive thoughts”. Examples of obsessions that often come with TS include aggression, violence, sex, religion (authors opinion: religion= social rules). Other common obsessions includes germs and security. Related Wikipedia: Fixation (there is no obsession article).


Authors opinion: the current image of reality that is the focus of a persons attention. This image can be a “picture” of any sense including vision (visual image), smell (image of odor environment), touch (image of current physical contact), hearing (image of current sound environment) and less commonly considered senses such as where ones limbs are relative to one another. Wikipedia: Perception.

Perceptual Object

Peripheral Attention

Contrasted with “center of attention”. Objects, people, sensations, concepts, events, and many other possible things that are outside of the center of attention, but still within awareness. These things are often monitored unconsciously. Ex: During a conversation in a crowded room you still react to your name being spoken in your peripheral attention. Also see “zombie brain”. Wikipedia: Unconscious cognition.


Psychology is the science of mental functions and behaviors. Psychologists try to define and understand phenomena like perception, intelligence, cognition, motivation, the unconscious and other phenomena that can be defined in terms of behaviors and functions that can be observed and defined from the outside, as opposed to anatomy-focused sciences such as neurobiology. Psychology is still heavily informed by and involved with anatomy and cell biology phenomena. Wikipedia: Psychology.


Rule-Based Process

Author’s opinion: a quality associated with human behavior that describes the features of the brain, mind, and behavior that involve the relationships between objects such that an action/operation or series of actions/operations occur when a particular stimulus or input is detected. For example a response tied to an object in perception (blocking a swinging fist), symbols in perception (words recall the rules of grammar that determine proper symbol interaction for understanding and response), or cellular and anatomic events that trigger responses in other cells or tissues in parts of the brain.

This is in contrast to the association-based qualities in human behavior that make up the “glue” that binds a particular object or symbol to a rule or emotional meaning such as the relatively arbitrary connections between specific text and sounds that make up the definitions of words. Wikipedia:Implicit memory, Procedural memory. Note that when considering dual process theory it is the slow, conscious system two that is considered the rule-based process because dual process theory looks at the brain/mind from the point of view of consciousness. In this way of framing things the implicit system one seems associative because we do not have conscious access to the stored rules so an association seems tied to a simple reaction.



An object consisting of a set of interacting and interdependent parts. In a brain science context a system can be a great many things including human behavior systems (a system that produces social rules for example), psychological systems (an external view of a defined behavior like how threat response works), and collections of anatomy that are involved in specific behavior (the “rule-based language system”). Wikipedia: System.

Working Memory

Zombie Brain

A way of referring to the collection of the parts of the mind that process the parts of decision making that are at the unconscious level. These are things you “do automatically”. Some are always done outside of conscious awareness, others start as things you consciously pay attention to when new and then become unconscious habit over time. Also see “peripheral attention”. Wikipedia: Implicit memory, procedural memory.

P&O subsection: Emotions and Moods


A state of inner distress, nervous behavior and obsessive thought. Usually focused on worry, dread, and unhappiness that is generalized and unfocused, instead of focused on something like fear (an emotion instead of a mood). Author’s opinion: serves a similar function to pain except that the environment is damaged instead of the person, so potential problems in the future are feared. A mood. The agitated and excitable-type shit you feel because something is wrong or you want to prevent something from being wrong. Wikipedia: Anxiety.


Author’s opinion: As a mood depression is a state of negative feeling like an extended sadness, is a perceptual filter that affects thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and contributes to avoidance of activity. While in this state other negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness are more common. The state is meant to enable a person to focus on the problem that causes it, but if depression loses focus on what triggered it a depressive disorder can result. Wikipedia: Depression.
Author’s opinion: Emotions are:

1) A system of tagging experiences in perception with information meant to associate meaning with objects so that experience and memory can connect objects, environments, situations, symbols, people and more with meaning and behavioral responses.

2) In the mind it is the the sensed computational representation of the body and it’s status (health, injury, needs, fight/flight/freeze…), and how the body is related to itself, objects, people, non-people, environments, situations, and more as experiences are stored as memory and proper/potential responses. Wikipedia: Emotion.

Emotional Reaction

Fast, automatic felt responses to what is in perception being compared to memories that indicate how one should react to what is in perception, or similar responses to simple basic and serious things like injury. It is a combination of emotions and the concept of arousal. Wikipedia: Arousal.


Behaviors or automatic reactions to specific situations or objects in perception that are programmed or “hard wired” into an organism and do not need to be taught. Wikipedia: Instinct.


Moods function in long term emotional regulation. Where emotions are rapid “in the moment” sensations, moods are lasting versions and serve to maintain an emotional context over longer periods. Mood disorders are where moods become harmful to an affected person or other people somehow. For example they can become broadly connected to experience instead of connected to specific things as in some clinical depression. They can also have intensity problems or change in ways that do not match the context that an affected person is in. Wikipedia: Mood.


A natural and normal sensation, or altered sensation in scientific or medical terms, where a person feels an intense need to do something as a result of internal homeostatic/cognitive reasons, or as a response to external perceptual information or sensations. Wikipedia: Impulse.

P&O subsection:”Tourette’s Specific”

“Voices without words”/”Orders without words”

The emotional sensations associated with the urge to tic, pay attention to a compulsion, or engage in an obsession. For tics these are called “premonitory urges”, but the category of feeling is the same. These sensations come with information for specific things that should be done and result in discomfort until the instructions are carried out. The shit you feel when you act or react on instinct or “without thought”. Wikipedia: Sensory phenomena.


When a person feels an irresistible or nearly irresistible urge to say insulting, racist, sexist, blasphemous, or other socially inappropriate speech. Wikipedia: Coprolalia.


When a person feels an irresistible or nearly irresistible urge to do an action that is considered socially wrong or offensive. Wikipeida: Copropraxia.


1) A metaphor for human problems that anthropomorphizes a problem and separates it from people.

2) Mythological explanations for human problems that serve several purposes. First they give explanations for psychological phenomena that a person can not help and feel forced or like they have an external source. Second, even when literally believed in they are a psychological means of reducing or redirecting blame for problems. This is also used against sociopolitical opponents to change the way the actions and beliefs of those opponents are viewed. Wikipedia: Demon.


When a person feels an irresistible or nearly irresistible urge to mimic what another person says. Wikipedia: Echolalia.


When a person feels an irresistible or nearly irresistible urge to mimic what another person does. Wikipedia: Echopraxia.

Malleus Maleficarum

An instruction book for prosecuting witches written by a German Catholic clergyperson and published in Speyer, Germany in 1487. This book contributed to brutal parts of what is called “The Inquisition” or “The Spanish Inquisition” during the 16th and 17th centuries. The title roughly translates to “The Witches Hammer”. Some of the justification for prosecuting witches in the books was based on evidence presented as demon possession, in this case a couple of priests. The behavior of the priests is consistent with Tourette Syndrome. Wikipedia: Malleus Maleficarum.


When a person feels an irresistible or nearly irresistible urge to repeat parts of speech such as syllables, words and phrases. Wikipedia: Palilalia.

Premonitory urge

In Tourette’s Syndrome these are the emotional/physical sensations that represent the urge to tic. They are “unvolentary” in that they can be resisted, but resistance results in a buildup of tension and stress until the tic is finally performed. Author’s opinion: some current research shows that tics and OCD compulsions share many features and may be different manifestations of the same thing* and I agree with this. The feelings associated with the urge to tic are not much different from the urge to focus on a particular thing (obsession) or engage in a particular mental or physical ritual (compulsion) and the “computational logic” seems to be the same while the source of emotion driving the behavior changes. Wikipedia: Sensory phenomena.

*Repetitive behaviours in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome: tics, compulsions, or both?

Worbe Y et al. PLoS One. 2010 Sep 24;5(9):e12959.

“Reverse Hallucination”

Author’s opinion (I made the term up): a way of framing and describing the experience of Toruette’s Syndrome that emphasizes the fact that it involves the objective perception of reality being intact, but the subjective emotions associated with perception of reality are different from the average population. Feelings about things instead of objective perception of things. Wikipedia: Sensory phenomena.

Sensory Hypersensitivity

More recently described as the “Ariana Effect”* in skin/body senses, this describes the fact that people with autism and Tourette’s syndrome feel an increase in the intensity associated with perception of reality. “Feelings” associated with perception are increased in intensity in more than one domain of perception. There is a difference between autistic sensory hypersensitivity and tourettic sensory hypersensitivity that this author does not feel that he can accurately describe except to say that the autistic version may involve the visual system when considering autistic savants that can remember and reproduce a vast amount of visual detail. The tourettic version will be covered in blog posts. Related Wikipedia: Sensory processing disorder.

*Towards objectively quantifying sensory hypersensitivity: a pilot study of the “Ariana effect“.

Panagopoulos VN et al. PeerJ. 2013 Aug 1;1:e121.

*Sensory sensitivity to external stimuli in Tourette syndrome patients.

Belluscio BA et al. Mov Disord. 2011 Dec;26(14):2538-43.


Simple (blinking, barking) or complex (a series of physical movements, a repeated phrase) physical or vocal behaviors that are carried out repeatedly, sometimes to a level that is pathological. Tics can be based on one’s own behavior, or can be based on the behavior of others as is seen in echolalia (repeating the sounds/words of another person), and echopraxia (repeating the movements of another person). Wikipedia: Tics.


A a terms referring to the description of the sensations of the premonitory urges in Tourette’s Syndrome that lead to tics (and probably compulsions). The term refers to the fact that the sensations feel like powerful urges to do something that can be resisted, but if resisted result in a buildup of emotional and physical intensity and discomfort until the urge results in the associated action. Wikipedia: Sensory phenomena.


Medical terminology




Genetic Mapping





Useful links and Resources

National Institutes of Health website. An excellent source for general health related information and resources with sections for everyone from children to research professionals. For example if you do a search on [glossary] and add other terms you can get definitions for all sorts of useful things. Some of these glossaries are collected here: Medical and Science Glossaries.


WebMD Dictionary. This is a medical dictionary associated with the popular website WebMD



[1] American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5.

Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.


One response to “Vocabulary, concepts and resources.

  1. Pingback: Getting into a rhythm… | A Demon Speaks

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