Adrenal Gland

Adrenal Gland and Kidney

The adrenal glands are found on top of the kidneys. These glands interact with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, both found in the brain, to secrete hormones that assist in regulating metabolism and stress. Adrenal glands can be divided into the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla.

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EEOC on Wikimedia Commons


Myoglobin 3D structure

Myoglobin is a protein that all humans have which carries oxygen, deposited in tissue by hemoglobin, to the muscle tissues.

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AzaToth on Wikimedia Commons

Epinephrine (Adrenaline)

Chemical structure of epinephrine

When a human finds her- or himself under emotional or physical stress, the brain of the individual signals the adrenal glands to secrete the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. This hormone makes the heart rate increase, which in turn increases oxygen circulation to muscles. With more oxygen, muscles are able to react faster. This is one physiological process that epinephrine facilitates. Researchers are currently determining other processes that this hormone is engaged in.

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Acdx on Wikimedia Commons


Mineralocorticoids are hormones that regulate the concentration of minerals in the body. Similar to eicosanoids, which regulate water re-absorption in the kidneys, certain mineralocorticoids regulate sodium re-absorption in the kidneys.

Alpha Cell

Like beta cells, alpha cells are found in the pancreas. When the blood glucose level dips too low, the body tells alpha cells to make and release a hormone called glucagon, which travels to and tells the liver to release glucose into the blood for energy.

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)

The hormone ACTH or Adrenocorticotropic hormone, through a series of complex processes, regulates the secretion of glucocorticoids - another hormone in humans that assists with metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates.


Norepinphrine is a hormone very similar to epinephrine (AKA adrenaline). The two hormones are secreted by the adrenal glands, specifically the adrenal medulla, as a response to emotional or physical stress. They both inhibit 'non-essential' processes and increase metabolic rates. Norepinphrine in particular constricts blood vessels to increase blood pressure.


Glucocorticoids are 21-carbon corticosteroids produced by the adrenal cortex (on the edge of the adrenal glands). They affect carbohydrate and protein metabolism, as well as water and electrolyte balance. These molecules have anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive activity. Some of their actions are at the level of gene regulation.

Face Recognition

"Face recognition is an experience-expectant process. This term refers to the development of skills and abilities that are common to all members of the species, and that depend on exposure to certain experiences occurring over a particular period of time." Therefore, it is assumed that exposure to faces provides an adaptive advantage, as it allows individuals to identify familiar people as well as infer emotional messages from facial expressions. The inferotemporal cortex has been found to be the main region of the brain responsible for recognition of faces.

Mirror Neurons

Mirror neurons are neurons that mirror the emotional and physical experiences of others within oneself. Located in frontal lobe of the brain, they help us learn new tasks and recognize familiar ones others do. They allow people and animals to personally experience what they see others doing such as smiling or crying. Although research is still in development it appears that the system of mirror neurons is the basis for the ability to empathize.


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