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Sensory receptors are specialized cells or cell processes that monitor internal and external conditions. This is their function: to monitor internal and external conditions.
The sensory information picked up by the receptors goes to the CNS in the form of action potentials in a sensory (afferent) fiber (axon). This arriving information is called a sensation.
4 conditions must be satisfied in order for a sensation (general or special) to occur:
1. A Stimulus is present. (Stimulus any change in the environment)
2. A receptor or sense orgran (specialized nervous tissue) picks up the stimulus & converts it to a nerve impulse.
3. Conduction of the impulse occurs along a neural pathway from the receptor or sense organ to the brain
4. Translation of the nerve impulse into a sensation by a region of the brain; until CNS translates the impulse,
The general senses are senses of temperature, pain, touch, pressure, vibration and proprioception (body position). The receptors for the general senses are scattered throughout the body.
a. Somatic Sensory Receptors
These are housed within the body wall.
They include receptors for chemicals, temperature, pain, touch, and proprioception.
b. Visceral Sensory Receptors.
These are located within the walls of the viscera (internal organs).
They include receptors for chemicals, temperature, and pressure.
These are sometimes called interoceptors or visceroceptors.
The special senses include smell, taste, vision, equilibrium, and hearing. The receptors for the five special senses are concentration within specific structures, the sense organs.
The receptors for the special senses are located within sense organs and housed only in the head.
Today, we will talk about the structure and function of each of the special senses. First, let’s look at the different types of receptors
1. By stimulus detected
2. By location
3. By structural complexity
detect chemicals in solution (molecules tasted, smelled, etc.) including in the blood and chemical balances
detect temperature changes
detect changes in light intensity, and movement of light rays
E.g. receptors in the eye
detect physical deformation due to pressure (including blood pressure), stretch, tension, touch, or vibration
E.g. Pacinian and Meissner's corpuscles in the skin.
(baro = pressure)
detect changes in pressure. Are free nerve ending that branch within the elastic tissues in the walls of distensible organs such as a blood vessels, parts of respiratory tract, digestive tract or urinary tract.
(noceo = to hurt)
detect tissue damage (harmful stimuli that result in pain). Most receptors can become nociceptors if excessive stimulation occurs.
These are receptors in the skin or mucous membranes that line cavities tht are open to the outside of the body (e.g. nasal cavity, oral cavity, anal canal);
These also include receptors for the special senses
2. Interoceptors (also called enteroceptors or visceroceptors)
These are receptors located within the walls of the viscera.
Receptors in skeletal muscles, tendons, cartilage, & joint capsules that snes position or contraction of muscle.
Most receptors are simple.
They are usually modified dendrite endings of sensory neurons. These are associated with the general senses.
E.g. Meissner's corpuscles, Pacinian corpuscles, root hair plexuses, thermoreceptors, nociceptors, muscle spindles.
Other receptors are more complex such as the receptors in sense organs in the special senses.
The sense of vision photoreceptors in the eyes to detect light, color, and movement.
The eyeball consists of 3 layers:
1. Fibrous Tunic (Outermost layer)
2. Vascular Tunic (Middle layer or uvea)
3. Neural Tunic (Retina) (Innermost layer)
Externally is made of stratified squamous epithelium and internally is made of simple squamous epithelium.
In between the 2 layers there is a layer of regularly arranged collagen fibers called the stroma (substantia propia).
Transparent epithelial tissue on outside and deep to the dense connective tissue that covers the iris and pupil.
Has no blood vessels in cornea but lots of free nerve endings and this is why the eye is very sensitive.
Fluid from the lacrimal glands provides oxygen and nutrients to the external layer. This is why it is bad to wear contact lenses for more than 2 weeks at a time.
The aqueous fluid in the anterior chamber of the eye supplies nutrients and gases to the internal epithelium.
Assists in focusing process (the collagen fibers of the cornea are organized in a series of layers so that they do not interfere with the passage of light).
(skleros = hard)
Tough, white dense irregular connective tissue. It is the outer layer of the eye. This is the “white” of the eye.
It gives the eye shape and rigidity and protects the internal parts.
Serves as an attachment site for the extrinsic eye muscles
1. Iris & Pupil
2. Ciliary body
(iris = colored circle)
This is smooth muscle, melanocytes, and blood vessels that forms the colored portion of the eye.
Function: It regulates the amount of light entering the eye through the pupil.
It is attached to the ciliary body.
pupil is opening in center of iris through which light enters the eye. It is controlled by the iris.
This is made up of a ring of muscle called ciliary muscle and ciliary processes which are folds located at the posterior surface of ciliary bodies. The suspensory ligaments attach to these processes.
It secretes the aqueous humor
The suspensory ligaments position the lens so that light passing through the pupil passes through the center of the lens of the eye.
The middle, vascular layer in the wall of the eye.
It is a dark brown (pigmented) membrane with melanocytes that lines most of the internal surface of the sclera. Has lots of blood vessels
It lines most of the interior of the sclera.
It extends from the ciliary body to the lens.
It corresponds to arachnoid and pia mater.
It delivers oxygen and nutrients to the retina.
Helps absorb light rays so that the light rays are not reflected within the eye.
1. Pigmented layer made of a single layer of melanocytes
The pigmented layers absorbs light after it passes through the neural part.
2.Neural layer made of photoreceptors, bipolar cells, and ganglion cells.
Photoreceptors = rods and cones. These are considered neurons. Both contain a pigment called retinal which is a derivative of vitamin A.
Retina is the innermost layer of the eye, lining the posterior cavity. It is found only in posterior portion of eyeball
The retina contains 2 layers:
Are photoreceptors specialized for vision in dim light because are more sensitive to light, regardless of its wavelength
Are most dense at periphery, less numerous toward fovea
(3 types of cones-blue, green, and red)
Are photoreceptors that operate best in bright light because are sensitive to certain wavelengths.
They are specialized for color vision and sharpness of vision.
Cones are densest at the fovea a portion of the retina providing the sharpest vision. It has the highest concentration of cones. (10,000 cones, no rods),
In rear of eye, less numerous at periphery
Cones contain 3 pigments which combined produce color vision.
The rods and cones synapse with bipolar cells (neurons)
Bipolar cells synapse with ganglion cells (neurons). The axons of the ganglion cells exit the eye as the optic nerve at a point called the optic disc.
Because the optic disc does not have photoreceptors, light striking this area goes unnoticed and is called the “blind spot.”
The thick transparent biconcave disc or body lying behind the iris and pupil and in front of the vitreous humor.
Lens is held in place by ciliary body (suspensory ligament)
Function: focus the visual image on the photoreceptors (by changing its shape).
Anterior Cavity (also called anterior segment)
The segment of the eye anterior to the lens and ciliary body. extends from cornea to lens
further subdivided into anterior chamber (between cornea and iris) and posterior chamber (between iris and lens)
The segment of the eye posterior to the lens and ciliary body. behind lens
fills most of eyeball and is filled with vitreous humor.
A fluid that circulates within the anterior cavity of the eye. It is made by capillaries (choroid plexuses) in the ciliary body.
aqueous humor circulates
is reabsorbed by veins at Canal of Schlemm (near jct of
cornea and sclera)
increased pressure in aqueous humor = glaucoma
1. removes waste products
2. helps maintain the chemical environment with the anterior and posterior chambers of the eye.
3. helps nourish the lens and cornea, since neither has blood vessels.
[glaucoma is increased pressure in eye due to buildup of aqueous humor within anterior cavity. Have slow loss of peripheral vision. ]
A fluid that fills the posterior cavity of the eye. (99% water but has gelatin-like feel because also has salt, sugars, collagen fibers, and phagocytes)
It is made by epithelium covering the ciliary body (it is filtered plasma and resembles CSF)
1. maintains introcular pressure (maintains eyeball shape and prevents eyeball from collapsing)
2. Transmits light
3. keeps the retina smoothly applied to the choroid so the retina will be well nourished and form clear images
The accessory structures of the ey provide a superficial cover over its and protect the eye.
3. eyelids (palpebrae)
5. lacrimal glands & ducts
6. Extrinsic eye muscles
transparent layer of stratified squamous epithelium that covers most of the exposed surface of the eye except the transparent cornea.
It contains goblet cells whose mucin secretion lubricates and moistens the eye, especially during blinkng.
It has blood vessels that supply the sclera of the eye. You can see these in your neighbor's eye.
It is richly innervated, highly sensitive to pain
The area of the conjunctiva that lines the external, anterior surface of the eye is called the ocular conjunctiva.
The area of the conjunctiva that covers the internal surface of the eyelid is called the palepebral (PAL-pē-bral) conjunctiva.
You can see this palpebral conjunctiva if turn eyelid out. The tarsal plate of the eyelid allows it to stay in place.
These are coarse hairs on the arch of the eye
They keep sweat from dripping into the open eye.
They are also involved in nonverbal communication
The eyelids form the anterior protective covering over the surface of the eye.
When you close the eyelids it covers the surface of the eyes and distributes lacrimal fluid (tears) to clean and lubricate this surface.
Eyelids are made of
1. a thin covering of skin
2. part of the orbicularis oculi muscle
3. dense irregular and elastic connective tissue called the tarsal plate
4. tarsal muscles
5. tarsal glands (formerly called Meibomian glands)which are sebaceous glands that produce a secretion to keep your tears from overflowing from the open eye and keep the eyelids from sticking together.
The space where the eyelids are separated is called the palpebral fissure.
The areas where the eyelids meet at each corner of the eye are called the medial and lateral palpebral commissures (also called canthi)
eyelashes are guard hairs
They help keep debris out of eye
What do the lacrimal glands and ducts do?
The lacrimal gland is located on the superolateral surface of the eye.
This organ produces a dilute salt solution called lacrimal fluid (tears) that flows onto the anterior surface of the eyeball through several small ducts. It drains into the lacrimal canals and then the lacrimal sac and then into the nasolacrimal duct, which empties into the nasal cavity.
1) wash the surface of the eye and keep it moist.
2) It contains an enzyme called lysozyme that attacks and kills bacteria
These are six muscles (3 pairs) that control external eye movements. They originate in the walls of the orbit and insert on the outer surface of the eyball.
Light enters eye and are bent as pass through cornea and aqueous humor
Iris regulates size of pupil to let right amount of light through.
The lens changes shape to focus on near or far objects.
Choroid layer and pigmented layer of retina absorb excess light and keep it from scattering.
Light hits rods and cones (photoreceptors)
The photoreceptors pass the message to bipolar cells to ganglion cells within the retina.
Axons of ganglion cells exit eye as the optic nerve
A partial crossover occurs at the optic chiasma.
Optic tracts send axons to thalamus.
Thalamus sends impulses to primary visual cortex in cerebrum for conscious “seeing”
Other pathways travel to nuclei in the midbrain (visual reflex) and diencephalon (sleep/wake cycle)
The ear is divided into 3 regions: external, middle, and inner
1. Outer Ear
2. Middle Ear
3. Inner Ear (Also called labyrinth)
a. Pinna (Auricle)
outer flap of cartilage that helps direct sound and protects the opening of the external auditory canal
b. External Auditory Canal (also called external acoustic meatus)
extends from pinna to eardrum. It is lined with skin and contains ceruminous glands (secrete cerumen or ear wax), sebaceous glands, and hairs. The ear wax and hairs both help prevent foreign objects from entering.
c. Tympanic Membrane (Eardrum)
(tympanon = drum)
thin, semitransparent partition of dense connective tissue between the external auditory canal and middle ear. It transmits sound waves to the middle ear.
This is small, epithelial-lined, air-filled cavity
b. Oval window
c. Round Window
d. Eustachian Tube
These are the smallest bones in the body. They are named for their shapes. They transmit sound vibrations from the tympanic membrane to the oval window.
1. Malleus (Hammer) (malleus = hammer)
attaches to the eardrum
2. Incus (Anvil) (incus = anvil)
between the malleus and stapes (MIS)
3. Stapes (Stirrups) (stapes = stirrup)
This fits into the oval window and vibrates against the window.
This is a membrane-covered between the middle ear and vestibule.
Function: Receives sound waves from ossicles and passes them to fluid (perilymph) in vestibular duct
This is a membrane.
Function: It helps equalize pressure in the middle ear. As the oval window moves in, the round window moves out.
(also called auditory tube or pharyngotympanic tube)
This connects the middle ear with upper part of throat (pharynx) (the opening is located behind the nose and up above the tonsils)
Normally the tube is closed to the throat
1. It equalizes pressure on both sides of the eardrum.
2. Also drains mucus from middle ear
Normally closed, but when have change in atmospheric as when flying or driving in mountains, we hear a small pop, which is Eustachian tube opening to let in a small amount of air to equalize pressure between ear and atmosphere. When yawn or swallow, you pull on muscles in neck which can cause tube to open.
The inner ear can be divided into two areas called the bony labyrinth and the membranous labyrinth.
(also called the labyrinth)
a. Cochlea & Cochlear Duct (hearing)
b. Vestibule & Utricle & Saccule (Gravity & linear changes)
c. Semicircular Canals & Semicircular Ducts (Rotational movements)
The bony labyrinth consists of a series of cavities in the temporal bone, which contain a fluid called perilymph.
The membranous labyrinth is a series of sacs and tubes inside the bony labyrinth which contain a fluid called endolymph.
The bony labyrinth consists of 3 parts: cochlea, vestibule, and semicircular canals.
The membranous labyrinth consists of 3 parts: cochlear duct, utricle and saccule, and semicircular ducts.
(cochlea = snail)
The cochlea is a spiraling chamber in the bony labyrinth.
It resembles a snail shell. A cross section shows that it is divided into 3 channels or canals: including the middle channel which is the cochlear duct.
The cochlear duct has the receptors for hearing in a structure called the organ of Corti. The organ of Corti consists of hair cells and 2 membranes, the basilar membrane and tectorial membrane. (tectum = roof)
The vestibule is the central part of the bony labyrinth. It lies medial to the middle ear.
It contains the utricle (egg-shaped part in membranous labyruinth which is continuous with the semicircular ducts) and saccule (egg-shaped part in membranous labyrinth which is continuous with the cochlear duct). Both utricle and saccule each house the macula. The macula is a spot of sensory epithelium that monitors the position of the head when the head is still.
Function: static equilibrium (gravity and linear changes in motion). For example moving side to side, running and then stopping, going up in an elevator and then coming to a stop, and tilting the head.
This lies posterior and lateral to the vestibule. The semicircular ducts snakes through each semicircular canal. Each contains a swollen region, the ampulla, which contains the sensory receptors for this.
Function: The semicircular ducts respond to rotational movements of the head.
1. The outer ear collects and amplifies sound much like a megaphone does. The sound waves move to the tympanic membrane, causing the tympanic membrane to vibrate.
2. The vibration of the tympanic membrane causes movement of the auditory ossicles. This also amplifies the sound
3. The movement of the stapes pushes in and out on the oval window. This sets fluid of the inner ear in motion which also causes the round window to bulge in and out. The vibrations enter the perilymph at the oval window.
4. The pressure waves distort the basilar membrane on their way to the round window.
5. The vibration of the basilar membrane causes the vibration of hair cells of the organ of Corti against the tectorial membrane.
6. As hairs bend, this initiates nerve impulses. The greater the bending of hair cells, the greater the frequency of nerve impulses and thus, the louder the sound.
Information about the region and intensity of stimulation is relayed to the CNS over the vestibulochochlear nerve.
7. It goes to the medulla oblongata
8. and then inferior colliculus (midbrain) (auditory reflexes)
9. then to thalamus,
10. then to temporal lobe of cortex (primary auditory cortex).
There is also an Equilibrium Pathway which transmits information on position and movement o the head. Most of this info goes to the lower brain centers.
(olfacere = to smell)
The sense of smell is called olfaction. Olfaction detects chemicals in solution.
The sense of smell is provided by paired olfactory organs located in the nasal cavity on either side of the nasal septum.
Each olfactory organ consists of olfactory epithelium (which contain the receptors for smell) and olfactory glands (which secrete mucus).
The receptors that detect smell are called olfactory receptor cells. They are highly modified neurons.
Each cell contains cilia that have receptors that bind the chemicals. There are about 1000 types of smell receptors, each of which binds to a particular part of an odor molecule.
For us to smell a particular chemical, it must be volatile (in a gaseous state) when it reaches the nasal cavity.
It must also be sufficiently water soluble to dissolve in the mucus coating the olfactory epithelium.
The dissolved chemicals stimulate the olfactory receptors by binding to protein receptors in the olfactory hairs and generate nerve impulses.
The olfactory receptors synapse with neurons in the olfactory bulb.
These olfactory receptors send axons via tract to 3 areas:
1. Limbic region is involved in triggering emotions assoc w/ smells.
2. Piriform lobe of cortex where it processes olfactory info into a conscious perception of odor (without first synapsing w/ the thalamus. Olfactory stimuli are the only type of sensory information that reaches the cerebral cortex without first synapsing in the thalamus.)
3. Thalamus and then orbitofrontal cortex where smells are analyzed & compared to other
The receptors for taste are located in structures called papillae (the bumps) of the tongue, soft palate, and throat.
The papillae contain taste buds which are collections of 50-100 epithelial cells.
The taste buds contain 3 major cell types of cells including gustatory cells which are the receptor cells for taste.
The gustatory cells have microvilli (sometimes called taste hairs) that extend into a narrow opening in the taste bud called the taste pore.
For a chemical to be tasted, it must dissolve in saliva. Once in solution, these substances can then enter the taste pores and bind to protein receptors on the gustatory cells.
There are 6 primary taste sensations sour, salt, bitter, and sweet, and umami which means 'delicious'; and refers to the taste of the amino acid glutamate, whose common culinary form is MSG. the last one is water receptors which provide info to the hypothalamus and other systems that deal with water balance and the regulation of blood volume.
Once the chemicals bind to the receptors, it stimulates nerve impulses that are sent to the brain via the facial nerve (Cranial Nerve VII; carries taste sensations from anterior 2/3 of tongue), glossopharyngeal nerve (IX; carries taste sensations from back of tongue), and the vagus nerve (X; carries taste sensations from pharynx and epiglottis) .
Impulses then travel to the medulla oblongata (which can activate autonomic reflexes such as salivation, gagging, and vomiting) and then to the thalamus which relays signals to the gustatory area of the cerebral cortex in the parietal lobe.
Our sense of taste also involves our sense of smell (taste is up to 80% smell), food texture, temperature, appearance, state of mind.
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