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Nervous system: 3. The functions and types of receptor cells - our sense links to the CNS

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Sub-index of biology notes on the nervous system

A Summary of human senses


(3) The functions and types of receptor cells linked to the central nervous system

This page will answer questions e.g. How are signals from sensory organs sent to the brain?   What is a synapse? What is a sensory neuron?

Cells called receptors can detect stimuli (changes in the environment outside the organism).

Receptor cells and the stimuli they detect include:

Light receptor cells in the eyes that are sensitive to light, the light energy creates electrical signals that are sent to the brain for 'processing'.

Light receptor cells, like most animal cells, have a nucleus, cytoplasm and cell membrane.

Sound receptors in the ears that are sensitive to sound vibrations in the air

There are also balance receptors in the ears that are sensitive to changes in position and enable us to keep our balance.

The receptors on the tongue are sensitive to chemicals and enable us to taste, and therefore detect, a wide variety of different foods (bitter, salty, sour, sweet chemical stimuli etc.) or anything else in contact with the tongue - good or bad!

The receptors in the nose are also sensitive to chemicals and enable us to smell all sorts of different things which may be a pleasant or unpleasant experience.

The receptors in the skin that are sensitive to touch, pressure, pain and to temperature changes.

Receptors are sometimes grouped and function as one unit i.e. a sense organ.

A summary of human senses


Keywords, phrases and learning objectives for this part on the functions and types of receptor cells and our senses link to the CNS

Know the functions and types of receptor cells and how our senses are linked to central nervous system CNS.


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