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Sensory Receptors
Next Generation: MS.LS1.8 MS.LS1.8

Sensory Receptors

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Description:

This lesson will discuss the main categories of sensory receptors and their pathways.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

Welcome to this lesson today on sensory receptors. Today you are going to be learning about the six different types of sensory receptors, and also discussing a little bit about what the purpose of the sensory system is. Specifically, you will be look at:

  1. Defining the Sensory System
  2. Different Sensory Receptors

1. Defining the Sensory System

Our sensory system is a system that detects stimuli that we encounter around us and then converts that them into a nerve impulse. These are then sent to the brain or spinal cord to produce a sensation (an awareness of a stimulus that you encounter) or perception (the understanding of what that sensation means).

Terms to Know

    • Sensory System
    • A system that detects stimuli, converts it to a nerve impulse and sends it to the brain to be interpreted.
    • Sensation
    • The awareness of a stimulus.
    • Perception
    • The understanding of a sensation.

Big Idea

If you think of any type of stimulus that you can encounter, a sensation is the detection of a stimulus while perception is the understanding actually what the sensation means.


2. Different Sensory Receptors

A stimulus will activate a receptor and a receptor will convert that stimulus to a nerve impulse, and then that nerve impulse will travel to the brain and be interpreted or perceived. There are six different types of receptors found within the human body: mechanoreceptors, thermal receptors, nociceptors, chemoreceptors, osmoreceptors, and photoreceptors.

The purpose of mechanoreceptors is to detect changes in pressure, position, and acceleration.

IN CONTEXT
So if somebody were to tap you on the shoulder, the mechanoreceptors in your skin would detect that change in pressure, and you would actually be able to know that somebody was tapping you on the shoulder.

Term to Know

Mechanoreceptor

A sensory receptor that detects pressure, position and acceleration.

As the name indicates, thermal means heat, so thermal receptors can detect temperature. Many thermoreceptors are located within the skin and can detect both heat and cold temperatures.

Term to Know

    • Thermoreceptor
    • A sensory receptor that detects temperature changes (hot and cold).

Nociceptors are free nerve endings that are found throughout our body, especially within your skin and various connective tissues, that help to detect tissue damage.

IN CONTEXT
If you were to prick yourself with a pin, nociceptors would be the receptors that are sensitive to pain. So you would feel the pain because of those types of receptors throughout your body.

Term to Know

Nociceptor

A sensory receptor that detects pain.

If you think of the word chemo, it reminds you of chemistry or chemicals so chemoreceptors detect chemicals that are dissolved in fluids or gases. Our sense of smell and taste are very prominent chemical senses of the human body.

IN CONTEXT
Chemoreceptors on our tongue or in our mouth allow us to taste the different foods that we're eating and chemoreceptors in our nose allow us to detect specific odor molecules within the air we breath.

Term to Know

Chemoreceptors

A sensory receptor that detects chemicals dissolved in liquids or gases.

If you think about osmo, water, osmoreceptors detect changes in water volume and the solute concentration of our body fluids. Changes in the solute concentration of our bodily fluids need to be closely monitored as they can change very rapidly. Osmoreceptors are both sensitive to increases or decreases in our body fluid composition.

Term to Know

    • Osmoreceptors
    • A sensory receptor that detects changes in water volumes and therefore changes in solute concentrations.

Photo means light, so photo receptors detect visible light. As you can imagine, these come into play especially with the retina of your eyes. There are two major types of photoreceptors, cones and rods, that allow us to detect a wide variety of light spectrums.

Term to Know

    • Photoreceptors
    • A sensory receptor that detects visible light.



Summary

This lesson has been an overview on the sensory system, and the six different types of sensory receptors throughout the body.  Remember, the sensory system detects stimuli and converts them into nerve impulses.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR AMANDA SODERLIND

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Photoreceptors

    A sensory receptor that detects visible light.

  • Osmoreceptors

    A sensory receptor that detects changes in water volumes and therefore changes in solute concentrations.

  • Chemoreceptors

    A sensory receptor that detects chemicals dissolved in liquids or gases.

  • Nociceptor

    A sensory receptor that detects pain.

  • Thermoreceptor

    A sensory receptor that detects temperature changes (hot and cold).

  • Mechanoreceptor

    A sensory receptor that detects pressure, position and acceleration.

  • Perception

    The understanding of a sensation.

  • Sensation

    The awareness of a stimulus.

  • Sensory System

    A system that detects stimuli, converts it to a nerve impulse and sends it to the brain to be interpreted.