Pressure And Temperature

Mechanoreceptors located throughout the skin make it possible to sense touch, pressure, and tension. In humans, touch receptors are concentrated in the face, tongue, and fingertips. Body hair also helps humans sense touch because bending a hair stimulates large numbers of mechanoreceptors found at the base of hair follicles in the skin.

Two types of specialized thermoreceptors in skin monitor temperature. Cold receptors are most sensitive to temperatures below 20°C. Heat receptors respond to temperatures between about 30°C and 45°C.

Pain receptors are sensory neurons located in the base of the epidermis and throughout the interior of the body. Mechanical, thermal, electrical, and chemical energy stimulate pain receptors. The type and number of pain receptors vary at different locations throughout the body. For example, the hands and mouth have high concentrations of pain receptors.

Sensory input from the surface of the body travels to the spinal cord in an orderly way. For example, sensory input from the shoulders enters dorsal root sections of the upper spinal cord. Input from the lower body enters the dorsal root sections of the lower spinal cord. Damage to a specific portion of the spinal cord results in sensory problems limited to a well-defined area of the body. This isolation of sensory problems illustrates how function is mapped throughout the nervous system. Specific areas of the brain's sensory cortex and motor cortex likewise correspond to specific body parts. Damage to specific areas of the cortex can result in isolated problems, such as numbness in part of one hand.

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