Receptors and Sense Organs

A sensory receptor is a neuron that detects stimuli. There are many kinds of sensory receptors. These receptors can be categorized based on the type of stimuli to which they respond.

• Mechanoreceptors respond to movement, pressure, and tension.

• Photoreceptors respond to variations in light.

• Chemoreceptors respond to chemicals.

• Thermoreceptors respond to changes in temperature.

• Pain receptors respond to tissue damage.

Sensory receptors are found in higher concentrations in the sense organs than in other parts of the body. When the sensory receptors of a particular sense organ receive appropriate stimulation, they convert the stimulus into electrical signals, or action potentials. These electrical signals are sent to specific regions of the brain. The action potentials generated by the different sense organs are electrically similar. So, how can a person know if the stimulation is a blue sky or a loud noise? The regions of the brain where the action potentials are interpreted vary according to the type of stimulus.

The brain has a specific region for each sense. Thus, signals received by the vision region of the occipital lobe are interpreted by the brain as images, even if the actual stimulus was something else. For example, a blow to the eye makes a person "see stars." The pressure of the blow stimulates visual neurons. The brain interprets this pressure as an image.

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