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Sensory System

Transmits sensory information collected by


receptors to the CNS
Outline
1- General principles of sensory physiology
2- The somatosensory System
3- Olfaction
4- Taste
5- Hearing and Equilibrium
6- Vision

Outline
1- General principles of sensory physiology
2- The somatosensory System
3- Olfaction
4- Taste
5- Hearing and Equilibrium
6- Vision

1- General Principles of Sensory Physiology

Receptor physiology
Sensory pathways
Sensory coding

Sensory receptors
Somatic

-- Chemoreceptors (taste,
smell, smell)
-- Thermoreceptors
(temperature)
-- Photoreceptors (vision)
-- Baroreceptors (sound,
balance)
-- Proprioreceptors (muscle
stretch)
Visceral

-- Chemoreceptors
(chemicals in blood,
osmoreceptors)
-- Baroreceptors (blood
pressure)

Sensory transduction
Receptors transform
an external signal into
a membrane potential

Two types of receptor
cells:
- a nerve cell
- a specialized
epithelial cell


Figure 10.2
Two types of sensory receptors

Receptor adaptation
Tonic receptors
-- slow acting, -- no adaptation:
continue to for impulses as long as
the stimulus is there
(ex: proprioreceptors)

Phasic receptors
-- quick acting, adapt: stop firing
when stimuli are constant (ex:
smell)

Sensory coding
A receptor must convey
the type of information it
is sending the kind of
receptor activated
determined the signal
recognition by the brain

It must convey the
intensity of the stimulus
the stronger the
signals, the more
frequent will be the APs
It must send information
about the location and
receptive field,
characteristic of the
receptor
Sensory
pathways
The sensory pathways
convey the type and
location of the sensory
stimulus

The type: because of the
type of receptor activated

The location: because the
brain has a map of the
location of each receptor

Outline
1- General principles of sensory physiology
2- The somatosensory System
3- Olfaction
4- Taste
5- Hearing and Equilibrium
6- Vision

Figure 10.6
The Somatosensory System
Types of receptors
- Mechanoreceptors:
-- Proprioreceptors in tendons, ligaments
and muscles body position
-- Touch receptors in the skin: free nerve endings,
Merkels disks and Meissners corpuscles (superficial
touch), hair follicles, Pacinian corpuscles and Ruffinis
ending

- Thermoreceptors: Warm receptors (30-45
o
C) and
cold receptors (20-35
o
C)

- Nociceptors: respond to noxious stimuli

Figure 10.13
Skin touch receptors

Figure 10.15
Pain perception
Fast pain: sharp and well localized, transmitted
by myelinated axons

Slow pain: dull aching sensation, not well
localized, transmitted by unmyelinated axons

Visceral pain: not as well localized as pain
originating from the skin pain impulses travel
on secondary axons dedicated to the somatic
afferents referred pain

Figure 10.16a
Referred pain

Figure 10.16b
What is Phantom pain?
Outline
1- General principles of sensory physiology
2- The somatosensory System
3- Olfaction
4- Taste
5- Hearing and Equilibrium
6- Vision

Olfaction
Specialized neurons present in
the olfactory epithelium in the
nose.
They project cilia into a mucus
layer. The cilia are able to bind
to odorant molecules the
binding triggers an AP which is
transmitted to the olfactory
area of the olfactory bulb
olfactory cortex (lower frontal
area and limbic system of the
brain

Each olfactory receptor is
specialized for 1 odorant
molecule
Outline
1- General principles of sensory physiology
2- The somatosensory System
3- Olfaction
4- Taste
5- Hearing and Equilibrium
6- Vision

Taste
Receptors for taste
are modified epithelial
cell present in taste
buds located on the
tongue, roof of the
mouth and pharynx
Four primary types of taste receptors :
sour, salt, sweet and bitter (and a new
one: umami)
The binding of the receptor to a taste
molecule triggers the entry of calcium in
the cell release of neurotransmitter in a
synapse with a neuron
Taste receptors
Neural pathway
Taste impulses travel through nerves VII,
IX and X to a gustatory nucleus in the
medulla oblongata (cross over)
thalamus gustatory cortex located in the
parietal lobe in the mouth area.

What is the flavor of food?
Outline
1- General principles of sensory physiology
2- The somatosensory System
3- Olfaction
4- Taste
5- Hearing and Equilibrium
6- Vision

Figure 10.37
Hearing - Equilibrium

Hearing
Sounds are waves of compressed air traveling
through space
- sound intensity wave height
- pitch wave frequency


Organ of hearing (and equilibrium)
inner ear
Cochlea



Vestibular
apparatus
Hearing
1- The sound waves enter the
external auditory canal and
trigger vibrations of the
tympanic membrane
2- The tympanic membrane
induces a vibration of the
ossicles
3- the last ossicle, the stapes,
transmits amplified vibrations
to the oval window
4- The vibrations induce waves in
the perilymph of the various
inner ear chambers
5- the round window absorbs
excess energy and prevent
wave reverberation
6- the fluid wave is transduced
into an electrical signal by the
auditory receptors, the organs
of Corti located on the basilar
membrane
Receptors for sound: the organ of Corti
The hair cells of the
organ of Corti transduce
fluid wave into an
electrical signal
The energy of the wave
causes the basilar and
vestibular membrane to
move, thus displacing the
cilia from the organ of
Corti

Signal transduction
Movements of the cilia open or
close potassium channels
changes in the state of
polarization of the hair cell

Changes in potassium leakage
due to cilia bending trigger
changes in neurotransmitters
exocytosis

The neurotransmitters send an
electrical signal to an afferent
neuron of the cochlear nerve

The louder the sound, the more
the cilia bend, the more numerous
are the APs produced
Coding for pitch
The location of the
organs of Corti on the
basilar membrane codes
for pitch

- Organs of Corti located
near the oval window are
more sensitive to high
pitch sounds while the
ones located toward the
tip of the cochlea respond
more readily to low pitch
sound
Coding for sound intensity
Neural pathway for sounds
Cochlear nerve nucleus in medulla
oblongata thalamus auditory cortex
in the temporal lobe


So, how do we perceive the direction from
which a sound is coming from?
Equilibrium
Ability to detect head
position and movement
(or acceleration)

- Change of speed = linear
acceleration (utricle and
saccule)
- Turning = rotational
acceleration (semi-
circular canals)
Utricle and saccule
Sensory cells have cilia
extending into a
gelatinous material
topped by otoliths

Saccule detects
backward-frontward
movement
Utricle detects changes
relative to gravity
Figure 10.46ac

Semi-circular canals
The receptors in the
ampulla are hair cells with
cilia extruding into a
gelatinous mass (cupula)

When the head rotates,
the cupula moves cilia
pulled APs (vestibular
nerve cerebellum )
So why does a person become dizzy after
he/she stops spinning?

Outline
1- General principles of sensory physiology
2- The somatosensory System
3- Olfaction
4- Taste
5- Hearing and Equilibrium
6- Vision

Vision
The eye can only
perceive a small
portion of the
spectrum of
electromagnetic
waves
Vision
In order to see an object:
- 1- the pattern of the object must fall on the
vision receptors (rods and cones in the retina)
accommodation

- 2- the amount of light entering the eye must be
regulated (too much light will bleach out the
signals)

- 3- the energy from the waves of photons must
be transduced into electrical signals

- 4- The brain must receive and interpret the
signals
Accommodation
It is the process of adjusting the shape of
the lens so that the external image fall
exactly on the retina

Figure 10.25
Accommodation


Object is far the lens flattens
Object is near the lens rounds
Accommodation abnormalities
Myopia
Hyperopia
Astigmatism: the cornea is irregular
irregular pattern of vision
Presbyopia: stiffening of the lens occurring
with aging increased difficulty with near
vision
Figure 10.27ab
Figure 10.27c
Regulation of the amount of light entering
the eye
The iris controls the
amount of light
entering the eye
cavities
The contraction of
radial or circular
smooth muscles
located within the iris
permit changes in the
pupil diameter


Figure 10.28a
Figure 10.27b
Eye abnormalities
Glaucoma
Cataract
Retinal structure
Three cell layers:

-- outer layer:
photoreceptors- rods and
cones

-- middle layer: bipolar
neurons

-- inner layer: ganglion cells
Phototransduction
Photons hit the pigment
of a photoreceptor
enzymes are activated
in the cell which modify
its state of polarization
the signals are sent to
visual area of the occipital
lobe of the brain through
the optic nerve
Figure 10.31
Figure 10.33b
Neural processing
The bipolar neurons and ganglion cells
process the signal
In the fovea where the acuity is the
highest: 1 cone 1 bipolar cell 1
ganglion cell
At the periphery: many rods 1 bipolar
cell acuity is much decreased
Other cells in the retina participate in
signal processing
Figure 10.36
Neural pathway
The right visual
field maps on
the left visual
cortex and vice
versa


Neural pathway
What will happen if the left
optic nerve is severed?

What will happen if a person
has a tumor in the pituitary
gland (just below the optic
chiasmata) and the inner fibers
are destroyed?

What will happen if a person
suffers a brain tumor on the
right side of the brain around
the lateral geniculate body?
Depth of perception
The images from the
2 eyes are needed for
depth of perception


Readings:
Chp. 10, p. 253-301


Not expected:
- Pain gate-control theory, p. 268.
- Phototransduction, p. 277-280