Sensory system: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sensory system
Typical sensory system: the visual system, illustrated by the classic Gray's FIG. 722– This scheme shows the flow of information from the eyes to the central connections of the optic nerves and optic tracts, to the visual cortex. Area V1 is the region of the brain which is engaged in vision.
Latin organa sensuum

A sensory system is a part of the nervous system responsible for processing sensory information. A sensory system consists of sensory receptors, neural pathways, and parts of the brain involved in sensory perception. Commonly recognized sensory systems are those for vision, hearing, somatic sensation (touch), taste and olfaction (smell). In short, senses are transducers from the physical world to the realm of the mind.

The receptive field is the specific part of the world to which a receptor organ and receptor cells respond. For instance, the part of the world an eye can see, is its receptive field; the light that each rod or cone can see, is its receptive field.[1] Receptive fields have been identified for the visual system, auditory system and somatosensory system, so far.



Sensory systems code for four aspects of a stimulus; type (modality), intensity, location, and duration. Arrival time of a sound pulse and phase differences of continuous sound are used for localization of sound sources. Certain receptors are sensitive to certain types of stimuli (for example, different mechanoreceptors respond best to different kinds of touch stimuli, like sharp or blunt objects). Receptors send impulses in certain patterns to send information about the intensity of a stimulus (for example, how loud a sound is). The location of the receptor that is stimulated gives the brain information about the location of the stimulus (for example, stimulating a mechanoreceptor in a finger will send information to the brain about that finger). The duration of the stimulus (how long it lasts) is conveyed by firing patterns of receptors.


A stimulus modality (sensory modality) is a type of physical phenomenon that can be sensed. Examples are temperature, taste, sound, and pressure. The type of sensory receptor activated by a stimulus plays the primary role in coding the stimulus modality.

In the memory-prediction framework, Jeff Hawkins mentions a correspondence between the six layers of the cerebral cortex and the six layers of the optic tract of the visual system. The visual cortex has areas labelled V1, V2, V3, V4, V5, MT, IT, etc. Thus Area V1 mentioned below, is meant to signify only one class of cells in the brain, for which there can be many other cells which are also engaged in vision.

Hawkins lays out a scheme for the analogous modalities of the sensory system. Note that there can be many types of senses, some not mentioned here. In particular, for humans, there will be cells which can be labelled as belonging to V1, V2 A1, A2, etc.:

V1 (vision)

The human eye is the first element of a sensory system: in this case, vision, for the visual system.

Visual Area 1, or V1, is used for vision, via the visual system to the primary visual cortex.

A1 (auditory - hearing)

Auditory Area 1, or A1, is for hearing, via the auditory system, the primary auditory cortex.

S1 (somatosensory - touch and proprioception)

Somatosensory Area 1, or S1, is for touch and proprioception in the somatosensory system. The somatosensory system feeds the Brodmann Areas 3, 1 and 2 of the primary somatosensory cortex. But there are also pathways for proprioception (via the cerebellum), and motor control (via Brodmann area 4).

G1 (gustatory - taste)

Gustatory Area 1, or G1, is used for taste.

O1 (olfactory - smell)

Olfactory Area 1, or O1, is used for smell. In contrast to vision and hearing, the olfactory bulbs are not cross-hemispheric; the right bulb connects to the right hemisphere and the left bulb connects to the left hemisphere.

Human sensory system

The Human sensory system consists of the following sub-systems:

Human sensory receptors are:


Disability-adjusted life year for sense organ diseases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2002.[2]
     no data      less than 200      200-400      400-600      600-800      800-1000      1000-1200      1200-1400      1400-1600      1600-1800      1800-2000      2000-2300      more than 2300

See also


  1. ^ Kolb & Whishaw: Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology (2003)
  2. ^ "Mortality and Burden of Disease Estimates for WHO Member States in 2002" (xls). World Health Organization. 2002. 

Simple English

The sensory system controls the senses. People say the sensory system has five senses:

  1. Hearing is the sense of sound. Ears hear sounds.
  2. Sight is the sense of seeing. Eyes see.
  3. Touch is the sense of feeling. Tissue feels.
  4. Taste is the sense of the flavor. Tongues taste.
  5. Smell is the sense of scent. Noses smell.

People get information about what is around them from their senses.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address