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Chapter 10a

Sensory Physiology

Lectures by
Paul Findell
University of Texas, Austin

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About this Chapter

General properties of sensory systems


Somatic senses
Chemoreception: smell and taste
The ear: hearing
The ear: equilibrium
The eye and vision

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General Properties: Sensory Division

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Table 10-1 (1 of 2)

General Properties: Sensory Division

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Table 10-1 (2 of 2)

Sensory Pathways

Stimulus as physical energy sensory


receptor
Receptor acts as a transducer

Intracellular signal usually change in


membrane potential
Stimulus threshold action potential to
CNS
Integration in CNS cerebral cortex or acted
on subconsciously

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Somatosensory Receptors
Stimulus

Free nerve endings

Unmyelinated
axon

Cell body

(a)
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Figure 10-1a

Somatosensory Receptors
Stimulus

Enclosed nerve
ending
Layers of connective
tissue

Myelinated axon

Cell body

(b)
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Figure 10-1b

Somatosensory Receptors
Stimulus

Specialized receptor
cell (hair cell)
Synaptic vesicles
Synapse

Myelinated axon

Cell body of
sensory neuron

(c)
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Figure 10-1c

Sensory Receptors

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Table 10-2

Sensory Transduction

Stimulus energy converted into information


processed by CNS
Ion channels or second messengers initiate
membrane potential change

Adequate stimulus: Preferred form of


stimulus
Threshold: Minimum stimulus
Receptor potential: Change in sensory
receptor membrane potential

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Receptive Fields of Sensory Neurons

Primary sensory
neurons

The primary sensory neurons


converge on one secondary
sensory neuron.

Information from the


secondary receptive
field goes to the brain.

Secondary
sensory
neuron

The receptive fields of three primary sensory neurons


overlap to form one large secondary receptive field.
SECTION THROUGH SPINAL CORD

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Figure 10-2

Sensory Neurons: Two-Point Discrimination

Two-point
discrimination
varies with the
size of the
secondary
receptive field

(a)
Compass with points
separated by 20 mm

Skin surface

Primary
sensory
neurons

Secondary
sensory
neurons

One signal goes to the brain.

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Figure 10-3a

Sensory Neurons: Two-Point Discrimination

Two-point
discrimination
varies with the
size of the
secondary
receptive field

(b)
Compass with points
separated by 20 mm

Skin surface

Primary
sensory
neurons
Secondary
sensory
neurons

Two signals go to the brain.

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Figure 10-3b

Integration by CNS

Sensory information
Spinal cord to brain by ascending pathways
Directly to brain stem via cranial nerves

Visceral reflexes integrated in brain stem or


spinal cord usually do not reach conscious
perception
Perceptual threshold: level of stimulus
necessary to be aware of particular sensation

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Sensory Pathways

Each major division of the brain processes


one or more types of sensory information

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Sensory Pathways
Primary somatic
sensory cortex

Gustatory cortex

Olfactory cortex
Olfactory bulb

Auditory
cortex
Visual
cortex

Olfactory pathways from


the nose project through
the olfactory bulb to the
olfactory cortex.

Eye
Cerebellum
Nose

Thalamus

Sound
Brain
stem

Equilibrium

Tongue

Somatic
senses
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Figure 10-4, step 1

Sensory Pathways
Primary somatic
sensory cortex

Gustatory cortex

Olfactory cortex
Olfactory bulb

Auditory
cortex
Visual
cortex

Olfactory pathways from


the nose project through
the olfactory bulb to the
olfactory cortex.

Eye
2

Most sensory pathways project


to the thalamus. The thalamus
modifies and relays information
to cortical centers.

Nose

Cerebellum

Thalamus

Sound
Brain
stem

Equilibrium

Tongue

Somatic
senses
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Figure 10-4, steps 12

Sensory Pathways
Primary somatic
sensory cortex

Gustatory cortex

Olfactory cortex
Olfactory bulb

Auditory
cortex
Visual
cortex

Olfactory pathways from


the nose project through
the olfactory bulb to the
olfactory cortex.

Eye
2

Most sensory pathways project


to the thalamus. The thalamus
modifies and relays information
to cortical centers.

Equilibrium pathways project


primarily to the cerebellum.

Nose

Cerebellum

Thalamus

Sound
Brain
stem

Equilibrium
3

Tongue

Somatic
senses
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Figure 10-4, steps 13

Sensory Pathways
Primary somatic
sensory cortex

Gustatory cortex

Olfactory cortex
Olfactory bulb

Auditory
cortex
Visual
cortex

Olfactory pathways from


the nose project through
the olfactory bulb to the
olfactory cortex.

Eye
2

Most sensory pathways project


to the thalamus. The thalamus
modifies and relays information
to cortical centers.

Equilibrium pathways project


primarily to the cerebellum.

Nose

Cerebellum

Thalamus

Sound
Brain
stem

Equilibrium
3

Tongue

Somatic
senses
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Figure 10-4

Properties of Stimulus: Modality

Indicated by where
Sensory neurons are activated
Neurons terminate in brain

Specific to receptor type


Labeled line coding
1:1 association of receptor with sensation

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Properties of Stimulus: Location

According to which receptive fields are


activated
Auditory information is an exception
Sensitive to different frequencies

Lateral inhibition
Increases contrast between activated receptive
fields and inactive neighbors

Population coding
Multiple receptors functioning together

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Properties of Stimulus: Location

The brain uses timing differences rather than


neurons to localize sound

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Figure 10-5

Properties of Stimulus: Location

Lateral inhibition enhances contrast and


makes a stimulus easier to perceive
Skin

Primary neuron
response is proportional
to stimulus strength.

Primary
sensory
neurons

Pathway closest to
the stimulus inhibits
neighbors.

Secondary
neurons

Inhibition of lateral
neurons enhances
perception of stimulus.

Tertiary
neurons
A
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Frequency of action potentials

Pin

Stimulus

Frequency of action potentials

Stimulus

C
Tonic level

C
Tonic level

Figure 10-6

Properties of Stimulus

Intensity
Coded by number of receptors activated and
frequency of action potentials

Duration
Coded by duration of action potentials
Some receptors can adapt or cease to respond

Tonic receptors versus phasic receptors

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Properties of Stimulus

Sensory neurons use action potential


frequency and duration to code stimulus
intensity and duration
Transduction site

Trigger zone

Cell body

Myelinated axon

Axon terminal

Duration
(a) Moderate
stimulus

(b) Longer and


stronger
stimulus

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20
0
-20
-40

Threshold

-60
-80
0

10

10

10

10

10

Time (sec)
Membrane potential (mV)

Amplitude

Membrane potential (mV)

Stimulus

20
0
-20
-40
-60
-80
0
1

10

Receptor potential
strength and
duration vary with
the stimulus.

0
2

Receptor potential
is integrated at the
trigger zone.

Frequency of action
potentials is proportional
to stimulus intensity.
Duration of a series of
action potentials is
proportional to stimulus
duration.

Neurotransmitter
4 release varies with
the pattern of action
potentials arriving
at the axon terminal.

Figure 10-7

Tonic and Phasic Receptors

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Figure 10-8a

Tonic and Phasic Receptors

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Figure 10-8b

Somatic Senses: Modalities

Touch
Proprioception
Temperature
Nociception
Pain
Itch

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Somatic Senses Pathways

THALAMUS

MEDULLA

Fine touch,
proprioception,
vibration

Nociception,
temperature,
coarse touch

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Pain, temperature, and


coarse touch cross the
midline in the spinal cord.

KEY
Primary sensory neuron
Secondary sensory neuron
Tertiary neuron

SPINAL CORD

Figure 10-9, step 1

Somatic Senses Pathways

THALAMUS

MEDULLA

Fine touch, vibration,


and proprioception
pathways cross the
midline in the medulla.

Fine touch,
proprioception,
vibration

Nociception,
temperature,
coarse touch

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Pain, temperature, and


coarse touch cross the
midline in the spinal cord.

KEY
Primary sensory neuron
Secondary sensory neuron
Tertiary neuron

SPINAL CORD

Figure 10-9, steps 12

Somatic Senses Pathways

3 Sensory pathways
synapse in the thalamus.

3
THALAMUS

MEDULLA

Fine touch, vibration,


and proprioception
pathways cross the
midline in the medulla.

Fine touch,
proprioception,
vibration

Nociception,
temperature,
coarse touch

Copyright 2009 Pearson Education, Inc.

Pain, temperature, and


coarse touch cross the
midline in the spinal cord.

KEY
Primary sensory neuron
Secondary sensory neuron
Tertiary neuron

SPINAL CORD

Figure 10-9, steps 13

Somatic Senses Pathways


4 Sensations are perceived
in the primary somatic
sensory cortex.

3 Sensory pathways
synapse in the thalamus.

3
THALAMUS

MEDULLA

Fine touch, vibration,


and proprioception
pathways cross the
midline in the medulla.

Fine touch,
proprioception,
vibration

Nociception,
temperature,
coarse touch

Copyright 2009 Pearson Education, Inc.

Pain, temperature, and


coarse touch cross the
midline in the spinal cord.

KEY
Primary sensory neuron
Secondary sensory neuron
Tertiary neuron

SPINAL CORD

Figure 10-9, steps 14

Somatic Senses Pathways


4 Sensations are perceived
in the primary somatic
sensory cortex.

3 Sensory pathways
synapse in the thalamus.

3
THALAMUS

MEDULLA

Fine touch, vibration,


and proprioception
pathways cross the
midline in the medulla.

Fine touch,
proprioception,
vibration

Nociception,
temperature,
coarse touch

Copyright 2009 Pearson Education, Inc.

Pain, temperature, and


coarse touch cross the
midline in the spinal cord.

KEY
Primary sensory neuron
Secondary sensory neuron
Tertiary neuron

SPINAL CORD

Figure 10-9

The Somatosensory Cortex

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Figure 10-10

Touch Receptors in the Skin


Merkel receptors
sense steady pressure
and texture.

Meissners corpuscle
responds to flutter and
stroking movements.

Hair
Free nerve
ending

Free nerve ending


of hair root senses
hair movement.

Free nerve ending of


nociceptor responds
to noxious stimuli.

Hair root

Sensory nerves
carry signals to
spinal cord.

Pacinian corpuscle
senses vibration.

Ruffini corpuscle
responds to skin
stretch.

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Figure 10-11

Temperature Receptors

Free nerve endings


Terminate in subcutaneous layers
Cold receptors
Lower than body temperature

Warm receptors
Above body temperature to about 45C
Pain receptors activated above 45C

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Nociceptors

Free nerve ending


Respond to strong noxious stimulus that may
damage tissue
Modulated by local chemicals
Substance P is secreted by primary sensory
neurons
Mediate inflammatory response
Inflammatory pain

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Nociceptors Pathways

Reflexive protective response


Integrated in spinal cord
Withdrawal reflex

Ascending pathway to cerebral cortex


Becomes conscious sensation (pain or itch)

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Somatosensory Nerve Fibers

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Table 10-5

Nociceptors: Pain and Itch

Itch
Histamine activates C fibers causing itch

Pain
Subjective perception
Fast pain
Sharp and localizedby A fibers

Slow pain
More diffuseby C fibers

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The Gate-Control Theory of Pain

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Figure 10-12a

The Gate Control Theory of Pain Modulation

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Figure 10-12b

The Gate Control Theory of Pain Modulation

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Figure 10-12c

Referred Pain
Skin
(usual stimulus)

Primary sensory
neurons
Kidney
(uncommon stimulus)
(b)
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Secondary
sensory
neuron

Ascending sensory
path to somatosensory
cortex of brain

Figure 10-13b

Pain

Ischemia
Lack of adequate blood flow

Chronic pain is a pathological pain


Analgesic drugs
Aspirin
Inhibits prostaglandins and slows transmission of
pain to site of injury

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