Sensory physiology

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The sensory physiology examines issues at the intersection of neuroscience and physiology . It deals with:

  1. the visual system ( seeing )
  2. the auditory system ( auditory perception - hearing)
  3. the vestibular system ( vestibular perception )
  4. the somatosensory
  5. the chemical senses ( smell and taste )

A distinction is made between objective sensory physiology (objectively observable and analyzable performance of sensory organs ) and subjective sensory physiology (only subjectively perceptible sensory impressions, sensations, etc.).

The main focus of sensory physiology is on the various mechanisms that convert physical stimuli such as light or sound waves or chemical signals into electrical signals. There are often different subsystems within each sensory system that only respond to very specific properties of a stimulus. For example, the cones of the retina only react to certain wavelengths of visible light. The sensory physiology is interested in the integration of this different information, however this mostly no longer takes place in the sensory systems themselves, but in areas of the brain . Thus, sensory physiology overlaps with other disciplines, such as cognitive neuroscience . In addition to the classic “five senses”, a number of other sensory modalities that can not be precisely defined must be distinguished (e.g. senses of temperature , vibration , pain , the sense of stretching of the muscles, blood pressure receptors whose excitations are not felt). The basis of the physiology of the senses is the general physiology of perception .

See also


  • Robert F. Schmidt, Hans-Georg Schaible (ed.): Neuro- and sensory physiology. 5th, revised edition. Springer Medicine, Heidelberg 2006, ISBN 3-540-25700-4 .
  • Thomas Braun, Annette Röhler called Riemer, Florian Weber: Short textbook Physiology. Elsevier et al., Munich et al. 2006, ISBN 3-437-41777-0 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Sensory Physiology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations