New perspectives on sensory mechanisms

Cutaneous touch receptor: end-organs in hairy skin. The latest perspectives in general physiology series examines the mechanisms of visual, aural, olfactory, and tactile processes in mammals. Credit: Bautista, D.M., and E.A. Lumpkin. 2011. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.201110637.

The latest Perspectives in General Physiology series examines the mechanisms of visual, aural, olfactory, and tactile processes that inform us about the environment. The series appears in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of General Physiology.

Everything that mammals perceive about the environment is based on the transmission to the brain of signals originating in sensory organs such as the eye, ear, nose, and skin. As described by UCLA researchers Robert Farley and Alapakkam Sampath in their introduction to the series, the encoding of sensory information is initiated by specialized peripheral sensory and refined by local neural circuits, with both excitatory and inhibitory inputs ultimately analyzed and interpreted in the .

The Perspectives series provides a comprehensive summary of what is currently understood about the mechanisms of information processing in multiple mammalian sensory systems. Such a comparative approach across systems provides insight into the common strategies that might be used by researchers to quantify and characterize that information.

In the Perspective series, Schwartz and Rieke discuss the visual system, where the of sensory encoding have been most investigated; Bautista and Lumpkin focus on the cells and molecules that mediate light touch in the periphery; Reisert and Zhao focus on how cells encode the presence of odorants in the environment; and Zhang et al. emphasize the important and varied roles inhibitory mechanisms play in encoding auditory signals.

The purpose of the Perspectives in General Physiology series is to provide an ongoing forum where scientific questions or controversies can be discussed by experts in an open manner.

More information:
Farley, R.A., and A.P. Sampath. 2011. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.201110666
Schwartz, G., and F. Rieke. 2011. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.201110629
Bautista, D.M., and E.A. Lumpkin. 2011. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.201110637
Reisert, J., and H. Zhao. 2011. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.201110645
Zhang, L.I., et al. 2011. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.20111065

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New perspectives on local calcium signaling

Jul 26, 2010

The latest Perspectives in General Physiology series introduces the newest technologies in the field of calcium signaling, which plays a central role in many cellular processes. The Perspectives appear in ...

New perspectives on ion selectivity

Apr 25, 2011

The latest Perspectives in General Physiology series examines the ion selectivity of cation-selective channels and transporters. The series appears in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of General Physiology.

Recommended for you

The impact of bacteria in our guts

21 hours ago

The word metabolism gets tossed around a lot, but it means much more than whether you can go back to the buffet for seconds without worrying about your waistline. In fact, metabolism is the set of biochemical ...

Stem cell therapies hold promise, but obstacles remain

22 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—In an article appearing online today in the journal Science, a group of researchers, including University of Rochester neurologist Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., review the potential and ch ...

New hope in fight against muscular dystrophy

23 hours ago

Research at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology offers hope to those who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable, debilitating disease that cuts young lives short.

Biologists reprogram skin cells to mimic rare disease

Aug 21, 2014

Johns Hopkins stem cell biologists have found a way to reprogram a patient's skin cells into cells that mimic and display many biological features of a rare genetic disorder called familial dysautonomia. ...

User comments