New perspectives on sensory mechanisms

August 29, 2011
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

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Make way for hemoglobin

August 18, 2017
Every cell in the body, whether skin or muscle or brain, starts out as a generic cell that acquires its unique characteristics after undergoing a process of specialization. Nowhere is this process more dramatic than it is ...

Bio-inspired materials give boost to regenerative medicine

August 18, 2017
What if one day, we could teach our bodies to self-heal like a lizard's tail, and make severe injury or disease no more threatening than a paper cut?

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

August 17, 2017
A mutation that helps make cells immortal is critical to the development of a tumor, but new research at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that becoming immortal is a more complicated process than originally ...

New Pathology Atlas maps genes in cancer to accelerate progress in personalized medicine

August 17, 2017
A new Pathology Atlas is launched today with an analysis of all human genes in all major cancers showing the consequence of their corresponding protein levels for overall patient survival. The difference in expression patterns ...

Female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems

August 17, 2017
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.