Immunology

Atopic dermatitis: How allergens get on our nerves

Dry skin, pain, and itching... Atopic dermatitis affects the everyday lives of nearly 20% of children, and up to 5% of adults. The condition can have a significant impact on the quality of life of these patients.

Neuroscience

Interactive zebrafish brain

If zebrafish larvae used the internet, they might soon be able to download a map of their entire brain. "We're not at that point yet," explains Michael Kunst from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology. "Nevertheless, our ...

Medical research

Intranasal stem cell therapy restores smell in mice

A stem cell therapy delivered into the nose can restore the sense of smell in a mouse model of olfactory loss. The findings, published May 30 in the journal Stem Cell Reports, provide proof of principle for an approach that ...

Neuroscience

Neurons that encode sweetness identified in mice

Researchers from the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan have identified the neurons responsible for relaying sweet taste signals to the gustatory thalamus and cortex in mice. While the peripheral taste ...

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Sensory neuron

Sensory neurons are neurons that are activated by sensory input (vision, touch, hearing, etc.), and send projections into the central nervous system that convey sensory information to the brain or spinal cord. Unlike neurons of the central nervous system, whose inputs come from other neurons, sensory neurons are activated by physical modalities such as light, sound, temperature, chemical stimulation, etc.

In complex organisms, sensory neurons relay their information to the central nervous system or in less complex organisms, such as the hydra, directly to motor neurons and sensory neurons also transmit information (electrical impulses) to the brain, where it can be further processed and acted upon. For example, olfactory sensory neurons make synapses with neurons of the olfactory bulb, where the sense of olfaction (smell) is processed.

At the molecular level, sensory receptors located on the cell membrane of sensory neurons are responsible for the conversion of stimuli into electrical impulses. The type of receptor employed by a given sensory neuron determines the type of stimulus it will be sensitive to. For example, neurons containing mechanoreceptors are sensitive to tactile stimuli, while olfactory receptors make a cell sensitive to odors.

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