Neuroscience

Exposure to smells in early infancy can modulate adult behavior

Imprinting is a popularly known phenomenon, wherein certain animals and birds become fixated on sights and smells they see immediately after being born. In ducklings, this can be the first moving object, usually the mother ...

Medical research

New mechanism identified behind blindness in older adults

Using laboratory-grown roundworms as well as human and mouse eye tissue, University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) researchers have identified a new potential mechanism for age-related macular degeneration—the leading ...

Neuroscience

Fingerprints enhance our sense of touch

Fingerprints may be more useful to us than helping us nab criminal suspects: they also improve our sense of touch. Sensory neurons in the finger can detect touch on the scale of a single fingerprint ridge, according to new ...

Neuroscience

New technique to fast-track pain research

Scientists have for the first time established a sensory neuron model able to mass-reproduce two key sensory neuron types involved in pain sensation, enabling the easy generation of large numbers of the cells to fast-track ...

Neuroscience

Cellular connections found between nervous and immune systems

The nervous and immune systems have long been thought to be separate entities in the body, but new research has uncovered a direct cellular interaction between the two. Scientists from Harvard Medical School, the Broad Institute ...

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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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