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general senses

receptors for these senses are distributed throughout body;
eg, pain, touch, temperature, and proprioception (body position)

special senses

receptors for these senses found in specific organ;
eg, taste, smell, vision, hearing, balance


detection of a stimulus by a receptor and the conduction of that stimulus to the CNS


conscious awareness of a sensation within an organism's brain/mind


detect chemicals;
eg gustatory (taste) and olfaction (smell) receptors


detect light energy;
eg vision receptors


detect physical movement or pressure;
eg auditory (hearing) and equilibrium (balance) receptors


detect pain;
found throughout the skin and some internal organs


detect temperature;
found throughout the skin and in hypothalamus


sense of sight;
detects light energy (photons)


mucous membrane lining eyelids and covering anterior sclera

lacrimal gland

glands superior and lateral to eyes that secrete tears to lubricate & cleanse the eye


fibrous outermost layer of the eye; envelops entire eye except cornea portion; "whites" of eye


hard, fibrous transparent structure covereing the iris and pupil

choroid coat

highly-vascularized darkly pigmented middle layer of eyeball; absorbs excess light to prevent it from interfering with vision


colored portion of eye; allows light through the pupil (hole in iris) to reach the retina


"black" hole in iris, where light that passes through is focused by the lens onto the retina


elastic, transparent disc-shaped structure that focuses light onto the retina

ciliary body

muscles of the lens

aqueous humor

watery liquid anterior to lens, posterior to cornea;
too much is causes glaucoma

vitreous humor

transparent jelly filling posterior chamber of eyeball;
holds retina in place


condition in which aqueous humor drains improperly, accumulates in anterior chamber, elevating intraocular pressure; leads to loss of vision / blindness


innermost neural layer of the eye, where photoreceptors are


color-detecting photoreceptor;
humans have cones tuned to either red, green, or blue


light-detecting photorceptor; work only in low-light conditions; does not distinguish colors

macula lutea

center of the retina, where photoreceptors are conctrated; appears as a yellow spot on retina

fovea centralis

pit in center of macula, where cones are highly concetrated; dead center in one's field of vision

pathway of light

source/subject → cornea → pupil (past iris) → lens → retina


fleshy, visible part of the ear;
directs sound waves into auditory canal;
aka pinna

auditory canal

ear canal connecting auricle to tympanic membrane; aka external auditory meatus

tympanic membrane

membrane in ear that sound vibrates onto ossicles;
aka ear drum

middle ear

air-filled cavity containing ossicles;
behind tympanic membrane until cochlea; connected to pharynx via eustachian tubes

auditory ossicles

3 smallest bones in body, transmit sound waves from outer ear (ear durm) to inner ear (cochlea):
malleus (hammer)
incus (anvil)
stapes (stirrup)

eustachian tube

"auditory tube" connecting middle ear to pharynx (throat); equilizes pressure inside middle ear with outside


hearing organ of the inner ear; contains mechanoreceptors in organ of Corti that detect sound waves

semicircular canals

inner-ear organs that detect head rotation


inner-ear organ detects balance, head tilt and forward-backward motion

pathway of sound

ear canal → tympanic membrane → ossicles → cochlea → cochlear nerve (auditory nerve)


sense of smell;
detects chemicals dissolved in air

sensory adaptation

reduction of perception of a constant harmless stimulus;
eg, "get used to a smell"


sense of taste;
detects chemicals dissolved in foods & liquids on tongue

taste bud

contain chemoreceptors that detect dissolves chemicals; found in tongue papillae

5 tastes

umami (meaty or savory)


mechanoreceptors detect physical forces that deform or move tissue (eg skin);
similar to sense of pressure


sense of body position, orientation, and location; receptors in tendons, ligaments, and muscles


detection of temperature outside & inside the body; deteceted by thermoreceptors


detected by nociceptors located throughout body (eg skin); stimulated by tissue damage

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