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Identify the role of receptors in detecting stimuli
Sensory receptors

Receptors detect particular stimuli.

Examples of sensory receptors and the external stimuli they detect are:
o Photoreceptors: in the eye and detect light
o Mechanoreceptors: in ear, vibrate in response to sound waves
o Mechanoreceptors: in the skin and detect touch
o Thermorecptors: in the skin and detect warmth and cold
o Chemoreceptors: in nose and tongue, detect odours and tastes

Explain that the response to a stimulus involves: stimulus, receptor,

messenger, effector and response

A receptor is a speacilised structure that can detect a specific stimulus and

initiate a response. Sense organs such as human eye and ear are complex
structures that contain many receptors.

-Any change in our internal and external environment that can provoke a
response from us is called a stimulus.
-Our environments contain many stimuli and we have special receptors to
detect them and send information. This can initiate a response in an organism or
its tissues.
-Responses are brought about by effector organs
-The messenger that travels from the receptor to the effector may be nervous or
The pathway from stimulus to response is:






Communication in humans and other animals is assisted by the detection of

stimuli from external environment by sense organs.
Receptors in sense organs such as the eye, ear, skin, nose and tongue are
able to detect and respond to specific stimuli.
A stimulus initiates a response when a message travels from the receptor to
the effector along the stimulus response pathway.


Describe the anatomy and function of the human eye, including the:
conjunctiva, cornea, sclera, choroids, retina, iris, lens, aqueous and
vitreous humor, ciliary body, optic nerve
-We see an object when light from it enters our eyes and it is interpreted by the
- Light rays are transmitted and focused by the different parts of the eye and
finally detected by the photoreceptor cells.
- visual activity is the ability to distinguish between point sources of light and to
see objects clearly and in detail as discrete images.
- The eye is a special organ that captures light from an object and directs it into
the photoreceptor cells at the back of the eye.
- The fovea is the area of the retina where the sharpest images is formed.
- The blind spot is the point where the optic nerve leaves the eye.





Aqueous and vitreous


A membrane that covers
the surface of the eye and
the inside of the eyelids.
The front part of the eyeball
Continuous with the cornea
but not transparent, it forms
the tough, white outer back
part of the eyeball.
A thin, black pigmented
layer containing blood
The innermost layer of the
eye. It lines the back of the
eyeball and contains the
light sensitive cells
Coloured part of the front of
the eye
A circular opening in the
center of the iris
A transport, biconvex
protein disc behind the
Aqueous humour is a
viscous liquid that fills the
front chamber of the eye,
Vitreous humour is jelly like
and fills the larger back

Protects the front part of
the eye.
Refracts light rays as they
pass through it
Protects the eye and helps
maintain its shape.

The pigment absorbs stray

light, preventing false
Revives the light and
changes it into electrical
impulses that travel via the
optic nerve and the brain.
Regulates the opening size
of the pupil.
Controls the amount of light
entering the eye
Focuses light rays onto the
Help keep the eyeball in
shape and refract the rays
of light as they pass

Ciliary body

Optic nerve

chamber of the eye

Connects the choroid with
the lens
Connects the eye to the

The ligaments hold the lens

in place and ciliary muscles
alter the shape of the lens
Carries nervous signals
from the retina to the visual
cortex of the brain, which
interprets them as images.

Identify the limited range of wavelengths of the electromagnetic

spectrum detected by humans and compare this range with those of
other vertebrates and invertebrates.
The electromagnetic spectrum:

Electromagnetic radiation is energy that travels in rays or waves.

The range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation is called the
electromagnetic spectrum
Visible light can be detected by human eyes. This part is wavelengths
between 380 nanometers and 780 nanometers (nm). We see different
wavelengths within this range as different colours.
Shorter wave lengths carry more energy.


The human eye is important in visual communication. It has specialized

structures to collect light rays and focus them onto the retina, where receptor
cells respond with a nervous impulse to the visual area in the brain.
Light enters the eye through the pupil and the light rays are refracted (bent)
by the lens and the aqueous and vitreous humours to fall onto the 2 types of
receptor cells.
The human eye detects a small range of electromagnetic radiation, called
visible light.


Identify the conditions under which refraction of light occurs

The refraction of light is the bending of light rays. This occurs when light rays
pass from one medium into another medium that has a different density.
Change in density causes the speed of the light rays to change light travels
slower through water (more density) than air (less dense).
Rays that enter at 90 degrees travel in a straight line. Rays that enter at an
angle are bent away from the normal as they speed up and towards the
normal as they slow down. The normal is a line drawn at 90 degrees.

Identify the cornea, aqueous humour, lens and vitreous humour as

refractive media
Light from an object we are looking at passes from the air into the cornea, then
through the aqueous humour, lens and vitreous humour. All these structures are
composed of materials with different densities and are therefore refractive media.
That is, light rays are refracted at each boundary between the different structures.
Identify accommodation as the focusing on objects at different distances,
describe its achievement through the change in curvature of the lens and
explain its importance

To clearly see an object we need to focus on the light from it. This focus is
achieved by refraction of the rays.
The rays are almost parallel if the object is far away, and they are more
divergent (the angle is greater) if the object is close.
The process of focusing light from objects at different distances onto a focal
point on the retaine is called accommodation.
Accommodation is important to allow clear vision.

Compare the change in the refractive power of the lens from rest to
maximum accommodation

The refractive power of the lens is changed by altering its shape. A thick lens
is able to refract light rays more than thin lens. When the lens in our eye is
relaxed it bulges out towards the front of the eye.
The shape of the lens is altered by the ciliary muscles. The lens is attached to
the ciliary muscles by suspensory ligaments.
When the ciliary muscles are relaxed, they pull on the suspensory ligaments,
which pull on the lens and keep it thin which reduces refractive power so we
can focus in the middle distance and far away objects.
When we look at a close object, the ciliary muscles tighten and contract
inwards towards the center of the lens so the ligaments become looser
increasing its refracting power.
A thicker lens has a shorter focal length than a thinner lens.
The size of the pupil changes under 2 conditions the light reflex and the
accommodation reflex

Light reaches eye in parallel rays.

Lens is quite flat/elongated and at
resting state. Ciliary muscles relax.
Low refractive power. This means that
there is very little to low levels of
refraction occurring.


Light reaches eye as diverging rays.

Lens becomes convex, that is bulging
out. This is due to the ciliary muscle
High refractive power. This means that
there is a high level of refraction

Distinguish between myopia and hyperopia and outline how technology

can be used to correct these conditions

If your eyeball is slightly smaller or the cornea is flatter or less curved than
average, so the focal length is too long, you are longsighted you will see
distant objects easily but not close ones. This is called hyperopia.
If your eyeball is slightly long or the cornea is more steeply curved so the the
focal length is too short, you are shortsighted. You can see close objects
clearly but not distant ones. This is called myopia.

Myopia illustrating refraction and the effect the concave lens has on the
focal point.

Hyperopia - illustrating refraction and the effect the convex lens has on
the focal point.


Spectacles and contact lenses.

Surgical techniques: include making incisions into the cornea to flatten it and
change its refract able ability. Today lasers so this, which involves reshaping the
cornea so light, travelling through, is focused onto the retina.


A cataract is any loss of transparency in the lens. The lens becomes cloudy and
vision decreases, total blindness results if it is not treated.

The most common cause of cataracts is ageing but it can be present at birth or
develop from disease, excessive use of drugs or injury.
It can be restored by surgical removal of the natural lens and replacement with
an artificial lens.

Explain how the production of 2 different images of a view can result in

depth perception.

The ability to judge the distance of an object from our eyes is called depth
perception. It involves 3 processes:
1. Binocular vision: when we use both eyes to look at something, the images
formed on the 2 retinas are different. This difference is because the eyes are
spaced wide apart. Binocular vision doesnt improve depth perception
because the difference between the 2 images is too small to be significant.
2. Experience: When we look at something, the size of the image on the retina
is interpreted as being close or distant depending on how large or small it
3. Movement: when we look into the distance, and then move our head, close
objects appear to move more than distant objects. We interpret the amount
of movement as an indication of distance.

Clear and accurate visual perception depends on several functions of the eye.
Refraction of light occurs as light travels through the different media of the
eye as well as accommodation and focusing by the lens.
The process of accommodation ensures that light from objects at different
distances is focused on the retina correctly by the lens. Parallel rays from
distant objects are refracted less than divergent rays from close objects.
Myopia and hyperopia result in abnormal image formation and can be
corrected by wearing artificial lenses or by surgical or laser corrections to the
Cataracts reduce the transparency of the lens and can cause blindness.
Cataracts can be corrected surgically.
The perception of death requires the production of the 2 slightly different
images and the interpretation of these images by the brain.


Identify photoreceptor cells as those containing light sensitive pigments
and explain that these correct light images into electrochemical signals
that both the brain can interpret

Photoreceptor cells detect and respond to the stimulus of light. In the human eye
they are found in the thin sheet of cells in the back of the eye, known as the
There are two types of photosensitive cells:
o Rods
o Cones
Rods and cones are modified nerve cells that contain light sensitive pigments
and convert light images into electrochemical signal that the brain can interpret.

Describe the differences in distribution structure and function of the

photoreceptor cells in the human eye

Rod cells are 3 to 4 times more numerous than cone cells. There are about
125 million rods in human retina they spread across the retina and are more
dense at the edge of it.


Cone cells are spread across the retina, but usually in groups. They are
densely packed in the central area of the retina. About 3 million cones in the
human retina.

The central region of the retina is known as the fovea. It contains no rod cells,
but many cone cells. In the fovea each cone cell connects to one nerve cell.

Structure of rods and cones:


They are named based on their shape.

Both contain visual pigment in disc shaped membranes.

The function

of rods and cells:


Rods are
use them for night vision.
Cones require more light than rods to be stimulated.
They are used for day vision, colour vision and visual tasks requiring visual

cone cells and rod cells are

stimulated by light.
more sensitive to light but
distinguish colours.
function best in dim light; we




Provide sharp images.

Not sensitive to light.

Images are NOT sharp

during night time due
to the lack of light.

Can distinguish colour.

6 million cones in the

human eye.
Cones are largely
concentrated around
the fovea where most
of the daylight is

Elongated cells with a

synaptic terminal and
an outer terminal
containing discs.
Similar to the basic
structure of a nerve




125 million rods in the

human eye.

Rods are very sensitive

to light.

They are largely

concentrated around
the surface of the whole

Responsible for night

vision seeing black and

Elongated cells with a

synaptic terminal and
an outer terminal
containing discs. Similar
to the basic structure of
a nerve cell.

Outline the role of rhodopsin in rods

A pigment is any substance that absorbs light energy.

The visual pigments in the human eye are made up of retinal molecule joined
to a protein called opsin.
The visual pigment in rods is known as rhodopsin. It is sensitive to blue green
light and allows us to see shades of black, grey and white.
Rhodopsin is more active during duller light or darkness.

Identify that there are 3 types of cones, each containing a separate

pigment sensitive to blue, red or green light

In cones there are 3 different photosensitive molecules: these are the colour
They are similar to rhodopsin because they contain a retinal molecule, but
the opsin to each retinal molecule is linked to one of 3 different opsins known
as photospins.
An individual cone contains one of three types of photopsin.
Each absorbs light in a particular range of wavelengths: res, green or blue.


Vision involves light energy striking photoreceptor cells and being converted to
chemical energy, producing nervous impulses that are sent to the brain where they
are interpreted as an image.
Different wavelengths of light stimulate the 3 types of cones to a different degree.
The brain interprets the difference in degrees of stimulation as different colours or
Explain that colour blindness in humans results from the lack of one or
more of the colour sensitive pigments in the cones
Colour blindness in humans results from the lack of one or more of the photopsins
in the cones.

The most common form is red-green colour blindness. This means they lack
either red or green photopsin. This condition is called dichromatism.
Single coloured vision is the result of only having one cone, this is called
Colour vision is tested with a colour test chart, such as the Ishihara spot


Photoreceptor cells in the human eye contain light sensitive pigments that
correct light images into electrochemical signals that the brain interprets. The
light signals are converted to an electrical impulse when it reaches the
photoreceptor cells on the retina.
In the human eye, there are 2 types of receptor cells, rods and cones.
Cones are conical in shape; rods are narrower, longer and straighter than cones.
Rods are spread across the retina, but are denser at the edge of the retina.
Cones are also spread across the retina, but usually in groups. They are densely
packed in the central area of the retina, at the fovea.
Rods are more sensitive to light than cones; they dont distinguish colours and
are important for night vision.
The role of the visual pigment rhodopsin in the rods is to cause changes to the
retinal and molecules, which triggers the electrical impulse that is transmitted
along the optic nerve.

There are 3 types of cone cells with 3 different photopsin pigments, sensitive to
blue, red or green light.
Colour blindness in humans results from the lack of one or more of the colour
sensitive photopsin pigments in the cone. The most common form is red green
colour blindness.


Explain why sound is a useful and versatile form of communication.

Sound provides a useful and versatile form of communication.

Communication by sound doesnt require contact or closeness between
organisms in order to send and receive messages.
Sound is attenuated (loses its intensity) because some of its energy is
absorbed by the medium it travels through and some is lost by scattering of
the sound frequency.
Most animal species have distinctive sounds that identify them to others of
the same species e.g. mating, territorial defense, and warnings of danger.

Explain that sound is produced by vibrating objects and that the

frequency of the sound is the same as the frequency of the vibration of
the source of the sound.

Sound is a form of energy produced by a vibrating object.

Sound waves must have a medium to travel through because they act by
compressing the particles in the medium.

How are different sounds produced?

The frequency of the wave is the number of waves that pass a given point per
second. This determines its pitch (how high or low the sound is).
Amplitude is the maximum displacement of particles in the medium caused
by the wave and determines the loudness of the sound.

Outline the structure of the human larynx and the associated

structures that assist the production of sound.

In humans, the production of speech occurs when we vibrate our vocal cords
by passing exhaled air over them.
The larynx, or voice box, is situated in the front of the neck.
The larynx is made up of a ring of cartilage containing 2 muscular vocal cords
that move when we breathe and speak.
Controlled vibration of the vocal cords produces sound of differing pitch and
volume as the change shape.
Each person has a unique voice print so we can be identified from the
patterns our voices make.


Sound is an important and useful medium for communication by humans and

other animals.
Sound is produced by vibrating objects. The frequency of the sound is the same
as the frequency of vibration of the source of the sound.
During speech our vocal cords close and vibrate to produce sound. The sound is
modified by our throat, tongue and lips to produce speech.


Outline and compare the detection of vibration by insects, fish and

The body hairs of insects may vibrate in response to sound waves.

Some insects have tympanic organs. These are specialsed structures to
detect vibrations. They consist of a tympanic membrane stretched over an
internal air chamber.
Sound waves vibrate the membrane, which stimulates receptor cells.


Fish have a lateral line system along the sides of their body. This detects the
fishs own movement through the water, the direction and speed of the
current, pressure waves from moving objects and low-frequency sound

Receptor cells detect movement

Water flowing through the lateral line system bends hair cells, producing
nervous impulses that are sent to the brain.
Fish also have inner ears. Inner ear receptors respond to higher frequency.


Sound in mammals is through the ear. Vibrations are detected by hair cells in
internal structures as a result of the vibrations of membranes and their
amplification from the outside through the inner ear.

Describe the anatomy and function of the human ear, including: pinna,
tympanic membrane, ear ossicles, oval window, round window, cochlea,
organ of Corti, auditory nerve.

The human ear has two functions: hearing and balance.

The ear is organized into 3 sections, called the outer, middle and inner ears.

The outer ear

The outer ear consists of the pinna, which you can see on the side of your head.
The ear canal that ends in a membrane is called the eardrum.
The pinna collects sound waves and directs them into the ear. The waves
continue along the canal called the external auditory meatus. The tympanic
membrane is called the eardrum cause it stretches across the passage of the

The middle ear

The middle ear contains 3 tiny bones (ossicles) and the Eustachian tube, which
connects to the back of the nose and throat.
The ear ossicles connect to the eardrum
The ossicles are called the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil) and staples (stirrups)
When the ear drum vibrates, the ossicles vibrate in amplifying the sound and
conducting it to the oval window.

The inner ear

The inner ear is a series of tiny bony canals and chambers filled with fluid. Nerve
fibers join up to form the auditory nerve.
The auditory part of the inner ear is called the cochlea, which is a system of 3
tubular chambers.





The outer cartilage of the


Round in shape which

causes sound to enter the

Tympanic Membrane

A thin type of membrane

located in the outer ear. Also
known as the eardrum.

The tympanic membrane or

eardrum separates the
outer ear from the inner
ear. The membrane vibrates
in the presence of a sound
which initiates the process
of hearing.

Ear Ossicles

The ear ossicles consist of

three small bones, located in
the middle ear known as the
malleus (hammer), incus
(anvil) and the stapes

The ear ossicles vibrate at

the same frequency as the
ear drum in the presence of
a noise. These vibrations
are passed on to the inner

Oval Window

The oval window is a

membrane which separates
the middle ear from the
inner ear.

This membrane passes the

frequency from the middle
ear to the inner ear into the
cochlea. (Same vibration.)

Round Window

The round window is a

membrane similar to that of
the oval window which
adjoins the inner ear and the

Similar tot eh oval window

this membrane passes the
frequency from the inner
ear to the cochlea. (Same


Main part of the inner ear

involved in the hearing
process. It is a coil like

The cochlea contains 3

chambers. These chambers
contain fluids which vibrate
at the original frequency.

Organ of Corti

The cochlea duct contains

the organ of corti which
contains the receptor cells
responsible for detection of

Organ of corti contains hair

cells which eventually
convert the vibrations into
electrical signals which
connect to the auditory

Auditory Nerve

The auditory nerve is a

bundle of sensory neurones
located next to the cochlea.

Responsible for the

transmission of electrical
impulses to be interpreted
by the brain as sound.

Outline the role of the Eustachian tube

The tube that connects the middle ear to the nose and throat is called the
Eustachian tube. By connecting to an air filled space such as the nose and throat
the Eustachian tube is able to equalise the pressure between the eardrum and the
middle ear. Equalising the pressure often happens when a person swallows or opens
their mouth wide enough in time to equalise the pressure.
Outline the path of the sound wave through the external, middle and
inner ear and identify the energy transformations that occur

In humans, sound waves are transmitted from air in the external ear through
the solid ossicles of the middle ear, into the fluid of the inner ear, then as
nerve messages along the auditory nerve.
Sound energy is a form of kinetic energy
Sound waves travel to the ear and reach the tympanic membrane.
Sound energy is converted to mechanical energy
Mechanical energy is converted into the electrochemical energy.
Basically the energy transformations that occur in the hearing process are
sound waves into pressure waves which are eventually converted into nerve
(electrical) impulses and are interpreted by the brain.

Describe the relationship between the distribution of hair cells in the

organ of Corti and the detection of sounds of different frequencies

Vibrations of different frequencies travel different distances along the basilar

membrane. The hair cells located in different regions detect these different
Hairs at the base of the first part of the cochlea, nearest the oval window
vibrate in response to lower frequencies.
The organ of Corti distinguishes sound of different frequencies.


Animals detect of hear sound in different ranges. Humans detect sounds

with frequencies between 16 and 20000 hertz.
Dogs hear sounds at higher frequencies at 40000 hertz.

Outline the role of the sound shadow cast by the head in the location of

2 mechanisms help us to determine the directions from which a sound is

coming. They both involve comparison of the stimulus reaching the 2 ears.
Sound coming from the right reaches the ear but is then blocked by the head.
The sound waves must travel either around or through the head if they are to
reach the left ear.
The head absorbs high frequencies more easily than lower ones, creating a
sound shadow.
When a sound comes from directly in front or directly behind, both ears
receive the same stimulus.
The pinna of the outer ear helps to collect sound waves and funnel them to
the ear canal.
The sound shadow in turn enables humans to determine the direction of the


In mammals, the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system.
There is a system or branching nerves throughout the body known as the
peripheral nervous system.
Identify that a nerve is a bundle of neuronal fibers
- Nerve cells are called neurones (or neurons). Neurones conduct electrical
messages, known as nerve impulses from one part of the body to another.


Cell body contains nucleus, cytoplasm and cell organelles
Dendrites are branched extensions of the cell body that conduct impulses to the
cell body
Axon conducts impulses away from the cell body to another neurone or tissue
Synaptic knobs contain sacs that store chemicals called neurotransmitters.

The synapse is a gap between the axon terminals of one cell and the dendrites
of the next.
Axons and dendrites are called neuronal or nerve fibers, bundled together, they
form nerves.
The main part of a cell that is drawn out into a fiber is called an axon
Axons are wrapped in layers of myelin. This helps insulate the fiber.

Identify neurones as nerve cells that are the transmitters of signals by

electrochemical changes in their membrane.

In all living cells there is an electrical charge difference across the cell
membrane between the inside and the outside of the cell.
The membrane potential is the difference measured in voltage

The interior of the cell is negative with respect to outside the cell. This is
resting potential of a nerve cell and the cell membrane is polarized.
Nerve cells are described as excitable cells that can generate changes in their
membrane potentials in response to a stimulus. This changes the resting
potential into an action potential or electrical impulse.
When the cell membrane of a neuron is stimulated the sodium, channels in
the membrane open and sodium ions diffuse into the cell and the membrane
is depolarized.
The inside of the cell becomes positive.

Define the term threshold and explain why not all stimuli generate an
action potential

This action potential occurs only if the stimulus is large enough to reach the
threshold potential of the cell. The action potential is an all-or-none
response, either the level of stimulation is below the threshold or it reaches
the threshold and the action potential is generated.
An action potential is a localized event at a specific point, usually at the
The first action potential triggers a second action, which triggers a third and
so on. This stimulus is kept moving in one direction. The action potential acts
as a message, called a nerve impulse.
An action potential doesnt vary in size, it either occurs or doesnt occur.
When an action potential reaches the axon terminals a chemical substance is
released from the terminals.
Once used, the chemical substances are either broken down by enzymes or
return to the axon terminal.

Identify those areas of the cerebrum involved in the perception and

interpretation of light and sound