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General Physiology Laboratory

BIO 192.2



Angelbert Bacongco
Vanessa Pearl Dato-on
Nidelli Vinson
Vladimir Rellon
Jason Vann Palomo

Our skin acts as the protective barrier between our internal body systems and
the outside world. Its ability to perceive touch sensations gives our brains a wealth
of information about the environment around us, such as temperature, pain, and
pressure. To test these, this activity performed several procedures, both for General
Sensory Receptors and Special Sensory Receptors ---Mapping touch, pain and
temperature receptor densities, two-point discrimination, tactile localization,
sensory adaptation, referred pain, in determining the blind spot, the visual acuity,
the accommodation, sound localization and the Rombergs test. The objective of
this study is to define, discuss and be able to explain the following methods
mentioned above. In the gathered data, we conclude that the sense organ receptors
are very sensitive and the most sensitive parts were the fingertips and palm for
there are many receptors located in that area.

Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) is credited with the traditional classification of the
five sense organs: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. As far back as the 1760's,
the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed that our knowledge of the outside
world depends on our modes of perception. In order to define what is "extrasensory"
we need to define what is "sensory". Each of the 5 senses consists of organs with
specialized cellular structures that have receptors for specific stimuli. These cells
have links to the nervous system and thus to the brain. Sensing is done at primitive
levels in the cells and integrated into sensations in the nervous system (Zamora,
2017). Our skin acts as the protective barrier between our internal body systems
and the outside world. Its ability to perceive touch sensations gives our brains a
wealth of information about the environment around us, such as temperature, pain,
and pressure. Without our sense of touch, it would be very hard to get around in this
world! We wouldn't feel our feet hitting the floor when we walked, we wouldn't
sense when something sharp cut us, and we wouldn't feel the warm sun on our skin.
It is truly amazing how much information we receive about the world through our
sense of touch, and although we still don't know all the ins and outs of how the skin
perceives touch, what we do know is interesting. Human sensory organs such as the
eye, ear, nose and tongue are central in the processing of sensory information from
all the stimuli that bombards the body continuously. Without sensory organs we
would not be able to make sense of our environment and surroundings. We
experience reality through our senses. Senses are the physiological methods of
perception, so a sense is a faculty by which outside stimuli are perceived. The
senses and their operation, classification, and theory are overlapping topics studied
by a variety of fields. Many neurologists disagree about how many senses there
actually are due to a broad interpretation of the definition of a sense. Our senses
are split into two different groups. Our exteroceptors detect stimulation from the
outsides of our body. For example smell, taste, and equilibrium. The interoceptors
receive stimulation from the inside of our bodies. For instance, blood pressure
dropping, changes in the glucose and pH levels. Children are generally taught that
there are five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste). However, it is generally
agreed that there are at least seven different senses in humans, and a minimum of
two more observed in other organisms (Collings, 1974).


Preparation of Materials
The materials prepared before the activity was performed, some are borrowed
from the laboratory while some are brought by the group, are the following: 100mL
beakers (2), a hot plate, a laboratory thermometer, ice cubes, dissecting probes (2),
push pins, drywall tape, colored pens, a drawing compass, 10-peso coins(4), a
bucket, a figure with a + and sign, a ruler, a Snellen chart and a bell.

Gathering of Data
A. General Sensory Receptors
Mapping Touch, Pain and Temperature Receptor Densities.
The group placed one clean, dissecting probe in a beaker of ice water and
another in a 45oC water bath, then waited or the probes to reach the temperature of
each respective bath before we used them. This took the group to wait for several
minutes. While waiting, we cut 2cm squared piece of drywall tape and outline an
area of 4 units square. After is we removed the tape backing and placed on the
ventral surface of the subjects forearm. Then we let the subject to touch the area
within the square with a pin for he can learn to distinguish pain and touch receptors.
Within each of 16 grid spaces outlined, another group member touched the
subjects forearm with a pin randomly. And indicated on the results below wether
the subject experienced touch or pain for each grid space which are only tested
once. Next step is to repeat the procedure, but this time the group used the cold
blunt probe to mark each point of cold perception. We made sure that the subject
perceives cold and not touch. To maintain the temperature of the probe, they are
returned to the ice water bath every two minutes. And last step is to repeat the
procedure, but this time the group used the warm blunt probe to mark each point of
heat perception. Maintaining the 45oC temperature of the probe. And we made sure
that the subject perceives heat and not touch.

Two-Point Discrimination
We chose 1 female and 1 male in the group and they will be subject 1 and
subject 2, respectively. The group prepared a drawing compass with its two points
touching. We subject 1s eyes closed, while placing the drawing compass tips in the
back of her hand simultaneously and very carefully. She was asked if how many
points she perceived, can be one or two. Increasing the distance of the tips by
moving it apart by 1mm until the subject perceived two distinct points. Then te
distance were measured. Then next step is on different areas: palm, fingertip, back
of the neck, and ventral forearm. And we did the same to subject 2.

Tactile Localization
The group have chosen another 1 female and 1 male and they will be subject 1
and subject 2, respectively. This test will be repeated twice, one for subject 1 and 2.
Their eyes were remained closed until the end of this part of activity. Their non-
dominant hand were placed on the arm chair on its resting position, palm upward.
Using a ballpen, a representative touched a point on the subjects palm an asking
them to try touching the exact same point with a red marker. After that, the
distance between two points were measured. The the test was repeated for two
more times. The next step is on different areas: palm, fingertip, back of the neck,
and ventral forearm.

Sensory Adaptation
The subject were instructed to sit comfortably with his eyes closed and forearm
extended. The group placed a 10-peso coin on the ventral surface of the subjects
forearm, then the time was noted in which the subject can no longer feel the coin.
After the sensation disappears, the group added three more 10-peso coins on top of
the first coin, and recorded how long the sensation lasts.

Referred Pain
The subject were instructed to place her elbow on the bucket of ice for two
minutes. Assured that her arm is relaxed with the forearm and hand out of the
water. And recorded the sensation our subject can feel every minute.

B. Special Sensory Receptors

Blind Spot
The fiigure with a + and sign were placed 50cm from the subjects face. The
group let the subject closed his left eye, then to look at the + sign with his right eye
and to slowly move his head closer without removing his focus on the + sign, until
the sign disappears, which will be his blind spot. Then the distance was recorded.
The process was repeated but with the right eye closed.

Visual Acuity
The subject stands 10ft away from the Snellen Chart. The subject covered his
right eye, and another group member were assigned to point each row of letters as
they read the letters out loud. Then the smallest row that the subject can read
accurately indicates the visual acuity of the subjects eye. Repeated the procedure
using the left eye then using both of his eyes.

The subject closed his left eye and a group member held a pencil and placed in
front of the subjects face (arms length) and the group made the subject focus on
the tip of the pencil. Slowly moving the pencil towards the subject open eye until
the tip becomes distorted and that will be called the near point of accommodation
of the subject. Repeated the procedure with the right eye closed.

Sound Localization
The subject were asked to sit down and with eyes closed. The group used a bell
and rang it randomly on these five locations: directly below and behind f the head,
directly behind the head, directly above the head, directly in front of the face and to
the side of the head. Then the subject were asked for the exact location of the
sound and recorded the subjects perception of where the sound is coming from.

Rombergs Test
The subject were asked to stand still with his feet together and facing forward
while we assigned a male group member to stand behind the subject in case the
subject fall. For 1 minute, the subject were observed if there will be any movement.
The procedure is repeated, with his eyes closed,


General Sensory Receptors
Mapping Touch, Pain and Temperature Receptor Densities.

Figure 1. Distribution of touch

and pain receptors in the
ventral surface of the subjects

With free nerve

endings as receptors, pain
Touch Receptors: Green Dots
carries information to the Pain Receptors: Black Dots
brain about a real or
potential injury to the
body. Pain from the skin is transmitted through two types of nerve fibers. A-delta
fibers relay sharp, pricking types of pain, while C fibers carry dull aches and burning
sensations. Pain impulses are relayed to the spinal cord, where they interact with
special neurons that transmit signals to the thalamus and other areas of the brain.
Each neuron responds to a number of different pain stimuli. Pain is carried by many
types of neurotransmitters, a fact that has made it possible to develop numerous
types of pain-relieving medications. Many factors affect how pain is experienced.
Pain thresholds vary with the individual and the occasion. Intensely concentrated
activity may diminish or even eliminate the perception of pain for the duration of
the activity. Natural mechanisms, including replacement by input from other senses,
can block pain sensations. The brain can also block pain by signals sent through the
spinal cord, a process that involves the neurotransmitter serotonin and natural
painkillers known as endorphins.
Besides touch sensory nerve fibers, skin contains thermosensory fibers with
receptor endings that are highly sensitive to temperature (Sinclair, 1981; Smith,
2000). Some thermosensory fibers specifically respond to warmth (warm receptors);
others respond to cold (cold receptors). Endings for cold-sensitive or warm-sensitive
nerve fibers are located just beneath the skin surface. The terminals of an individual
temperature-sensitive fiber do not branch profusely or widely. Rather, the endings of
each fiber form a small, discretely sensitive point, which is separate from the
sensitive points of neighboring fibers. The total area of skin occupied by the
receptor endings of a single temperature-sensitive nerve fiber is relatively small (~
1 mm in diameter). In addition, the density of these thermo-sensitive points varies
greatly in different body regions.

Figure 2. Distribution of
temperature receptors in the
ventral surface of the subjects

The temperature of
human skin is usually
about 89F (32C).
Cold Receptors: Blue Dots
Objects or surroundings
Heat Receptors: Red Dots
at this level known as
physiological zeroproduce no sensation of temperature. Warmth is felt at higher
temperatures and coldness at lower ones. Some of the sensory receptors in the skin
respond specifically to changes in temperature. These receptors are further
specialized, as certain ones sense warmth and increase their firing rates in
temperatures of 95 to 115F (33 to 46C), while others sense cold. Sensations of
warmth and coldness are differentiated on a skin area as small as one square
centimeter. Within that area, cold will be felt at about six points and warmth at two.
When cold and warm stimuli are touched at the same time, a sensation of extreme
heat is felt, a phenomenon known as "paradoxical hotness." Touch and temperature
interact in some sensors, producing phenomena such as the fact that warm and
cold objects feel heavier than those at moderate temperatures. Many sensory nerve
fibers respond well to the sudden onset of a stimulus, but then respond less, or stop
responding altogether, when the stimulus remains constant. This decrease in the
level of response despite continued stimulation is called sensory adaptation. One
result of sensory adaptation is that our perceived sensation of cold is greater while
skin temperature is falling, as compared to when skin temperature is constantly
cool. Similarly, we feel warmer when the temperature is rising as compared to
constantly warm conditions (Drewes, 2004).

Table 1. Relative density of touch, pain and temperature receptors un ventral surface oof
the subjects forearm.

Receptor No. Of Grids No. Of Grids Relative

Type Tested Positive Density
Touch 16 9 0.56 0.45
Pain 16 7 0.44 0.35
Cold 16 1 0.06 0.05
Heat 16 3 0.18 0.15

Two-Point Discrimination
Table 2. Determining the two-point threshold.

Two-point Threshold (mm)

Body Area Tested
Female Male
Back of hand 31 28
Palm 16 15
Fingertip 3 4
Back of neck 13 24
Ventral surface of forearm 4 8

The sense of touch is triggered by the stimulation of specific touch receptors. To

discriminate two distinct points of touch, at least one touch receptor must remain
unstimulated between two adjacent stimulated receptors. The ability to distinguish
between one point or two points of sensation depends on how dense
mechanoreceptors are in the area of the skin being touched. You most likely found
that certain areas of your body are much more sensitive to touch than other areas.
According to the gathered results in Table 2, the highly sensitive areas in both male
and female is in the fingertip. According to some research, the highly sensitive part
of the body such as the fingertips and tongue can have as many as 100 pressure
receptors in one cubic centimeter and the less sensitive areas, such as the back,
can have as few as 10 pressure receptors in one cubic centimeter. Because of this,
areas such as the back are much less responsive to touch and can gather less
information about what is touching it than our fingertips can (Bobby, 2014).

Tactile Localization
Table 3. Testing tactile localization.
Error in Localization (mm) Error in Localization (mm)
(Female) (Male)
Body Area Tested Trial Trial Trial Mea Trial Trial Trial Mea
1 2 3 n 1 2 3 n
Palm 4 11 5 6.67 5 3 3 3.67
Back of the hand 10 10 4 8 7 5 7 6.33
Fingertip 2 0 6 2.67 0 3 1 1.33
Ventral surface of the forearm 10 10 10 10 6 15 8 9.67
Back of the neck 40 15 15 23.33 17 25 10 17.33

Tactile localization is the perception of a stimulus at a specific location on the

body. The precision of locating the origin of the stimulus is associated with the
stimulus intensity as well as the receptor density at the stimulus location. The more
densely the receptors are located to one another, the more precisely you would
expect to locate the point of stimulation. Since receptors are not distributed evenly
across the skin, different parts of the body have different capacities to locate the
stimulus (Ramadan, 2013). Tactile localization, was done in order to located which
part of the skin has been touched. One person used a marker to mark the other
person as the test. There were 3 trials, and we averaged all three to find the
average error of localization. According to the results, both of the subject got the
highest error of localization on the back of the neck with 23.33% and 17.33%,
respectively, which is less sensitive as mentioned before, and also, both of them got
the lowest error of localization on their fingertips with 2.67% and 1.33%,
respectively, which is the most sensitive part. The possibility that the tactile
localization errors were based on task misunderstanding, motor, or memory
limitations alone (Yoshioka, 2014).

Sensory Adaptation
Table 4. Sensory adaptation.

No. Of Coins Duration of Sensation (sec)

1 35.06
4 167.20
Sensory adaptation or neural adaptation, is the change in the responsiveness of
a sensory system that is confronted with a constant stimulus. This change can be
positive or negative, and does not necessarily lead to completely ignoring a
stimulus. According to the result, the one with the (4) 10-peso coins has the longest
time of sensation because it is more heavier than the other one and its longer
because the subject is not aware and cannot see thats why the sensory receptors
are the one sending the stimuli.

Referred Pain
Table 5. Referred pain

Time of Observation Quality of Sensation Location of Sensation

On immersion Sting sensation forearm
After 1 minute Little numb and hardness Forearm and upper arm
After 2 minutes Numb sensation Palm to forearm

Referred pain, also called reflective pain is pain perceived at a location other
than the site of the painful stimulus (Nielsen, 2001). So when the elbow is placed on
ice for several minutes, the spinal cord becomes confused because of the
temperature of the water. Because the water is so cold, the nerves send the
message to the spinal cord asking where to we send the pain. Now the spinal cord
becomes confused and it sends the pain straight to the hand. Since the spinal cord
is confused, it takes a minute for the pain to go anywhere. Referred pain is really
just confusion from the spinal cord so it moves to a different place but sometimes it
stays in the same place but just in a different section (Crall, 2010).

Special Sensory Receptors

Blind Spot
Table 6. Demonstrating the blind spot.

Eye Used Distance (cm)

Right eye 3 cm
Left eye 3 cm

This explains that there are no receptors where the optic nerve pierces the
retina. The field of vision that falls on the physiologic blind spots is not received by
the retinal receptors (no receptors in the optic disc - blind spot) and therefore not
perceived by the cortex. Since we are binocular beings, the field of vision that falls
on the blind spot of one eye is visualized by the contralateral eye. So, we are not
consciously aware that a portion of our field of vision is not seen (Tripathy, 1995).

Visual Acuity
Table 7. Testing visual acuity using Snellen chart.
Number of the smallest line where majority of letters were
Eyes used
identified correctly
Right eye 7
Left eye 8
Both eyes 8

Visual acuity is acuteness or clearness of vision, especially form vision, which is

dependent on the sharpness of the retinal focus within the eye, the sensitivity of the
nervous elements, and the interpretative faculty of the brain. Snellen deliberately
chose his reference standard (5 min of arc) as a size that is easily recognized by
normal eyes. Thus, almost all normal eyes will equal or exceed the reference
standard. If 20/20 equaled average acuity, half of the population would fall short of
20/20, since that is the definition of average.

Table 8. Demonstrating the near point of accommodation

Distance (cm) at which the pencil tip becomes

Eyes used
Right eye 2.2
Left eye 1.8

Accommodation is the process by which the vertebrate eye changes optical

power to maintain a clear image or focus on an object as its distance varies. It acts
like a reflex, but can also be consciously controlled. The young human eye can
change focus from distance (infinity) to as near as 6.5 cm from the eye (Hong,

Sound Localization
Table 9. Locating sound with respect to the head

Actual Location of Sound Perceived Location of Sound by Subject

Directly below and behind the head Above and behind the head
Directly behind the head Above the head
Directly above the head Above the head
Directly in front of the face Front of the head
To the side of the head Side of the head

We have noticed that these sensory maps of the brain do not map areas of
sensation onto equivalent areas of cortical surface. For the auditory cortex, the
lowest 1,000 Hz in our hearing range covers as much area on the cortex as the
upper 8,000 Hz. The reason is the brain maps each sensory receptor onto the cortex
rather than considering the area of the body where the sensor is located. The more
receptors there are in a given area of skin, the larger that areas map will be
represented on the surface of the cortex. As a result, the size of each body region in
the homunculus is related to the density of sensory receptors (Olson, 2014).

Rombergs Test
Table 10. Rombergs Test

Subjects Position and Condition Observations(Truncal Instability)

Standing, open eyes Slight swaying
Standing closed eyes Sways relatively more

The Romberg test is an appropriate tool to diagnose sensory ataxia, a gait

disturbance caused by abnormal proprioception involving information about the
location of the joints. The Romberg test is used to demonstrate the effects of
posterior column disease upon human upright postural control. If the proprioceptive
and vestibular pathways are intact, balance will be maintained. But if proprioception
is defective, two of the sensory inputs will be absent and the patient will sway then
fall. Similar to the Romberg Test, the patient must stand unsupported with eyes
closed and hands on hips for 30 seconds. The patient may make two attempts to
complete the 30 seconds (Lee, 1998).

In doing this activity, we conclude that the sense organs which is the eyes, ears,
tongue, skin, and nose really help to protect the body in our everyday activities. The
human sense organs contain receptors that relay information through sensory
neurons to the appropriate places within the nervous system. So whenever we feel
pain, we can reduce the damage in the tissues for the receptors will send stimuli to
the brain that would eventually/ rapidly withdraw yourself from the source of pain.
And all sense organs are very sensitive, whereas the most sensitive part were the
fingertips and palm for there are many receptors located in that area. A very
productive nervous system!


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