Receptor Physiology

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Sensations & Perceptions
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Sensation is an awareness of sensory stimuli in brain Perception meaningful interpretation or conscious understanding of sensory data

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Visceral afferents vs. sensory afferents
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Visceral afferent the incoming pathway for subconscious information derived from the internal viscera (organs)

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Sensory afferent : the incoming pathway that carries peripheral sensory information and does reach the level of conscious awareness

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Sensory information:
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Somatic sensation, from the body surface Special senses, including vision, hearing, taste, and smell

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Components of sensory physiology
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Modality: form of energy of the stimulus, e.g., heat, light, sound, pressure..

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Reception: ability of receptor to absorb energy of a stimulus

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Transduction: conversion of stimulus energy into membrane potential

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Transmission: receptor potentials transmitted via AP's to CNS

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Receptor physiology
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Classes of receptors according to their adequate stimulus: Photoreceptors Mechanoreceptors Thermoreceptors (warm & cold receptors)
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Osmoreceptors Chemoreceptors or pain receptors

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Receptor complexity

If Receptor is part of neuron (a & b): AP triggered if receptor potential above threshold 5/5/12 If Receptor is Specialized cell (c): stronger stimulus  greater NT released 

From receptor to CNS
Stimulation of a receptor alters its membrane permeability nonselective opening of all small ion channels local depolarizing change in potential (or receptor potential) action potential in the afferent neuron membrane next to the receptor (Na+ influx) AP self-propagates along the 5/5/12 afferent fiber to the CNS

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Receptor potential:
Graded potential (amplitude and duration depend on strength/rate of stimulus ) No refractory period, (so summation in response to rapidly successive stimuli is possible)

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Stronger stimulus  larger receptor potential  greater frequency of AP

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No generation of action potential in the receptor itself (very high threshold)

Instead… Graded receptor Potential here

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Receptor Adaptation (desensitization)
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Receptor adaptation:

The decrease in the extent of receptor depolarization despite sustained stimulus strength Persistent stimulus gives no response

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Tonic receptors vs. Phasic receptors
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Two types of receptors based on their speed of adaptation:
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tonic receptors (slowly adapting) Phasic receptors (rapidly adapting)

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Adaptation
Adaptation in a sensory receptor is related to a decline in the generator potential with time. A, The generator potential is maintained without decline, and the action potential frequency remains constant. B, A slow decline in the generator potential is associated with slow adaptation. C, In a rapidly adapting receptor, the generator potential declines rapidly.
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Coding of sensory information
The action potentials in the nerve from a touch receptor, for example, are essentially identical to those in the nerve from a warmth receptor This raises the question of

Why stimulation of a touch receptor causes a sensation of touch and not of warmth?

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Coding of sensory information
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MODALITY LOCALITY INTENSITY

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Coding of Sensory Information

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Labeled line principle
A particular sensory input is projected to a specific region of the cortex.
A particular sensory modality Detected by a specialized receptor type Sent over a specific afferent and ascending pathway (a neural pathway committed to that modality)

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Excites a defined area in the somatosensory cortex

Receptive field
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The receptive field of a somatosensory neuron is the area from which a stimulus produces a response in that unit.

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The size of a receptive field varies inversely with the density of receptors in the region:

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The more closely receptors of a particular type are spaced, the smaller the area of skin each monitors

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The smaller the receptive field in a region, the greater its acuity or discriminative ability

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Comparison of discriminative ability of regions with small versus large receptive fields

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RECEPTOR PHYSIOLOGY
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Functions of receptors:
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respond to stimuli Transduction: convert stimulus forms of energy into electrical signals (action potentials)

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Stimulus Modality: various energy forms of stimuli, such as heat, light, sound, pressure, and chemical changes

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Receptors have differential sensitivities to various stimuli, however, Some receptors can respond weakly to stimuli other than their adequate stimulus, e.g., mechanical pressure.

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