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Encyclopedia > Sensory receptors

In a sensory system, a sensory receptor is a structure that recognizes a stimulus in the internal or external environment of an organism. In response to stimuli the sensory receptor initiates sensory transduction by creating graded potentials or action potentials in the same cell or in an adjacent one.



The sensory receptor may be a specialized portion of the plasma membrane, or a separate cell associated with a neuron ending.


Some sensory receptors (i.e., taste and smell) contain receptors that bind to specific chemicals. Odor receptors in olfactory receptor neurons, for example, are activated by interacting with molecular structures on the odor molecule. Similarly, taste receptors in taste buds interact with chemicals in food to produce an action potential.

Other receptors such as mechanoreceptors and photoreceptors respond to physical stimuli. For example, photoreceptor cells contain specialized proteins such as rhodopsin to transduce the physical energy in light into electrical signals. Some types of mechanoreceptors fire action potentials when their membranes are physically streched.

The sensory receptor functions as the first component in a sensory system.

Sensory receptors respond to specific stimulus modalities. The stimulus modality to which a sensory receptor responds is determined by the sensory receptor's adequate stimulus.

The sensory receptor responds to its stimulus modality by initiating sensory transduction.

Classification by adequate stimulus

The sensory receptor's adequate stimulus is the stimulus modality to which a sensory receptor responds by initiating sensory transduction. Adequate stimulus can be used to classify sensory receptors:

  • Chemoreceptors respond to chemical signals
  • Mechanoreceptors respond to touch or pressure
  • Thermoreceptors respond to heat
  • Photoreceptor cells respond to light

Classification by location

Sensory receptors can be classified by location:

See also

  • Primary sensory cell
  • Secondary sensory cell

Nervous system - Sensory system Edit (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=MediaWiki:Sensory_system&action=edit)

Visual system - Auditory system - Olfactory system - Gustatory system - Somatosensory system

  Results from FactBites:
NationMaster - Encyclopedia: Special senses (810 words)
A mechanoreceptor is a sensory receptor that responds to mechanical pressure or distortion.
In a sensory system, a sensory receptor is a structure that recognizes a stimulus in the internal or external environment of an organism.
However, touch (along with the senses of pressure, temperature, and pain) is one of the general senses that has small sensory receptors scattered throughout the body in the skin (for a further discussion, see chapter 4).
Effects of Deuterium Oxide on Mechano-Sensory Receptor -- Nakajima and Kuroda 73 (12): 4703 -- Proceedings of the ... (164 words)
In the crayfish stretch receptor organ, a total substitution of D
O in the bathing solution produced a decrease in the amplitude of the receptor potential to a level of 34% of the control.
The electrical resistance of the receptor neuron was slightly increased by the D
  More results at FactBites »



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