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General Features of Sensory Systems

General Features of Sensory Systems - The Law of Specific...

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General Features of Sensory Systems When something from the outside world stimulates the sensory system in the form of a stimulus, the physical energy is absorbed by receptors using a process called reception . Following reception, the physical energy is converted to an electrochemical pattern in neurons using a process called transduction . Coding is a process of one-to-one correspondence between some aspect of the physical stimulus and some aspect of nervous system activity. So, as information comes into the sensory system, it is coded. Representation is another term used for coding. Perception is the conscious awareness of sensory stimuli. In other words, perception is the interpretation of coded stimulus. With the exception of olfaction (smell), all sensory system pathways have a relay nucleus in the thalamus before reaching cortex. Each sense has a specific thalamic nucleus as well as a specific primary cortex.
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Unformatted text preview: The Law of Specific Nerve Energies states that any activity by a particular neuron always conveys the same kind of information. So, all neurons use action potentials for carrying information meaning that all neurons carry the same energy. The brain interprets action potentials from different systems as different kinds of information (ex. smell, taste, touch, sound, light). So according to the law of specific nerve energies, the origin of the sensation is not important. The pathway over which the sensory information is carried defines the nature of perception. The different qualities of a sense (ex. different colors of light) can be distinguished in two ways. The first is the firing rates of different kinds of neurons and the second is the timing of the firing of nearby neurons (aka the activity of groups of neurons). QuickTime and a TIFF (LZW) decompressor are needed to see this picture....
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