25 - sensory systems - BIOLOGY 325H Sensory systems March...

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BIOLOGY 325H Sensory systems March 24, 2008 In order to interact with its environment successfully, the animal needs to acquire accurate and appropriate information about its environment. This includes the external environment in which it lives, and also the internal environment inside its body. The animal acquires this information through its sensory systems. A central component of any sensory system is the sensory neuron, which transduces some form of physical stimulus into electrical signals that can be communicated to the rest of the nervous system by synaptic transmission. Many sensory systems also contain non- neural tissues that facilitate detection of environmental stimuli. Learning goals 1. What is the meaning of the term 'sensory transduction'? What is a receptor potential, and how – in general terms – is it produced? In a typical sensory neuron, what is the relationship between receptor potentials and action potentials, and what impact does it have on behavior? 2. What are the three major classes of sensory neurons? What kind of sensory input does each one transduce? Which type of receptor neuron is required for each of your five senses? 3. An animal maintains a given posture by controlling the length of its various muscles. This is true even when the force pulling on a muscle is increased, e.g. you can hold a mug steady even though someone is pouring liquid into it to increase its weight. What role do stretch receptors play in maintaining postures? 4. Why do the sensory neurons of your olfactory system respond electrically to only one
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25 - sensory systems - BIOLOGY 325H Sensory systems March...

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