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Sense Organ


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The ear is a sensory organ that picks up sound waves, allowing us to hear. It is also essential to our sense of balance: the organ of balance (the vestibular system) is found inside the inner ear. It is made up of three semicircular canals and two otolith organs, known as the utricle and the saccule. The semicircular canals and the otolith organs are filled with fluid.


Information coming from the vestibular system is processed in the brain and then sent on to other organs that need this information, such as the eyes, joints or muscles. This allows us to keep our balance and know what position our body is in.


In some situations, for example on a ship or airplane, different sensory organs (e.g. the eyes and the organ of balance) send contradictory messages to the brain. This can cause us to feel unwell, dizzy or nauseous.


The vestibular system is especially sensitive in children, and reacts more slowly to movements as we grow older. Inner ear infections and other problems may also affect how well our sense of balance works.


The human body can achieve an understanding of the world through its sensory systems. Sensory systems are widespread throughout the body including those that detect the world directly from the outside (exteroreceptors), those that detect information from internal organs and processes (interoceptors), and those detecting sense of position and load (proprioception).[1][2][3][1]


Sensory receptors occur in specialized organs such as the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, as well as internal organs. Each receptor type conveys a distinct sensory modality to integrate into a single perceptual frame eventually. This information is achieved by the conversion of energy into an electrical signal by specialized mechanisms. In this report, we will discuss a basic overview of sensory systems, focusing on sensory receptors.


All impulses from the receptors transmit as nerve signals and what ultimately determines how we perceive the stimulus is where the nerve fiber terminates in the central nervous system. It is important to realize that what one senses is dependent on the receptor and any damage occurring from the beginning of the path to its end.


To discuss how sound receptors work, first, we must mention the order of events. Sound waves travel to the ear creating a vibration in the tympanic membrane. This energy transforms into mechanical energy to the malleus, incus, and stapes. The stapes are in close proximity to the oval window, and it amplifies the mechanical energy to the cochlea, a fluid-filled structure with a fluid called perilymph, by directly pushing on it. The cochlea has three layers called scala vestibuli (the ascending portion), scala media, and scala tympani (the descending portion). The organ of Corti is on the basilar membrane surface, and it contains hair cells which are the primary receptors in sound signal creation. There are two varieties of hair cells: inner and outer. Inner cells transmit information to the auditory nerve, and outer cells mechanically amplify low-level sound entering the cochlea.


The inner ear senses balance. With head motion or pressure impulses of sound, the endolymph vibrates and creates a stimulus for the receptors of the vestibular system - the utricle and saccule. Inside the utricle and saccule are maculae containing hair cells with a membranous covering of microscopic otoconia that detect motion of the endolymph. Those in the saccule help sense vertical accelerations whereas those in the utricle sense horizontal accelerations. With changes in position, and thus changes in fluid motion, the shifting of these hair cells causes the opening of receptor channels leading to action potentials propagating from the hair cells to the auditory nerve. The rate of fluid motion, plus the quality of the fluid, gives more information about the motion. While the utricle and saccule detect linear motion, the semicircular ducts detect rotations in a similar fashion.[5]


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