The Somatosensory System

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A receptor cell is a specialised cell that responds to a particular energy or substance. This can be either in the internal or external environment. The receptor cell then converts this energy into a change in the electrical potential across its membrane. Thereby sending a neural signal to the brain. The neural connections of touch, vision, and hearing, each has its own separate pathway. In the case of the sensory pathway; will stimulus be detected by a sensory receptor and transferred to the spinal cord or the brainstem. Here it will connect to specific groups of neurons, which will further the signal to other neurons and on to the thalamus. The thalamus sends the information to the primary sensory cortical areas in the cerebral cortex. It will in turn, direct the thalamus to suppress some of the…show more content…
So the receptive field of a sensory cell consists of the stimulus region and the features that affect the activity of a cell; in other words excite or inhibit the cell to fire. In the somatosensory system, the whole surface of the body makes up the somatosensory field, and the receptive field of a single neuron is just the patch of skin that it responds to. But in addition to the somatosensory field, we have the visual field and the auditory field. Moreover, receptive fields exists in different sizes and shapes, as well as can very in the quality of stimulation that will trigger them to respond to a stimulus. Hence the reason for the cerebral cortex to filter the information passed on by the thalamus. Locating a Receptive Field and Animal Studies The receptive field can be mapped on the brain, by stimulating the body and detect which skin regions that activate. For example, by placing electrodes in the somatosensory cortex of a monkey, it is possible to establish how changes in the position of the stimulus affect the rate of spikes in action

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