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So they distinguish temperatures instead of colors. Elephants communicate in all sorts of wonderful ways. They trumpet, of course, and flap their ears and rumble at frequencies so low you might feel it, but never hear it. Cooler still, their feet and trunks are sensitive enough to pick up vibrations created by elephants as far as 10 miles away. These messages convey more than the presence of food or danger, too. Even the lowly roundworm needs to know which way is up as it shimmies through dead plants or squirms in a petri dish. Although roundworms are among the most exhaustively studied species, no one realized this about them until last year, when scientists in Texas discovered their worms from Australia burrowing in the wrong direction.

But others think that sunlight sets off a chemical reaction in the bees whose products are affected by magnetic fields. Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article. Credit: Getty Images Bumblebees rely on many things to find those roses in your garden, including voltage. Credit: Getty Images Beyond being among the most skillful predators on the planet, sharks possess the best biological conductor of electricity yet discovered. Credit: Getty Images Mantis shrimp are famous for striking prey so hard that the water around them gets as hot as the sun.

Credit: Getty Images Everyone hates a phlebotomist who keeps poking away in search of a vein. Credit: Getty Images Pit vipers have night-vision goggles built into their faces. Credit: Getty Images Elephants communicate in all sorts of wonderful ways.


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Credit: Getty Images Even the lowly roundworm needs to know which way is up as it shimmies through dead plants or squirms in a petri dish. Skip Comments. Humans have a comparatively weak sense of smell and a stronger sense of sight relative to many other mammals while some animals may lack one or more of the traditional five senses. Some animals may also intake and interpret sensory stimuli in very different ways. Some species of animals are able to sense the world in a way that humans cannot, with some species able to sense electrical [1] and magnetic fields , [2] and detect water pressure and currents.

A broadly acceptable definition of a sense would be "A system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that responds to a specific physical phenomenon, and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.


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Non-human animals may possess senses that are absent in humans, such as electroreception and detection of polarized light. In Buddhist philosophy , Ayatana or "sense-base" includes the mind as a sense organ, in addition to the traditional five.

What are the 7 Senses? | 7 Senses Foundation

This addition to the commonly acknowledged senses may arise from the psychological orientation involved in Buddhist thought and practice. The mind considered by itself is seen as the principal gateway to a different spectrum of phenomena that differ from the physical sense data. This way of viewing the human sense system indicates the importance of internal sources of sensation and perception that complements our experience of the external world.

There are two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones. Rods are very sensitive to light but do not distinguish colors. Cones distinguish colors but are less sensitive to dim light. There is some disagreement as to whether this constitutes one, two or three senses. Neuroanatomists generally regard it as two senses, given that different receptors are responsible for the perception of color and brightness. Some argue [ citation needed ] that stereopsis , the perception of depth using both eyes, also constitutes a sense, but it is generally regarded as a cognitive that is, post-sensory function of the visual cortex of the brain where patterns and objects in images are recognized and interpreted based on previously learned information.

This is called visual memory. The inability to see is called blindness. Temporary or permanent blindness can be caused by poisons or medications. People who are blind from degradation or damage to the visual cortex, but still have functional eyes, are actually capable of some level of vision and reaction to visual stimuli but not a conscious perception; this is known as blindsight.

People with blindsight are usually not aware that they are reacting to visual sources, and instead just unconsciously adapt their behavior to the stimulus. On February 14, researchers developed a neural implant that gives rats the ability to sense infrared light which for the first time provides living creatures with new abilities, instead of simply replacing or augmenting existing abilities.

Hearing or audition adjectival form: auditory is the sense of sound perception. Hearing is all about vibration. Mechanoreceptors turn motion into electrical nerve pulses, which are located in the inner ear. Hearing at high frequencies declines with an increase in age. Inability to hear is called deafness or hearing impairment. Sound can also be detected as vibrations conducted through the body by tactition.

Lower frequencies that can be heard are detected this way. Some deaf people are able to determine the direction and location of vibrations picked up through the feet. Taste or gustation adjectival form: gustatory is one of the traditional five senses.

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It refers to the capability to detect the taste of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc. The sense of taste is often confused with the "sense" of flavor, which is a combination of taste and smell perception. Flavor depends on odor, texture, and temperature as well as on taste. Humans receive tastes through sensory organs called taste buds, or gustatory calyculi, concentrated on the upper surface of the tongue.

There are five basic tastes : sweet , bitter , sour , salty and umami. Other tastes such as calcium [8] [9] and free fatty acids [10] may also be basic tastes but have yet to receive widespread acceptance. The inability to taste is called ageusia. Smell or olfaction adjectival form: olfactory is the other "chemical" sense. Unlike taste, there are hundreds of olfactory receptors according to one source [11] , each binding to a particular molecular feature. Odor molecules possess a variety of features and, thus, excite specific receptors more or less strongly.

The Senses

This combination of excitatory signals from different receptors makes up what we perceive as the molecule's smell. In the brain, olfaction is processed by the olfactory system. Olfactory receptor neurons in the nose differ from most other neurons in that they die and regenerate on a regular basis. The inability to smell is called anosmia. Some neurons in the nose are specialized to detect pheromones. Touch or somatosensation adjectival form: somatic , also called tactition adjectival form: tactile or mechanoreception , is a perception resulting from activation of neural receptors , generally in the skin including hair follicles , but also in the tongue , throat , and mucosa.

A variety of pressure receptors respond to variations in pressure firm, brushing, sustained, etc. The touch sense of itching caused by insect bites or allergies involves special itch-specific neurons in the skin and spinal cord. Paresthesia is a sensation of tingling, pricking, or numbness of the skin that may result from nerve damage and may be permanent or temporary.

Balance , equilibrioception , or vestibular sense is the sense that allows an organism to sense body movement, direction, and acceleration, and to attain and maintain postural equilibrium and balance. The organ of equilibrioception is the vestibular labyrinthine system found in both of the inner ears. In technical terms, this organ is responsible for two senses of angular momentum acceleration and linear acceleration which also senses gravity , but they are known together as equilibrioception.

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The vestibular nerve conducts information from sensory receptors in three ampulla that sense motion of fluid in three semicircular canals caused by three-dimensional rotation of the head. The vestibular nerve also conducts information from the utricle and the saccule , which contain hair-like sensory receptors that bend under the weight of otoliths which are small crystals of calcium carbonate that provide the inertia needed to detect head rotation, linear acceleration, and the direction of gravitational force. Thermoception is the sense of heat and the absence of heat cold by the skin and internal skin passages, or, rather, the heat flux the rate of heat flow in these areas.

There are specialized receptors for cold declining temperature and for heat increasing temperature. The cold receptors play an important part in the animal's sense of smell, telling wind direction. The heat receptors are sensitive to infrared radiation and can occur in specialized organs, for instance in pit vipers. The thermoceptors in the skin are quite different from the homeostatic thermoceptors in the brain hypothalamus , which provide feedback on internal body temperature.