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Body Senses

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Body Senses

[The] ministers to the soul are the five senses."

Leonardo da Vinci once proclaimed this sentiment.

According to this renowned Renaissance artist, the five senses are the key to truly experiencing and embracing life. His view supports the reality that each sensory organ transmits sensation to the brain to help us comprehend and interpret the world around us.

  • What are body senses?
  • How do our body senses work?
  • What senses do humans not have?
  • Why is sensation important in psychology?

Body Senses and Their Function

The sensation is the process through which our brains receive information through our five senses, which the brain then experiences and perceives. The senses involved are sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.

We view the world through our five senses. Our bodies would be rendered functionally worthless without them. In reaction to a physical phenomenon, the five senses function through body parts and sense organs that supply data for interpretation via a network of nerves. All sense organs have distinct functions designed to accomplish different goals.

Body Senses and Organs

Body organs enable us to see, smell, hear, touch, and taste.

Sight

The visual system, or sense of sight, is responsible for visual perception and is dependent on the transduction of light impulses received via our eyes. Vision as one of the senses is essential since it supplies the brain with the most information per second. The eyes are the primary sensory organ capable of detecting shape, color, motion, and depth.

Smell

The olfactory system refers to the biological components that support the sense of smell. Specialized sensory cells called olfactory sensory neurons are present in a small patch of tissue high within the nose that give us the capacity to smell. The sense of smell helps us detect and distinguish distinct odors. Different scents are either good, bad, or neutral based on the feelings they provoke.

Hearing

The auditory system senses sound by detecting vibrations via the ear. Your ears gather sound waves, turned into neural signals and delivered to the brain. In the brain, they are associated with previous experiences and presented as the sounds we hear. Hearing helps you communicate with people, experience the senses and sounds of nature, provide personal safety, and sustain mental health.

Touch

The somatosensory system known as the sense of touch comprises multiple sensations sent to the brain via specific skin neurons. The skin is the body's largest organ and has many receptors that help you feel what you touch. It senses cold, hot, smooth, rough, pressure, tickling, itch, pain, and vibrations, all controlled by this system. The sense of touch impacts our lives from feeding to walking, sexual behavior to social connections.

Taste

The gustatory system, known as the sense of taste, is a sensory process involved in flavor perception. This sense is triggered when a substance in the mouth chemically interacts with taste receptor cells on the taste buds located on the tongue. The tongue distinguishes between five specific flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami (meaty). It can also detect cool and hot.

Sixth Sense Organ

Aside from the five senses, our bodies have the sixth one, but most people are unaware of it. Experts in neuroscience conducted pioneer studies in the nineteenth century, claiming that the human body has the sixth sense organs.

Sir Charles Sherrington introduced the word proprioception in 1906 when he presented the division of senses into exteroceptive (external stimuli), interoceptive (internal stimuli), and proprioceptive (deep) fields. He proposed proprioception as the "hidden sixth sense." Sherrington discovered microscopic filaments between muscle fibers and tendon tissues running to the brain. He understood that such senses provide effective communication to the brain, helping to understand muscular tension.

Proprioception

Proprioception or kinesthesia refers to your body's ability to perceive movement, activity, force, heaviness, stiffness, position, and posture. It is based on the interaction of the body's central nervous system with specific soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Proprioception, for example, allows a person to toss a ball without looking at his arm, the same way you can tell the hardness of a stone or the weight of a bowling ball. When the police ask an intoxicated person to touch the tip of the nose, they test the senses of proprioception. A loss of proprioception causes poor balance, an increased risk of falling, uncoordinated movements, and difficulties recognizing one's strength.

Senses Humans Do Not Have

Humans have higher intelligence than animals. However, there are other things humans cannot do and senses only animals possess. Some of those differences are special senses, sensory organs, and body adaptations that allow animals to move and thrive in the environment.

Echolocation

Do you recall when you lost your keys or mobile phone in your bedroom? Imagine the stress of going through all your things before you even realize it's just under your blanket. It would be better to let out sounds that echo back at us to locate objects quickly. Unfortunately, only animals can do that. We call this ability - echolocation.

Echolocation is an animal's ability to navigate its surroundings, look for food, and avoid danger through the senses of sound waves. An animal emits a sound, bouncing back at the animal as echoes. The animal then locates the echo and uses it as a guide to navigating through the dark, hunting for food, and avoiding predators.

For instance, bats produce high-frequency sounds as they sense insect prey. The sound waves reach the moth and leave an echo released back to the bat. The bat then receives the echo giving information on where the moth is.

Body Senses, a bat displaying echolocation, StudySmarterBats displaying echolocation, pexels.com

Infrared and Ultraviolet Vision

Animals such as snakes have sensory organs that allow them to see at night using infrared vision. Pit vipers and pythons, for example, have pit organs that are sensitive to heat generated by warm-blooded animals like rodents and birds. Heat reaches the nerve fibers in the pit organs giving the snake infrared vision of the target. Birds with ultraviolet vision, such as kestrels, can detect traces of prey such as urine and mouse dung. Even the trails may be seen in the ultraviolet, contrasting the uniform color of a planted field.

Electric Sense

Electric eels have electroplate organs that can generate electric charges to hunt prey. This fish also has an electric field generated by its electroplates which senses water.

Body Senses, electric eels with electric senses, StudySmarterElectric eels with electric senses, pexels.com

Frogs and bony fishes like herring have a lateral line system of receptor organs located on the side to detect motion and pressure in water.

Magnetic Sense

Humans rely on a compass to understand geographic orientation. Still, animals such as sea turtles, sharks, and some birds have magnetic senses to help them travel long distances and know specific directions. It is thought that the animals' nervous system has traces of magnetite like compass needles that help detect the earth's magnetic fields.

Birds displaying magnetic sense, pexels.com | StudySmarter Originals

Meaning of Senses in Psychology

APA Dictionary of Psychology (n.d.) defines senses as mediums used to collect information about the external environment or the state of one's body in connection to it. The five primary senses—vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell—along with the body senses of pressure, pain, temperature, kinesthesis, and equilibrium—are all included. Sensory receptors direct information into a pathway that connects to a specific area in the brain. Sensation happens when a sensory receptor recognizes sensory input. These sensations help people understand how they can act in the world and deal with life's obstacles.

People experience a lot of senses and stimuli every day to the point that they don't pay much attention to them. However, a lack of awareness of these sensations can give rise to later problems in life, whether for a person's physical or mental health.

For instance, frequent and intense headaches may be a symptom of blood clots. Feelings of sadness may be a sign of depression and shouldn't be ignored. The ability to listen to ourselves in real-time, to understand our senses, feelings, and activities without being distracted by judgmental thoughts is called body sense or embodied self-awareness. It is vital that people think about their sensations and how they relate to the environment and well-being.

Body sense psychology helps to explore the mechanisms behind our senses of balance, pain, and actions in response to sensory input detected by our body senses — touch, temperature, pain, balance, and body position.

Importance of Sensation to Psychology

Senses play an integral part in perception, studied by psychologists to understand human behavior and cognitive processes. Psychology experts explain how sensation and perception work together and combine with attention in making sense of the world. Knowledge of the structure and function of senses helps researchers investigate how perception occurs and how it is different from person to person. By measuring and studying sensation, psychologists can develop theories and give broader perspectives applicable in the real world. Body senses are just as equally important as the primary senses. Recognizing the different body senses and their resulting complex sensational patterns contribute to further understanding of human sensation and perception principles.

Body Senses - Key takeaways

  • The sensation is the process through which our brains receive information through five senses, which the brain then experiences and perceives.

  • The olfactory system refers to the biological components that support the sense of smell.

  • The auditory system senses sound by detecting vibrations via the ear.

  • The somatosensory system, known as the sense of touch, comprises multiple sensations sent to the brain via specific skin neurons.

  • The gustatory system, known as the sense of taste, is a sensory process involved in flavor perception.

  • Proprioception or kinesthesia refers to your body's ability to perceive movement, activity, force, heaviness, stiffness, position, and posture.

Frequently Asked Questions about Body Senses

The senses involved are sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.

The senses that humans do not have are echolocation, infrared and ultraviolet vision, electric sense, and magnetic sense. 

APA Dictionary of Psychology (n.d.) defines senses as mediums used to collect information about the external environment or the state of one's body in connection to it. The five primary senses—vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell—along with the body senses of pressure, pain, temperature, kinesthesis, and equilibrium—are all included.

Senses play an integral part in perception, studied by psychologists to understand human behaviorand cognitive processes. Psychology experts explain how sensation and perception work together and combine with attention in making sense of the world.

Final Body Senses Quiz

Question

Which of these statements best define sensation?

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Answer

The process through which our brains receive information through our five senses, which the brain then experiences and perceives.

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Question

What sense organ can detect shapes, colors, motion, and depth?

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Answer

Eyes

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Question

What sensation is known as the "sixth sense?"

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Answer

Proprioception

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Question

Which of the following explains the gustatory system?

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Answer

It is when a substance in the mouth chemically interacts with taste receptor cells on the taste buds located on the tongue.

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Question

Which of the following represents an auditory sensation?

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Answer

The sound you hear when you bite a crunchy apple.

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Question

The olfactory system is known as which of the following?

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Answer

Sense of smell

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Question

Refers to your body's ability to perceive movement, activity, force, heaviness, stiffness, position, and posture.

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Answer

Proprioception

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Question

Choose the best answer. Echolocation is an animal's ability to navigate its surroundings, look for food, and avoid danger through _____.

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Answer

Sound waves

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Question

It enables snakes to "see" in the dark and hunt for food.

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Answer

Pit organs

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Question

It is thought that the animals' nervous system has traces of _____ acting like compass needles with this type of sense.

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Answer

Magnetite

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Question

Any medium used to collect information about the external environment or the state of one's body in connection to it.

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Answer

Sense

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Question

The ability to listen to ourselves in real-time, to understand our sensations, feelings, and activities without being distracted by judgmental thoughts is called ______.


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Answer

Embodied self-awareness

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Question

All of the following are body senses except:


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Answer

Relationship

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Question

Which example illustrates proprioception?

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Answer

Being able to toss a ball without looking at the arm

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Question

Which is not true about sense organs?

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Answer

All sense organs have the same functions designed to accomplish a goal.

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