sense organ(redirected from sensory system)
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A structure which is a receptor for external or internal stimulation. A sense organ is often referred to as a receptor organ. External stimuli affect the sensory structures which make up the general cutaneous surface of the body, the exteroceptive area, and the tissues of the body wall or the proprioceptive area. These somatic area receptors are known under the general term of exteroceptors. Internal stimuli which originate in various visceral organs such as the intestinal tract or heart affect the visceral sense organs or interoceptors. A receptor structure is not necessarily an organ; in many unicellular animals it is a specialized structure within the organism. Receptors are named on the basis of the stimulus which affects them, permitting the organism to be sensitive to changes in its environment.
Photoreceptors are structures which are sensitive to light and in some instances are also capable of perceiving form, that is, of forming images. Light-sensitive structures include the stigma of phytomonads, photoreceptor cells of some annelids, pigment cup ocelli and retinal cells in certain asteroids, the eye-spot in many turbellarians, and the ocelli of arthropods. The compound eye of arthropods, mollusks, and chordates is capable of image formation and is also photosensitive. See Photoreception
Phonoreceptors are structures which are capable of detecting vibratory motion or sound waves in the environment. The most common phonoreceptor is the ear, which in the vertebrates has other functions in addition to sound perception. See Ear
Statoreceptors are structures concerned primarily with equilibration, such as the statocysts found throughout the various phyla of invertebrates and the inner ear or membranous labyrinth filled with fluid.
The sense of smell is dependent upon the presence of olfactory neurons, called olfactoreceptors, in the olfactory epithelium of the nasal passages among the vertebrates. See Olfaction
The sense of taste is mediated by the taste buds, or gustatoreceptors. In most vertebrates these taste buds occur in the oral cavity, on the tongue, pharynx, and lining of the mouth; however, among certain species of fish, the body surface is supplied with taste buds as are the barbels of the catfish. See Taste
a specialized peripheral system by which an animal or human receives and partially analyzes various external stimuli. Each sense organ consists of receptors and auxiliary structures of varying complexity. The remote sense organs—the organs of sight, hearing, and smell—receive distant stimuli, while the organs of taste and touch receive stimuli only upon direct contact.