The sensory system is a network of sensory nerves and tissues that enable the body to receive information about its surroundings.
Sensory systems include organs, tissues, and cells that receive stimuli from the environment and send this information to the brain for processing.
Sensory receptors are specialized neurons in the skin, eyes, ears, nose, tongue and other parts of the body that convert external stimuli (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) into signals that are sent to the brain via nerves. The nerves carry these signals to the higher sensory centers in the central nervous system, where they are interpreted.
Upon interpretation of the sensory signals, the CNS determines the state of the tissue and the body, which then affects what kind of effector response it will send back to those tissues. For example, when it’s cold outside, the bodily response is to produce goosebumps on the skin.
Learn the anatomy and physiology of sensory systems in humans with a focus on the special senses such as vision, hearing, taste and touch with our interactive tutorials below.