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Definition of Sense

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Sense: In biology and medicine, the faculty of sensory reception. The ability to convey specific types of external or internal stimuli to the brain and perceive them. Sensory reception occurs through a process known as transduction in which stimuli are converted into nerve impulses which are relayed to the brain.

This process may involve the special senses -- hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch -- in which the corresponding sensory receptors are concentrated in the ear, eye, olfactory (smell) apparatus, taste buds, and skin.

The skin is rich in sensory receptors that convey the sensations not only of touch but also of heat and cold, pressure, and pain. Other sensory receptors are situated in internal organs such as the throat, stomach and heart.

There are also other senses such as the sense of equilibrium (which is related to the flow of endolymph, a fluid found in the inner ear) and the sense of position (proprioception).

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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