Five Senses: Facts
Our senses allow us to learn, to protect ourselves, to enjoy our world. Can you imagine what it might be like to live your life without any of your senses? The senses usually work together to give us a clear picture of the things around us. If one sense is not working due to an accident or illness, then other senses will take over or become stronger to make up for the missing sense.
The five senses are: taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing.
Our sense of taste comes from the taste buds on our tongue. These buds are also called papillae (say: puh-pih-lee). But, the sense of smell also affects our taste.
The tongue is only able to taste four separate flavors: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. But, you might ask, how come different sweet foods taste different if there are only four flavors? That's because your favorite candy might be a combination of sweet and salty. And the chips in your chocolate chip cookie could be a combination of sweet and bitter. Everything you taste is one or more combinations of these four flavors.
Not only can your tongue taste, but it also picks up texture and temperature in your food like creamy, crunchy, hot or dry.
Your tongue is also one of the strongest muscles in your body and is able to heal from injury more quickly than other parts of your body. We also need our tongue to produce certain sounds when we speak.
Learn more about taste from KidsHealth.
Here is a great diagram of the parts of the tongue.
Our sense of sight is all dependent upon our eyes. A lens at the front of the eyeball helps to focus images onto the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is covered with two types of light sensitive cells – the cones and the rods. The cones allow us to see color and the rods allow us to see better at night and also aid us in our peripheral vision. All of this information is sent to the brain along the optic nerve.
The images sent are actually upside down and our brain makes sense of what it receives by turning the image right side up. The brain also uses the images from two eyes to create a 3D (three dimensional) image. This allows us to perceive depth.
Some people are not able to tell red colors from green colors. This is called color blindness. Others, through injury or other conditions, have little to no sight at all. Want to take a color blindness test?
Learn about blindness from KidsHealth.
Here is a great diagram of the eyeball.
The sense of touch is spread through the whole body. Nerve endings in the skin and in other parts of the body send information to the brain. There are four kinds of touch sensations that can be identified: cold, heat, contact, and pain. Hair on the skin increase the sensitivity and can act as an early warning system for the body. The fingertips have a greater concentration of nerve endings.
People who are blind can use their sense of touch to read Braille which is a kind of writing that uses a series of bumps to represent different letters of the alphabet. Want to learn more about Braille?
Our skin is the largest organ in our body and contains the most nerve endings. Here's a diagram of the skin.
Are some areas of your skin more sensitive to touch than others? Learn all about it with this experiment at KidsHealth.
Our nose is the organ that we use to smell. The inside of the nose is lined with something called the mucous membranes. These membranes have smell receptors connected a special nerve, called the olfactory nerve. Smells are made of fumes of various substances. The smell receptors react with the molecules of these fumes and then send these messages to the brain. Our sense of smell is capable of identifying seven types of sensations. These are put into these categories: camphor, musk, flower, mint, ether, acrid, or putrid. The sense of smell is sometimes lost for a short time when a person has a cold. Dogs have a more sensitive sense of smell than man.
In addition to being the organ for smell, the nose also cleans the air we breathe and impacts the sound of our voice. Try plugging your nose while you talk.
Smell is also an aide in the ability to taste.
Take a peek at the inside of the nose here.
Learn more about how your nose works at KidsHealth.
Our ears, which help us hear, are made of two separate parts: the outer ear and the inner ear. The outer ear is the part that others see. It works like a cup to catch sound as it travels past our heads. This part is made of cartilage and skin.From here, sound travels to the tympanic membrane and then onto the inner ear via the three smallest bones in your body. The inner ear is also called the cochlea and is a spiral shaped tube which translates vibrations into sound and sends that message to the brain through the auditory nerve. The brain uses the sounds from both the left and the right ear to determine distance and direction of sounds.
Some people who are unable to hear rely on sign language for communication. This is done by using their hands and body language to communicate with others. Learn more about sign language at Sign Time.
Check out this diagram of a human ear.
Learn more about how your ears do their job at KidsHealth.
In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, humans also have the sense of balance, pressure, temperature, pain, and motion. These various "new" senses all work together and may involve the coordinated use of the sense organs. The sense of balance is managed by a complicated network of various body systems. Any quick change to any of the five senses can cause the feeling of dizziness or unsteadiness. You might have experienced this while riding in a car or turning quickly.
Give This a Try
This is your opportunity to try an experiment with your senses. You will need:
- something you enjoy eating – maybe an apple or banana
- an onion, cut open (adults should do the cutting)
Now, get someone to help you, by holding the onion under your nose while you eat the apple or banana. Take a deep breath and chew. What do you notice? Some of our enjoyment of eating comes from the fragrances of the food.
What foods do you enjoy smelling? Fresh baked cookies? Bacon frying? Some fragrances will even bring back strong memories.
The sensory information in my opinion, can provide an accurate view of the world. It is because people’s lives revolve around senses and thought. There are five senses in living things, they include; sight, touch, taste, smell and hear. People’s thoughts are primarily an interaction with the sensory system. The accuracy of the sensory information, therefore, depends on a person’s thinking, fewer distractions in thoughts, sensory information are accurate. Enlisted are the reasons for believing in the accuracy of sensory information (Bueti, Bahrami & Walsh, 2008).
1. Touch. This sense majorly composed of skin allows one to detect dangerous materials. Hot and cold materials are touched and the touch sensor detects it and sends the information to the brain. The brain triggers a response to an act by removing the hand from the material.
2. Taste. The sensory organs in the tongue are vital in the accuracy of the sensory information.
It makes it possible for one to decide on the foods that can be eaten or a person’s preferences are based on the sensory organs of the tongue.
3. Sight: The organ responsible for sight, the eye, allows one to see a variety of things ranging from pleasant ones to the dangerous things. The sense of sight helps in the trigger off a response according to the information detected and sent to the brain. The response may be moving away or moving closer.
The above are the reasons for believing in the accuracy of the sensory information. They are a major key to the world wonders and allows one in the exploration of new things.
Alteration of the senses causes inaccuracy of the sensory information, therefore, judgment is challenged. Accuracy of sensory information Sensory information may not always be accurate because sometimes it may be interpreted incorrectly. Human beings sense organs may send deceiving messages when a given stimulus interpretation is wrong. These distortions may be because of the following factors:
1) Past experiences majorly contribute to the accuracy of sensory data. They are purely based on memory which people heavily rely on to determine who they are, who other people are, what is safe or unsafe and what they like. It is a fundamental part of the day to day life. People strongly believe that the past experiences are true.
2) The conditions include the use of one’s sight, taste, hearing, touch and smell determine the message detected and sent to the brain before triggering a response. What one sees, touch or feel, smell, hear or taste defines the sensory information. For example, if one is used to freezing temperatures in a given part of the world, relocating to countries with average temperatures may make them think that it is hot yet it is average. The environment is crucial in sensory perception, hence affecting its accuracy in turn.
3) Beliefs affect one’s sensory perception differently. Reality is perceived differently according to its unique understanding, from one’s personal awareness position. Perceptions, interpretations and memory are majorly guided by ones prejudgments and assumptions. I strongly believe that beliefs affect the accuracy of sensory information because the notions of truth or false highly depend on the particular person’s beliefs. Several factors contribute to the accuracy of sensory information such as a person’s mood, energy level and mental and physical health (Boets, Wouters, Van Wieringen, De Smedt & Ghesqui??re, 2008).
Role of memory in the interpretation and evaluation of sensory data
Interpretation of a stimuli is a process that involves the perception of stimuli by the sensory organs. It can be either of the five senses that include sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste. Once the sensory organs receive stimuli, the stimuli are sent to the brain through the associated neurons for interpretation. Interpretation of the perceived stimuli takes place in the brain, giving meaning to that stimulus. According to Sigmoid Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, he shows that the human brain is sub-divided into three parts that are the conscious the preconscious and the unconscious (which is the largest). The conscious part is that part of the memory that is available to the brain all the time is retrievable easily. The preconscious part is partially available to the brain it can also be retrieved partially (Weinberger & Weiss, 1997).
The unconscious part is that part of the memory that is not available to the brain and cannot be retrieved. Despite the differences in the types of the memory, they both play a great role in one’s interpretation of stimuli. It is a collection of a person’s experience from childhood and it is the basis of interpretation of sensory information. These are the memory parts that are available to the brain. The memory also modifies the behavior of the individuals too. The memory system is based on past experiences and thoughts. The complete complexity of the processes of memory includes sight, sound, feel and belief memory systems which aid in the integration of information. The perception of an object will be of essence, if there is no ability to link and recall corresponding memories. Hence the memory if the fundamental basis of interpretation of stimuli.
A young child interprets sensory data differently from a full grown person. For example, if there is a fire outbreak in the neighborhood, an adult person can smell the smoke and give meaning to the whole thing while a child will not be able to tell if there is a fire because the child does not have the memory of the smell of smoke. Hence can’t give meaning to it and act.
Boets, B., Wouters, J., Wieringen, A. V., Smedt, B. D., & Ghesqui??re, P. (2008). Modelling relations between sensory processing, speech perception, orthographic and phonological ability, and literacy achievement. Brain and Language, 106(1), 29-40.
Bueti, D., Bahrami, B., & Walsh, V. (2008). Sensory and association cortex in time perception. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 1054’1062. doi:10.1162/jocn.2008.20060.
Weinberger, J., & Weiss, J. (1997). Psychoanalytic and cognitive conceptions of the unconscious. Cognitive Science And The Unconscious, 23–54.