card
330

senses

OLogy Series
biology
card
330

senses

OLogy Series
biology

When you wake up in the morning, you might see sunlight through your window, hear birds chirping, or smell breakfast. Everything you know about the world comes to you through your senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Although you see with your eyes and hear with your ears, it's your brain that makes you aware of what you are sens- ing. Your brain brings all your senses together, connecting them into a complete experience.

When you touch something, signals rush from sensors in your skin to your brain. What parts of your body have the most touch sensors?

lips and hands

shoulders and wrists

back and hips

Are you right?

Correct!

The brain has special areas that receive touch signals from each part of your body. The more sensitive the body part, the larger the brain area. So the "touch centers" for your lips and hands in your brain are especially large. Think about what other parts of your body are sensitive to touch.

Smells are the sensations we get from chemicals that travel in the air. What other sense depends on detecting chemicals?

seeing

taste

touching

Are you right?

Correct!

Taste and smell are closely related. When you taste something, tiny taste buds detect chemicals in the food. A taste bud produces signals for a bitter, sweet, salty, or sour flavor. A person can have as many as 10,000 taste buds!

You could not see, hear, smell, taste, or feel without your brain.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Your brain has special areas devoted to receiving signals from each sense. Other parts of your brain weave these signals together so that your experience feels rich and seamless.

When you listen to your favorite song, different parts of your brain detect the song's volume and melody.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

In your brain's "hearing center," one part de- tects pitch and volume, another senses rhythm and melody, and a third combines everything so you experience the piece as a whole!

If one of your senses is weakened, your brain can adapt, or change, to improve other senses.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Experience can change how the brain works. Many blind people rely on their sense of touch to read and write Braille. In their brains, the "seeing center" takes on the function of touch!

Definition: how you receive information from the outside world
Basic Senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste
Related Brain Parts: visual cortex (sight), auditory cortex (hearing), olfactory cortex (smelling), gustatory cortex (taste), somatosensory cortex (touch)
Cool Fact: You never stop sensing the world around you--even when you’re sleeping!

Image credits: © istockphoto.com.