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PSYCH 2E03 (32)
Chapter 14

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Gautam Ullal

Psych 2E03: Sensory Processes Chapter 14: The Cutaneous Senses Overview of the Cutaneous System - The skin:  Heaviest organ in the human body, and ,if not the largest, it is certainly the most obvious  In addition to its warning function, the skin also prevents body fluids from escaping and at the same time protects us by keeping bacteria, chemical agents, and dirt from penetrating our bodies  Our main experience with the skin is visible surface, which is actually a layer of tough dead skin cells  Layer of dead cells is part of the outer layer of skin, epidermis  Below the epidermis is dermis  In these two layers, we find the mechanoreceptors, receptors that respond to mechanical stimulation - Mechanoreceptors:  Merkel receptor: disk-shaped receptor located near the border between the epidermis and the dermis  Meissner corpuscle: stack of flattened cells located in the dermis just below the epidermis  Ruffini cylinder: many-branched fibres inside a roughly cylindrical capsule  Pacinian corpuscle: layered, onionlike capsule that surrounds a never fibre; located deep in the skin, the pacinian corpuscle can also be found in many other places, including the intestines and the joints  Research on the functions of these receptors has focused on recording from the nerve fibres that are associated with these receptors  Temporal properties: adaptation. We can distinguish between two different types of fibres based on how they respond to continuous skin stimulation. Fibres associated with the Merkel and Ruffini receptors are slowly adapting (SA) fibres. They fire continuously, as long as pressure is applied. Fibres associated with the Meissner receptor and Pacinian corpuscle are rapidly adapting (RA) fibres. They fire only at the onset and offset of stimulation  Spatial properties: detail resolution. Ability to perceive details on a surface depends on the ability of receptors to fire to these details. Can be measured by determining how fibres respond to grooved stimuli presented to the skin. Response of SA1 fibre (Merkel receptor) reflects the pattern of these grooved stimuli, but the response of the RA2 fibre (Pacinian corpuscle) does not indicate the presence of these details  Frequency response: ability to perceive slow movement and rapid vibrations depends on the range of vibration speed over which a fibre responds. These receptors respond to stimuli having frequencies ranging from 0.3Hz (Merkel receptor), which corresponds to someone pushing and releasing your skin about once every 3 seconds, to over 500Hz (Pacinian corpuscle), which corresponds to an extremely rapid
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