This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 04 table of contents.

Summary: The "Minor Senses"

The minor senses are only minor in the sense that they are less studied and have less of the brain devoted to them than vision and audition. Olfaction (the sense of smell) is specialized for detecting the molecular shapes of molecules. Sensory adaptation occurs in every sense, but it is especially noticeable in olfaction, where sensitivity to an odor rapidly decreases to 20% of original sensitivity.

Gustation (the sense of taste) is due to activity of taste cells, gathered in taste buds of the tongue. The word "taste" as most people use the term refers more to olfaction than gustation. When you pinch off your nose, for example, a cola drink tastes like carbonated water. Taste sensitivity is a form of chemical analysis. Taste receptors are grouped in taste buds, and a substance must be dissolved in water to reach them.

The cutaneous sense (sense of touch) includes sensitivity to pressure, pain, and temperature. Pain is influenced greatly by psychological factors such as awareness of an injury. The kinesthetic sense is the sense of body position. It helps a person know the position of the arm, for example. The equilibratory sense is the sense of balance. It includes separate mechanisms for detecting rotary motion (tilt of the head) and linear motion (acceleration or deceleration).

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