Sensory Impulses

Sensory receptors can be ends of neurons or other kinds of cells located close to them. In either case, stimulation causes local changes in their membrane potentials (receptor potentials), generating a graded electric current that reflects the intensity of stimulation (see chapter 10, p. 376).

If a receptor is a neuron and the change in membrane potential reaches threshold, an action potential is generated, and a sensory impulse results on the afferent fiber. However, if the receptor is another type of cell, its receptor potential must be transferred to a neuron to trigger an action potential. Peripheral nerves transmit sensory impulses to the central nervous system, where they are analyzed and interpreted within the brain.

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