Perception is a process performed by all human beings. By definition, it is a brain mechanism where, through a series of associations of different stimuli, the brain interprets an internal reality about what is happening in the environment. Basically, perception could be defined as the physiological event of sensation.
Every living being is linked to the environment, because one of the indispensable conditions that life itself must fulfill is the body’s ability to communicate with the outside, as well as nutrition and reproduction. Not all living things relate to the environment in the same way, but there has to be some degree of perception of the things of others for life to be regarded as such.
For example, some bacteria have structures called magnetosomes inside, which, depending on their alignment, allow microorganisms to orient themselves magnetically in a water column. Phenomena as fascinating as this lead us to ask ourselves many questions: do organisms have simple evolutionary “senses”? What are the channels of perception that characterize human beings? Do we really have 5 senses? If in doubt, don’t worry, because today we’re addressing all of these issues and more.
What are the channels of perception?
Channels of human perception or the senses are the physiological mechanism of sensation, i.e. the reception of stimuli (external and internal) through the sensory organs. The collection process is based on 3 pillars, which can be summarized in the following list:
- Biological factors: external stimuli picked up by the 5 senses, which will be explored in the following lines.
- Psychological factors: refers to all the neural processes carried out by the brain, that is to say the image created from stimuli, associated with previous experiences in order to recognize or learn them.
- Experience: Based on exposure to a certain stimulus, humans respond to and understand our surroundings differently.
It should be noted that, Although experience is an inherently subjective factor, others can also be differentiated, even though they go through the same process in all human beings.. For example, studies have repeatedly shown that people who are completely blind try to “compensate” for their condition by developing hearing mechanisms of exceptional finesse. Although the biological process is the same, its development varies according to individual needs.
Types of perception channels in humans
Let’s briefly explain what the 5 senses consist of. However, we do not delay too much, because we see a particular interest in recording other reception channels which are generally not explored in humans. Let’s do this.
Biologically, the sense of sight is considered to be one of the most important in humans. The organs responsible for receiving external stimuli and sending them to the brain are, this time, the eyes. When light passes through the cornea and lens of the eyeball (through the pupil), an inverted, real image is formed in the retina.
This image-shaped stimulus is transported by the optic nerve to the cerebral cortex, where the interpretation of the message takes place at the psychico-chemical level. The eyes have around 125 million canes that help us see shapes and 7 million cones that differentiate colors, but not least we are living things with the most developed sense of sight.
The sense of hearing allows us to pick up sounds that occur in the environment, a fundamental ability to situate ourselves in the three-dimensional environment and to act according to what surrounds us. The ear picks up environmental events by means of vibrations of means, which oscillate between 20 and 20,000 hertz.
In addition to hearing, the hearing aid plays many other essential roles in maintaining human physiological integrity. For example, the vestibular system located in the inner ear is responsible for coordinating balance. Dizziness, lightheadedness and the ease of having accidents are clinical signs that characterize people with damaged vestibular systems.
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Taste allows us to identify the flavors of the foods we are going to eat. The main organ involved in this perception channel is the tongue, which is covered with taste buds containing the sensory receptors necessary to form the concept of “taste” (the taste buds).
Out of curiosity, it should be noted that the widely cited “language map” reports very little physiological and anatomical information. In fact, although there are some differences in terms of the concentrations of taste receptors mentioned in different parts of this organ, the variations were meant to be insignificant. The tasting process is much more complex than previously thought.
It is the perception of pressure, usually the skin. The sense of touch is essential for survival because it allows us to interpret when we are in danger according to a certain number of receptors specialized in the perception of various environmental characteristics. We deepen this concept in the following lines.
The smell is the sense responsible for the treatment and detection of odors, based on the particles in suspension present in the environment (It is chemical in nature, just like the taste). Through the inspired air, these molecules come into contact with the olfactory epithelium of the nasal cavity which, after a series of connections, sends the messages to the olfactory bulbs. These are responsible for processing, encoding and directing information to other areas of the brain.
It is interesting to know that humans can detect around 10,000 different smells and that, from a culinary point of view, smell is considered an accessory of taste. Have you ever wondered why meals don’t taste good to us when we’re cold? During this clinical picture, the olfactory receptors are isolated by the nasal mucus, and as a result, we lose a very high percentage of information when interpreting in the brain what we are eating.
Other “senses” in humans
There are more senses to be discovered, although they are not directly related to the 5 main blocks that we have shown you. Some of these are associated with touch, while others report internal information that is not directly related to any of the previously mentioned elements. In this list, we present a few:
- Thermoreception: includes the perception of heat and its absence. Skin thermoreceptors are completely different from those that identify the thermal balance of our internal organism.
- Nociception: perception of pain. Not all pain receptors are found on the skin, as they are also found in the joints, bones, and viscera.
- Proprioception: the perception of our own body parts and their location in a three-dimensional space.
- Equilibriocepción: perception and maintenance of balance.
You might think that thermoreception and nociception are events that are completely related to the sense of touch, but this is not always the case. Inherently “touch” encompasses anything we can feel through the skin, but it turns out that heat, cold, and pain can also be felt in other internalized areas of the body that have little to do with it. the dermis and the epidermis.
Visceral nociceptors are an example: Most of these are high threshold or nonspecific amyelinated fibers, but they register the perceived damage on the organs of our body. In this case, information is received from the inmate and therefore it is unreasonable to link such an event to touch.
Something similar happens with equilibriocepción. Yes, the system balance is in the ear, but it is not explicitly and directly related to hearing itself. A deaf person can have a good sense of balance, although it is more difficult to maintain posture and avoid falls when so much information is missing that hearing is lacking.
As you have seen, the typical classification of perception channels makes water on many fronts, no matter how useful it is at the level of education and awareness. For example, the map of languages has repeatedly refuted, since dividing this organ into circumscribed and clearly demarcated taste sections is, to a large extent, a lack of truth.
On the other hand, humans “feel” much more than can be encompassed in sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. The perception of our own body, the balance of our locomotor system, internalized pain and the perception of internal heat are physiological events that cannot be fully explained with the classical senses. These dilemmas highlight that the more we know about our bodies, the more we have to know.
- The sense of sight, Oftalvist. Collected March 6 from https://www.oftalvist.es/blog/sentido-de-la-vista/
- The sense of taste, EDUMEDIA. Collected March 6 from https://www.edumedia-sciences.com/es/media/478-el-sentido-del-usto#:~:text=El%20ustu%20es%20el%20sentido,del%20sabor% 20es% 20La% 20lengua. & text = Tamb% C3% A9n% 20se% 20ilustra% 20La% 20transmisi% C3% B3, trav% C3% A9s% 20de% 20las% 20fibras% 20nerviosas.
- Ear function, RDR. Collected March 6 at https://www.rdr.com.mx/funcionamiento-del-oido/#:~:text=El%20sentido%20del%20o%C3%ADdo%20nos,movernos%2C%20no% 20we lose balance% 20EL% 20.
- Perception as a means of development of the individual. (Fundamental factors.), UP. University of Palermo. Collected March 6 from https://fido.palermo.edu/servicios_dyc/proyectograduacion/detalle_proyecto.php?id_proyecto=1126#:~:text=La%20percepci%C3%B3n%20es%20un%20proceso,que%20ocurre% 20en% 20su% 20entorno. & text =% 20ser% 20humano% 20se% 20distingue, by% 20su% 20capacidad% 20de% 20razonar.