Tuesday, 20 September 2011

SD329: Book 4 - Touch and Pain, Smell and Taste, Integrating the senses

The last book contains the final three blocks of the course.

The first block (block 5) is about touch and pain.
It starts by looking in detail at touch and the various sense receptors used to detect touch, pressure, and so on.
Then it looks at the integrated perception of touch, and how it is perceived. This is followed by the sense of proprioception - which is how you know where your arms and legs etc are without actually looking at them.
Its an important sense, as a video of someone who lost it shows, they are unable to walk or even sit in some cases.
Finally we look at pain, how it is sensed, how its passed and what various drugs can do to stop pain.

Smell and taste are block 6, and it seems there is still a lot to learn about the exact mechanisms that work here. It starts by looking at smell and how the structure of molecules and the sense of smell don't always seem to be correlated. Then there are the usual nerve pathways to consider, and theories on how exactly smell works etc.
Taste is similar in a way but much less complex as there are only 4-5 basic tastes.
Then a quick bit on combined taste/smell.

Then finally a rather short block on the integration of the senses. Things covered include the focus of attention and connection between sight and sound, and things like motion sickness.

Phew - another course that I've read to the end of.