Processing of the senses in human and animal systems, such as vision, auditory, vestibular, and pain senses.

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How is pain induced by blunt and sharp objects?

Normally, when something touch you, you won't feel pain. With a great force "touching" you, you will feel pain. However, if something that is spiky makes contact with you, you will feel pain. So, how ...
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2answers
426 views

Why can humans feel electricity?

What evolutionary process has provided humans with the ability of feeling electric current? Besides lightning and electric eel, what natural hazards include electricity that poses a threat to humans? ...
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51 views

Pitch shift in hearing after wisdom teeth removal

Yesterday I had my wisdom teeth removed. This morning, when I heard our phone ringing, it sounded a little lower-pitched than usual (I have perfect pitch). Sure enough, when I opened FL Studio ...
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56 views

What is the biological limit on hearing resolution?

I sometimes wonder how many different individual musical scales could be perceived by human ears. I define a musical scale as a collection of notes that relate to some fundamental frequency by ...
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57 views

Why are our bodies created to itch when histamine is released by our immune systems?

Why do bug bites and cuts itch when scratching them clearly doesn't help us survive? Did our early ancestors need to rely on this itching sensation, or is it just that the receptors for itches just ...
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54 views

Do genetic modifications exist to enhance the taste of tomatoes?

GM tomatoes seem less tasty. Has there been any research on GMOs with regard to taste? Can scientists introduce a gene to, let's say, tomatoes, which would enhance the flavour? If not, why?
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215 views

How can bats hear such high frequencies?

I attended a talk that glossed over some biology as it was talking about a certain protein. The speaker mentioned humans can hear up to, often less than 20kHz frequencies, whereas bats can hear up to ...
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71 views

What is the biochemical explanation for tingling and burning sensation in brain due to certain food?

Consumption of mustard (spicy English Mustard), wasabi and horseradish based food dressings usually result in a burning, tingling or freezing sensation in the brain/scalp and nostrils as the vapour ...
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1answer
95 views

What are dreams, biologically?

Falling asleep or states of subconsciousness does not stop the mind from making its own fictional images. These seem like sensations just like those received from human eyes. But, how do we define ...
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60 views

How are smell and taste in fish differentiated?

The senses of taste and smell in different fish classes are described as two distinct senses; smell is mediated by the nasal openings, and taste by epithelial taste buds. They are both forms of ...
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38 views

Can nociceptors die because of too much mechanical stress?

In martial art people hit their body (e.g., with small bean bags) to become more insensitive to pain. Can the sensory neurons die during this procedure? I think this is just an urban legend. Instead, ...
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75 views

Does suffocation pain involve nociceptors?

I never suffocated myself so not entirely sure, but when you suffocate, it's painful, right? But of course different kind of pain than being injured or sick. What I'm wondering is, if the "painful" ...
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124 views

What's the frequency resolution of the human ear?

I was thinking about audio compression (namely mp3), that "filters" out sound that we would not likely hear. The MP3 lossy audio data compression algorithm takes advantage of a perceptual ...
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116 views

How precisely can we sense temperature differences?

We have thermoreceptors, thus we can sense temperature (both warm and cold). I'm interested in the sensitivity of our thermoreceptors - What is the smallest temperature difference that we can sense? ...
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1answer
43 views

Hand-eye coordination in 3D space

A simple daily event has amazed me and triggered this question. I have read and heard about hand-eye coordination. It quite straightforward when you e.g. want to open a door or play Xbox. In this case ...
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2answers
122 views

Do butterflies see behind?

Butterflies, like many other insects, understand that I am getting near from behind. How do they feel this - through vision, hearing, or some other sense?
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24 views

Why after physical activity I see flickering concentric circles? [duplicate]

After prolonged hard physical exercise such as running uphill I sometimes experience rapidly vibrating black-and-white concentric circles for a few minutes, looking like a sinusoidal zone plate, small ...
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2k views

Why do we experience temperatures below 37 degrees Celsius as 'hot'? [duplicate]

We always prefer to be in 20-25° C, although our core temperature is about 37°? Why is our skin temperature lower than our core temperature?
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45 views

Why not use non-visual self-recognition to test for consciousness in an organism?

Background A well-known test for consciousness in an organism is to observe its ability to recognise itself in a mirror (see wikipedia article: "Mirror test"). Question Why haven't I come across a ...
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1answer
364 views

What percent of the population has some form of synesthesia?

Data I am trying to get my hands on: What types of synesthesia (e.g. Grapheme-color synesthesia, Chromesthesia, etc.) are most common across the population? What percent of population has that ...
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3answers
219 views

Why do human ears have a lower boundary for the lowest energy perceivable signal than eyes?

I am currently hearing a lecture about human machine interaction. The lecturer is not a biologist (neither am I, we are both computer scientists), but he makes some statements about biology which I ...
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335 views

Evolutionary reasons why you cannot tickle yourself but masturbate

There are obviously good reasons that explain why you cannot tickle yourself (see e.g. here). This got me thinking why it is possible to masturbate... Wouldn't it make more sense to not being able to ...
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1answer
115 views

Do blind people learn Braille equally fast as the sighted?

The visually deprived brain undergoes extensive remodeling due to cross-modal plasticity. This leads to increased areas of the cortex being available for other purposes such as tactile processing. Now ...
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236 views

Why can you not tickle yourself?

It's the age old question, why can't we tickle ourselves? If you rub your fingers along your skin, sure there's sensation but you don't break down into a laughing fit (at least I don't :P), if someone ...
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282 views

Can ants sense food from a long distance?

I recently had ants find and then swarm to a food container that I put down on a desk, and I'm curious as to whether an ant would have needed to get lucky, discovering the food after crawling up the ...
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1answer
59 views

What can myelination tell you about the evolution of sensory receptors?

I am reading Avi Chaudhuri's Fundamentals of Sensory Perception and wondering if the information given about the somatosensory system could tell us anything about the way it evolved. It seems (at ...
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198 views

How can flies sense mirrors?

I've noted that flies in my house have no problem landing on even perfectly clean mirrors. Why don't they fly straight into them? Can they sense that there is a surface there, even though they can't ...
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228 views

Do ants feel acceleration?

The organ we have to provide us with current acceleration information is quite complicated. Because an ant queen didn't seem to notice when I picked up the bottle she was in, I have a suspicion that ...
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103 views

Can insects feel pain?

Insects do have a nervous system, even if it isn't nearly as complex as that of other animals. Can insects or other arthropods sense pain? Does their aversion to harmful stimuli suggest that they can ...
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37 views

Is the sense for salt depending on the electrolyte level in our body?

I often noticed, after (heavy) physical activity like cycling, running, swimming or working an isotonic drink (to recover the electrolyte level) tastes less "salty" compared to when drinking it before ...
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1answer
2k views

Why does ear wax taste sour?

Why does ear wax taste sour? I am interested in both the physiochemical mechanisms and the evolutionary reasons behind the sour taste of earwax.
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206 views

Are there specific features of birds that cats/small predators are attracted to?

I've recently heard a podcast, in which a professor describes one of the theories as to why we like abstract art. In his talk, he mentions an experiment with seagull chicks, in which the seagull ...
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1answer
134 views

Dogs bark at familiar person in Santa costume. Why? Don't dogs trust smell over vision?

Last night 10 humans and 2 dogs spent Christmas together. At some point, one human dissappears for a few minutes and comes back wearing a full Santa outfit. Upon respawning, the dogs start barking ...
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74 views

Organisms with the most extreme sensory capabilities? (sight, smell, sound) [closed]

Background It is quite mind boggling to imagine what it would be like to be missing sight, sound, touch, smell, taste etc. Question Which organism holds the record for most extreme sensory ...
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139 views

Chills down the spine with certain music?

I am sure many of us know the feeling of that tingling chill down our spines when listening to certain music. I experienced this most when my younger brother played an emotional piano piece for a ...
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160 views

Are similar smells usually based on similar chemicals?

Building off of this question: Why does freshly cut grass smell like a watermelon?, is it usually the case that things that we perceive as having similar smells are, in fact, the same or a similar ...
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3answers
2k views

How come that we “feel” it when someone's watching us [closed]

The question is relatively easy (the answer however..). We all know this feeling "being watched" and more often than not this is a real thing. If someone is staring at us from the side or from the ...
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3answers
3k views

Why do we squint when tasting very sour things?

Sometimes while tasting a very sour thing (like tamarind, lemon etc.) our eyes squint immediately and involuntarily for a second, but a little later becomes normal again. Why, and how, does this ...
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1answer
8k views

Why can cats interpret things on a monitor/tv, but dogs cannot?

E.g. you can see a lot of videos where cats are smashing some mouse or spider on an ipad, but I have never seen it with a dog. I have a dog myself and I know that he sometimes responds to the sounds ...
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384 views

How do ants sense imminent rainfall?

I have always been told to watch to see if ant-hole mounds are built up as a sign of imminent rainfall. My questions are, if what I have always been told is true, then by what mechanism do ants ...
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1k views

How are our senses dimmed during sleep?

Our senses are not as sensitive during sleep compared to wake. There is an arousal threshold during sleep that only when it is overcome will it wake a person up. My question is how is this arousal ...
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1answer
1k views

Does the human ear adapt to noise levels?

I have noticed lately that if I go to sleep, when I have my radio running, it is on lowest volume, I still consider it kind of loud. In the morning, when being on the edge of waking up, I hear the ...
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1answer
741 views

Why dogs move their noses when smelling?

I read on Wikipedia that: The wet nose, or rhinarium, is essential for determining the direction of the air current containing the smell. Cold receptors in the skin are sensitive to the cooling of ...
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1answer
986 views

Why Do Nerve Signals Get Crossed?

First off, I don't know if this is a normal healthy thing to occur. There have been many times where I have an itch on say my arm and I scratch it, only to feel the scratching elsewhere on my body. I ...
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1answer
107 views

How is olfactory acuity rated/measured?

Acuity of one's sight is rated on the 20/20 scale. An online search appeared to indicate there is no comparable 'standard' to rate olfactory acuity. How is acuity of the olfactory system rated?
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167 views

Why does getting certain chemicals in cuts hurt?

More specifically, shampoo. What are the mechanics of detecting a noxious chemical stimulus in terms of which receptors recognise what, how do they do it, and how is this information relayed to the ...
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1answer
123 views

Can animals that rely heavily on sonar sense colour?

Apparently there're species around as rely heavily on sonar to sense the world around them. E.g. Bat, Dolphin, Whale ... The humans, and other terrestrial beings in a lighted world are capable of ...
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3answers
3k views

Can a human smell through the ears?

The title does, prima facie, appear absurd. Performing a swallowing action whilst pinching the nostrils shut gives the impression of listening through a bucket filled with water around the head; ...
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1answer
358 views

Will a completely removed cat whisker grow back?

I just accidentally pulled out, while playing, my cat's whisker entirely, follicle and all. I feel terribly as I know she is a kitten and whiskers are rooted deep in a place rich in nerves. I'm ...
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75 views

Do humans have chemosensors for nutrients or chemicals? [closed]

I'm reading about chemoreceptors on Wikipedia, and see that the typical ones are mentioned: taste, smell, CO₂. I would like to learn more about the other kinds of chemoreceptors that humans may ...