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

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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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184 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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54 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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82 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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59 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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35 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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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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89 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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79 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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36 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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102 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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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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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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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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262 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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201 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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293 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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114 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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206 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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183 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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52 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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166 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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217 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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83 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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1k 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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200 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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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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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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138 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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155 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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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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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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7k 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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336 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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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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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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666 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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905 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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100 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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164 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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113 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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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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318 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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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 ...
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363 views

What is the known maximum ranging distance of a bat's sonar?

Bats are known to navigate by using echo-location. How far away can a bat detect an object by its sonar?
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Why do I smell flowers after sneezing?

Often when I sneeze, I smell flowers for a few seconds afterwards. I've done some searching on the internet, and apparently it's something that is at least not entirely uncommon, although the exact ...
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1k views

Could we transmit smells electronically?

We can encode sound and images in radio waves and send them, but presumably there's some physiological reason that we can't easily make a picture or video of a smell. Could we realistically break ...
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What portions of the brain have drastic changes in activation when we “sense” someone is there?

I was watching an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ("Commando") where he plays an elite soldier (surprise). An enemy tries to sneak up on him, and Arnold says that he smelled the other guy ...