Week 4 of learning neuroscience : the taste, the smell and the vision

For this week of neuroscience, the lecture topics were the following : the chemical senses, the eye and the central visual system.

Chemical senses comprise the taste and the smell. Taste, or gustation, is the simplest among the senses with just five basic tastes, namely saltiness, sourness, sweetness, bitterness and umami. Most of the tastes have simple transduction pathways, though bitterness has multiple different receptors involved. Smell, also called olfaction, is much more complex as there are around a thousand types of receptors that can detect countless different odorant molecules. Vision is an extremely interesting sense, there is an immense amount of information received constantly. Processing that information begins at the eye itself and continues in different parts of the brain.

This week, we did not have an exercise session. The lecture was less interactive than the previous one but a game was introduced to us called Eyewire. This game enables to visualize neuron shapes and the structure of different cells involved in vision. During the lecture we saw the example of ganglion cells using this game.

It is very interesting to study in detail how our senses work, since it is something familiar to us that we experience every day. Indeed, action potential or synaptic transmission may seem quite abstract since when these events happen, we only perceive the consequences of them such as our body movements, whereas we are conscious of our senses since they are directly related to the perception of a molecule or light for example.

Posted by Alice Klein

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