The biomechanics of sensory organs

  • Sane S
  • McHenry M
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Abstract

Studies of mechanosensory systems have largely focused on the filter characteristics of their neural components in relation to their ultimate function. Less attention has focused on the role of the physical structure of the sensory organ which also acts as a mechanical filter of the sensory input. This biomechanical filtering is readily apparent in the case of several mechanosensory systems that transduce information about the deformations of the sensory organs in response to external forces. Because these deformations critically depend on the geometry and material properties of the mechanosensory organs, it is necessary to conduct focused studies on the biomechanical characteristics of these organs when studying the encoding properties of the mechanosensory system. Modern experimental tools such as Laser Doppler Vibrometry and computational tools such as Computational Fluid Dynamics and Finite Element Analysis provide the means for determining the sensory pre-filtering properties of small-scale mechanosensory structures. In all the cases covered in this review, the physical properties of the sensory organs play a central role in determining the signals received by the nervous system.

** Comprehensive review of the role of mechanical interactions in determining the sensitivy of sensory receptors. Primarily focuses on mechanoreceptive organs including proprioceptors, auditory organs, and the lateral line.

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Authors

  • S. P. Sane

  • M. J. McHenry

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