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Lab 6 - Auditory, Vestibular, Gustatory and Olfaction Systems


The purpose of today's exercise is to introduce you to the structure of the auditory, vestibular, gustatory, and olfactory systems. The auditory system is an exteroceptive system (relating to stimuli received by an organism from outside) involved in the perception of sound. The vestibular system is a proprioceptive system involved in the perception of the position and movement of the head with respect to the force of gravity. The receptors of the auditory and vestibular systems are modified epithelial cells that are located within the ear.

The gustatory system, although classically called a special visceral system, is also an exteroceptive system involved in the perception of the flavors and tastes of solids and liquids ingested into the oral cavity. The taste receptors are also specialized epithelial cells which are located in the oral cavity

The olfactory system is a chemosensory system responsive to air-borne chemicals. The olfactory system is considered one of the most primitive of the sensory systems. It is directly involved with the limbic system and is often grouped with it in discussions of structure and function.


At the end of this exercise you should be able to:

  1. Recall the major components of the receptor organs.
  2. Identify the major nuclei and tracts of the ascending pathways.
  3. Describe other important "non-sensory" connections involved in feedback or reflex pathways.

In the following sections we will study the peripheral receptor organs of the auditory, vestibular, gustatory, and olfactory systems. Each section will start with an introductory slide followed by microscopic images of the receptors. You will be asked to identify the components of the receptor organs in these microscopic images.

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