Sensory Neuroscience

Sensory neuroscience is a subfield of neuroscience which explores the anatomy and physiology of neurons that are part of sensory systems such as vision, hearing, and olfaction. Neurons in sensory regions of the brain respond to stimuli by firing one or more nerve impulses (action potentials) following stimulus presentation. How is information about the outside world encoded by the rate, timing, and pattern of action potentials? This so-called neural code is currently poorly understood and sensory neuroscience plays an important role in the attempt to decipher it. Looking at early sensory processing is advantageous since brain regions that are "higher up" (e.g. those involved in memory or emotion) contain neurons which encode more abstract representations. However, the hope is that there are unifying principles which govern how the brain encodes and processes information. Studying sensory systems is an important stepping stone in our understanding of brain function in general.

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