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Sensory Adaptation Experiment

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Sensory Adaptation experiments provide individuals with the experience of learning the changes in perception of messages sent to the nervous system and the response each message triggers from the brain. Every individual has senses, but not every individual uses those senses allowing the brain to process the messages (Sternberg, Mio & Mio, 2009). The paper will discuss the results on the sensory adaptation of different experiments. The first experiment will involve rubbing my index fingers over the surface of coarse sandpaper and rating its coarseness on a scale of 1 to 7. The second experiment will involve two cups; one containing sugar water and the second containing fresh water. The third experiment will involve the use of three medium sized bowls and involves submerging my hands in the first two and simultaneously into the third one. Sensory Adaptation takes place when sensory receptors alter their sensitivity to stimuli. These experiments are to assess the results registered in the sensory systems on different parts of the body.

The first experiment involved rubbing my index fingers over a piece of coarse sandpaper. This experiment was carried out for a few minutes to rate the coarseness on a scale of one (soft) to seven (very coarse). After about two minutes had elapsed, I rubbed my index fingers over the same sandpaper and recorded the coarseness on the scale. The results registered in this experiment showed that an individual’s perception of coarseness does change. The first time I rubbed my fingers on the sandpaper, the perception rating I registered was a six, which was very coarse. The second time I rubbed my fingers on the coarse sandpaper after about two minutes, I registered a rating of three which was less coarse than the first time. What was the significance of these results? I adapted to the feeling of the paper. The feeling on my fingers and the surface on the sandpaper were the same. I adapted to the sensation of coarseness, and after the second time round, I did not notice the difference between soft and course as registered in the first trial.

The second experiment involved setting up one cup with a sugar solution and the second cup with fresh water. I carried out the experiment by taking a sip of sugar water, swished it around my mouth for several seconds. After a certain amount of time had elapsed, I disposed of the sugar water. The results I registered showed that the taste in my mouth became less and less sweet as time lapsed. The reason for this was that the sensory nerves in my mouth become used to, or rather, adapted to the sweet taste. The second part of the experiment was to sip the fresh water and dispose of it. The taste of this water felt very different in my mouth. The reason for this was that the sensory nerves in my mouth adapted to the sweet tasting water. When I introduced the fresh water, the senses experienced a different taste.

The final experiment involved the use of three medium sized bowls. The first bowl contained very hot water, but not painfully hot. The second bowl contained very cold tap water. The third one contained a mixture of very cold and hot water. The bowls were set up so that the cold-water bowl was in front of my right hand, and the hot water bowl was in front of my left hand. The lukewarm bowl was in between the two. The experiment involved submerging each hand in the bowl in front of the respective arms. This continued for about three minutes. Once the time elapsed, I took my hands from the bowls and placed them in the third bowl. The results registered were not very noticeably different. The reason my hands were not receptive was that they adapted to the water I initially put them. When I placed my hands in the lukewarm bowl, there was a less conspicuous difference to the senses.

The primary sensory system involved in the first experiment was the sense of touch. The second experiment tested the sense of taste while the third experiment tested my sense of touch as well. Each of these systems experienced adaptations to the stimulus presented to me. Adaptation is an important factor in evolution. According to Nicholas (2009), the primary reason for its significance is the need for man to adjust to changes in their senses, environment and stimuli. If an individual is not able to adapt, he experiences difficult circumstances in handling even the smallest variance in his environment. If an individual is not able to handle the change or adapt to the change, this will create complexities not only in the sensory system, but also in the psychological system as well (Noback, C. R. et al, 2007). Additionally, lack of adaptation to certain situations may lead to the development of mental stress and disruption of the central nervous system. When an individual is able to adapt to certain situations, he or she is able to evolve both in the mental and physical capacity. 

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