, Volume 187, Issue 6, pp 467-475

Infrared sensitivity of thermoreceptors

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This study compares the effects of convective and radiant heat on the discharge rates of the warm cell of a thin hair-like sensillum of the tick and of the cold cells of small peg-shaped sensilla of the locust and the cockroach. The temperature rates imposed by the convective heat contained in the air stream used for stimulation are reflected by the discharge rate of the thermoreceptors. We determined the increment in radiant heat that results in the same change in discharge rate as a given increment in temperature due to convection. The amount of infrared radiation required to produce the same effect as a 1°C change in temperature differs for the sensory cells of the tick, locust and cockroach, respectively, suggesting differences in the ability of the sensilla to take up and transfer radiant heat. The power of radiation required to modulate the discharge rates is very high and outside the biologically meaningful range in all cases. Obviously the adequate stimulus for the examined sensilla is convective heat and not radiant heat.

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