Sensory Transduction, Small-Signal Analysis of

  • John Thorson
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Applied mathematics is a mainstay of quantitative physiology—from the cable theory of the cell membrane to the cross-bridge theories relating macromolecular events and tension in muscle. A subset of this work has applied engineering transfer-function analysis or input-output analysis to the dynamic responses of sensory cells of several modalities. This approach involves close control of inputs such as light and mechanical deformation, and monitoring of output changes of generator potential and spike rate. Moreover, with small sinusoidal or step-like changes of such inputs, the differential equations describing the measured input-output dynamics are often nearly linear.


Spike Rate Linear Transfer Function Sensory Transduction Cable Theory Tactile Spine 
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Further reading

  1. Brown MC, Stein RB (1966): Quantitative studies on the slowly adapting stretch receptor of the crayfish. Kybernetik 3:175–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chapman KM, Mosinger JL, Duckrow RB (1979): The role of visco-elastic coupling in sensory adaptation in an insect mechanoreceptor. J Comp Physiol 131:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chapman KM, Smith RS (1963): A linear transfer function underlying impulse frequency modulation in a cockroach mechanoreceptor. Nature 197:699–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. French AS (1985): Action potential adaptation in the femoral tactile spine of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana. J Comp Physiol A 155:803–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Thorson J, Biederman-Thorson M (1974): Distributed relaxation processes in sensory adaptation. Science 183:161–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Thorson J, White DCS (1983): Role of cross-bridge distortion in the small-signal mechanical dynamics of insect and rabbit striated muscle. J Physiol (Lond) 343:59–84Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston, Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Thorson

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