receptors and effectors

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Sense organ Receptors sensitive to
skin pressure, pain, temperature
tongue chemicals in food
nose chemicals in the air
eye light
ear sound, the position of the head


Receptors are groups of specialised cells. They can detect changes in the environment, which are called stimuli, and turn them into electrical impulses.

Receptors are often located in the sense organs, such as the ear, eye and skin. (See table to the right)


different receptors  

When a receptor is stimulated, it sends a signal along the nerve cells (called neurones) to the central nervous system. (See diagram to the left.) Usually, the brain - which is part of the nervous system - coordinates a response.



An effector is any part of the body that produces the response. Here are some examples of effectors:

  • a muscle contracting to move the arm
  • a muscle squeezing saliva from the salivary gland
  • a gland releasing a hormone into the blood.

Hormones are chemical messengers produced in glands and carried by the blood to specific organs in the body.

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