A mix of sensations
Traditionally, we talk about having five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. In reality, our bodies are capable of much more. Sitting right under our skin are a variety of sensory neurons, which are specialised in detecting light touch, pain, temperature, itch or the body’s position.
What you see in this picture is a section of a dorsal root ganglion (DRG). DRGs are neuronal clusters in which the cell bodies of sensory neurons are located. Each different type of neuron is marked with a different colour. For example, myelinated neurons are in cyan, nociceptors – which are important to detect pain – are in red, and a mix of neurons that are important to detect light touch and the position and movements of the body are in yellow.
The photo was taken by Chiara Morelli from the Heppenstall group at EMBL Rome. The scientists are trying to understand how our skin perceives sensations. They’re characterising different types of neurons from a molecular and functional point of view.
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