Your Senses Make Sense of Energy

Brain centers handle different sensesYour different sense receptors are designed to gather different kinds of sensory information about the world around you. That information is in the form of different kinds of energy. Your eyes sense light which is electromagnetic energy. Your senses of taste and smell detect chemical energy. Other senses respond to mechanical or thermal energy. But even though your senses are sensitive to different forms of energy, they all convert each of them into a single kind - electrical energy.

If all the sense receptors convert all these different kinds of energy into a single kind, why is it that we have many senses, instead of just one? The answer is that each of the receptors connects to a different part of the brain. So colors, shapes, tones, smells, and flavors are mental constructs created by your brain out of sensory data. It’s the brain that converts the electrical energy into what we know as vision, sound, smell, taste, pressure, pain, or heat.

About the Author

David Gamon, PhD

David GamonDr. David Gamon, one of the original writers at ScienceIQ, studied cognitive science at U.C. Berkeley, where he received his Ph.D. in Linguistics in 1997. He is the author of many popular books about the human brain, including Building Mental Muscle, Use It Or Lose It!, and Brains That Work a Little Bit Differently. His current projects include books about gender differences in the brain, the brain’s construction of sensory reality, and psychopathy.