The Basis of Sensation


The Basis of Sensation


E.D. Adrian



Adrian, E.D. The basis of sensation. London: W.W. Norton & Co., 1928

The author summarizes work that has been in progress for the last two years under the following headings: the function of the nerve fiber, the recording of impulses in sensory nerve fibers, the mechanism of the end organ, sensory discharges from various types of receptor, the efficiency of the sense organs (adaptation), and nervous impulses and sensation. Most of the work was carried out with a capillary electrometer plus a three or four-valve amplifier. Brief descriptions are given of the apparatus. "Records have been made of the discharge of sensory impulses produced by the following stimuli: tension on a muscle, pressure, touch, movement of hairs, and pricking with a needlepoint. With constant stimulation, the discharge from the end organs in the skin declines in frequency much more rapidly than from a muscle or a pressure organ. This difference in the adaptation rate of the end organs corresponds with the different types of reflex action which they produce, and the end organs may be classified, like the reflexes, as 'postural' or 'phasic.' The impulses produced by a pain stimulus are of the usual type and have the usual range of frequency, but there is some evidence that the discharge must have a certain mass (duration and intensity) if it is to evoke the pain reaction." The central nervous system (whose fibers carry impulses of the usual type) derives all of its information concerning the stimulus applied to a single end-organ from the rate at which the end organ becomes adapted to a constant stimulus. The intensity of sensation is proportional to the frequency of impulses in the nerve fiber. Sensation quality depends upon central connections. Visual adaptation and protopathic and epicritic sensitivity are discussed. 31 figures, but no bibliography. -PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved

Publication Date



W.W. Norton & Co



The Basis of Sensation