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How do you define "acute"?

How would you compare the "acuteness" of small with that of sight, for example?

What about the other senses?

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There are a lot more than 5 senses.

And the question is meaningless.

Does an onion smell more than the loudness of an organ?

Edited by John Cuthber

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How does one visualise the sense of balance or hunger?

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If you visualize each sense organ as a sensor, the resolution of that sensor.

 

How are you going to define the resolution of each sensor?

 

And how are you going to compare the different units?

 

This is a bit like asking: which is more efficient, a ruler or a sandwich?

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If brain space indicates the importance of a sense, then vision is the most important. Roughly 30 percent of neurons in the brain's cortex are devoted to vision, compared with 8 percent for touch, and 2 percent for hearing.

 

See http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/brain-games/articles/brain-games-watch-this-perception-facts/

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Amount of brain allocated to each sense is a pretty good way of comparing them.

Unless it isn't.

The image arrives at the retina of the eye upside down, distorted, with bits missing and blurred except right in the middle.

And the brain has to do a lot of work to convert that image into what we perceive.

So if the eye was better (which you could easily describe as being "more acute") you wouldn't need to allocate so much brain to it.

 

Also perhaps vision gets a big share of the brain, simply because it's more useful than the other senses.

For example, it gives detailed information about the presence, position and movement of distant things.

That's an enormously handy thing to have, and smell, sound touch and taste don't do it.

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Unless it isn't.

The image arrives at the retina of the eye upside down, distorted, with bits missing and blurred except right in the middle.

And the brain has to do a lot of work to convert that image into what we perceive.

So if the eye was better (which you could easily describe as being "more acute") you wouldn't need to allocate so much brain to it.

 

I was thinking of "sight" as the sense (not the eye) and, as you rightly say, sight is almost entirely done in the brain not the eye. (As is true for the other senses.)

 

 

Also perhaps vision gets a big share of the brain, simply because it's more useful than the other senses.

For example, it gives detailed information about the presence, position and movement of distant things.

That's an enormously handy thing to have, and smell, sound touch and taste don't do it.

 

But I'm guessing that in other animals, that could be the other way round. For example, do bats devote more of their brain to hearing than sight? And dogs, more to smell?

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I wrote this early this morning, then lost internet connectivity before I could post. Most points have already been made by others.

 

There are considerably more than five senses.

 

Do you mean which is the most acute in humans?

 

How are you defining acute? Hearing and smell are detecting completely different phenomena. Hearing is detecting vibrations in the air, smell is detecting specific chemicals. Do you assess the acuteness of hearing by the volume that can be heard, or the range of frequency, or some other means? Do you assess the acuteness of smell by how many compounds you can detect, or by the smallest concentration you can detect? And how can you meaningfully compare a frequency range with a chemical concentration?

 

Which sense would most compromise you if you lost it? Sight, surely. Then hearing, then - arguably - touch. That is probably as close as you can get to assessing acute.

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What is the resolution of a nose?

detected volatile molecules in PPM, range. Dogs would have higher res noses than humans. For instance.

How does one visualise the sense of balance or hunger?

The OP refers to the classical 5 senses. I guess though the sense of balance would be measured objectively by time spent upright on an unstable platform. And the sense of hunger would be measured in accuracy for actual vs perceived need for nutrients to survive.

 

How are you going to define the resolution of each sensor?

 

And how are you going to compare the different units?

 

This is a bit like asking: which is more efficient, a ruler or a sandwich?

Agreed comparison between senses is rather meaningless, but there can be inter-specific and intra-specific comparisons between analogous sensory organs.

 

This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but: It's quite common I see people's threads get criticised to death here non-constructively. When you think about how to turn failures into something of merit you'll discover more faster and waste less of everyone's time.

 

Amount of brain allocated to each sense is a pretty good way of comparing them.

That depends on the required resources to process the sense vs that enhancing its effectiveness.

 

For instance it might simply require more neuronal resources to process vision, because sound processing is easier. Not that vision is more highly detailed than sound because of more resources.

Thinking laterally on topic, here is a nice image of a human scaled to size by nerve density/sense of touch. Showing how the resolution for our sense of touch varies over our body. http://www.ucalgary.ca/pip369/mod7/touch/neural2

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This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but: It's quite common I see people's threads get criticised to death here non-constructively.

This often occurs after they have failed completely to respond to constructive criticism.

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This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but: It's quite common I see people's threads get criticised to death here non-constructively.

 

My questions were not criticisms, but attempts to get the OP to think in a bit more detail about the questions so that they could be the subject of more constructive discussion.

 

 

When you think about how to turn failures into something of merit you'll discover more faster and waste less of everyone's time.

 

Which is why I really liked the idea of looking at the brain as some sort of comparison. I thought the original idea was fairly hopeless, but it ends up being quite interesting.

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detected volatile molecules in PPM, range. Dogs would have higher res noses than humans. For instance.

 

That's a sensitivity, not a resolution.

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I would say sight, because we can see a wide variety of things, at the same time, while maintaining distinctions between each and every item. If we do this with sound, taste, smell, touch, as we add more and more distinct stimulus, they will merge together much sooner.

 

For example, if we had 100 sounds, 100 flavors, 100 touches or 100 smells, all at the same time, it will become very hard to resolve all of these, at the same time, even if you know each one by itself. You may be able to pick out salty taste, or your mothers voice, but other will become blended and unresolved. With sight, I can see 100 people I know and keep track of then plus sub-distinction down to subtle visual details.

 

In a symphony orchestra, there may be 100 separate instruments ,which the trained ear can resolve. But this is due, in part, to the music ordering the sounds, for easier resolution. With flavors and smells this is chemical and entropy will become involved, unless these are ordered into unique foods. But with sight, we don't need to place them in a line, although this will also make it easier to remember.

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This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but: It's quite common I see people's threads get criticised to death here non-constructively. When you think about how to turn failures into something of merit you'll discover more faster and waste less of everyone's time.

 

!

Moderator Note

Could you start a separate thread on this, please? Not an admonishment; I'd like to have a discussion about the difference between criticism and calls for clarity. And I like your lemonade-from-lemons angle as well. And I'd like the OP to be from a non-staff member. If this interests you, of course.

 

Thanks and sorry for the interruption.

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If you visualize each sense organ as a sensor, the resolution of that sensor.

 

The smallest sensory unit is, depending on how you frame it, in each case either a single cell (i.e. the smallest unit to transfer signal to another cell and ultimately to the brain) or a protein that reacts to a stimulus (usually eliciting some kind of conformational change) that may or may not contribute to a signal on the cellular level. Usually this is done via the manipulation of ion channels (which are also proteins). So from that particular viewpoint there is virtually no differences between sensory organs on the detector level.

As others have noted, a comparison only makes sense between identical stimuli.

I would say sight, because we can see a wide variety of things, at the same time, while maintaining distinctions between each and every item. If we do this with sound, taste, smell, touch, as we add more and more distinct stimulus, they will merge together much sooner.

 

For example, if we had 100 sounds, 100 flavors, 100 touches or 100 smells, all at the same time, it will become very hard to resolve all of these, at the same time, even if you know each one by itself. You may be able to pick out salty taste, or your mothers voice, but other will become blended and unresolved. With sight, I can see 100 people I know and keep track of then plus sub-distinction down to subtle visual details.

 

In a symphony orchestra, there may be 100 separate instruments ,which the trained ear can resolve. But this is due, in part, to the music ordering the sounds, for easier resolution. With flavors and smells this is chemical and entropy will become involved, unless these are ordered into unique foods. But with sight, we don't need to place them in a line, although this will also make it easier to remember.

 

Each tone consists of a large amount pressure changes that the ear resolves into various frequencies and amplitudes to re-create a sound. The fact that you can distinguish instruments requires the sensing of thousands of queues at the same time. Likewise each smell is the result of thousands of chemicals acting on olfactory receptors. In some ways shape recognition is easier, and that is why we have an easier time processing it.

Edited by CharonY

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The OP refers to the classical 5 senses.

 

 

Indeed but as mentioned by others there are way more than just five; the origin of five senses was first suggested in the early middle ages.

We’ve moved on since then and this is a science forum, so it’s required to point out such mistakes whatever the intention of the OP.

 

 

I guess though the sense of balance would be measured objectively by time spent upright on an unstable platform.

 

 

 

The senses are innately subjective, for instance, a professional surfer may struggle on a pushbike or changing direction whilst sprinting, all require balance but which is better?

 

 

As an aside, I'm with Phi:

 

 

This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but: It's quite common I see people's threads get criticised to death here non-constructively. When you think about how to turn failures into something of merit you'll discover more faster and waste less of everyone's time.

 

 

 

This deserves it's own topic.

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This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but: It's quite common I see people's threads get criticised to death here non-constructively.

 

This, however, is not one of those times. Take vision: you have color perception and sensitivity to brightness as two items to consider. There's depth perception Sensitivity to polarization (unusual in humans, but some animals can detect this) You have the range of wavelengths — sensitivity to IR and UV.

 

None of that is mentioned by the OP, and that's just one sense. And, as has been mentioned, how do you do a comparison with some other sense? How is detecting some level of light equivalent to some measure of a sense of touch?

 

The thread getting criticized here is quite appropriate, and has been constructive. What's left to be seen is if the originator will learn anything from the exercise.

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This, however, is not one of those times. Take vision: you have color perception and sensitivity to brightness as two items to consider. There's depth perception Sensitivity to polarization (unusual in humans, but some animals can detect this) You have the range of wavelengths — sensitivity to IR and UV.

 

None of that is mentioned by the OP, and that's just one sense. And, as has been mentioned, how do you do a comparison with some other sense? How is detecting some level of light equivalent to some measure of a sense of touch?

 

The thread getting criticized here is quite appropriate, and has been constructive. What's left to be seen is if the originator will learn anything from the exercise.

 

This topic has been discussed on other forums eg) https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110715194258AAJ7u3Z

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