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What are some examples of sensory adaptation?

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Quick Answer

Examples of sensory adaptation include light and dark adaptation, hearing, smell, touch and eye-hand coordination. Sensory adaptation occurs when the sensory adaptation in animals changes based on their sensitivity to stimulus.

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Full Answer

The most prominent examples of sensory adaptation in humans is light and dark adaptation. For example, when it gets dark, the pupil in the eye will enlarge, letting in as much light as possible. When it is light, the pupil closes to only allow in the necessary light. Cones and rods, or the color receptors in the eye, also become more sensitive in dark situations.

The human body also adapts to different sounds. When the human ear is subjected to prolonged loud sounds, the muscles in the ear contract, blocking out some of the sound so as to not damage the inner ear.

Touch adaptation is another form of sensory adaptation. If temperatures are not too extreme, it doesn't take the body long to adapt by adjusting its own temperature to match that of its surroundings. Evidence of this can be seen when a person takes a very hot or cold bath. It may feel too hot or too cold at first, but the body quickly acclimates to the new temperature.

Finally, the human body adapts to smell very quickly. Although a new smell is quickly detected by the nose, after a few moments, the nose no longer pays attention to it and it goes undetected.

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