Sensation: Meaning and Significance

The word sensation is derived from the Latin sensus in 1640, which means the faculty of perceiving. Sensation happens when environmental stimuli cause sensory receptors in the ears, eyes, skin, nose, and tongue. The simple part of cognition is sensation, a simple sense made in the mind by a stimulus. Different types of stimuli cause different types of sensations.

What is Sensation?

The sensation is a mental process resulting from the prompt stimulation of an external sense organ which is sometimes distinguished from a conscious awareness of the sensory process. It is the physical process through which the sense organs, like the eyes, nose, ear, tongue, and skin, react to external stimuli. Sensations follow a procedure of three steps: sensory stimuli are absorbed, converted into neural impulses, and then transported the neural information to the brain. Shifting one kind of energy to another that the brain can use is called transduction.

Characteristics of Sensation

There are some characteristics of sensation. Those are

  • Quality − The quality of sensation differs. Sensations of sound, color, smell, taste, cold, and heat differ; they have different sense organs and produce distinct stimuli.

  • Intensity − Sensations of the same quality may sometimes differ in intensity. All sensation differs in intensity and varies from very weak to very intense. The greater intensities of stimulus produce greater intensities of sensation.

  • Duration − Every sensation has a duration, and a sensation may stay in mind for a particular period, and duration is also called propensity. Even if the sensations are the same in quality and intensity, they may differ in duration.

  • Extensity − All psychologists agree that visual and tactual sensation has extensity. Extensity is the attribute of sensation because of the area of the sensitive surface stimulated by the stimulus, and Extensity is different from intensity.

Sensation lets living beings detect the presence and changes in the stimuli around them. The study of sensation is very much important in everyday life as the knowledge gained by psychologists can be used in many ways to help so many people.

Types of Sensation

There are three types of sensation. Those are as follows 

  • Organic Sensation − Organic sensation is activated by the activity of the body's interior organs. The sensations are caused by the visceral organs like the stomach, kidneys, intestines, and internal sex processes. And the non-visceral organs like the lung, throat, and heart. Examples of organic sensations such as shirts, hunger, nausea, etc. Due to sensations from this organ, comfort, discomfort, and other feelings can be pointed out. All these feelings together form a single allover experience known as common sensitivity or cenesthesia.

  • Special Sensation − The sensations from specialized organs like eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin is known as special sensation. Sensations from these organs are easily distinguishable. The sensations from these organs give information regarding the characteristics of outside objects. Colors, tastes, sounds, smells, cold, and heat all give details of the sensory stuff of the external things.

  • Kinaesthetic or Motor Sensation − Kinaesthetic or motor sensation is the sensation formed by the movement- the brain's understanding of the position of the muscle both in motion and at rest. The strain in muscle and joint pains are all reported to the brain by the afferent nerves. Motor sensation has a high level of cognitive and affective value.

Diagnosis for Loss of Sensation

Loss of sensation can occur due to nerve damage from diabetes or other issues like kidney disease, arthritis, tumors, and multiple sclerosis. The symptoms, medical history, and physical examination can diagnose loss of sensation, which involves reflex and muscle functioning tests. Firstly the health care professional will ask the patient about the starting loss of sensation, the appearance of other symptoms, and afflicted parts of the body. Through the answer to these questions, the doctor will try to find out the cause of the sensation loss. Tests for diagnosing the loss of sensation 

  • Blood tests − For checking if diabetes, kidney-related diseases, and deficiency of vitamin B are the reason for loss of sensation.

  • Diagnostic imaging tests − These sensation tests are used to detect tumors, cancer spread, stroke injury, and spinal cord disorders. Examples of this test are X-ray, CT scan, and MRI.

  • Nerve conduction studies − By placing patches of the electrode to the skin over the suspected area, the damage or injury of the nerve can be identified. If the nerve signals give an abnormal indication, this cold suggests nerve damage or an injury causing sensation loss.

  • Electromyography − This test uses nerve conduction to identify muscle and the function of the nerve cell. An electrode needle is put into the arm, leg, or back, and the electromyograph machine measures and shows the electrical activity of the muscle.

Treatment for Loss of Sensation

The treatment for loss of sensation depends on the condition causing the nerve problems. The main goal of the treatment is to manage and cure the underlying cause of sensation loss, which is customized according to the condition of the patient and the nerves that are affected. Some treatments for curing sensation numbness are 

  • Nerve pain-related medications.

  • Regulation in the level of blood sugar in diabetic patients.

  • Exercises for strengthening of spine, enhancing the flow of blood, and encouraging mobility as well.

  • Surgery for removing any tumor or spinal repair.

  • Customized shoes for neuropathies.


From the above discussion, it can be concluded that sensation is vital for every living being. The sensation is mainly of three types within which the sensation of internal organs, eyes, ear, nose, and skin are included. Sometimes some individuals face sensation numbness due to nerve injury, tumors, and diabetes-related problems. Moreover, for curing these losses of sensation, there are various treatments present as well.