The Five Senses and Beyond: The Encyclopedia of Perception - Jennifer L. Hellier 2017


Understanding how the different sensory systems integrate information from the outside world to the brain for perception has been questioned and studied since the time of the ancient Greeks. With today’s new technologies and research, neuroscientists have uncovered many physiological mechanisms of the senses and have learned how some can be associated with neurological deficits or disorders. Research has also developed new treatments to alleviate sensory deficits and in some cases to prevent further damage. Thus, the purpose of this encyclopedia is to provide a wide-ranging reference of the five main sensory systems and is written at a level easily accessible for high school and college students as well as the layperson. The encyclopedia provides insights into the discipline of neuroscience, covering both normative and neurological disorders and factors that promote general nervous system health. By addressing both ends of the spectrum, the encyclopedia presents a more holistic and comprehensive perspective of the fast-growing discipline of neuroscience.

This encyclopedia helps the reader understand how research is integral to understanding both normal and abnormal sensory function. The Five Senses and Beyond: The Encyclopedia of Perception contains more than 200 entries and pulls together topics that illuminate (1) the five basic senses and special senses, (2) anatomy and physiology related to the senses, and (3) organizations and individuals important to sensory research. To help the reader understand the basics of the brain and sensory systems, there are entries about brain anatomy and physiology, as well as how neurons “talk” to each other in brain circuits to provide normal function. There are various entries that discuss abnormal or dysfunctional sensory systems, which may develop into disorders or diseases. Finally, selected entries include references to research designs and experimental procedures commonly used to study sensory systems with examples from current and relevant clinical research as well as short biographies of famous scientists who furthered the knowledge of neuroscience and neurology. All entries include cross-references and further readings to aid in additional study.

The encyclopedia also includes 15 hands-on activity sidebars that give readers the chance to learn about the senses and their anatomy firsthand. From testing for eye dominance to discovering the interrelatedness between smell and taste to modeling brain anatomy with clay, these activities make the material more interactive.

The contributors to this work are all uniquely qualified to speak with authority regarding at least one aspect of the brain, the nervous system, and its disorders. The contributors include (1) neuroscientists who are immersed in cutting-edge research to better understand both normative and abnormal activities of the brain and the nervous system; (2) neurologists and family physicians who routinely diagnose and treat neurological diseases; and (3) public health professionals who work endlessly to educate the public about preventing neurodevelopmental disorders.


This project was a joy to work on as it allowed me to share my love of neuroscience research with everyone. However, I could not have completed this project without the help of my assistants Riannon Atwater and Renee Johnson. Both jumped in at the beginning with enthusiasm and worked endlessly with me on this reference. I thank Riannon and Renee for their dedication, time, and effort.

I thank Maxine Taylor, senior acquisition editor, for initiating this project and selecting me to be the lead editor. Her guidance and excellent editing skills have made me a better writer. I truly enjoyed working with Maxine during these past two years.

Lastly and most importantly I must thank my immediate and extended family for understanding how I needed to work during the weekends to make this a successful reference and for supporting me throughout this endeavor. I especially thank my husband, Chuck, and my two amazing sons, Jack and Sam.