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Cell Mol Neurobiol. 1981 Mar;1(1):69-85.

Crotaline pit organs analyzed as warm receptors.


Afferent impulses from single-fiber preparations of the trigeminal nerve in Agkistrodon blomhoffi brevicaudus were recorded during steady and dynamic temperature stimulation of the sensory membrane in the facial pit. The thermoreceptors of the pit showed high sensitivity to the rate of change in receptor temperature. Changing the heat capacity of the pit membrane (a drop of water in the pit in the case of the laser and halogen lamp, and a drop of water covered by a plastic film in the case of flowing water) changed the pattern of response. When the heat capacity of the pit membrane is increased, responses approach those obtained in other warm receptors. The spatial gradient theory of Williams, whereby a reversal of heat energy flow is supposed to produce a reverse of response, was shown to be inapplicable to the pit receptors. Reversal of heat energy flow in the pits produced neither off-silence nor depression of response, and therefore direction of heat flow is not an important component of the stimulus for these receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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