Sensing the world
Written by: Dr. Biology

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Organism: a living thing that can be small like bacteria or large like an elephant.

Waking up

When you wake up in the morning, what do you notice first? A smell? A sight? A sound? Image by Bablekan.

You wake up, but stay in bed for a moment, sensing the world around you. You feel your muscles pull as you stretch under the soft covers and slowly open your eyes. You might see light coming in through the blinds, hear a car honk outside, smell someone cooking breakfast, or taste dry toothpaste on your lips from brushing your teeth the night before.

As a living organism, it’s important for you to be able to sense and respond to the environment around you. Humans and many other animals have five main senses that help them understand the world around them. How do each of these senses work, and what happens when they don’t work properly?

Starting here, you can take a tour of the senses that many animals, including humans, experience:

Five senses

Explore how each of our five senses work. Image by Allan-Hermann Pool.






Which sense do you rely on the most? And how you might start to rely on other senses more if one of your senses were to stop working?

Additional images via Wikimedia Commons. Hand and flower by Øyvind Holmstad. Fennec foxes by Anass ERRIHANI. 

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Sensing the World
  • Author(s): Dr. Biology
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: October 16, 2017
  • Date accessed: June 12, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Dr. Biology. (2017, October 16). Sensing the World. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved June 12, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Dr. Biology. "Sensing the World". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 16 October, 2017.

MLA 2017 Style

Dr. Biology. "Sensing the World". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 16 Oct 2017. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 12 Jun 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
Hand touching cottony flower

What sense do you rely on the most?

Explore all our senses:






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