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Sensory tissue in skin

The nerve cells in the dermis are predominately sensory, the exception being the motor nerves that innervate the arrector pili muscles.  The sensory cells receive input from the surroundings and by being activated they start an action potential (an impulse) that goes to the spinal cord then on to the brain and sometimes back-out from the spinal cord in a reflexive sort of way.  Often the stimulation of the nerve is caused by some physical deflection of the nerve ending.  The easiest to envision is the Pacinian corpuscle (lamellated corpuscle).  These are shaped sort of like onions.  They have many layers on the receptor with the dendrite emanating from the center of the "bulb".  These nerve bodies sense deep pressure.  When a layer is depressed on the corpuscle a signal is sent to the central nervous system with information of the amount of pressure there is.  More pressure (a big rock in your shoe) means many layers are depressed and many Pacinian corpuscles are depressed which in turn leads to a greater frequency of depolarization of the nerve and a faster/stronger signal is sent to the brain and interpreted as a "big  rock".

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