A thermoreceptor is a sensory receptor that detects and responds to changes in temperature. It is a specialized type of sensory neuron found throughout the body, including the skin, internal organs, and central nervous system.


Thermoreceptors serve the purpose of providing the brain with information about the temperature of the external environment as well as the internal body temperature. They play a crucial role in thermoregulation, the process by which the body maintains its core temperature within a narrow range.


Thermoreceptors consist of nerve endings known as thermosensitive neurons. These neurons are equipped with specialized proteins known as temperature-sensitive ion channels, which enable them to detect temperature changes. They are particularly sensitive to either heat or cold and generate electrical signals in response to temperature variations.


Thermoreceptors can be classified into two main types based on their sensitivity to temperature:

  1. Warm Thermoreceptors:

    These thermoreceptors are activated by increasing temperatures. They are responsible for detecting warmth and signaling the brain to initiate appropriate responses such as sweating or vasodilation to cool the body down.

  2. Cold Thermoreceptors:

    Cold thermoreceptors are activated by decreasing temperatures. They are responsible for sensing cold and triggering responses like shivering or vasoconstriction to warm up the body.


Thermoreceptors play a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis within the body. They allow individuals to perceive and respond to temperature changes, ensuring their safety and well-being. Without functioning thermoreceptors, the body would be unable to adjust to temperature variations, leading to potential overheating or hypothermia.