Definition: Epithelial cells specialized for the reception of external stimuli. Most neuroepithelial cells, notably the hair cells of the inner ear and the receptor cells of the taste buds, are not true neurons but transducer cells that stand in synaptic contact with the peripheral endings of sensory ganglion cells. The neuroepithelial receptor cells of the olfactory epithelium, by contrast, are true peripheral neurons with extremely thin, unmyelinated axons that compose the olfactory filaments that enter the olfactory bulb of the cerebral hemisphere. The NA also applies the term to the rods and cones of the retina.
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