A nociceptor is a type of receptor at the end of a sensory neuron’s axon that responds to damaging or potentially damaging stimuli by sending danger signals to the spinal cord and the brain. This process is called nociception.
Nociceptors were discovered by Charles Scott Sherrington in 1906. In earlier centuries, scientists believed that animals were like mechanical devices that transformed the energy of sensory stimuli into motor responses. Sherrington used many different experiments to demonstrate that different types of stimulation to an afferent nerve fiber’s receptive field led to different responses. Some intense stimuli trigger reflex withdrawal, autonomic responses, and pain. The specific receptors for these intense stimuli were called nociceptors