Date of Publishing:
October 3, 2014

2014 © Anderwald + Grond

The Labyrinth of the Inner Ear

One can induce dizziness by engaging in disorientating activities such as spinning. Disequilibrium is the sensation of being off balance and is most often characterized by frequent falls in a specific direction.

The vestibular system, which contributes to balance (in most mammals and some fish) and to the sense of spatial orientation, is the sensory system that provides the leading contribution to movement and sense of balance. Together with the cochlea, a part of the auditory system, it constitutes the labyrinth of the inner ear, situated in the vestibulum in the inner ear. As our movements consist of rotations and translations, the vestibular system comprises two components: the semicircular canal system, which indicates rotational movements; and the otoliths, which indicate linear accelerations. The vestibular system sends signals primarily to the neural structures that control our eye movements, and to the muscles that keep us upright. The projections to the former provide the anatomical basis of the vestibulo-ocular reflex, which is required for clear vision; and the projections to the muscles that control our posture are necessary to keep us upright.