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The Sense of Equilibrium 

The Sense of Equilibrium
Chapter:
The Sense of Equilibrium
Author(s):

Per Brodal

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190228958.003.0018
Page of

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date: 25 February 2021

Chapter 18 deals with the vestibular system and the sense of equilibrium. The sense of equilibrium, narrowly defined, depends on signals from sense organs that record the position and movements of the head. Such receptors are hair cells in the vestibular apparatus. They record angular acceleration and gravitational forces and thereby signal movements and position of the head in space. Afferents from the vestibular apparatus end in the vestibular nuclei. From there, signals flow to the spinal cord, neuronal groups controlling eye movements, and the cerebellum. These connections mainly control postural reflexes and vestibulo-ocular reflexes. In addition, vestibular signals reach several small areas in the cerebral cortex. Thereby, signals from vestibular receptors contribute to conscious awareness of the position of the body in space. The vestibular apparatus is not the only source of sensory information for maintaining equilibrium, however. Visual information and signals from somatosensory receptors also contribute.

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