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Vestibular physiology 

Vestibular physiology
Chapter:
Vestibular physiology
Author(s):

Béla Büki

and Alexander A. Tarnutzer

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199680627.003.0003
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date: 09 April 2020

Apart from preventing us from falling by processing translational linear accelerations including gravity, the vestibular system has another important task: to assess rotational and translational accelerations of the head to stabilize gaze relative to space and thereby ensure clear vision. The semicircular canals (SCCs) evoke eye movements parallel to the canal plane; nystagmus originating in the labyrinth does not change its plane depending on gaze direction.

Head movements modulate the continuous spontaneous firing of the primary vestibular afferents; accelerations evoke an asymmetry of this activity. Vestibular asymmetry—also caused by pathological processes—is interpreted by the brain as rotatory and translational acceleration.

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