Vestibular System

The vestibular system is the clinical term given to the balance portion of the inner ear.


The inner ear is comprised of a hearing center and a balance center. The hearing center is referred to as the cochlea. Sound enters through the outer ear travels in via the external auditory canal, vibrates the eardrum and the small bones attached and this transmits information to the cochlea which is then detected and sent to the brain for interpretation.

The balance center is referred to as the vestibular system. This system provides information about movement and position of one’s body. For example: how we accelerate/ decelerate, move against gravity (as we transition sitting to standing, ride an elevator, etc.), orienting ourselves to vertical and it also allows our eyes to stay focused on whatever we want to look at while we are in motion. For example, when driving on an uneven road the car can move up and down, but our eyes remain stable on the horizon – that is something that is controlled with the use of the information from the vestibular system.

The vestibular information that is provided by the balance structure of the inner ear contributes to our overall stability along with information that the brain is provided by our visual system and our muscle and joint information (somatosensory system) as well. The information from those 3 sensory systems allows our brain to keep us stable.

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