D. Merfeld, in Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, 2009
The semicircular canals respond to head rotation but have a limited dynamic range; the otolith organs respond equivalently to both gravity (‘tilt’) and linear acceleration (‘translation’)....nervous system combines visual, vestibular, and other cues to yield estimates of tilt, translation, and rotation...combined information from the semicircular canals and otolith organs typically yields more accurate estimates of motion and orientation than would be attained via either sensory modality alone.
3 translational movements
The outer and middle ear are involved with hearing
The inner ear functions in both hearing and equilibrium
Receptors for hearing and balance:
Respond to separate stimuli
Are activated independently
Problems with the vestibular system can lead to peculiar sensations:
Spatial Disorientation: Any impairment of spatial orientation (i.e., our sense of linear motion, angular motion, or tilt)
Dizziness: Nonspecific spatial disorientation
Vertigo: A sensation of rotation or spinning
Vestibular organs: The set of five organs—three semicircular canals and two otolith organs
Where am I going?
Which way is up?
spatial orientation in regards to gravity
Allow for the vestibulo-ocular reflex VOR: Stabilizes visual input by counter rotating the eyes to compensate for head movement