Researchers Explain How Vestibular System Influences Navigation

Hanover, NH (Scicasts) — Dartmouth researchers have found the first direct evidence showing how the vestibular system’s horizontal canals play a key role in sensing our direction in the environment. The findings, which appear in the Journal of Neuroscience, shed light on brain activity that helps us to get around and that is impaired by trauma, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. “Knowing what direction you’re facing, your location, how to navigate our environment and your spatial orientation at any given moment is fundamental to survival,” says Professor Jeffrey Taube, the study’s senior author. The vestibular system consists of otolith organs and semicircular canals in each ear that provide sensory information about motion, balance and spatial orientation, allowing us to establish our location and direction and to navigate our environment. A number…

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