Balance

The vestibular labyrinth is the portion of the inner ear concerned with balance and equilibrium. It monitors the three-dimensional angular and linear forces acting on the head and conveys the information to the brain, where it is combined with vision and other sensory information, and used in such function as postural control and spatial orientation. Information is passed to the brain by way of afferent nerve fibers. In addition, there is an efferent innervations (EVS) that originates in the brain and synapses on hair cells and afferent processes. Although we know a great deal about the peripheral actions of the EVS, we have much less understanding of its function. One way of learning more about its function is to determine the neurotransmitters used by the EVS and the receptors they activate.
Most people are unaware of the operation of the vestibular system because it does. Not lead to distinct conscious sensations. This is so as long as the system isoperating normally. But abnormalities of the system can lead to debilitating sensations of dizziness and vertigo, as well as the disastrous failure of balance. In fact, among the elderly, falls are a leading cause of morbidity and much of this defect in balance control is due to a decrease in vestibular sensitivity. There are reasons to believe that the EVS attempts to maintain vestibular function throughout the lifetime of the individual. Hence, knowledge of the EVS may lead to therapies that reduce the debilitation associate with vestibular abnormalities and an understanding of the pharmacology of the EVS may lead to new drug therapies.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The role of microglial lysosomes in selective neuronal vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the nervous system constructs internal models of the external world
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the orchestra of movement—functional role of striatal astrocytes in health and disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…