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Chapter: Medical Physiology: Cortical and Brain Stem Control of Motor Function

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Vestibular Mechanisms for Stabilizing the Eyes

When a person changes his or her direction of movement rapidly or even leans the head sideways, forward, or backward.

Vestibular Mechanisms for Stabilizing the Eyes

When a person changes his or her direction of movement rapidly or even leans the head sideways, forward, or backward, it would be impossible to maintain a stable image on the retinas unless the person had some automatic control mechanism to stabilize the direction of the eyes’ gaze. In addition, the eyes would be of little use in detecting an image unless they remained “fixed” on each object long enough to gain a clear image. Fortu-nately, each time the head is suddenly rotated, signals from the semicircular ducts cause the eyes to rotate in a direction equal and opposite to the rotation of the head. This results from reflexes transmitted through the vestibular nuclei and the medial longitudinal fasciculus to the oculomotor nuclei.


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