The background for this workshop is perhaps best summarized in the words of Kornhuber, who reminded us that the function of the vestibular system is not as obvious as that of vision, hearing, touch, or smell.1 Sudden loss of vestibular function, however, becomes clearly apparent to both the patient and his examiner. These observations are among the reasons that the vestibular sense was not discovered until the nineteenth century and probably account, in large part, for the fact that clinicians have continued to play a major role in basic research through the history of investigations on the vestibular and its central nervous system projections.
It is important to note that the cortex-governed auditory system is phylogenetically younger than the vestibular system. Most of the vestibular system information distribution into the central nervous system is directed to the musculature of the body for motor control. The cerebellum evolved out of the vestibular system and thus accounts for its important relationships with and control of vestibular reflexes. Both basic and clinical researchers of vestibular mechanisms recognize the importance in understanding vestibular mechanisms for body posture control and eye movements. Although body limb movements are far more complicated than the simpler organization of active eye movements, the postural control system offers the investigative advantage of simultaneous control of proprioceptive and visual manipulations in relation to vestibular input. This capability permits the design of studies regarding complex sensory interactions and their role in body posture and movement control.
The Symposium was designed to study information flow in the human vestibular system and its neural connections.
© 1982, The American Journal of Otology, Inc.