Equilibrioception: Sense Of Balance In The Human Body

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Equilibrioception is the sense of balance and a process that takes place within the body. Balance is maintained by the human body during both normal posture and movements. Thus, equilibrioception is a continuous process that takes place unconsciously in the body for the most part. This procedure requires the input of information from the vestibular, visual and proprioceptive systems. Motor output is relayed through two separate pathways in response to the integration of the information. Thus, making it clear that a multitude of different systems comes together to maintain balance at any given point in time.
The vestibular system plays a key role in maintaining a sense of balance in the body. It is a whole system dedicated to coordination, balance
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At the same time, the proprioceptive system is most important for balance when standing normally. The involvement of other systems, most importantly the vestibular system, is required to maintain balance in more complex tasks. The predominant reliance of the proprioceptive system for balance in more complex tasks is most often seen in the elderly population since they experience vestibular and visual dysfunctions. Proprioception involves the use of stretch sensitive mechanoreceptors called muscle spindles. These receptors track movements in both muscles and joints. This information is then integrated as the position of the body in space (Shaffer & Harrison, 2007). Proprioceptive system controls balance in the body by sending information to the central nervous system about the position of the body. The system also controls balance by contracting specific muscles to maintain balance in an unstable environment. Thus, it has been proven that exercise and training of balance, improve the muscle's ability to control balance. Through exercise, nerve conduction and the stimulation of the muscles that control balance are sped up (Chae, Kim, & Lee, …show more content…
This information is then projected both above and below the brainstem. The vestibular nuclei are able to pass on this information and control muscle movement through the vestibulospinal tract. The integration of this information mainly takes place in the cerebral cortex. Current body position and movement, as well as future movements are controlled are identified and predicted by the cerebral cortex (Bear, Connors, & Paradiso, 2016). The vestibular system also works with the visual system to provide optimal visual input by controlling the vestibulo-ocular reflex. This reflex allows the eye to focus in one direction during movement and allows the visual input to be a stable image. The eye is moved in the opposite direction by the vestibulo-ocular reflex when there is movement of the body to keep it fixed in one direction (Bear, Connors, & Paradiso, 2016). Therefore, when the head is turning to the right, the lateral rectus muscle of the left eye and the medial rectus muscle of the right eye are excited. This causes the eyes to move to the left when the head turns to the right. In order for such a movement to take place, the vestibulo-ocular reflex is dependent on a circuit that involves the semicircular canal, vestibular nucleus, cranial nerve nuclei and the extraocular muscles (Bear, Connors, & Paradiso,

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