Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vestibular System and Visual System. How do they work together?

A big part of the NORA conference was about the vestibular system and why it's important to vision. Too often we look at the vestibular system and visual system as two separate entities. After this conference, it helped us understand how these two systems work together. The purpose of the vestibular system is to sense changes in motion. It is connected to many parts of the body including digestive tract, language center of the brain, the limbic system and to the muscles of the eyes. Basically, it is the "balance system", that is located in the inner ear.

When the vestibular system is functioning at its highest, it will contribute to healthy digestion, the emergence of receptive and expressive communication, emotional bonding, and visual focus. So why is the vestibular system so important to vision? The vestibular system works in conjunction with the visual system to detect head and body motion as well as eye movement. This interaction is called the opto-kinetic system, which serves as the body’s motion detection system, and allows us to make two types of eye movements. Slow, steady, smooth eye movements called “pursuits,” and large eye jumps that occur without blur in between points A and B called “saccades,” take place effortlessly when the visual/vestibular interaction is intact.
What conferences have you gone to and did you have any light bulb moments? I would love to know.

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