The Inner Ear

The inner ear is located in the brain behind the cheekbones. It contains the sensory organs which the body needs for hearing and balance, and is so tiny it could fit on the tip of your finger! It is comprised of three main sections:

1) The Labyrinth resembles three intertwined semi-circular canals which are filled with fluid and sensors, which detect rotational movement of the head and aid balance.

2) The Cochlea (cock – lee – a) is a snail-shaped, bony structure filled with fluid. Hair cells inside the cochlea are the sensory receptors for hearing.

3) The Vestibule is an egg-shaped cavity containing two sacks called the utricle and the saccule.  The utricle identifies horizontal changes in the body’s position and the saccule detects vertical movements.

‘The Vestibular System’ refers to the inner ear, the eyes and the sensory receptors in the muscles, skin and joints, including, for example, the receptors in the soles of the feet. The overall function of the vestibular system is to process sensory information through the labyrinth, cochlea and vestibule, and to control balance and eye movements.