A Delicate Matter of Balance (wonders of ears)

Tightrope-walker Blondin

Tightrope-walker Blondin crosses Niagara in 1859. Later he did it blindfolded.

Our ears play an important  part in helping us to stay upright without toppling over, but they aren’t our only control mechanism. Balance is a complex process, demanding a constant flow  of signals to and from the brain. If, for example, we trip and fall sideways, an immediate reaction is to shoot out an arm on the opposite side of the body to provide a counterweight. A tightrope walker demonstrates these finely tuned controls working to perfection.

Three sources fed information to the brain about the body’s position. The eyes convey visual data. Sensor receptors in the skin, muscles and joints report on the position and movement of various parts of the body. And delicate sensors in the inner ear stimulate nerve impulses to inform the brain about head movements. Any ear disorder, especially in the inner ear, is likely chambers filled with fluid. As the head moves, so do these fluids, shifting the cochlea, a spiral-shaped part of the inner ear that changes sound vibrations into nerve impulses, also help us maintain balance.
There are always body wonders.


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