The Efferent Vestibular System

  • Joseph C. Holt
  • Anna Lysakowski
  • Jay M. Goldberg
Part of the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research book series (SHAR, volume 38)


As is the case with most hair-cell organs, the vestibular labyrinth receives a dual innervation. Afferent nerve fibers arise from bipolar cells in the vestibular (Scarpa’s) ganglion. The peripheral process of each ganglion cell gets synaptic inputs from hair cells in one of several discrete organs, and its central process conveys the resulting information, encoded in the spacing of action potentials, to the vestibular nuclei and the cerebellum. In addition, hair cells and afferent nerve terminals are innervated by efferent fibers originating in the brain stem and reaching the periphery by way of the vestibular nerve. This chapter reviews our understanding of the efferent vestibular system (EVS), including its neuroanatomical organization, candidate neurotransmitters, peripheral actions on afferent discharge as revealed by electrical stimulation of EVS pathways, and the underlying cellular (synaptic) and neuro­transmitter mechanisms. To consider possible functions of the EVS, the chapter then describes the vestibular and nonvestibular signals carried by efferent neurons and how these signals might modify the information carried by afferents. Though our emphasis is on the mammalian EVS, results in nonmammalian species are also considered, as these provide insights into efferent function.


Hair Cell Vestibular Nerve Efferent Response Efferent Terminal Vestibular Organ 



Research in the authors’ laboratories is supported by Grants NIDCD DC08981 (JCH), NIDCD DC02521 (AL), and NIDCD DC02508 (JMG). The authors also thank Erika Bruss for providing the animal illustrations used in several of the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph C. Holt
  • Anna Lysakowski
  • Jay M. Goldberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and PhysiologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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