Human Body

Nerves and Senses

Where are the organs of equilibrium located?

The organs of equilibrium are located in the inner ear. The otolith organs are located in the vestibule of the membranous labyrinth. They consist of sheets of hair cells covered by a membrane that contains otoliths (“ear stones”), which are calcium carbonate crystals. The otolith organs sense linear acceleration of the head in any direction, such as acceleration due to changing the position of your head relative to gravity or acceleration in a car or amusement ride. The inner ear also contains horizontal, posterior, and anterior semicircular canals, which sense angular motions (acceleration) of the head. Each semicircular canal has a specialized sensory region that contains hair cells, and each canal is important for sensing rotation of the head in a different primary direction. For example, the horizontal semicircular canal receptors are sensitive to rotating the head leftward and rightward.


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