The central nervous system efferent control of the organs of balance and equilibrium

Neurosci Res. 1991 Oct;12(1):13-30. doi: 10.1016/0168-0102(91)90096-h.


The vestibular labyrinth is innervated by both primary afferent nerves and efferent axons with cell bodies located in the central nervous system. Efferent terminals are found on both hair cells and on primary afferent axons. Acetylcholine is the major efferent transmitter, but enkephalin and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) have also been localized to efferent terminals and somata. The efferent vestibular nuclei are bilaterally organized in the majority of species. Semicircular canal primary afferents have been classified by their sensitivity and phase in response to rotation. Electrical activation of efferents in monkey and fish increases afferent resting discharge and reduces afferent gain to adequate stimulation. Effects are most profound on high-gain, phase-advanced (re. velocity) afferents. Experiments in alert animals indicate that multiple sensory modalities can activate the efferent system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology*