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FIGURE 4 Structure of the utricle, saccule, and semicircular canals. (A) Structure of the vestibular system showing the utricle and the saccule. (B) The macula, on the floor of the utricle, detects linear acceleration in the horizontal plane. The hair cells lie in rows with their kinocilia pointed in the direction of the arrows. Their tips lie in a gelatinous mass (shown lifted), which is studded with otoliths, tiny calcium-carbonate crystals. Acceleration shifts these little weights, bending the cilia of the hair cells and changing the frequency of action potentials in the afferent neurons. (C) The macula, on the vertical wall of the saccule, detects vertical linear acceleration; it tells which way is up. Similar to the utricle, the macula relies on the movement of otoliths.

otoliths embedded in gelatinous mass striola

B. Macula in on the floor of the utricle otoliths embedded in gelatinous mass hair cell orientation (functional polarity)

striola ar>teri0r

C. Macula on the wall of the saccule striola otoliths embedded in gelatinous mass

otoliths embedded in gelatinous mass

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