Discovery: Spine Signals Ears to Maintain Balance
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
Bodies bounce while jogging or performing any number of other vigorous activities, usually without getting dizzy. However, bodies get dizzy when they are "bounced" from the outside, like while on a boat or airplane. What's the difference? Researchers pinpointed amazing new details behind the mechanism that maintains balance during voluntary motion, but their notion of its origins clearly misses the mark.
The vestibular organ (VO) resides inside the semicircular canals of the inner ear and senses head motions in all directions and all six rotations. It must have a process to dampen its sensitivity when the body itself causes motion. Without this dampening function, intentional body movements would disrupt balance—imagine getting motion sick every time you go for a jog. How does your VO protect against self-inflicted motion sickness? The answer involves a mechanism with precision parts and precise timing that has every characteristic of fine-tuned, intentional design.
Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany experimented on tadpoles, which use the same basic VOs as humans. The team found that when tadpoles initiated swimming motions, their tiny spinal cords sent out two copies of the swim signal—one goes to the body's swimming muscles, and another goes to the VO. They published their results in Nature Communications.1
This second signal notifies the VO that voluntary motion is about to happen, instantly calibrating the super-sensitive, miniaturized, motion-detecting equipment. In the words of a Ludwig-Maximilians University press release, "By dampening the intrinsic sensitivity of the hair cells, the input from the spinal cord effectively adapts the VO's dynamic range."2
As is often the case with high-tech design, the researchers found that timing is key. Precise nerve signal arrival times make this system work just right. The spinal cord sends two copies of the same signal: One signal arrives at the ears just before the same signal reaches the relevant muscles. Lead author Boris Chagnaud told the University, "This feedforward principle is crucial."2 If the timing were off, then the system would disrupt balance instead of helping it.
How could a system with this kind of exquisite timing—the brain, brainstem, spinal cord, spine, ear, VO, neurons, and muscles all working in exacting and concerted harmony to make seamless locomotion—have originated? According to Chagnaud, "Here, evolution has not only come up with an elegant means of anticipating the effects of locomotion on the body but also of compensating for them in an adaptive fashion."
Natural forces never anticipate. They cannot think ahead because they do not have minds, will, or volition. However, intelligent minds can anticipate. Does this indicate that supernatural forces were involved?
What experiment has determined that evolution deserves the credit for constructing this elaborate system? One could substitute the word "magic" in place of "evolution" to further reveal the complete lack of science behind Chagnaud's statement. We see neither magic nor nature inventing such sophisticated machinery. But we do see actual designers do it. The Creator, not evolution, deserves the credit. The God of the Bible anticipates needs and meets them in advance.3
- Changaud, B. P., et al. 2015. Spinal corollary discharge modulates motion sensing during vertebrate locomotion. Nature Communications. 6 (7982): doi:10.1038/ncomms8982.
- Signal replicas make a flexible sensor. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München press release. Posted on en.uni-muenchen.de September 4, 2015, accessed September 10, 2015.
- For example, the Bible teaches that God anticipated our need for salvation and met this need in His Son Jesus. "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him" (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).
*Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on September 24, 2015.