Harvard Medical School team has determined that the inner ear does more than control balance. Tiny organs deep within the ear also appear to alter blood flow to the brain, the researchers say.
From their study of 24 people, they concluded that this connection may have enabled early man to stand upright and still get blood pumped to the brain, the BBC said.
Using NASA tests designed for astronauts, the researchers assessed the balance organs, which are located deep inside bony chambers of the ear, and monitored blood flow through the body while the participants were tilting and spinning.
They reported their findings in the journal BMC Neuroscience, according to the BBC.
Dr. Jorge Serrador, who led the team, said the findings could potentially lead to new treatments for related conditions. For example, people who suffer from postural hypotension -- meaning they faint or get dizzy spells when they stand up too quickly -- might have poor brain blood flow related to an underlying inner ear problem, he said.