Rotational head movements cause the fluid in the cupula of the semicircular canal to "bend" the hair cells. The hair cells, in turn, send a signal to your brain that you are experiencing "motion".
Vertigo can occur when these hair cells are still sending signals of motion, even though you may be perfectly still, giving you the "illusion of movement".Update Date: 4/3/2007 Updated by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: Greg Juhn, M.T.P.W., David R. Eltz, Kelli A. Stacy. Previously reviewed by Daniel Kantor, M.D., Director of the Comprehensive MS Center, Neuroscience Institute, University of Florida Health Science Center, Jacksonville, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (5/16/2006).