Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory
Scientists in the Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory study vestibular function using various behavioral measures, including assays of balance, perception and the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). They engage in both basic science and translational research, using dynamic systems models to help gain insight into the complexities of multi-sensory integration involved in our sense of spatial orientation.
Historically, the Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory was the first to study vestibular implants to treat patients suffering from severe bilateral vestibular loss. Investigators also have a number of patents that have been licensed by commercial entities intent on bringing this device to the market in the near future. They continue to maintain significant research interests in this area.
Presently, much of the translational effort focuses on the development of more sensitive and more specific diagnostic tests of vestibular function for patients suffering from dizziness, imbalance, or vertigo. This is significant because a substantial fraction of patients suffering from dizziness, vertigo, and/or imbalance are difficult to diagnose using existing tests that focus on measurements of reflexive responses like the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR).
Much of the basic science effort focuses on human spatial orientation and perception with a strong interest in understanding the limits of human performance via the measurement of thresholds. We also perform basic science studies focusing on understanding how the brain combines cues from many different sensory systems, sometimes referred to as a multi-sensory integration, with a keen interest in how the brain processes ambiguous sensory cues, like those provided by the otolith organs that provide both gravitational and acceleration cues.
Daniel M. Merfeld, Ph.D.
243 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114