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Vestibular Studies

Improving Balance through Vestibular Stimulation

The vestibular system plays an important role in maintaining balance and in sensing self-motion. In this study, imperceptible low level noise is applied to participants in the form of electrical stimulation to increase the sensitivity and function of the vestibular system. 

We are interested in whether there is an optimal level of electrical stimulation to observe improvements in vestibular function and whether this optimal level varies with age. During this study, participants undergo a stretch of balance training. While training, one group of participants will have low level noise applied to their vestibular system and the other group will undergo sham stimulation (no low level noise). This will offer insight on whether adding low level noise to the vestibular system results in balance improvements. In addition, participants will have an MRI scan before and after the balance training period; this will allow us to determine whether exposure to low level noise during balance training causes changes in the brain. 

This study is in collaboration with Dr. Jacob Bloomberg (NASA), Ajitkumar Mulavara (USRA) and Dr. Kathleen Sienko (University of Michigan).