The Aerospace Medicine and Vestibular Research Laboratory of Michael J. Cevette, Ph.D., and Jan Stepanek, M.D., at Mayo Clinic investigates the exposure of humans to high and extreme altitudes, acceleration and spatial disorientation.

The Aerospace Medicine and Vestibular Research Lab studies the ability to influence and enhance spatial orientation with galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS). The lab's research also encompasses the mitigation of motion and simulator sickness, which has broad relevance in flight simulation.

Drs. Cevette and Stepanek use a variety of research tools to study the vestibular system, including:

  • Rotary chair to record involuntary eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) to assess influences on standing balance
  • Multiaxis rotation in a dynamic computer-driven chair system to assess integration of vision and vestibular inputs during head movement
  • A novel computerized recording tool for the perception of movement
  • High-definition video camera systems with infrared capability and eye tracking system

Tools for investigating parameters of relevance for acceleration tolerance in a centrifuge environment include:

  • Noninvasive central blood pressure recording via applanation tonometry
  • Noninvasive peripheral blood pressure recording via photoplethysmographic methods, including relevant hemodynamic parameters, such as cardiac output and peripheral vascular resistance

The lab also uses these tools to enhance the efficiency of the anti-G straining maneuver (M-1, L-1) and to assess the impact of a G-suit on relevant hemodynamic parameters.

To investigate the high-altitude environment, the Aerospace Medicine and Vestibular Research Lab uses these methods:

  • Oximetry
  • Capnography
  • Mixed gas high-altitude simulation systems