Research Professor, Department of Otolaryngology

Daniel Merfeld614-485-9179


PhD: Biomedical Engineering, MIT, 1990
MSE: Mech. and Aero. Engineering, Princeton University, 1985 
BSME: Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1982

Research Interests:

  • Improving diagnostic procedures for patients suffering vestibular symptoms
  • Vestibular implant testing and development
  • Spatial disorientation
  • Vestibular impacts on balance
  • Vestibular perception

View CV

Research Projects

Research Projects

Employing Vestibular Thresholds to Improve Patient Diagnosis

Recurrent episodes of vertigo are caused by numerous disorders, including vestibular migraine and Meniere’s disease that together affect more than 1% of the population. The underlying cause can be difficult to diagnose, since similar symptoms are often reported despite very different pathophysiology and since standard tests are often normal or non-specific. The goal of this project is to quantify the extent that perceptual thresholds can improve the diagnosis of patients suffering recurrent vestibular symptoms.

Spatial Orientation Modeling

Spatial disorientation remains the leading cause of Class A aircraft mishaps. Models of spatial orientation can be used to evaluate situations that lead to spatial disorientation. The goal of this project is to develop new and improved models of spatial orientation so that we can better model spatial disorientation.
Research Accomplishments

Research Accomplishments

Current Research Support

Title: Employing Vestibular Thresholds to Improve Patient Diagnosis
Dates: July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020
Name of agency: NIH/NIDCD
Role: PI
Award number: R01DC014924

Title: Mathematical Model of Spatial Orientation
Dates: March 1, 2017 to February 28, 201
Name of agency: DOD SBIR
Role: Co-I

Title: Spatial Orientation Modeling and Model Validation
Dates: March 1, 2018 to February 28, 2020
Name of agency: DOD JPC-5
Role: Contributor

Title: Augmented Flight Deck Countermeasures
Dates: March 1, 2017 to February 28, 2019
Name of agency: NASA AFDC-4
Role: Contributor


Merfeld DM (1996). Effect of spaceflight on the ability to sense and control roll tilt: Human neurovestibular studies on SLS-2. Journal of Applied Physiology 81:50-57.

Cordo P, Inglis JT, Vershuerer S, Collins J, Merfeld DM, Buckley S, Rosenblum S and Moss F (1996). Stochastic resonance in human muscle spindles, a potential fusimotor mechanism. Nature 383: 769-770.

Merfeld DM, Zupan L, Peterka RJ (1999). Humans use an internal model to estimate gravity and linear acceleration. Nature 398:615:618

Merfeld, DM, S. Park, C. Gianna-Poulin, FO Black, S. Woods, (2005) Vestibular perception and action employ qualitatively different mechanisms: II. VOR and perceptual responses during combined tilt and translation, J Neurophysiology 94:199-205.

Lewis RF, Priesol AJ, Nicoucar K, Lim K, Merfeld DM (2011) Abnormal motion perception in vestibular migraine. Laryngoscope 121:1124-1125.

Karmali, F, Merfeld DM (2012) A distributed, dynamic, parallel computational model: the role of noise in velocity storage. Journal of neurophysiology, 108(2):390-405.

Valko, Y, Priesol AJ, Lewis R, Merfeld DM (2012) Vestibular labyrinth contributions to human whole-body motion discrimination Journal of Neuroscience 32(39):13537-42.

Lewis RF, Haburcakova C, Gong W, Lee D, Merfeld DM (2013) Electrical stimulation of semicircular canal afferents affects the perception of head orientation. The Journal of Neuroscience 33(22):9530-5.

Bermúdez Rey, MC, et al. (2016). "Vestibular Perceptual Thresholds Increase above the Age of 40." Frontiers in Neurology 7(162).

Karmali, F, Bermúdez Rey, MC, Clark, TK, Wang, W, and Merfeld, DM (2017). "Multivariate Analyses of Balance Test Performance, Vestibular Thresholds, and Age." Frontiers in Neurology 8(578).

Other Information

Other Information

Academic Appointments

Vice-Chair of Research
Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center


Affiliate Faculty, Biomedical Engineering
Affiliate Faculty, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

The Ohio State University

Awards and Honors

1995 Biomedical Engineering Society’s “Whitaker Young Investigator”
2012 Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)
2012-2018 Member NIH Sensorimotor Integration (SMI) Study Section
2014-2018 Associate Editor, Journal of Neurophysiology
2014 Inaugural “Champion of Vestibular Medicine” by Vestibular Disorders Association