May 17, 2016For Immediate Release
New Research Studies to Help Children
with Mild Hearing Loss in Complex Listening Environments
OMAHA, NEB. – New studies at Boys Town National Research Hospital are using simulation environments to examine auditory skills in elementary age children with mild bilateral or unilateral hearing loss and how these skills relate to understanding speech in everyday situations such as classrooms, gymnasiums and cafeterias.
“In complex listening environments, children with mild hearing loss may have difficulty concentrating due to factors including multiple talkers, new information being taught and multiple sources of background noises,” said
Dawna Lewis, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and Director of the
Listening and Learning Laboratory. “Research conducted in the 1980s and 1990s found these children were failing at a rate 10 times higher than their peers with normal hearing. The purpose of the work being done in my lab is to examine which factors may be affecting listening for an estimated three million children with these types of hearing loss.”
The Listening and Learning Laboratory is equipped with technology that allows simulation of acoustic environments that are similar to those that children experience in a real-world school setting. For example, gymnasiums, cafeterias and classrooms have hard surfaces that create reverberation as well as have multiple talkers from many directions and at varying voice levels. Dr. Lewis and her staff are able to simulate the acoustics of the settings they want to test while maintaining experimental control.
“Children should have the best environment for learning,” said Dr. Lewis. “Elementary classrooms are typically the noisiest. While classrooms in middle and high school years may have lower levels of background noise, the material being learned becomes more complex. By focusing on elementary age children in our current studies, we hope to be able to find strategies and technology that will help them process new information they are learning across all grade levels.”
The study is one of five labs covered by an $11.3 million, five-year Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant, awarded to the hospital by the National Institutes of Health to develop a Center for Perception and Communication in children.
Watch Video Overview: Understanding Speech in Complex Listening Environments
To schedule an interview with Dawna Lewis, Ph.D., or to request B-roll of the research, contact:
Colin Crawford Video Producer and Media Coordinator 402-498-6624 Colin.Crawford@boystown.org
ABOUT BOYS TOWN NATIONAL RESEARCH HOSPITAL
Boys Town National Research Hospital is an international leader in research on childhood deafness, vision and communication disorders. For 40 years, Boys Town Hospital has been dedicated to providing leading edge clinical care, pioneering translational research and improving the lives of children and their families through applied technology and educational outreach programs.