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Translating research to change the way ​America ​​cares for ​​children and​ ​families.

We are internationally recognized as a leader in clinical and research programs focusing on childhood deafness, developmental language disorder, and related communication disorders. In 2013, we began a new frontier in neurobehavioral research using brain imaging techniques to better help diagnose and treat troubled children with severe behavioral and mental health problems.

Areas of ​Research

 

 

Balance ResearchDoctor doing Vestibular Reseach https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/balanceBalance Research
Center for Perception and Communication in Children (COBRE Grant)Cobre Areahttps://www.boystownhospital.org/research/cobreCenter for Perception and Communication in Children (COBRE Grant)
Child and Family Translational Researchadolescent boy looking at the camera smilinghttps://www.boystownhospital.org/research/translational-researchChild and Family Translational Research
Hearing and Speech Perception ResearchAudiologist tools on a medical charthttps://www.boystownhospital.org/research/hearing-speech-perceptionHearing and Speech Perception Research
Institute for Human NeuroscienceMRI and brain scanshttps://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscienceInstitute for Human Neuroscience
Neurobehavioral Research3T MRI machinehttps://www.boystownhospital.org/research/neurobehavioralNeurobehavioral Research
Sensory Neuroscience ResearchDNA Strand - Researchhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/research/sensory-neuroscienceSensory Neuroscience Research
Speech and Language ResearchSpeech language research https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/speech-languageSpeech and Language Research

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Research Connection​

Read the latest news about life-changing research at Boys Town National Research Hospital.​

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The Dizzy Childhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/diagnosing-dizziness-in-childrenThe Dizzy Child2021-10-14T05:00:00Z<p>​​​While <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0030666521001274?via%3Dihub" target="_blank"><em>The Dizzy Child</em></a>, the title of a new paper published in the <em>Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America</em>, by Elizabeth Kelly, M.D., Neurotologist, Kristen Janky, Au.D., Ph.D., Clinical Audiologist and Research Scientist, and Jessie Patterson, Au.D., Ph.D., Clinical and Research Audiologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital, may sound somewhat lighthearted, up to 15% of children have problems with dizziness. </p><p>Unfortunately, most children with dizziness are diagnosed with "unspecified dizziness", which highlights the difficulty many practitioners have in determining the cause of dizziness in children. Therefore, understanding the cause of dizziness in children is a growing area of research.</p><h2>Difficulty in Diagnosing</h2><p>Young children have trouble communicating their symptoms, thus inhibiting medical provider's from making an accurate diagnosis. Balance problems can cause children a great deal of discomfort and stress because they can affect gross motor development and visual acuity. It's no surprise that balance disorders can then impact children's schoolwork, social life, and interactions with family. The longer dizziness goes on, the more a child is negatively impacted. Thus, it's important for caregivers to be aware of changes in a child's behavior or motor function.</p><h2>Aids for Caregivers</h2><p>Two pediatric questionnaires, the <a href="https://www.vumc.org/balance-lab/sites/vumc.org.balance-lab/files/public_files/DHI%20-%20PC.pdf" target="_blank">Pediatric Dizziness Handicap Inventory</a> and the <a href="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_docs/Pediatric-Vestibular-Symptom-Questionnaire.pdf">Pediatric Vestibu​lar Symptom Questionnaire​</a>​ are both available for children age 6 and older to determine the severity of vestibular symptoms. The results garnered from these tools can help a child's medical provider identify the severity of dizziness and monitor changes in symptoms following treatment. </p><h2>Vestibular Evaluation in Children</h2><p>Vestibular loss often results in delayed gross motor skills, such as sitting, standing, and learning to walk. Thus, the medical history can play a critical role in determining whether a child has an underlying vestibular disorder. Children with hearing loss are more likely to have vestibular loss; therefore, children with history of gross motor delay and with history of hearing loss are good candidates for a vestibular evaluation. </p><p>There are a variety of reasons children can become dizzy. For example, vestibular migraines are the most common cause of dizziness in children. Thankfully, some modifications medical and vestibular assessments can be completed in children.</p><p>Learn more about our <a href="/services/ear-nose-throat-institute/hearing-balance/balance-vestibular-evaluations">Balance and Vestibular Evaluations</a> and the <a href="/services/ear-nose-throat-institute/hearing-balance/vestibular-tests-treatments">Vestibular Tests and Treatments</a> offered at Boys Town National Research Hospital. </p><p>To read the full article, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.otc.2021.06.002" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1016/j.otc.2021.06.002</a>.</p>
Annual Research Project Review Showcases Collaborationhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/research-collaboration-reviewAnnual Research Project Review Showcases Collaboration2021-09-28T05:00:00Z<p>​We know knowledge is power and that when you collaborate with others it can lead to important insights and discoveries. That's the goal behind the External Advisory Committee at Boys Town's Center for Perception and Communication in Children.<br></p><p>Each year, a group of Boys Town scientists present their research projects during a two-day meeting with an external advisory group that includes five members who are national leaders in their field of study. Boys Town researchers gain valuable input and feedback from committee members, as well as experience presenting and discussing their research.</p><p>Our 2021 research presentations included: </p><ul><li> <strong> <em>Improving the Diagnosis of Ear Infections</em></strong><br> by <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/gabrielle-merchant">Gabrielle Merchant, Au.D., Ph.D.</a>, Director of Translational Auditory Physiology and Perception Laboratory</li><li> <strong><em>Understanding How Face Masks Affect Speech Perception </em></strong> <br>by <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/kaylah-lalonde">Kaylah Lalonde, Ph.D.</a>, Director of Audiovisual Speech Processing Laboratory</li><li> <strong><em>Development of Online Tool for Speech-Language Genetics Research </em></strong> <br>by <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/hope-sparks-lancaster">Hope Sparks Lancaster, Ph.D.</a>, Director of Etiologies of Language and Literacy Laboratory</li><li> <strong><em>Studying Self-Talk in Children </em></strong> <br>by <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/angela-aubuchon">Angela AuBuchon, Ph.D.</a>, Director of Working Memory and Language Laboratory </li></ul><p> <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/cobre/external-advisory-committee">Watch videos</a> on the four projects that were presented, and learn more about the External Advisory Committee supporting the Center for Perception and Communication in Children.</p><p>External Advisory Committee members include:  </p><ul><li>Lisa Bedore, Ph.D., a leading expert in developmental language disorders and language learning in children who are Spanish-English bilinguals</li><li> <a href="https://bbs.utdallas.edu/language-in-motion/" target="_blank">Lisa Goffman, Ph.D.</a>, known for her work investigating how the integration of language, speech, and motor interactions impacts typical and atypical language development. </li><li> <a href="https://www.queensu.ca/psychology/speech-perception-and-production-lab" target="_blank">Kevin Munhall, Ph.D.</a>, recognized for his work on the multisensory processes and brain structures involved in face-to-face communication.</li><li> <a href="http://apc.psych.umn.edu/" target="_blank">Andrew Oxenham, Ph.D.</a>, respected for his work on auditory and speech perception, addressing questions related to pitch, speech recognition with acoustic and/or electric hearing, and auditory scene analysis.</li><li> <a href="https://keck.usc.edu/faculty-search/robert-shannon/" target="_blank">Robert Shannon, Ph.D.</a>, known for his work on the perception of speech and non-speech sounds by people with cochlear implants, brainstem implants, and midbrain implants. </li></ul>
Three Boys Town Research Projects Receive ASHA Awardhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/asha-distinguished-editor-award-boys-townThree Boys Town Research Projects Receive ASHA Award2021-09-23T05:00:00Z<p>​<strong>​Three Boys Town Research Projects Receive the Distinguished Editor's Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) </strong></p><p>To have one researcher paper recognized for this award is impressive, but we are extremely proud to announce that three publications by four Boys Town researchers have received the Editor's Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).</p><p>Congratulations to Lori Leibold, Director, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Hearing Research; Heather Porter, Ph.D., Research Scientist at the Human Auditory Development Laboratory; Karla McGregor, Director of the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning; and Krystal Werfel, Ph.D., Research Scientist III, Written Language Laboratory, for receiving this highly esteemed award. </p><p>“We are honored to be recognized for our collaborative work, and hope that it shines some light on the communication challenges children face in noisy environments such as classrooms.," said Dr. Leibold. </p><p>Receiving an Editor's Award is one of the highest honors an individual can receive. It is presented to the editor's choice of the most commendable single article appearing in each journal in 2020. Winning articles are selected by the editorial team, including the editor-in-chief, based on experimental design, teaching-education value, scientific or clinical merit, contribution to the professions, theoretical impact, and/or other indices of merit. </p><p>“Being recognized by leaders in my profession is an honor but being recognized for work that was a product of my heart as well as my brain...even more so," said Dr. McGregor. “I am passionate about raising awareness of Developmental Language Disorder and maybe this award will shine a bit of light in that direction."</p><p>“We are honored to be recognized for this work addressing the complexities of literacy intervention for children with hearing loss and hope that this award will help to inspire and advance other research that addresses this critical issue," stated Dr. Werfel. </p><p>The following articles by Boys Town researchers were selected for this award: </p><p> <em><strong>Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools</strong></em><br><strong>Editor-in-Chief: Holly Storkel</strong><br><a href="https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_LSHSS-20-00003" target="_blank">How We Fail Children With Developmental Language Disorder</a><br> Karla K. McGregor</p><p> <em> <strong>Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research</strong></em><strong>—Hearing Section</strong><br><strong>Editor-in-Chief: Peggy Nelson</strong><br><a href="https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_JSLHR-20-00353" target="_blank">The Clear-Speech Benefit for School-Age Children: Speech-in-Noise and Speech-in-Speech Recognition</a><br> Lauren Calandruccio, Heather L. Porter, Lori J. Leibold and Emily Buss</p><p> <em> <strong>Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups</strong></em><br><strong> </strong><strong>Editor-in-Chief: Brenda Beverly</strong><br><a href="https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_PERSP-20-00023" target="_blank">Teaching Vocabulary to Improve Print Knowledge in Preschool Children With Hearing Loss</a><br> Emily Lund, Carly Miller, W. Michael Douglas and Krystal Werfel</p><p>Congratulations to Dr. Lori Leibold, Dr. Heather Porter, Dr. Karla McGregor and Dr. Krystal Werfel on this prestigious award! </p>
Cerebral Palsy: Microstructural Changes in the Spinal Cord Tied to Hand Motor Controlhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/cerebral-palsy-microstructural-changes-in-spinal-cord-tied-to-hand-motor-controlCerebral Palsy: Microstructural Changes in the Spinal Cord Tied to Hand Motor Control2021-08-30T05:00:00Z<p>​While the study of brain structure and function in individuals with Cerebral Palsy (CP) is fairly common, until recently, the spinal cord has not been studied as closely due to difficulties with the spasticity caused by CP and the need to remain motionless during Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).</p><div style="width:100%;text-align:center;font-size:10px;margin-right:1rem;float:left;display:block;max-width:400px;"> <img alt="spinal cord image" src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/spinal-cord_rollup.jpg" style="width:100%;display:block;" />Researchers at the Boys Town PoWER Laboratory have published research that ties microstructural changes in the spinal cord, including reduced grey matter in the cross-sectional areas, to deficits in manual dexterity.</div><p>But now, researchers at the Boys Town PoWER  (Physiology of Walking and Engineering Rehabilitation) Laboratory have published research that ties microstructural changes in the spinal cord, including reduced grey matter in the cross-sectional areas, to deficits in manual dexterity.</p><p>“Not only were we able to successfully image the spinal cord in adults with Cerebral Palsy, which has its challenges, but we were able to identify microstructural changes in the upper spinal cord and to connect these changes with hand functioning as measured by a clinical test," said Michael Trevarrow, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the PoWER Lab. </p><p>“By identifying alterations within the upper spinal cord and directly connecting those to sensory-motor impairments of the upper extremities, we are providing an avenue for future work to establish what other roles the spinal cord plays within this population," Trevarrow said. </p><p>For more information on this exciting new study from the PoWER Lab, visit: <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.14860"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">https://doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.14860</span></a> </p>
New MRI Study: Reduced Threat Responsiveness Corresponds with Aggressive Behaviorhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/new-mri-study-reduced-threat-responsivenessNew MRI Study: Reduced Threat Responsiveness Corresponds with Aggressive Behavior2021-08-24T05:00:00Z<p>​​​​​​​​In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at Boys Town National Research Hospital Center for Neurobehavioral Research have linked reduced threat and reduced emotional responsiveness to recorded aggressive behavior in researched adolescents during their first three months in the Boys Town residential setting.​​</p><p>Previous studies have attempted to examine relationships between brain responses and self-reported aggression. But this study is the first to have an <em>objective</em> (observed and recorded) measure of aggressive incidents, as judged by trained Family-Teachers® in the Boys Town program.</p><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;float:left;display:block;max-width:280px;width:100%;margin-right:1rem;"> <img alt="snake image" src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/looming-stimuli_image2.jpg" style="width:100%;display:block;" />Researchers used images of human and animal figures that were neutral or aggressive to measure threat or emotional response. </div><p>Researchers recruited adolescents shortly after arrival at the Boys Town residential program and measured their threat and emotional response to pictured human and animal figures that were neutral or aggressive as they loomed toward or moved away in the adolescent's field of view. The responses were recorded using an MRI scanner and looking at the reactions in segments of the brain, including the inferior frontal gyrus and the amygdala.  Those brain responses were then related to the number of aggressive incidents shown during the first 3 months of stay at Boys Town.</p><p>Many factors can make a child/adolescent more prone to aggressive behavior, including economic deprivation, poor parenting, maltreatment and even ADHD. But this study looks beyond those factors to neurocognitive dysfunctions that may make an individual more inclined to aggression. The reduced reaction to threat and reduced emotional responsiveness directly (as measured in <strong>M</strong>agnetic <strong>R</strong>esonance <strong>I</strong>maging) correlated to increased recorded episodes of aggressive behavior. </p><p>The researchers hypothesized two potential reasons for this increase. The first being a lack of ability to formulate the consequences of aggressive acts and the second may be related to reduced empathetic responsiveness. Though that wasn't part of this study, the underlying architecture for threat is the same as that for empathy.</p><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;float:right;display:block;max-width:280px;width:100%;margin-left:1rem;">​ <img alt="Brain MRI Image" src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/looming-stimuli_image.jpg" style="width:100%;display:block;" />The responses were recorded using an MRI scanner and looking at the reactions in segments of the brain, including the inferior frontal gyrus and the amygdala. </div><p>​“What we clearly do show in this study is that lack of emotional response or reduced response to threat is a risk factor," said Dr. James Blair, Ph.D., one of the researchers and the Director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Research. “And we can understand why it is a risk factor with respect to poor decision making and corresponding empathic issues."</p><p>Asked about the future of this study and its findings, Dr. Blair stated, “We need better risk assessment tools – for aggression, self-harm and other mental health concerns.  This study is an early step in developing the next stage of assessment tools for aggression risk."</p><p>To learn more about the study and its findings, go to:​ <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsab058" target="_blank">10.1093/scan/nsab058 </a></p>​<br>
Researchers from Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals Visit Institute for Human Neurosciencehttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/madonna-tourResearchers from Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals Visit Institute for Human Neuroscience2021-08-23T05:00:00Z<p>​​We were happy to welcome research colleagues from the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals for a tour at our Institute for Human Neuroscience on Boys Town campus. What an inspiring visit with so many smart minds in the room who work every day to advance research that improves the lives of patients, children and families.</p><div style="width:100%;text-align:left;font-size:10px;margin-right:1rem;display:block;max-width:830px;"> <img alt="Madonna Tour Participants" src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/madonna-tour_rollup.jpg" style="width:100%;display:block;" /> <strong>Pictured Left to Right:</strong> Arash Gonabadi, MS, Assistant Research Director Rehabilitation Engineering Center, Madonna; Thad Buster, MS, Chief Research Analyst, Madonna; Judith M. Burnfield, PhD, PT, Director Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, Director Movement and Neurosciences Center, Madonna; <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/tony-wilson"> Tony Wilson, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Human Neuroscience</a>, Boys Town; Guilherme Cesar, PhD, PT, Assistant Research Director Movement and Neurosciences Center, Madonna; Susan Fager, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director Communication Center, Madonna; Dr. Jason Bruce, Executive Vice President of Healthcare and Director of Boys Town National Research Hospital and Clinics; Dr. Deepak Madhavan, Executive Medical Director, Boys Town Pediatric Neuroscience; <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/ryan-mccreery"> Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Director of Research, Boys Town;</a><a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/karla-mcgregor"> Karla McGregor, Ph.D., Director, Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning, Boys Town</a> </div>​<br>

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