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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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Boys Town’s Morgan Busboom Awarded Foundation for Physical Therapy PODS I Scholarshiphttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/morgan-busboom-awarded-foundationBoys Town’s Morgan Busboom Awarded Foundation for Physical Therapy PODS I Scholarship2021-07-26T05:00:00Z<p> <img src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/busboom-morgan.jpg" alt="Morgan Busboom headshot" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:300px;height:300px;" />Morgan Busboom, PT, DPT, of the Institute for Human Neuroscience at Boys Town National Research Hospital, was recently awarded a PODS I Mildred Wood Award from the Foundation for Physical Therapy. Funding from the foundation was provided to 21 of the most promising physical therapist researchers to help these new investigators begin their research careers and complete doctoral studies. </p><p>The award provides professional development opportunities for Busboom, as well as supports her dissertation work that she will be doing at Boys Town. Busboom, a Ph.D., student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is working at Boys Town's Institute for Human Neuroscience in the <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/power">Physiology of Walking and Engineering Rehabilitation (PoWER) Laboratory</a> under the direction of Max Kurz, Ph.D. </p><p>With the help of this scholarship, Busboom will be focusing her dissertation on a project titled: Robotic Exoskeleton Gait Training in Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy. Through her research, Busboom will be studying new or better ways for patients with cerebral palsy to walk using robotic exoskeleton therapy and how the clinically relevant changes are connected with improvements in the brain and spinal cord activity. </p><p>“We're using the robotic exoskeleton in a way that is a little bit different than you would think. A robotic exoskeleton is used a lot of times in rehab to assist or support a patient as they perform gait training. I am proposing to use the robot to perturb the leg movements during physical therapy to enhance the nervous systems exploration of new and better ways to walk," explained Busboom of her dissertation work. </p><p>Having grown up in Nebraska, Busboom was familiar with Boys Town and is excited to be working in the Institute for Human Neuroscience. “I grew up in Nebraska and had heard about Boys Town. I wasn't aware of all the research opportunities here so that's been the most exciting thing - learning about Dr. Kurz and Dr. Wilson coming to Boys Town and their 'why' for coming here, as well as seeing all of the resources available at Boys Town and the excitement around research," said Busboom. </p><p>In addition to her work at Boys Town, Busboom also is a contracted pediatric physical therapist. “It's interesting to see both the hospital side of physical therapy and the research side. Seeing both helps me to develop new ideas for research." </p><p>“Morgan is extremely creative in her thought process and has a knack for disentangling the source of the movement challenges seen in the patients she treats. She is very deserving of this award and is well on her way towards making an impact on the treatment strategies used at Boys Town and across the clinics in the United States," said Dr. Kurz.</p><p> <em>The </em> <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience"> <em>Institute for Human Neuroscience</em></a><em> at Boys Town National Research Hospital opened in March 2021. Located on Boys Town campus in Omaha, Nebraska, it is one of the most cutting-edge neuroscience research facilities in the nation and the only site in the world with two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems.</em></p>
Change Lives and Earn Moneyhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/change-lives-earn-moneyChange Lives and Earn Money2021-07-21T05:00:00Z<p>You can earn money, help advance science and change lives by participating in research studies this summer at Boys Town! Boys Town is looking for participants from all age groups to join our life-changing research studies. Participants can earn at least $15 per hour for their time. Studies are non-invasive and fun – and can help change the lives of children with hearing, communication, developmental, behavioral and mental health challenges.  We need participants with and without these challenges.</p><p> <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/participate">Browse our list of current openings</a> and sign up today! This is a great summer break activity for kids and adults alike! <strong>Don't see a study that fits you?</strong> Boys Town is always looking for research participants<a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/participate">; sign up</a> to be notified of future studies. </p>
Let the Children Talk (to Themselves) - It Helps Memoryhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/let-the-children-talkLet the Children Talk (to Themselves) - It Helps Memory2021-07-19T05:00:00Z<p>​​​​It's the middle of your remote workday. You leave your home office, but the moment you enter the kitchen, you've completely forgotten what you wanted in the first place. You muse aloud "why did I come in here?" and proceed to talk yourself through the sequence of events that led to your arrival in the kitchen. Adults commonly use these self-talk strategies to remember and problem solve. However, in these days of remote learning, you may have noticed that your children's memory lapses are less often accompanied by self-talk. In fact, it's long been thought that children younger than 7 are unable to use a self-talk tool called rehearsal to help them remember lists of things. But thanks to a modernized version of five-decades-old study, we now have a much better idea of when rehearsal develops.</p><p> <img src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/EAC-Lab-Still-1.jpg" alt="Study participants point to the pictures, just as they did in the original Flavell study." style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><div> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">Study participants point to the pictures, just as they did in the original Flavell study</span>.</div><div> <br> </div><div>In 1966, Flavell, Beach, and Chinksy showed 60 children --5, 7, and 10-year-olds -- sequences of hand drawn pictures. After each sequence, the researchers laid out the pictures and asked the child to point to the pictures in the order. Meanwhile, another researcher discretely watched the child's mouth for subtle movement that indicate the child was talking to herself. In the original study, only the 7- and 10-year-olds spontaneously took advantage of rehearsal to help remember the lists.</div><p> <img src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/EAC-Lab-Still-2.jpg" alt="The participants vision was obstructed during the delay period prior to recall, just as was done in the 1966 study." style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">The participants vision was obstructed during the </span> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References"></span> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">delay period prior to recall, just as was done in the 1966 study.</span> <p> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References"></span> <br></p><p>Fast forward to 2017. Dr. Emily Elliott of Louisiana State University, Dr. Candice Morey of Cardiff University and Dr. Angela AuBuchon of Boys Town National Research Hospital® struggled to reconcile the results from 1966 with new research from their colleague Dr. Chris Jarrold at the University of Bristol. Dr. Jarrold used different methods than the 1966 study, but his results suggested that 5- and 6-year-olds might also be using very simple forms of rehearsal on memory tests. </p><p> <img src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/EAC-Lab-Still-3.jpg" alt="Care was taken to replicate the obstruction of vision during delay periods." style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">Care was taken to replicate the obstruction of vision during delay periods.</span> <p> <br> </p><p>Drs. Elliott, Morey, and AuBuchon decided to find out if the inconsistency could be explained by either the differing methods or the passage of time, so they proposed to lead a multi-site registered replication report of the 1966 study. After their proposal was accepted by the journal Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychology Science (AMPPS), they made all of their materials – from the study protocol and experimental program to the data analysis code – available on Open Science Framework (OSF). They invited researchers around the world to conduct the experiment in the own labs and contribute data. Ultimately, the replication included 977 children from 17 labs – including the three lead authors' and Dr. Jarrold's – representing not only the United States and the United Kingdom, but also Turkey, Norway, New Zealand, Germany, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria.</p><p> <img src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/EAC-Lab-Still-5.jpg" alt="Study participants from 17 sites worldwide were observed as they provided verbal labels for items presented on the computer scre" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">Study participants from 17 sites worldwide were observed as they provided verbal labels for items presented on the computer screen.</span> <p> <br> </p><p>Careful attention was paid to preserving key elements of the original study. However, the replication was modernized to reflect current research practices. For example, pictures were presented on a computer to standardize the experiment across of the labs. They also video recorded the children, when possible, to assure that lip movements were reliably monitored.  The new study also included a subset of 6-year-olds to better asses the presumed transition from non-verbal memorization in younger children to rehearsal in older children.</p><p>The replication upheld the core of Flavell and colleagues 1966 finding – fewer 5- and 6-year-olds than 7- and 10-year-olds used self-talk. Importantly, though, many more 5- and 6- year-olds used self-talk than would have been predicted by the original 1966 study.  With the expanded study size, 75% of 5-year-olds were found to verbalize as a memory tool at least part of the time, versus 10% in the Flavell study. The updated research also suggests that increased verbalization led to increased memory span performance in the participating children regardless of the participants' age. The benefits of pointing and verbalizing in these memory exercises were particularly prominent in 6-year-olds, who were added to the replication study and were not present in Flavell's original study.</p><p> <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/25152459211018187" target="_blank">Click here</a> to read the newly published replication study.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/25152459211018187" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1177/25152459211018187</a></p>​<br>
Boys Town Researchers Find Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Adolescents Can Significantly Impair Quality of Lifehttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/Anxiety-Disorder-in-AdolescentsBoys Town Researchers Find Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Adolescents Can Significantly Impair Quality of Life2021-07-02T05:00:00Z<p>​​​​​​​​<img src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/GAD-images.jpg" alt="GAD" class="ms-rtePosition-2" />A quality life is where our goals and aspirations flourish.  But a quality life is more challenging for adolescents to achieve if they have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and are plagued with constant worries​ about almost everything.</p><p>This suffering is especially poignant for researchers at Boys Town, where 30% of the adolescents in the Family Home Program arrive with some level of generalized anxiety disorder. Until recently, GAD in adolescents has seen very little neuroimaging research.</p><p>“A major problem we see in adolescents with GAD is the recruitment of the brain regions involved in response control and attention," explained Karina Blair, Ph.D., Director of the Program for Trauma and Anxiety in Children (PTAC) at Boys Town National Research Hospital. “Response control and attention are what allows us to concentrate on useful activities. That part of the brain (top-down attentional control) helps us reduce distraction and lets us focus on what is necessary and what we need to do to achieve our goals in life."</p><p>Researchers believe that the difficulties that adolescents with GAD have in engaging top-down brain functions cause them to be more prone to distractions, especially distractions that are worrying. It is also possible that consistent worry interferes with their ability to control responses and attention, so the worry-distraction, distraction-worry scenario may be a two-way path.</p><p>Investigations like this one may pave the way for ​future brain-level studies that index treatment response. By understanding the brain-level difficulties face​d by adolescents with GAD, one can develop biomarkers of those difficulties so that we can be sure whether a treatment has helped or whether additional remedies need to be considered.</p><p>To read the full article, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1994" target="_blank">click here</a>.<br></p> <style> .ms-rtePosition-2 { width:450px; height:auto; float:right; } @media only screen and (max-width: 600px) { .ms-rtePosition-2 { display:block; float:none; } } </style>​<br>
Introducing a Ground-Breaking New Institute at Boys Town National Research Hospitalhttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/new-research-institute-for-human-neuroscienceIntroducing a Ground-Breaking New Institute at Boys Town National Research Hospital2021-03-29T05:00:00Z<p>​​Boys Town National Research Hospital® is revolutionizing child and teen brain research at the new <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience">Institute for Human Neuroscience</a>, which opened in March 2021. The Institute is in a brand-new 15,000+ square foot research facility specifically built for this group of researchers and their state-of-the-art equipment. As one of the most cutting-edge neuroscience research facilities in the nation, it includes a high-performance research-grade Siemens Prisma MRI and two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems. </p><p> <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/tony-wilson">Tony Wilson, Ph.D.</a>, tapped to lead the new Institute, has also been named the Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at Boys Town National Research Hospital.  </p><p>“One of the main reasons we came to Boys Town was the opportunity to build an incredible institute in an amazing environment. As the only site in the world with two next-generation MEG Neo systems, we'll have twice the capacity for major discoveries in pediatric neuroscience and neurotherapeutics and be able to impact the lives of children and families directly," said Wilson.</p><p>Wilson brings a team of almost 50 research scientists and staff who will work to understand how the brain changes as kids move through puberty and into young adulthood. The group will also study the impact of traumatic experiences on brain development and the brain changes associated with the emergence of psychiatric conditions like anxiety disorders, depression or schizophrenia. </p><p>The Institute of Human Neuroscience aligns directly with Boys Town's mission and growth of its Pediatric Neuroscience program. The emphasis will be on pediatric brain health and contribute directly to improved outcomes in children receiving care from our neurologists, neurosurgeons and behavioral health teams.  </p><p>For example, MEG is FDA-approved for use in identifying the focus of epileptic seizures. It creates the opportunity for neuroscience researchers to pinpoint the origin of such seizures, which can then be removed through surgery to maximize positive outcomes.</p><p>When the Institute is fully operational it will house nine to 10 different laboratories and 100 to 120 researchers, all under one roof. Each lab will focus on different sub-areas of human neuroscience using MRI, MEG and other state-of-the-art methods. Each laboratory will function independently, studying ​different disorders, different populations and different therapeutics.</p><p>“We're so excited to work in such a collaborative environment," noted Wilson. “We think it's going to give rise to a lot of​ great science that wouldn't have otherwise occurred."</p><p>“At Boys Town National Research Hospital our mission is to change the way America cares for children and families – and to do that, we've brought together the nation's best scientists to develop new and better treatments and intervention methods," said Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Director of Boys Town Research. “Dr. Wilson and his team bring that expertise in neuroscience. What is learned in the lab will directly apply to our clinical care so that more children and families can benefit from this life-changing research."</p><div class="embed-container"> <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ylxUx2KtfCU" title="YouTube video player" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div>
Tony W. Wilson, Ph.D., Named Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neurosciencehttps://www.boystownhospital.org/news/tony-wilson-patrick-brookhouser-endowed-chair-cognitive-neuroscienceTony W. Wilson, Ph.D., Named Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience2021-03-28T05:00:00Z<p> <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/tony-wilson">Tony W. Wilson, Ph.D.</a>, Director of the new <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience">Institute for Human Neuroscience at Boys Town National Research Hospital</a>, has been named the first recipient of the Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience. </p><p>Dr. Wilson is nationally recognized for his work utilizing neuroimaging to investigate typical and atypical brain development and use those findings to predict long-term outcomes and derive therapeutics.  He brings a team of almost 50 research scientists and staff who will work to understand how the brain changes as kids move through puberty and into young adulthood, which is obviously a period of major cognitive and emotional change.</p><p>Translating research to improve lives has been at the core of Boys Town Hospital since opening in 1977. Founding hospital director, Patrick E. Brookhouser, M.D. was a gifted physician and surgeon, and dedicated his life to being a steward of Father Flanagan's dream to help children. He was recognized across the U.S. for the ground-breaking research he initiated in the treatment and prevention of hearing loss and other communication disorders.  </p><p>“One of the unique things about holding the Brookhouser Endowed Chair is that I was fortunate enough to meet him when I first moved to Omaha", said Wilson. “Brookhouser believed that ground-breaking research wasn't enough. The findings need to be used to improve medical care and make lives better for children and families. One of the main reasons we came to Boys Town was the opportunity to build an incredible institute in an amazing environment to directly impact the lives of children and families. Boys Town has the infrastructure and a history of doing things like this and we are excited to carry on this critical mission. I think Dr. Brookhouser would have been excited about the unique opportunities that this Institute presents for pediatric brain health."</p><p>The Institute for Human Neuroscience is in a brand-new 15,000+ square foot research facility specifically built for this group of researchers and their state-of-the-art equipment. As one of the most cutting-edge neuroscience research facilities in the nation it includes a high-performance research-grade Siemens Prisma MRI and two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems.</p>

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