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Audibility, Perception and Cognition Lab


Research in the Audibility, Perception and Cognition Lab aims to describe how amplification, language and cognition support speech recognition in children who are hard of hearing. The importance of early childhood auditory experience on the development of listening in environments with noise and reverberation is also an area of interest. The results from our research will help to maximize the auditory abilities of children who are hard of hearing who wear hearing aids.



The Audibility, Perception and Cognition Lab is located at the Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. The facility includes multiple double-walled sound treated audiometric test booths with audiometers, immittance equipment and hearing aid verification systems. Listening environments are simulated through multiple speaker arrays controlled via MATLAB and Max custom software programs.


The lab is under the direction of Ryan W. McCreery, Ph.D., and is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and private donations. Merry Spratford, AuD, is a research audiologist in charge of laboratory operations. Collaborators at Boys Town Hospital include Marc Brennan, Ph.D.,​ Dawna Lewis, Ph.D., Walt Jesteadt, Ph.D., Mary Pat Moeller, Ph.D., Monita Chatterjee, Ph.D., Pat Stelmachowicz, Ph.D., and Nicholas Smith, Ph.D.. External collaborators from the University of Iowa include Ruth Bentler, Ph.D., Jacob Oleson, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Walker, Ph.D.; and Starkey collaborator Jason Galster, Ph.D.

Summary of Research Program

For Clinicians and Scientists

Speech recognition in children who are hard of hearing is complex and is influenced by a wide range of factors. Our research is based in a theoretical framework of cumulative auditory exposure, where early amplification, hearing aid use and language exposure provide the basis for auditory development in children and are proposed to influence the linguistic and cognitive skills that support listening and learning at school-age. We are examining these factors using a combination of longitudinal and cross-sectional research studies that could lead to improved amplification or habilitation strategies that could maximize auditory development in children.

For Families

The goal of our research is to better understand how hearing loss impacts the ability of children to listen in classrooms, at home and in social environments where important communication takes place. Hearing aids worn by children are often designed to be used by adults or without consideration for a child’s developing auditory skills. The ability to temporarily store and process incoming auditory information, known as working memory, and knowledge about language can help to support listening in environments where the speech signal is degraded by noise and reverberation.

Professional Resources: Publication Lists

Each link below opens a new window in PubMed1 in which the author’s biomedical publications are listed.

1PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. PubMed includes links to full text articles and other related resources.