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Audibility, Perception and Cognition Laboratory​

Research aims to describe how amplification, language and cognition support speech recognition in children who are hard of hearing.

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​Overview

    ​Dr. Ryan McCreery, PhD, is the director of the Audibility, Perception, and Cognition laboratory. Our research aims to describe how amplification, language and cognition support speech perception in children who are hard of hearing in effort to maximize outcomes for children wearing hearing aids. 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 for adults, 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. Dr. McCreery explains more about the research being done in the Audibility, Perception, and Cognition laboratory in the video below.​



    Our lab facilities include multiple double-walled, sound-treated audiometric test booths. These booths are equipped 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.

  • Current Studies

    Complex Listening Study

    Speech perception in children who are hard of hearing is complex and is influenced by a wide range of factors. Our research is based on a theoretical framework of cumulative auditory exposure, where early amplification, consistency of 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, in collaboration with the University of Iowa, 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. Learn more about this study.

    Moeller and Tomblin Graphic


    • Cognitive effort, or fatigue, is currently measured subjectively with questionnaires or objectively with saliva samples to measure cortisol levels. Pupillometry is potentially a non-invasive, quick method that will allow us to measure listening effort in background noise or reverberation without using more invasive objec​tive measures.
  • Staff

    Ryan McCreery​Director ​of the Audibility, Perception, and Cognition laboratory

    Boys Town Hospital Collaborators

    Boys Town Hospital Research Audiologists

    • Merry Spratford, Au.D.
    • Judy Kopun, M.A.

    External Collaborators

    T35 Students

    • Hannah Hodson McLean
    • Jenna Browning
    • Kelsey Klein
    • ​Anastasia Grindle​
  • Participate/Contact Us

    All participants will review consent forms with a research lab member so they understand the procedures of the study, including any risks and benefits, before participating in a study. Participation in research is always voluntary. We're looking for children and adults with varying degrees of hearing levels.

    The following may be included in participation:

    • Hearing tests
    • An assessment of hearing aid function (if hearing aids are worn)
    • Measures of attention, memory, and language
    • Listening and repeating back words and sentences in quiet or background noise.
    • Tracking eye movements pupillometry ​as an indication of mental effort while listening
    • Questionnaires regarding listening behavior and/or use of amplification by participants, their parents, or teachers

    All participants are compensated for their time at a rate of $15/hour.

    ​​The lab is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and private donations.

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