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Auditory Prostheses and Perception Laboratory

We study cochlear implant patients’ speech and sound perception and aim to help improve devices, processors and future patient rehabilitation.

  • Research

    Our lab studies cochlear implant patients’ perception of sound and speech perception. In typical experiments, we ask participants to detect subtle differences in sounds or speech, such as:

    • Differences in pitch, loudness, timbre, etc.
    • Vowels vs. consonants (Did you hear apa or aba or aja? Hit or heat?)
    • Communicative intent or mood (Did it sound like a question or a statement? Did it sound happy or sad?)
    • Repeat back the sentence that they heard

    Parallel studies with normally hearing listeners investigate how the brain processes sounds that have been altered to simulate cochlear implant processing.

    The ultimate goal is to contribute to improved devices, processors, and training/rehab of patients in the future by improving our understanding of the basic mechanisms involved in cochlear implant hearing.

    FACILITIES

    The APPL area includes one large sound booth for conducting listening tests in quiet environments, an adjacent room from which sounds delivered to the booth are controlled and experiments monitored, and an outside area in which experiments involving direct electrical stimulation of the implanted device are conducted.

    FUNDING

    Our work is currently funded by NIH (grant no. R01 014233 to Dr. Monita Chatterjee and a subcontract from grant no. R01HD081127 to Dr. Rochelle Newman at the University of Maryland)

  • For Scientists

    The long-term objective of our lab is to understand basic mechanisms underlying auditory processing by cochlear implant listeners. Our experiments include psychophysical measures of listeners’ sensitivity to single and multi-channel, steady-state and fluctuating electrical stimuli, measures of speech intonation and lexical tone recognition, and the recognition of degraded speech by both normally hearing and cochlear implanted individuals.

    Our lab conducts research on various aspects of hearing with cochlear implants (CIs). Along the way, we are also learning a great deal about how the normal brain processes degraded sounds/speech. Specific current projects include i) studies of pitch/intonation/lexical tone perception/voice emotion by children and adults with CIs, as well as their normally hearing peers; ii) studies of multi-channel, complex electrical signal processing by the electrically stimulated auditory system.

    Publications
    Full Publication List of the APPLab

  • Current Studies

    Adult Study

    The goal of the study is to understand the processing of signals transmitted by the cochlear implant by the brain. Participants will be asked to listen to a variety of sounds and make judgments about them – for instance, how loud they sound, or which of two sounds is louder, or which of three sounds is different. The experiments also involve listening to brief tones, beeps or speech samples. You would identify subtle differences between sounds, or compare the loudness or pitch of different sounds. Some participants may read aloud a few simple sentences and be audio taped, but this is not mandatory.

    Adult participants will receive $15/hour for their participation in each 3-hour session. Compensation will be available for travel for individuals with cochlear implants and hearing loss. Adult cochlear implant recipients who travel a long distance to participate in the study, in addition to travel expenses, we are also happy to set up hotel accommodations if you choose to stay in Omaha for the study. In this case, we usually ask for 3-4 days of participation and study sessions would be 6 hours longs with breaks as needed.

    If all of the following traits describe you, you may be eligible for this study:

    • 19 to 75 years of age
    • You have normal hearing, a cochlear implant, or wear hearing aids in both ears.

    For more information, please call us at 402-452-5092 or 402-452-5079 or email Aditya.Kulkarni@boystown.org or Julie.christensen@boystown.org.

    Child Study

    The study will investigate children's ability to discriminate voice pitch information through the cochlear implant. The experiments involve listening to brief tones, beeps or speech samples. Children may be asked to listen to sentences and judge the speaker’s emotion, or indicate whether a word or a sentence they heard sounded like a question (asking) or a statement (telling). In other tests, they will be asked to indicate which of three sounds was different in pitch. Some child participants may be asked to read aloud a few simple sentences and be audio taped, but this is not mandatory.

    Child participants will receive $15/hour for their participation in each 2-hour session. Compensation will be available for travel for participants with cochlear implants and hearing loss. For families who travel a long distance to participate in the study, in addition to travel expenses, we are also happy to set up hotel accommodations if you choose to stay in Omaha for the study. In this case, we usually ask for 3-4 days of participation across different labs at BTNRH.

    If all of the following traits describe you, you may be eligible for this study:

    • 4 to 18 years of age
    • Normal hearing, a cochlear implant, or wear hearing aids in both ears.

    For more information, please call 402-452-5079 or 402-452-5092 or email Julie.christensen@boystown.org or Aditya.Kulkarni@boystown.org.

  • Staff

    Staff

    Consultants and Collaborators