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Human Auditory Development Laboratory

Our lab aims to understand how infants and children hear and process target sounds in the presence of competing background noise.

  • ​​​​​​​​Overview

    We study auditory development, and are particularly interested in understanding how infants and children learn to hear and process target sounds such as speech in the presence of competing background sounds.
     
    Infants and children must learn about speech and other important sounds in natural acoustic environments. These environments are usually noisy. There are several gaps in our understanding about the factors that influence how well children hear in noisy environments, and there are many things we do not yet know about the specific challenges faced by children who are hard of hearing.
     
    We use behavioral measures to assess aspects of hearing and speech perception in the laboratory. Some of our studies are focused on obtaining normative data from infants and children. Other studies are aimed at understanding how hearing loss influences the development of complex auditory skills. The results of our studies will improve our understanding of how hearing develops. Our results may also lead to enhancements in how sounds are delivered to infants and children who are hard of hearing.
     
    The Human Auditory Development Lab is located on the 3rd floor of the Boys Town National Research Hospital – East Campus. We collaborate with faculty scientists, audiologists and trainees at Boys Town National Research Hospital. We also work closely with researchers at other US institutions, including The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Case Western Reserve University. ​

  • Projects

    Funding:

    National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

    Susceptibility to and Release from Masking in Infancy and Childhood
    Funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH Grant Number R01 DC011038; PI: Lori Leibold)

    A child's environment often contains multiple sources of competing sounds which may create difficult listening situations. These situations can be difficult both for children with normal hearing as well as children with hearing loss. The purpose of this group of studies funded by the National Institute of Health aims to better understand the factors responsible for the development of hearing in complex environments, such as noise and in the presence of other talkers. Additionally, this group of studies is designed to better understand the cues that children with normal hearing sensitivity and those with hearing loss understand speech in complex situations.

    We are currently recruiting infants, children and adults with normal hearing sensitivity as well as infants and children who are hard of hearing for these projects. More information about the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communications Disorders

    Factors Influencing the Behavioral Assessment of Hearing During Infancy and Childhood
    Funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH Grant Number R01 DC014460; PI: Emily Buss)

    Behavioral data represent the gold standard for assessing hearing, but they are affected by many different factors (e.g., sensorineural encoding of sound, central/cognitive factors). At present we have very few techniques for differentiating these factors in infants and young children, which in turn undermines our ability to identify sensorineural hearing loss or to evaluate the maturation of central auditory processing. Basic and applied experiments in this grant funded by the National Institutes of Health aim to differentiate the factors responsible for immature auditory behavior, and to develop novel methods for the evaluation of particular functional hearing abilities.

    We are currently recruiting children with significan motor or developmental challenges as well as children with normal hearing for these projects. More information about the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communications Disorders

    A Test of Children's English/Spanish Speech Perception in Noise or Speech Maskers
    Funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH Grant Number R01 DC015056; PI: Lori Leibold and Emily Buss)

    Speech Perception testing is crucial when assessing a child's hearing. A large number of children are raised in Spanish-speaking households in the United States. Due to a lack of language-appropriate test materials in the audiology clinic, however, speech perception testing is often performed in English or omitted entirely. In turn, children's candidacy for hearing devices and language intervention can be affected.  Furthermore, most speech perception testing is performed in quiet or in the presence of noise, despite the complex listening environments children face in their everyday lives. This series of studies funded by the National Institute of Health aims to develop a clinical speech perception test which allows audiologists to appropriately evaluate Spanish- and English- speaking children in both noise and two-talker backgrounds.

    We are currently recruiting English-speaking and Bilingual English/Spanish-speaking children ages 4-17 years who have normal hearing or who are hard of hearing for these projects. More information about the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communications Disorders

  • Participate

    Upon Your Arrival

    Once you arrive at our lab, one of our lab employees will greet you and escort you to the laboratory. We will walk you through the details related to participating in the study and will request that you (and your child if over the age of 7) formally give your consent to participate in the study.

    During the Visit

    The length of the visit varies depending on the child, but is always less than 3 hours. The visit can be split into separate sessions if desired or needed. We ensure that children have frequent breaks. Measures that are conducted in our lab include:

    • ​Hearing evaluation or hearing screening
    • Hearing aid measurement for children who are hard of hearing
    • Assessment of speech and language skills such as vocabulary
    • Assessment of executive function and working memory
    • Sound perception testing. Your child will listen to sounds presented from a speaker or headphones. The sounds are played in quiet or with noise in the background. Your child will tell us what they hear by touching a picture on a computer, by raising their hand, or by repeating back words or sentences that they hear.
      • For parents of infants, your baby will sit on your lap and listen to sounds. We will observe your infant's responses to sounds. 
      • For parents of toddlers, we will teach your child to make a response to sound by using play activities, such as putting a toy in a bucket when they hear a specific sound.
      • ​​For participants who are unable to respond by raising their hand, repeating back words, or using play activities, we may use observational techniques to see how they respond to sound.​

    After the Visit

    At the end of the visit, your child will pick out a small prize as our thank you for participating in the study. In addition, you will be compensated for your time on an hourly basis.

    Important Reminders

    We want to make this an enjoyable experience for you and your child, so if at any time your child needs a break or needs to end the visit, simply let us know.  If you have any questions before, during, or following any of your visits to our lab, please ask!

    Directions and Parking

    Our lab address is: 
    555 N. 30th Street
    Omaha, NE 68131​

    Driving directions: From 30th street, you will see a sign with an arrow directing you toward Boys Town Patient and Visitor Parking on Cass Street. Turn east at that sign and follow the road under the walkway and take your first left into a parking lot. 'Security' is written in black letters on the wall of the hospital right where you will be parking. Take the elevators to the third floor. When you exit the elevator, you will run into a Pepsi machine. At the Pepsi machine, turn right. There will be a blue door. Next to the door is a phone that you can use to dial the extension 6625. If you wish to use your cell phone, the whole number is (531) 355-6625. We will come out to meet you as soon as you call.​

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  • Our Team

    Lori Leibold, Ph.D., Principal Investigator​

    Lori.Leibold@boystown.org​

    lori-leibold.jpgLori Leibold is the Director​ of Hearing Research at Boys Town National Research Hospital. She completed her Master​​​’s degree in Audiology at the University of Western Ontario. After working as a clinical audiologist, she completed her Ph.D. in Lynne Werner’s Infant Heari​ng Laboratory at the University of Washington. Next, she completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Walt Jesteadt and Dr. Donna Neff at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Dr. Leibold was a faculty member in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for nine years before returning to Boys Town National Research Hospital in 2015.​

    Heather Porter, Ph.D., Senior Audiology Research Associate

    Heather.Porter@boystown.org

    Heather Porter

    Heather Porter is a Senior Audiology Research Associate within the Human Auditory Development Lab. She completed her clinical (AuD) and research training (PhD) at Vanderbilt University, with a dissertation examining binaural hearing in children with developmental delays. Following graduation, she joined the auditory research group at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examining hearing-in-noise difficulties experienced by children and adults, and the mechanisms responsible for auditory development in children. She became immersed in a clinical setting at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, specializing in testing children with complex medical histories and extensive developmental delays. Most recently, she joined the Center for Hearing Research at Boys Town National Research Hospital, where she continues to examine mechanisms of auditory development in children and explores methods to improve clinical assessment of hearing in children, including children with significant motor and/or developmental delays

    Jenna Browning, Au.D., Research Audiologist

    Jenna.Browning@boystown.org

    Jenna Browning

    Jenna Browning is a research audiologist in the Human Auditory Development Laboratory at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Her research interests include children’s speech perception in complex listening environments and assistive listening technology for children who are hard of hearing. She completed her Au.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a recipient of two grants that emphasized the training of Pediatric Audiologists. While at UNC, she worked with Dr. Leibold in the Human Auditory Development Laboratory and then moved to Omaha to complete her clinical training in Audiology.  She is grateful that Dr. Leibold and the lab moved to Omaha as well.

    Margaret K. Miller, Au.D., Research Audiologist

    Margaret.Miller@boystown.org

    Maggie Miller

    Maggie Miller is a research audiologist in the Human Auditory Development Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital.  Dr. Miller completed her clinical audiology training at the University of Texas in Austin in 2011.  Before coming to Boys Town, Dr. Miller worked as a research audiologist at the New York University School of Medicine, with a focus on cochlear implant adaptation and bimodal listening.  Currently, Dr. Miller is responsible for recruiting and testing research participants in a wide variety of auditory development studies, as well as general lab organization.  In fall 2016, she will take on the position of project coordinator on an upcoming grant related to clinical bilingual speech perception.  Dr. Miller’s main clinical and research interests include cochlear implants and auditory development related to speech perception in complex listening environments in both pediatric and adult populations.

    Mary Flaherty, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

    Mary.Flaherty@boystown.org​​

    Mary FlahertyMary Flaherty is a postdoctoral fellow in the Human Auditory Development Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, NE. She completed her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at SUNY Buffalo, studying the effects of knowledge and experience on the perception of speech in humans and birds. Dr. Flaherty is currently transitioning into work with children and infants and is involved in studies that examine how these age groups hear in complex listening environments. Her research interests also include finding ways to improve listening performance in children with he​aring loss.

    Manuel Vicente, B.S., Research Assistant

    Manuel.Vicente@boystown.org

    Manuel Vicente ​Manuel Vicente is working as a Research Assistant in the Human Auditory development Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Before joining the lab, Manuel acquired his Bachelors of Science at Baylor University and had previously worked in research​ at the Caribbean Neurological Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In the future, he would like to continue his studies in a medical related field.

    Jessica Tran, B.A., Research Assistant

    Jessica.Tran@boystown.org

    Jessica Tran.jpg Jessica Tran is working as a Research Assistant in the Human Auditory Development Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Psychology from Creighton University and has completed research under Creighton University's Psychology Department in Omaha, Nebraska. Jessica is looking to continue her education by obtaining her Doctorate in Clinical or Cognitive Psychology in the future.

    Elizabeth Schneider, B.S., Research Assistant

    Elizabeth.Schneider@boystown.org

    Elizabeth SchneiderElizabeth “Libby” Schneider is working as a Research Assistant in the Human Auditory Development Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Libby acquired her Bachelors of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Dakota. In the future, she hopes to pursue a Clinical Doctorate in Audiology.

  • Collaborators

    Internal Collaborators:

    External Collaborators:

    Professional Organizations:

  • ​​​​Publications

    Buss, E., Leibold, L. J., Porter, H. L., & Grose, J. H. (2017). Speech recognition in one-and two-talker maskers in school-age children and adults: Development of perceptual masking and glimpsing. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 141(4), 2650-2660.

    Flaherty, M. M., Buss, E., & Leibold, L. J. (2016). Effect of temporal asynchrony on children’s detection performance in a random-frequency, multi-tonal masking task. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 140(4), 3265-3265.

    Corbin, N. E., Buss, E., & Leibold, L. J. (2017). Spatial release from masking in children: Effects of simulated unilateral hearing loss. Ear and Hearing, 38(2), 223-235.

    Bonino, A. Y., & Leibold, L. J. (2017). Behavioral Assessment of Hearing in 2 to 4 Year-old Children: A Two-interval, Observer-based Procedure Using Conditioned Play-based Responses. Journal of Visualized Experiments: JoVE, (119).

    Buss, E., Flaherty, M. M., & Leibold, L. J. (2017). Development of frequency discrimination at 250 Hz is similar for tone and/ba/stimuli. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 142(1), EL150-EL154.

    Leibold, L. J. (2017). Speech perception in complex acoustic environments: Developmental effects. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60(10), 3001-3008.

    Buss, E., Porter, H., Leibold, L.J., Grose, J.H., & Hall, J.W. (2016). Effects of self-generated noise on estimates of detection threshold in quiet for school-age children and adults. Ear and Hearing. 37(6), 650-659.

    Buss, E., Leibold, L. J., & Hall III, J. W. (2016). Effect of response context and masker type on word recognition in school-age children and adults. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 140(2), 968-977.

    Corbin, N. E., Bonino, A. Y., Buss, E., & Leibold, L. J. (2016). Development of Open-Set Word Recognition in Children: Speech-Shaped Noise and Two-Talker Speech Maskers. Ear and Hearing, 37(1), 55-63.

    Calandruccio, L., Leibold, L. J., & Buss, E. (2016). Linguistic masking release in school-age children and adults. American Journal of Audiology, 25(1), 34-40.

    Leibold, L. J., Bonino, A. Y., & Buss, E. (2016). Masked speech perception thresholds in infants, children, and adults. Ear and Hearing, 37(3), 345-353.

    Bonino, A. Y., & Leibold, L. J. (2015). Adults, but not children, benefit from a pretrial signal cue in a random-frequency, two-tone masker. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 138(1), EL8-EL13.

    Leibold, L. J., Hodson, H., McCreery, R. W., Calandruccio, L., & Buss, E. (2014). Effects of low-pass filtering on the perception of word-final plurality markers in children and adults with normal hearing. American Journal of Audiology, 23(3), 351-358.

    Corbin, N. E., Bonino, A. Y., Buss, E., & Leibold, L. J. (2016). Development of open-set word recognition in children: Speech-shaped noise and two-talker speech maskers. Ear and Hearing, 37(1), 55-63.

    Hillock-Dunn, A., Taylor, C., Buss, E., & Leibold, L. J. (2015). Assessing speech perception in children with hearing loss: What conventional clinical tools may miss. Ear and Hearing, 36(2), e57.

    Browning, J., Buss, E., & Leibold, L. J. (2014). Preliminary evaluation of a two-interval, two-alternative infant behavioral testing procedure. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 136(3), EL236-EL241.

    Leibold, L. J., Hodson, H., McCreery, R. W., Calandruccio, L., & Buss, E. (2014). Effects of low-pass filtering on the perception of word-final plurality markers in children and adults with normal hearing. American Journal of Audiology, 23(3), 351-358.

    Buss, E., Taylor, C. N., & Leibold, L. J. (2014). Factors affecting sensitivity to frequency change in school-age children and adults. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57(5), 1972-1982.

    Baker, M., Buss, E., Jacks, A., Taylor, C., & Leibold, L. J. (2014). Children's perception of speech produced in a two-talker background. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57(1), 327-337.

    Calandruccio, L., Gomez, B., Buss, E., & Leibold, L. J. (2014). Development and preliminary evaluation of a pediatric Spanish–English speech perception task. American Journal of Audiology, 23(2), 158-172.

    Hillock-Dunn, A., Buss, E., Duncan, N., Roush, P. A., & Leibold, L. (2014). Effects of nonlinear frequency compression on speech identification in children with hearing loss. Ear and Hearing, 35(3), 353.

    Bonino, A. Y., Leibold, L. J., & Buss, E. (2011). Effect of signal‐temporal uncertainty during childhood: Detection of a tonal signal in a random‐frequency, two‐tone masker. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 129(4), 2591-2591.

    Leibold LJ, Hillock-Dunn AH, Duncan N, Roush PA, Buss E. 2013. Influence of hearing loss on children’s identification of spondee words in a speech-shaped noise or a two-talker masker. Ear Hear. 34: 575-584. PMID: 23492919

    Leibold, L. J., Hillock-Dunn, A., Duncan, N., Roush, P. A., & Buss, E. (2013). Influence of hearing loss on children’s identification of spondee words in a speech-shaped noise or a two-talker masker. Ear and Hearing, 34(5), 575.

    Bonino, A. Y., Leibold, L. J., & Buss, E. (2013). Release from perceptual masking for children and adults: Benefit of a carrier phrase. Ear and Hearing, 34(1), 3.

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