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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

    The Human Auditory Development Lab (HADL) is located on the 3rd floor of the Boys Town National Research Hospital – East Campus. We study auditory development, and are particularly interested in understanding how infants and children hear and process target sounds 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, including specific challenges faced by children who are hard of hearing.

    We use behavioral measures to assess hearing 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.

    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.



    National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

  • Staff

    Lori Leibold, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

    Lori 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 Hearing 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.

    Jenna Browning, Au.D., Research Audiologist (

    Jenna Browning's research interests include children's speech perception in complex listening environments and assistive listening technology for children with hearing loss. 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.

    Heidi Lang, B.A., Research Assistant II (

    Heidi Lang studied English and Italian at Creighton University. Before joining Boys Town National Research Hospital, she worked as a marketing manager at MED-EL headquarters in Innsbruck, Austria. She plans to pursue graduate studies in speech-language pathology.

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

    Maggie 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. 

    Paula Garcia, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (

    Paula Garcia is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Human Auditory Development Laboratory at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Previously, she had completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Speech Perception and Acoustics Laboratory at Boys Town. She holds a B.S in Special Education from Universidad de Manizales, Colombia. After working as a school teacher for 10 years, Paula went back to school and completed a Master's degree in Neuroscience and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. In 2014, she received her PhD in Speech and Language Pathology from the same institution. Paula's doctoral work focused on examining behavioral and neurophysiological measures of non-native speech perception in bilingual children and adults. During the postdoctoral fellowship, she has been studying the effect of noise and linguistic maskers in the speech perception performance of Spanish-English bilingual children and adults. 

    Mary Flaherty, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (

    Mary Flaherty 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 hearing loss.

  • Collaborators and Organizations

    Internal Collaborators:

    External Collaborators:

    Professional Organizations: