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Research Studies

​​​​​​​​​​All of these studies have been approved by the Boys Town National Research Hospital’s Institutional Review Board. These studies are currently enrolling participants.

Neurobehavioral Research Studies

Boys Town National Research Hospital is seeking children and adolescents to participate in research studies. Participation may include behavior observation, brain imaging and psychological interviews. More information about this study.

Understanding Hidden Hearing Loss

Principal Investigator: Daniel Rasetshwane

Exposure to loud noise can cause hearing loss for soft sounds.  People who have this type of hearing loss can be fit with hearing aids that make soft sounds louder.  Recent research studies have shown that noise can also damage parts of the ear that respond to loud sounds, resulting in a different kind of hearing loss.  This may cause difficulty understanding speech in background noise.  Current clinical tests cannot detect this type of damage.  The purpose of this research is to develop tests that help us identify people who have hearing loss for loud sounds, with a long-term goal of developing strategies for helping those people hear better in background noise.

Recruiting needs:

  • Adults (19 or older)
  • Normal hearing and have trouble understanding speech in background noise
  • Normal hearing and have been around loud impulse noise such as gunshots, explosions or high impact construction noise
  • Hearing loss​

For more information, please call 531-355-6373 or email Sara.Fultz@boystown.org.​​

Physiological and Perceptual Measures in Cochlear Implants​

Principal Investigator: Michelle Hughes

For this study, we will measure the hearing nerve's response to sound through a cochlear implant. Participants will read, sleep, play games on an iPad, or watch a movie while sounds are played through the cochlear implant. For other parts of the study, participants might be asked to listen to sounds and make judgments about the sounds. These research studies can vary from one quick visit to multiple visits. Participants will be compensated $15 per hour, plus a travel stipend. Participants traveling from out of town may also qualify for hotel accommodations if participating on concurrent days.

Who can participate?

  • Children or adults who have a cochlear implant
  • Ages 1 year and up
  • Be a proficient English speaker
  • Have a cochlear implant with telemetry capabilities (If you are not sure what kind of implant you have, ask your audiologist)
  • A minimum of 2 months of cochlear implant use

 What is involved?

  • 1-6 visits, each lasting about 1-3 hours
  • Make judgments about the sounds heard through the implant
  • Sit in a chair and relax while sound is played through the implant

For more information, please contact Sangsook Choi at 531-355-5081 or Sangsook.Choi@boystown.org.​

Telepractice for Speech Perception Testing​

Principal Investigator: Michelle Hughes

For this study, participants will listen to words and sentences and repeat back what is heard. Some of the listening conditions will include background noise and echoes.

Who can participate?

  • Children ages 11 and older or adults who use a cochlear implant
  • Proficient in spoken English
  • No additional disabilities
  • A minimum of 6 months of cochlear implant use

What is involved?

  • 3-6 visits, each lasting about 1-2 hours
  • Listen to words and sentences and repeat back what is heard​

For more information, please contact Joshua Sevier at 531-355-5087 or Joshua.Sevier@boystown.org.

Tracking Cochlear Implant Performance over Time​

Principal Investigator: Michelle Hughes

For this study, participants must commit to a total of 4 visits that are each 5 weeks apart. Participants will take a variety of tests related to hearing with a cochlear implant. Participants must pass a brief cognitive screening test that evaluates memory and thinking abilities. ​

Who can participate?

  • Adults who have a cochlear implant
  • Ages 19 or older
  • Proficient in spoken English
  • No additional disabilities
  • A minimum of 6 months of cochlear implant use
  • Pass the cognitive screening test

What is involved?

  • Total of 4 visits spaced 5 weeks apart, each lasting about 4-5 hours
  • Complete a cognitive screening test
  • Listen to words and sentences and repeat back what is heard
  • Complete questionnaires
  • Take a listening test on a computer that includes recordings of speech, music, and environmental sounds

For more information, please contact Jamie Petersen at 531-355-5694, 531-355-5049 or Jamie.Petersen@boystown.org.

Brief Study of Cognitive Functioning

Principal Investigator: Michelle Hughes

The purpose of this study is to compare results from a brief cognitive screening test between individuals who have normal hearing versus those who listen with a cochlear implant. The cognitive screening test is a short test that evaluates memory and thinking. For this study, we are looking for adults with normal hearing to compare to our existing data set from people who have cochlear implants. ​

Who can participate?

  • Adults with normal hearing
  • Ages 19 or older
  • Proficient in spoken English
  • No additional disabilities

What is involved?

  • 1 visit lasting less than 1 hour
  • Complete brief hearing test
  • Complete a cognitive screening test

For more information, please contact Autefeh Sajjadi at 531-355-5049 or AutefehSajjadi@creighton.edu.

Learning and Memory Research​

Principal Investigator: Katherine Gordon

We are investigating preschool-age children's ability to learn and remember words. For this study, children complete 5 visits. During the first visit they complete a variety of tests that assess language abilities and IQ. Results are shared with parents upon request. The remaining 4 visits occur over a one month period. During these visits, children are taught new words, and their memory for the words is tested through games. Children are given $5-$10 per session with a total probable compensation of $40 dollars.

Recruiting Needs:

We are looking for children who are 4-, 5-, and 6-years-old, who primarily speak English, and who have a language delay. Children with a language delay often use language similar to that of children who are 6-months to a year younger than them. They may use fewer vocabulary words than their peers or struggle with using grammatically correct speech.

If you are unsure if your child qualifies, call the Language Learning and Memory Lab at 531-355-5034. We are happy to answer any questions.

Improving Hearing Tests for Children with Motor or Developmental Delays

​Principal Investigator: Lori Leibold

Children with significant motor or developmental challenges are needed for a hearing research study. The Human Auditory Development Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital is conducting a research study to develop better methods for testing hearing in children who have difficulty making clear responses to sound.

Who can participate?

  • Children between 5 and 18 years of age
  • Children who have a significant motor or developmental challenges
  • Children who have normal hearing or are hard of hearing

What does participation involve?

  • Participation lasts 1-2 hours and requires 1 visit to the lab.
  • Your child will sit in a sound-treated booth and listen to sounds presented through headphones or through a speaker. We will observe your child's responses to sound. The sounds your child will hear are not loud.
  • Our friendly staff has extensive experience working with children of all ages and abilities.

Is there compensation for participating in this study?

  • Children receive $15 per hour.

When can I schedule an appointment?

  • Appointments are available weekdays, evenings, and Saturday mornings.
  • We can schedule your visit to the lab on the same day as clinic appointments, if possible.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Heather Porter at 531-355-6625 or Heather.Porter@boystown.org.

These studies are funded by the National Institutes of Health – National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH-NIDCD) Grant # R01 DC014460.

How Children who are Hard of Hearing Listen in Background Noise

​Principal Investigator: Lori Leibold

Children who are hard of hearing are needed for research studies. The Human Auditory Development Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital is conducting a research study on how children hear in noisy environments.

Eligible participants:

  • Are between 5 and 16 years of age
  • Have permanent sensorineural hearing loss in both ears
  • Wear hearing aids in both ears

What does participation involve?

  • Participation lasts approximately 2 hours and requires 1-2 visits to the lab.
  • Children are tested while seated in a sound-treated booth and are asked to respond to comfortable sounds presented from a speaker. The sounds will be presented in quiet and in various background sounds.
  • We will check the function of your child's hearing aids to make sure they are working well. In addition, if your child has not had a hearing test in the past 6 months, one will be completed at no cost to you.

Is there compensation for participating in this study?

  • Participants receive $15 per hour of study participation.

When can I schedule an appointment?

  • Appointments are available weekdays, evenings, and Saturday mornings.  We can schedule your visit to the lab in conjunction with clinic appointments if possible.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Jenna Browning at 402-498-6625 or Jenna.Browning@boystown.org.

These studies are funded by the National Institutes of Health – National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH-NIDCD) Grant # R01 DC011038

A Test of Children’s English/Spanish Speech Perception in Noise or Speech Maskers

​Principal Investigator: Lori Leibold

The Human Auditory Development Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital is conducting a research study that will help in the development of a clinical test used to test the hearing of Spanish-speaking children. Children are tested while seated in a sound-treated booth and are asked to respond to comfortable sounds presented from a speaker or headphones. Testing requires 1 visit of 1 hour and 30 minutes and the participant will receive $15 per hour of participation.

Recruiting needs:

  • Children between the ages of 4 and 17 years that have been exposed to English and Spanish.
  • Children with normal hearing and children who are hard of hearing.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Manuel Vicente at 351-355-6625.

Audiovisual Speech Enhancement in Children

Principal Investigator: Kayla Lalonde

The purpose of this study is to learn how children use visual cues on a talker's face

(i.e., "lip reading") to help understand speech in noisy backgrounds.

You will complete vision, hearing, and language tests. You will listen to/watch speech in noise. Sometimes you will let us know when you hear the speech by pressing buttons. Sometimes we will record you repeating back words and sentences using a microphone. You will be compensated $15 per hour for participation.

Recruiting needs:

Children 5 to 15 years and adults 19 to 29 years of age are needed. Participants must have normal hearing and normal or corrected-to-normal vision. They must use English as their first language and have no speech or language impairment.

For more information, please call 531-355-6664 or email Kaylah.Lalonde@boystown.org.  

COACH – Caregivers Optimizing Achievement of Children with Hearing Loss​

Principal Investigator: Sophie Ambrose

The Communication Development Lab is currently recruiting families with young children ages 15-33 months with bilateral hearing loss to participate in intervention studies.  The research seeks to help families improve the language outcomes of children with hearing loss.   Research lab staff will drive to families' homes for the course of the research study.  Potential participants and their families should live within an hour drive of the Omaha area. ​

For more information, please call 531-355-5096 or email Margo.Appenzeller@boystown.org.

The Children's Vocabulary Project​

Principal Investigator: Karla McGregor

The Word Learning Lab is now recruiting 6- and 7-year-olds in Eastern Iowa to participate in a language study. The goal of this research is to understand the ways children learn language and how vocabulary-learning changes as children grow. Our team will visit participants three times per year over the course of four years. Compensation is $20 per hour for all visits.

For more information or to schedule a visit, please contact Nichole Eden at 319-338-5213, or sign up online.

Development of Verbal Working Memory Strategies​

Principal Investigator: Angela AuBuchon

We are interested in how children remember the words they hear or read, especially when they have other things distracting them. Imagine you told your child to, "Put on your shoes and socks before you go outside," so she runs to her room to search for shoes and socks. A few minutes later your find her on the floor with her building blocks--no socks or shoes in sight! Our research tries to understand how long children can remember words, what kinds of distractions are too distracting, and why some children are better than others at remembering words.

Recruiting needs:

We are currently recruiting children ages 7-9. They should have normal hearing as well as normal or correct-to-normal (e.g. glasses) vision. To be eligible, a child cannot have a learning-related diagnosis (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Intellectual disability). The child must speak English at home.

For more information, please contact Angela AuBuchon at 531-355-6380 or angela.aubuchon@boystown.org.

Hearing, Cochlear Implant, Balance, and Speech and Language Research laboratories are located within the East Campus of Boys Town National Research Hospital (555 N. 30th Street, Omaha, NE 68131), including the adjacent Lied Learning and Technology Center (425 N. 30th Street, Omaha, NE 68131). Neurobehavioral Research laboratories are located at the Boys Town National Headquarters building (14100 Crawford St, Boys Town, NE 68010​).

For additional information, please contact Mary Thomas, Recruitment and Quality Assurance Program Coordinator, Human Subjects Core, at 531-355-6705 or Core@boystown.org.​​