Research News



Boys Town Raises Awareness for Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)<img alt="kids reading" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town Raises Awareness for Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)2023-10-20T05:00:00Z<p>​​​Today, October 20<sup>th</sup>, is Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Awareness Day. DLD Day was originated to bring attention to this neurodevelopmental condition that limits the learning, comprehension and expression of spoken language.</p><p> <a href="/research/faculty/karla-mcgregor">Karla McGregor, Ph.D.</a>, senior scientist and director at Boys Town's <a href="/services/center-for-childhood-deafness-language-learning">Center for Childhood Deafness Language, and Learning</a> answered a few common questions about DLD.<br><strong> </strong> <br> <strong>What is DLD?</strong><br>DLD is a neurodevelopmental condition that limits the learning, comprehension and expression of spoken language. Like all neurodevelopmental conditions, DLD is life-long, although many people with DLD have gained skills and ways of compensating that allow them to function well as adults.</p><p> <strong>What are common signs of DLD?</strong><br>DLD entails a spectrum of symptoms that vary from person to person and change with age. Problems with language patterns including the ways that words or sentences are structured, are common.</p><p>For a young child, the signs may include not being able to follow verbal instructions, using very short or incomplete sentences, or taking a long time to learn new words.</p><p>For older children, we see problems understanding classroom discourse and difficulties learning to read and spell, or to complete homework assignments. Even math can be hard because teachers explain mathematical concepts using language.</p><p>For adolescents and adults, organizing essays or reports, understanding fast-paced lectures that include less familiar terms and complex syntax, or following conversations that contain slang, figurative language (like metaphors), and verbal humor (like puns), can be difficult.<br></p><p>At all ages, DLD can affect social relationships and it is easy to understand why as spoken language is vitally important for negotiating, solving problems, making plans and expressing thoughts and feelings.</p><p> <strong>How is DLD diagnosed?</strong><br>DLD is diagnosed by a speech-language pathologist in a school or clinic. The process involves collecting a case history, observations of the individual's communication skills, and administration of tests.</p><p> <strong>What DLD resources does Boys Town National Research Hospital offer?</strong><br>Boys Town National Research Hospital (BTNRH) has two speech-language clinics <a href="/services/pediatric-speech-language-therapy">in Omaha, Nebraska</a>. Our staff speech-language pathologists are experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating DLD.</p><p>We also have a large language sciences research group that specializes in DLD research. <a href="/research/participate">Volunteering for language research opportunities</a>, even if you do not have DLD, is a great way to advance understanding of the condition.</p><p>Finally, BTNRH is the home of <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, a website that offers written and audio summaries on various topics related to the disorder, that provide a valuable resource to parents, children and professionals.</p><p> <strong>DLD Around the World</strong><br>The theme for DLD Day 2023 is <em>DLD Around the World</em>, to emphasize that there are individuals with DLD from all language communities.</p><p>In recognition of the theme, <a href="" target="_blank"></a> translated some of the most popular posts into the official languages of the United Nations which, in addition to English, are Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.</p><p> <strong>Myths About Developmental Language Disorder</strong></p><ul><li><a href="" target="_blank">Arabic</a></li><li><a href="" target="_blank">English</a></li><li><a href="" target="_blank">French</a></li><li><a href="" target="_blank">Russian</a></li></ul><p> <strong>How is Developmental Language Disorder different from Autism Spectrum Disorder (and Other Neurodevelopmental Conditions)</strong></p><ul><li><a href="" target="_blank">English</a></li><li><a href="" target="_blank">Mandarin</a></li><li><a href="" target="_blank">Spanish</a></li></ul><p> <strong>Developmental Language Disorder as a Spectrum</strong></p><ul><li><a href="" target="_blank">English</a></li><li><a href="" target="_blank">Spanish</a></li></ul><p> <strong>Do You have Developmental Language Disorder?</strong></p><ul><li><a href="" target="_blank">English</a></li><li><a href="" target="_blank">Spanish</a></li></ul><p> <strong>Sign Up for a Free Language and Hearing Screening</strong></p><p>If you're concerned about whether your child's speech and language are on track, scheduled a free speech, language and hearing screening at <a href="/services/pediatric-speech-language-therapy/speech-language-screening">BTNRH</a>. Both in-person and virtual screenings are available.</p>​<br>
Boys Town’s Kaylah Lalonde, Ph.D., Awarded the Early Career Research from the American Auditory Society<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town’s Kaylah Lalonde, Ph.D., Awarded the Early Career Research from the American Auditory Society2023-04-24T05:00:00Z<p>​Kaylah Lalonde, Ph.D., Director of the Audiovisual Speech Processing Laboratory, was awarded the Early Career Research Award at the 50<sup>th</sup> Annual Scientific and Technology Conference of the American Auditory Society (AAS) held in Scottsdale, Arizona, in early March.</p><p>Dr. Lalonde's primary line of study focuses on audiovisual speech enhancement, the way listeners use visual cues on a speaker's face to help understand speech and how the use of said cues changes over development from infancy to young adulthood. She also studies how pediatric hearing loss may change the way children learn to use those cues. </p><p>Dr. Lalonde attended this conference as a graduate student and feels fortunate to have been able to share about her own experience to students in attendance.</p><p>“I just felt so honored to be receiving this award, and it allowed me to talk to the students in the room about my journey and how we don't always feel like we are the most impressive, but that doesn't mean we aren't doing a great job and progressing in our careers and in how we contribute to the field," said Dr. Lalonde. </p><p>Dr. Lalonde first learned about Boys Town National Research Hospital and the Center for Hearing and Speech Perception while attending those early AAS conferences. Boys Town has historically had a significant number of scientists presenting research at the annual conference, so Boys Town was on Dr. Lalonde's radar early. </p><p>Being a Boys Town researcher may have helped Dr. Lalonde receive this prestigious award. </p><p>“Being at Boys Town has allowed me to be more productive than I might have been in a faculty position at a university," said Dr. Lalonde. “Being able to collaborate with so many people within Boys Town National Research Hospital has also been a big contributor to productivity."</p><p>Dr. Lalonde hopes that this productivity and the work being done with children who have hearing loss will change the way that we diagnose and treat these children. In the long term, it may even inform the signal processing that happens in hearing aids.</p><p>Also honored at the AAS conference was Monita Chatterjee, Ph.D., Director of the Auditory Prostheses and Perception Laboratory, who received the Carhart Memorial Award. </p><p>“Monita is my internal mentor," said Dr. Lalonde, “so that was really special to me."</p><p>To learn more about Dr. Chatterjee's award, <a href="">click here</a>. <br></p><p> <br> </p>​<br>
Boys Town Becomes the First Pediatric Hospital in Nebraska With Level 4 Epilepsy Program<img alt="Zax Epilepsy Story" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town Becomes the First Pediatric Hospital in Nebraska With Level 4 Epilepsy Program2023-04-10T05:00:00Z<p>​​For years, Boys Town National Research Hospital has led the region in treating complex epilepsy diagnoses, but in March of 2023, the <a href="/services/pediatric-neuroscience/epilepsy-program">Boys Town Pediatric Epilepsy Program</a> received an official level 4 accreditation through the National Association of Epilepsy Centers, certifying our comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment of pediatric epilepsy patients.</p><p>“We are so honored and excited to be the first pediatric-focused program in our state with a level 4 epilepsy center accreditation," said <a href="/physicians/deepak-madhavan">Deepak Madhavan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and VP of Medical Affairs</a>​ at Boys Town National Research Hospital. “We feel that this accreditation confirms and acknowledges the quality and comprehensive nature of the pediatric epilepsy care we provide here at Boys Town."</p><h2> What is a level 4 epilepsy center?<br></h2><p>Level 4 epilepsy centers serve as regional or national referral facilities for patients with complex epilepsies. To receive accreditation, programs must provide complex forms of intensive neurodiagnostic monitoring as well as extensive medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial treatment. Boys Town is one of a handful of centers across the country that is officially certified as a level 4 center and the only pediatric-focused hospital in the region to claim the accreditation.</p><h2> Complex Epilepsy Care at Boys Town</h2><p>The <a href="/services/pediatric-neuroscience/epilepsy-program">Boys Town Pediatric Epilepsy Program</a> offers complete evaluation for surgery, including intracranial electrodes, and provides a broad range of surgical procedures for epilepsy. ​Our fellowship-trained team includes pediatric epileptologists, specialized neurologists and board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons. Boys Town is the only facility in the world with <a href="/news/boys-town-leads-research-efforts-in-pediatric-neuroscience">two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems</a> capable of pinpointing the area of the brain causing the patient's seizures, down to the millimeter. This allows our neurosurgeons to have the most complete picture possible going into surgery.</p><p>In addition to our advanced surgical capability, the Boys Town Pediatric Epilepsy Program is supported by a host of advanced diagnostic and treatment methods.<br></p><ul><li> The ​ <a href="/services/pediatric-neuroscience/epilepsy-program/epilepsy-monitoring-unit">Boys Town Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)</a> is one of the most technically advanced pediatric-focused inpatient imaging units in the region.</li><li>We have genetic neurologists on hand to diagnose genetic epilepsy syndromes.</li><li>Our patients have access to vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) and responsive neurostimulation (RNS) devices when medications can't control epileptic seizures.</li></ul><p>Add to that our team of behavioral health experts and dietitians, and each patient ends up with a life-changing treatment plan that is tailored to their needs.</p><p>“We want our community and broader region to know that if a child has a tough-to-treat epilepsy diagnosis, we are here with the latest medical and surgical options for them," Dr. Madhavan said. “Our pediatric epileptologists and pediatric neurosurgeons are committed to providing the highest possible care for kids here in Nebraska and the surrounding regions."​​​<br></p><h2>Request a Pediatric Neurology Patient Referral Guide</h2><p>Fill out the form below to get a digital or mailed copy of our clinic brochure and provider directory. </p> <iframe class="hosp-form-referral" src="" width="100%" style="height:845px;"></iframe>​<br>
Boys Town’s Monita Chatterjee, Ph.D., Receives the American Auditory Society’s Carhart Memorial Award<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town’s Monita Chatterjee, Ph.D., Receives the American Auditory Society’s Carhart Memorial Award2023-04-07T05:00:00Z<p>Boys Town National Research Hospital's Monica Chatterjee, Ph.D., Director of the Auditory Prostheses and Perception Laboratory, delivered the Carhart Memorial Lecture and received the Carhart Memorial Award at the 50<sup>th</sup> Annual Scientific & Technology Conference in Scottdale, Arizona, in early March.</p><p>Established by the American Auditory Society (AAS), the Carhart Memorial Lecture and Award were created to honor Professor Raymond Carhart as the “Father of Audiology." The award recognizes one scientist whose current research is having a significant impact on clinical practices and auditory science and whose career is promised to have lasting impact. </p><p>Dr. Chatterjee's recent research and Carhart Lecture presentation revolved around the challenges people with cochlear implants (CI) face when trying to hear pitch, or how people are feeling from their speech. Pitch is often the dominant acoustic cue for identifying mood or emotion, and CI patients' problems identifying pitch cues can lead to difficulties in understanding emotions.</p><p>“We've been working with children who are congenitally deaf and have a cochlear implant and with adults who had hearing throughout the period of language development and later lost their hearing, resulting in a cochlear implant," said Dr. Chatterjee, “Compared to hearing counterparts, both populations show significant deficits in their ability to identify spoken emotions. There's also a lot of individual variability, and we are currently studying the sources of this variability in order to develop effective treatments for individual patients." </p> <br> <p>An individual's ability to identify a speaker's mood or emotion and convey emotion in their own speech can impact their social interactions within their families, schools and workplaces. People who interact with CI patients often assume they have “normal" hearing and can understand pitch, which is not the case. Therefore, misunderstandings can easily happen when a CI listener doesn't perceive a sad or angry pitch to a voice or doesn't effectively verbalize their own emotions. </p><p>These miscues are important because they may cause isolation for the CI patient when spoken interactions don't go well. In both children and adults with cochlear implants, quality-of-life measures have been shown to be lower in those who scored lower in spoken emotion perception.</p><p>​“It's hard to think of children having poorer quality of life for any reason," said Dr. Chatterjee. “But if future studies show that poorer emotion perception actually has a negative impact on quality of life, and if our research can do something about that…it's very motivating for me."​</p>
Groundbreaking Imaging Suite Opens at Boys Town National Research Hospital<img alt="OPM Patient" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Imaging Suite Opens at Boys Town National Research Hospital2023-01-18T06:00:00Z​ ​<p>​​​​​​​At Boys Town National Research Hospital, the emphasis has and continues to be providing extraordinary care for children and their families. On December 15th, Boys Town took another large step toward that aim.</p><p>Tony Wilson, Ph.D., the director of the Institute for Human Neuroscience at Boys Town, and his team of re​nowned scientists became the second of only two facilities in the world to install a high-resolution Cerca® OPM-MEG (optically-pumped magnetometer – magnetoencephalogram) system. The OPM-MEG (or OPM) system is the most up to date MEG technology in the world, and the team at the Institute for Human Neuroscience are well equipped to capitalize on this opportunity. Not only are they the world’s leading institute for published research utilizing MEG technology, but they are also the leading research entity in MEG study funding in the United States, and the only institute in the world to house two next-generation MEG systems. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Institute was chosen from among many applicants from across the country to receive a high-end instrumentation grant (S10OD032468) from the National Institute of Health to fund this most recent technology, revolutionizing child and adolescent brain research. </p><h2>OPM = A Wearable MEG Scanner</h2><p>OPM (optically pumped magnetometry) is the first wearable MEG device that will allow researchers to study the brain activity of children from birth to 5 years old. The OPM system consists of a series of Lego-sized sensors attached to a helmet that can be worn by infants and toddlers, allowing them to move around and interact with their environment while scientists directly record their brain activity in real-time. The latest generation of high-resolution OPM has 128 channels, which provide enough brain coverage to look in-depth at where and how brain activity is generated in our youngest children. Similar technology is used in the next-generation MEG systems with the exception that traditional MEG sensors need to be cryogenically cooled, which means the sensors are fixed and cannot be worn on the head, limiting participant movement during scanning.</p><h2>Upcoming OPM Studies</h2><p>The first study Boys Town plans to conduct will be looking at infants in the first couple of months of life. Studies have been done on how brain structure changes during this time, but how that affects brain function has been beyond study until now. “We'll be able to observe the reactions within their brains as they are literally gaining awareness of the world," said Dr. Wilson, the Director of the Institute for Human Neuroscience and principal investigator of the Dynamic Imaging of Cognition and Neuromodulation (DICoN) laboratory. “We will be watching as they gain awareness of their parents and as they begin processing touch and language for the first time.</p><p>Max Kurz, Ph.D., principal investigator of the Physiology of Walking & Engineering Rehabilitation (PoWER) laboratory within Institute, plans to study how small children learn to control motor behavior and how the brains of young children with cerebral palsy develop differently than typically developing children. Children with cerebral palsy usually do not get formally diagnosed until they miss multiple motor milestones through development. These types of OPM studies will enable scientists to see and predict these missed milestones much earlier, and eventually use novel therapeutic interventions to prevent these milestones from being missed.</p><h2>The Future of OPM</h2><p>Currently, the OPM is only authorized for research use. However, following FDA approval, the OPM will open medical avenues that have been previously unavailable. For example, MEG is currently approved for use on patients with epilepsy to precisely map areas of seizure origin prior to surgery. Unfortunately, many infants and toddlers with epilepsy require surgery before they are old enough to lie still in a traditional MEG scanner. Yet, with wearable OPM technology, infants and toddlers will now be able to have the location of their epilepsy precisely and noninvasively mapped prior to surgery, which means that surgeons will have a much clearer picture of where to perform the procedure than ever before. This is just one of the many clinical applications for OPM that will expand treatment for very young patients.​</p><h2>A Quantum Leap in Scanning</h2><p>The concept for the OPM system was conceived at the University of Nottingham, England in the Nobel-Prize-winning Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Center. Cerca Magnetics, a company formed by University of Nottingham scientists, was developed in 2020 to facilitate the development and manufacturing of the first wearable human OPM system.</p><p>The Cerca team worked in collaboration with QuSpin in the United States, to develop and fabricate the modern sensors that are used in Cerca OPM systems. Major benefits of QuSpin sensors are their small size, lightweight, and portability, which allows researchers to configure custom helmets for all ages that allow for placement of the sensors directly on the scalp.</p><p>Cerca researchers also worked with Magnetic Shields Limited in England, to build cutting-edge magnetically-shielded environment. These custom environments provide an ideal setting allowing scientists to take advantage of the sensitivity of OPM sensors without magnetic interference from the surrounding environment such as nearby traffic or other machinery. The collaboration between Cerca, QuSpin, the University of Nottingham, and Magnetic Shields Limited have led to the creation of the most sensitive, highest-density OPM systems currently available in the world.</p><p>​The only other high-resolution OPM-MEG system aside from Boys Town is housed at the University of Nottingham, England.</p><h2>Watch the OPM System in Action!<br></h2><div class="embed-container"> <iframe src="" frameborder="0" title="OPM Neuroscience Long Video.mp4" style="top:0px;left:0px;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe>​ </div>​<br>
An “Experimental Station” - Youth Care Research at Boys Town<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> “Experimental Station” - Youth Care Research at Boys Town2022-09-13T05:00:00Z<p>This year the Boys Town Child and Family Translational Research Center (TRC) is celebrating 30 years of Youth Care research publications with our 2021 Applied Research Bibliography. The bibliography contains 566 citations and abstracts of published Youth Care research which includes peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and book chapters. This anniversary provided us an opportunity to reflect on the history and heritage of Youth Care research at Boys Town.</p><p>The spirt of research at Boys Town goes all the way back to our founder, Father Edward J. Flanagan. In 1939, Fr. Flanagan said, “I like to think of Boys Town as an experimental station in youth work – a starting point from which we adults may gain a better and a finer knowledge of the problems of youth and the treatment of unusual cases that may arise”. Fr. Flanagan learned from the boys he cared for and then applied this knowledge to inform the rest of society on how to improve care for vulnerable children. This approach was later referred to as participatory action research. Today, we continue this approach at the TRC as we partner with children, families, and our practitioners to use research to improve the quality of child and family services and help us address the complex problems that we now face in society. </p><p>Youth Care research at Boys Town has evolved over several decades. In the 1970s, Boys Town was a replication site for a research-based model of residential care called the Teaching-Family Model, that was developed at the University of Kansas. This later became the Boys Town Family Home Program that exists today. One of the visionaries at that time, Dr. Dan Daly, realized that a formal research institute was needed to continue to support Boys Town’s Youth Care programs into the future. When asked why Youth Care research was started at Boys Town, he said, “First, we wanted to assess the long-term effectiveness of the Boys Town program. Second, we wanted to understand which elements of the program were most responsible for its success. Such understanding allowed us to successfully replicate effective programs across the country. Third, the changing needs of children and families dictated that we continue to develop and innovate. Research helped us both in program development and in testing the effectiveness of innovations.”</p><p>As a result, many research studies and partnerships followed, resulting in several of the other services Boys Town has today such as Common Sense Parenting®, In-Home Family Services®, Well-Managed Schools®, and the Residential Treatment Center. In addition to developing new programs, Youth Care research also helped to create and refine the systems of administration, training, consultation, and evaluation that are involved in routine monitoring and scaling up programs across the country. Today, this practice-research partnership is a key ingredient of making sure Boys Town programs are effective and replicable. </p><p>Boys Town’s On the Way Home® (OTWH) aftercare program is one example of how Boys Town has used research to evolve and meet the needs of children and families. The need for aftercare was discovered via routine follow-up surveys administered to caregivers of children who resided in our Family Home Program. Caregivers shared with us that they recognized the tremendous progress their children made at Boys Town, but the transitions back home and to school for their children were difficult. They told us they weren’t prepared to provide the same level of support the children had received at Boys Town and needed aftercare supports to help. </p><p>This valuable information inspired a partnership between Boys Town and Drs. Alex Trout and Mike Esptein at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to design and test an aftercare intervention with a research project that was funded by the United States Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences (Grants # R324A12060, R324B070031). Ideas were collected from youth, caregivers, and teachers which resulted in the creation of the OTWH® Consultant position -- an individual who is trained to provide family, school, and homework aftercare support. Evaluations of OTWH® showed it was effective in helping children remain at home with their family and in school after they departed residential programs. </p><p>Currently, <em>OTWH®</em> is on two national clearinghouses, the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC) and the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse (PSC). These clearinghouses are resources that provide the public and state agencies with a way to find effective programs for children and families. Additionally, states can access federal dollars for using programs that are on the PSC. The recent addition of <em>OTWH®</em> on the PSC will improve access to a quality aftercare service for children and families because we listened to caregivers who shared their valuable experiences and input through research. For more information about <em>OTWH®</em> please visit: <a href="" target="_blank"></a> and <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p><p>The current evidence-based status for other Boys Town programs can be found here:</p><p> <em>OTWH®</em> is just one example of the many research products that have been created over the years to improve the quality of services for children and families. To learn more about current TRC projects go to: <a href=""></a>. </p><p>As we move forward, the TRC will continue to partner with children, families, practitioners, researchers, and other professionals to help identify solutions to today’s complex problems in this “experimental station” we call Boys Town. We hope you will take some time to view our Publications page where you will find our 2021 Applied Research Bibliography and other research materials that may be of interest (<a href=""></a>.</p>
Boys Town Research Paper Named Editor’s Choice by The Journal of Pathology<img alt="Dom Cosgrove" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town Research Paper Named Editor’s Choice by The Journal of Pathology2022-09-06T05:00:00Z<p>​​​​​​​<img src="" alt="Dom Cosgrove" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px 10px;width:150px;height:150px;" />A recent article by Dominic Cosgrove, Ph.D., Senior Director of the Boys Town National Research Hospital® Research Center, and his team was featured in the September issue of <em>The Journal of Pathology</em> and has been selected by the Editor-in-Chief to be his Editor's Choice. The Editor's Choice award is given to the article that the editor feels is the “must read" of the issue. Dr. Cosgrove's article presents recent findings in the ongoing research of Alport syndrome, that will enable scientists to have a better understanding of the molecular mechanism of the disease.</p><p>Alport syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by kidney disease, hearing loss and eye abnormalities. It is caused by an inherited defect in type IV collagen, a structural component of basement membranes that is needed for the normal function of the kidneys, ears and eyes. This rare disease occurs in approximately 1 in 2,500 to 5,000 births.</p><p>“People with Alport syndrome experience a progressive loss of kidney function and frequently develop sensorineural hearing loss, caused by abnormalities of the inner ear," said Dr. Cosgrove. “In 1991, when I first joined Boys Town, Alport syndrome was the first and only disease that had a known genetic cause."</p><p>Dr. Cosgrove's research solves a long mystery regarding a role for collagen receptors in Alport syndrome by identifying type III collagen in capillary basement membranes of the ear and the kidney that causes progressive damage to these organs. His findings open the door to a better understanding of the mechanism of the disease. This new understanding is particularly significant as it will enable pharmaceutical companies to better treat those dealing with the disease through the establishment of a drug therapies that addresses the kidney function and hearing loss in patients with Alport syndrome.</p><p>Boys Town congratulates Dr. Cosgrove and his team on this important discovery that will lead to more effective treatment for those suffering hearing loss due to Alport syndrome.</p><p> <a href=""></a>​</p>
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids on the Way by Fall<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Hearing Aids on the Way by Fall2022-08-24T05:00:00Z<p>​A new class of hearing aids that do not require a hearing exam or prescription will be available over-the-counter by mid-October, due to a recent ruling by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The devices are intended for adults with mild to moderate hearing problems. The FDA estimates that nearly 30 million adults in America could potentially benefit from hearing aid use, but only about one-fifth of those individuals currently use them.</p><p>At Boys Town Audiology, we have more than 40 years of experience in translational hearing research. Our highly trained staff of licensed and certified audiologists are available to consult with patients about their hearing aid options and can determine the type of device that is best for them. </p><p>We asked Dr. Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at Boys Town National Research Hospital, where he is also the Director of the Audibility, Perception and Cognition Laboratory, and chairman of the American Academy of Audiology’s Research Committee​, to share some important facts to know if you think you are a candidate for a hearing aid.<br><strong> </strong><br><strong>How can you determine if you need a prescription hearing aid or if an over-the-counter option would work for you?</strong><br>Over-the-counter hearing aids were specifically developed for people who have mild to moderate hearing problems.  Prescription hearing aids, however, are designed to assist patients with a wide range of hearing loss and are fully customized based on each individual's needs.</p><p>While an over-the-counter hearing aid does not require a hearing test, Boys Town recommends working with an audiologist to determine what kind of device will provide the best solution for you. A hearing test also can reveal if the hearing problems are resulting from other issues like wax in the ear or a medical problem.</p><p> <strong>Why is getting a device that works for your specific needs so important?</strong><br>There is no “one size fits all" in hearing aids. Over-the-counter hearing aids were developed to help people with a limited range of hearing problems, just as over-the-counter reading glasses help those with minor vision issues.  Many people, however, have too much hearing loss to benefit from these devices or simply need more features and customization than an over-the-counter device can provide.  Individuals currently using prescription hearing aids will continue to prefer the customization that is available by working with a professional who can adjust the device to their specific needs. <br><strong> </strong><br><strong>How do you know if a hearing aid is covered by insurance?</strong><br>Many insurance companies have benefits for prescription hearing aids.  Over-the-counter hearing aids are not currently covered by insurance.<br><strong> </strong><br><strong>Can hearing aids be returned or repaired?</strong><br>When purchasing a hearing aid, it is important to investigate if the device offers a return policy and if any warranty coverage is included. Over-the-counter devices may not have a usable life and may have limitations on whether they can be returned or repaired. Prescription hearing aids, however, can be returned and repaired. At Boys Town, we offer a minimum of a 50-day return policy and a 4-year warranty on our prescription hearing aids and most have a usable life up to 5 years. In addition, they can be refitted if hearing changes. </p><p>At Boys Town, we welcome the arrival of over-the-counter hearing aids. While not a replacement for customized, prescription hearing aids, these new devices will benefit the millions of Americans with hearing loss, who currently do not use hearing aids.​<br></p>
Change Lives and Earn Money<img alt="girl raising hand" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Lives and Earn Money2022-06-14T05:00:00Z<p>​​​​You can earn money, help advance science and change lives by participating in research studies this summer at Boys Town! Boys Town is looking for participants from all age groups to join our life-changing research studies. Participants may earn $15 per hour or more for their time. Studies are non-invasive and fun – and can help change the lives of children with hearing, communication, developmental, behavioral and mental health challenges.  We need participants with and without these challenges.</p><p> <a href="">Browse our list of current openings</a> and sign up today! This is a great summer break activity for kids and adults alike! <strong>Don't see a study that fits you?</strong> Boys Town is always looking for research participants<a href="">; sign up</a> to be notified of future studies. </p>
Boys Town National Research Hospital has been Awarded a $12.5 Million COBRE Grant to Study Pediatric Brain Health<img alt="Meet the first four neuroscience researchers at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health." src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town National Research Hospital has been Awarded a $12.5 Million COBRE Grant to Study Pediatric Brain Health2022-03-04T06:00:00Z<p>Boys Town National Research Hospital will create a new Center for Pediatric Brain Health using funding from a $12.5 million COBRE (Center of Biomedical Research Excellence) grant that was recently awarded from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This grant is renewable at a similar funding level for up to 15 years. </p><p>The Center for Pediatric Brain Health will be an important new part of the recently created Institute for Human Neuroscience. Initially, the Center will support four early-career researchers who will focus on different issues affecting pediatric brain health, including radon exposure, pubertal hormone levels, the impact of hearing loss on language processing, emotional dysregulation, and how the emergence of psychiatric traits is related to brain network reconfiguration. </p><p>“This Center grant will lead to major breakthroughs in pediatric neuroscience and position Omaha, and particularly Boys Town, as an international hub for pediatric brain research and clinical care," said Tony Wilson, Ph.D., Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair for Cognitive Neuroscience, Director of the Institute for Human Neuroscience, and principal investigator at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health. “These centers are not very common, and centers focused on pediatrics are even more rare." </p><p>Boys Town Hospital is focused on taking the research conducted at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health and using it to develop the best treatment options to advance patient care in pediatric neurology and other specialties. </p><p>“Boys Town has a history of unwavering commitment to improving the lives of children and families," said Jason Bruce, M.D., Executive Vice President for Health Care and Director of Boys Town National Research Hospital. “The new Center for Pediatric Brain Health will allow us to explore deeper into neurological and mental health conditions and develop even better treatments and therapies for all children who need this care."  </p><p>COBRE grants are meant to fund a succession of new researchers in a specific scientific area. As the four current investigators complete their studies, additional newly recruited researchers will move on to the grant. With the possibility of funding 12-15 scientists over 15 years. A COBRE grant is an exceptional way of supporting the next generation of researchers and building regional capacity for excellence in a specific target area, such as pediatric brain health. </p><p>Another important component of a COBRE grant is the mentorship structure it provides. Each researcher will have a Boys Town mentor that will work with them on their research protocols and establishing a line of research.  In addition, each researcher will have an external mentor that is an expert in their field of study; these can be national or worldwide experts. The Center for Pediatric Brain Health will also have its own executive advisory committee filled with leading international researchers in the field. </p><p>Boys Town's Center for Hearing Research received a COBRE grant eight years ago to fund the Center for Perception and Communication in Children. With Lori Leibold, Ph.D., as the principal investigator, the Center received renewed funding at its five-year review. Boys Town National Research Hospital is also a research partner in Creighton University's first COBRE grant to fund its Translational Hearing Center.</p><p> <img alt="Meet the first four neuroscience researchers at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health." src="" style="margin:5px;" /> <em>Meet the first four neuroscience researchers at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health. L to R: Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Ph.D., Brittany Taylor, Ph.D., Tony Wilson, Ph.D., Director of the Center, Stuart White, Ph.D., and Gaelle Doucet, Ph.D.</em><br></p>
Supporting the Next Generation of Neuroscientists at Boys Town’s New Pediatric Center for Brain Health <img alt="Meet the first four neuroscience researchers at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health." src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> the Next Generation of Neuroscientists at Boys Town’s New Pediatric Center for Brain Health 2022-03-03T06:00:00Z<p>​Boys Town National Research Hospital received a $12.5 million COBRE (Center of Biomedical Research Excellence) grant from the National Institute to develop the next generation of neuroscientists…but the outcome this will have on pediatric neurological, mental, and behavioral health is priceless.</p><h2>Meet Our Researchers</h2><p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-1 custom-is-rounded" alt="Gaelle Doucet" src="" style="width:140px;height:140px;margin-right:10px;margin-left:0px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Gaelle Doucet, Ph.D.</strong><br><a href="" target="_blank">Brain Architecture, Imaging and Cognition Laboratory</a><br>Dr. Doucet’s research aims to identify the role of all major brain networks in everyday life throughout the lifespan and how their functions change with aging. Her lab is studying how the brain adapts from adolescence to late adulthood, as well as why some individuals will develop mental disorders and whether we can predict or prevent the start of disorders.<br clear="all"></p><p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-1 custom-is-rounded" alt="Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham" src="" style="width:140px;height:140px;margin-right:10px;margin-left:0px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Ph.D.</strong><br><a href="" target="_blank">Cognitive and Sensory Imaging Laboratory</a><br>When performing cognitive and language tests, some children with hearing loss perform at or above the level of their normal-hearing peers, while others fall behind. Dr. Heinrichs-Graham’s lab uses brain imaging coupled with behavioral and audiometric testing to investigate the impact of mild-to-severe hearing loss, as well as the quantity and quality of therapeutic intervention, on brain, language, and cognitive function through development, with the ultimate goal of learning how we can optimize performance for all children who have hearing loss.<br clear="all"></p><p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-1 custom-is-rounded" alt="Brittany Taylor" src="" style="width:140px;height:140px;margin-right:10px;margin-left:0px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Brittany Taylor, Ph.D.</strong><br><a href="" target="_blank">Neurodiversity Laboratory</a><br>About half of homes in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa test high for radon, a naturally occurring gas that builds up in homes and other buildings and is linked to the development of certain cancers in adulthood. Despite the known long-term consequences of radon exposure, the impacts on developing children are poorly defined. Dr. Taylor uses structural and functional neuroimaging, cognitive testing, and measures of health and inflammation to explore how home radon exposure impacts brain development in kids.<br clear="all"></p><p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-1 custom-is-rounded" alt="Stuart White" src="" style="width:140px;height:140px;margin-right:10px;margin-left:0px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Stuart White, Ph.D.</strong><br><a href="" target="_blank">Developmental Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory</a><br>Dr. White’s lab works with healthy teens and youth who have serious emotional and behavioral problems (aggression, emotion regulation problems, impulsivity and other mental health/ behavioral problems) and/or exposure to traumatic events. He uses brain imaging and measures of endocrine function (hormones) to understand how changes due to puberty impact the neural systems involved in both trauma and serious behavioral problems.<br clear="all"></p>
Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Voted onto American Auditory Society Board of Directors<img alt="Ryan McCreery, Ph.D." src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> McCreery, Ph.D., Voted onto American Auditory Society Board of Directors2022-02-08T06:00:00Z<p>​​Boys Town National Research Hospital would like to congratulate Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Boys Town Vice President of Research and the Director of the Audibility, Perception and Cognition Laboratory. Dr. McCreery has been selected as a member of the Board of Directors at the American Auditory Society (AAS) by a vote of his peers.</p><div class="is-clearfix"><div class="inline-image is-size-7">​​​​​​​​<img class="inline-image__image" alt="Ryan McCreery, Ph.D." src="" /> <h2 class="is-size-5">Ryan McCreery, Ph.D.</h2></div>​ <p>“The American Auditory Society is unique because it is a multidisciplinary organization that brings together clinicians and scientists to advance research to help people with hearing and balance problems," noted Dr. McCreery. “Because the AAS is inclusive of clinicians and scientists, their mission and goals align closely with those of the Boy Town research program where our research aims to support the children and families served by our clinical and educational programs."</p><p>Dr. McCreery's current line of research focuses on various aspects of hearing, hearing amplification, language processing and language development. His research has contributed to our understanding of the importance of cumulative auditory experience on language and sensory development. Dr. McCreery's research directly relates to clinical outcomes and has led to optimized clinical protocols for fitting hearing aids for kids who have hearing loss.</p><p>In 2020, Dr. McCreery was selected as a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA is the primary professional, credentialing and scientific organization for speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech/language/hearing scientists. Fellowship is the most prestigious recognition awarded for professional contribution and achievement.</p><p>Dr. McCreery has authored 74 peer-reviewed publications and has numerous research collaborations. He is a regular speaker at scientific and clinical meetings, having given over 160 talks on clinical and scientific information.  </p><p>“Being elected by my peers to serve on the Board of the American Auditory Society is a huge honor," Dr. McCreery said enthusiastically. “I will have the opportunity to help the AAS advance initiatives related to clinical-translational research, mentor students and early-career scientists, and improve the representation of people from historically underrepresented backgrounds in our field. I am looking forward to working with the otolaryngologists, hearing scientists, engineers and audiologists who make up the AAS Board over the next three years."</p></div>
Types of Child Maltreatment have Different Impacts on how Children Learn Social Behavior<img alt="Little girl sitting lonely watching friends play at the playground.The feeling was overlooked by other people. Concept child shy" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> of Child Maltreatment have Different Impacts on how Children Learn Social Behavior2022-01-19T06:00:00Z<p>​Rewarding good behavior, punishing bad behavior, and redirecting a child to help show him or her how to act or behave across situations are tried and true reinforcement strategies that parents use every day. What Boys Town has known for years is that while these strategies work for most children, not everyone benefits as much as others – especially children who have suffered from abuse or neglect. </p><p>A new study from the <a href="">Boys Town Center for Neurobehavioral Research in Children</a>, looked specifically at reward and punishment processing, known as reinforcement processing, in children with a history of abuse or neglect. What they found was neglect, not abuse, was associated with reduced brain responses to the receipt of reward. Findings from this study demonstrate the neurodevelopmental impact of childhood maltreatment, particularly neglect, has on a child's ability to learn from reinforcement as well as the impact it has on developing serious behavioral problems.  </p><p>“It is important to understand how maltreatment affects different types of core processes necessary for socialization. That can help inform and bolster how we intervene," stated <a href="">Karina Blair, Ph.D.</a>, research scientist at Boys Town.   </p><p>Many children who come to <a href="" target="_blank">Boys Town</a> have a history or abuse or neglect. The incidence of exposure to early life stressors in childhood is extremely high with 1 in 8 children in the United States experiencing some form of maltreatment by 18 years of age. Child neglect is identified as the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision that a child needs to remain healthy and safe from harm. </p><p>Previous studies have typically grouped together these two early life stressors. This new research from Boys Town separated the two to better understand the developmental impact of each specific childhood stressor so that better and more effective interventions can be created to help every child. </p><p>This research provides a baseline to why traditional reinforcement learning may not be as effective for children who have experienced neglect. Boys Town can then move forward in developing and studying new intervention methods, as well as enhancing current methods, to continue to help more children who struggle with the lasting impacts of neglect. These findings are important not only to the youth care work at Boys Town, but for all who work with children who have experienced neglect.  </p><p>“To quote Father Flanagan, he said, 'There is no such thing as a bad boy, only bad environment, bad modeling and bad teaching.' Boys Town continues to work every day to uncover ways to help every child reach a positive and successful future, no matter what the child experienced in his or her past," said Dr. Blair. </p><p>Read the entire study here: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><h2> Study Model​<br></h2><p>The study was conducted at Boys Town. Participants included 142 adolescents ages 14-18 with varying levels of past abuse or neglect. The participants received an fMRI scan while performing a learning task that would engage the area of the brain that responds when stimulated to engage in a reward or avoid a punishment. Researchers found the level of neglect was negatively associated with responses to reward and punishment. They also found that the level of neglect was associated with the level of behavioral problems, meaning higher levels of neglect corelated with higher incidence for conduct and aggression difficulties. ​</p> <br>
New Center for Human Performance Optimization Is Awarded a Grant in Its First Month of Operation<img alt="boy exercising" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Center for Human Performance Optimization Is Awarded a Grant in Its First Month of Operation2021-12-21T06:00:00Z<p>​The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research announced the presentation of their 2021 Foundation for Physical Therapy Research Award to <a href=""> <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Brad Corr,</span><span style="text-decoration:underline;"> PT, DPT, </span> <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Associate Director of Physical Rehabilitation</span></a> at the <a href=""> <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Center for Human Performance Optimization</span></a>, for his clinical trial “Powering Through Transition: Therapeutic Power Training for Adolescents and Adults with Cerebral Palsy."</p><p>Having just opened in November of 2021, the Center for Human Performance Optimization will benefit from this $40,000 grant.</p><p>“Launching the center with a grant establishes our momentum and enhances our opportunity to grow," Corr said. “This gets us right out of the gate with a grant. It allows us to collect data, and then we use that momentum to roll it into larger grants and additional projects."</p><h2>This Project and Beyond</h2><p style="text-align:justify;">The transition from childhood to adulthood for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) is met with unique challenges. Power training, which requires moving quickly against resistance, is emerging as an intervention for pediatric physical therapists. This research intends to explore Therapeutic Power Training (TPT), which uses wearable technology often employed by elite athletes for visual feedback combined with functional movements to optimize mobility for adolescents and young adults with CP.</p><p>Corr felt that this grant was not only a vote of confidence in his research but also a tribute to the state-of-the-art facilities and world-class technology of both Boys Town's Institute for Human Neuroscience and Center for Human Performance Optimization.</p><p>“When you submit a project, you get feedback on the grant and there's always pros and cons," said Corr.  “In this instance, the environment and the collaborators were cited as primary reasons this grant got funded. The resources at the center, as well as the research resources here at Boys Town, were noted by the reviewers as strengths of the project."</p><p>Brad Corr is a physical therapist by training with over 14 years of experience working with individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan. He pairs his clinical care expertise with equal experience in developing research and therapeutic interventions to support children with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities. <a href=""> <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Learn more about the Center for Human Performance Optimization</span></a>.</p>
Patterns or Phonics? Unraveling Dyslexia and Statistical Learning<img alt="young girl reading book" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> or Phonics? Unraveling Dyslexia and Statistical Learning2021-12-02T06:00:00Z<p>​Sometimes looking at a learning issue from a new angle will generate innovative ways of helping those who deal with the problem.</p><p>This may be the case with a new research paper published by <a href="">Christopher Conway, Ph.D.</a>, Director of the <a href="">Brain, Learning and Language Laboratory at Boys Town National Research Hospital</a> and Sonia Singh, Ph.D., of The University of Texas at Dallas, which looks at an aspect of human cognition called statistical learning and how it relates to dyslexia.</p><p>Their paper, <a href="" target="_blank">Unraveling the Interconnections Between Statistical Learning and Dyslexia: A Review of Recent Empirical Studies</a>, examines whether dyslexia is associated with reading and language deficits or more associated with the ability to discern patterns in letters and words and the patterns related to how sounds map with the letters and words. The ability to learn these types of patterns is referred to as statistical learning.</p><h2>A Different Kind of Problem?</h2><p>“The primary view of dyslexia is that it is a phonological issue, meaning that some people have problems processing and perceiving speech sounds," Conway said</p><p>If dyslexia is a statistical learning problem, then it's not about understanding speech sounds per se, but instead about learning the patterns you're exposed to throughout your life.</p><p>Conway said that from infancy, we are perceiving and hearing sounds of speech, coming to an understanding of what order words should go in and the meanings of words. These patterns show us how to order words to make sense. The same is true of written language. Most people learn what letters can go together and what letter combinations don't make sense.</p><h2>Earlier Diagnosis Potential</h2><p>The research looks at whether dyslexia is associated with impairments in recognizing patterns when it comes time to learn to read. If you're having trouble figuring out patterns of letters and their associated sounds, that means you'll have trouble reading apart from any difficulties processing speech sounds.</p><p>“Statistical learning is a cognitive measure," Singh said, “so it can be measured outside of reading." </p><p>She said a measurement for pattern learning can provide more accessibility, so parents and healthcare providers don't have to wait until reading age to predict whether a child will have trouble reading. It has the potential to solve a dyslexia problem before it appears.</p><p>Read the full published article here: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p>
IMPACT Reveals the Importance of DEI in Speech Pathology and Audiology<img alt="IMPACT (Innovative Mentoring and Professional Advancement through Cultural Training) and Boys Town logos" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Reveals the Importance of DEI in Speech Pathology and Audiology2021-12-01T06:00:00Z<p>​​​As Boys Town presents more Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) opportunities to our associates, it becomes more apparent that there are always additional avenues to be explored. That's why faculty at the <a href="/news/impact-efforts-expand-diversity-in-speech-language-pathology-audiology-fields">Boys Town Center for Perception and Communication in Children joined forces last year</a> with a new program created by Jessica Sullivan, Ph.D., of Hampton University and Lauren Calandruccio, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University called <strong>IMPACT</strong> (<strong>I</strong>nnovative <strong>M</strong>entoring and <strong>P</strong>rofessional <strong>A</strong>dvancement through <strong>C</strong>ultural <strong>T</strong>raining). </p><p>Realizing that the fields of Audiology and Speech Pathology are populated by 92% white and 96% female personnel, Drs. Sullivan and Calandruccio decided to create a program that would support diversity in the Communication Sciences and Disorder (CSD) field. </p><p>With this in mind,<strong> </strong>the professors founded IMPACT, an innovative new mentoring program run jointly between Hampton and Case Western Reserve Universities and external collaborations and mentorships with other colleges and research facilities like Boys Town.  It aims to engage and support students from underrepresented minority groups interested in CSD as a career path. IMPACT provides a supportive environment for students to explore graduate programs and navigate the graduate school application process. Students also work on building their professional networks and communication skills. In combination, the IMPACT program activities strive to help students feel confident and prepared for success in graduate school and beyond. </p><h2>IMPACT at Boys Town</h2><p>Boys Town researchers met the IMPACT program's inaugural class over virtual 'Family Dinners' and provided virtual tours of the laboratories. Students connected with researchers they could identify with and gained exposure to exciting career paths and CSD-related research initiatives through these activities.</p><p> <a href="">Lori Leibold, Ph.D.</a>, Director of the Center for Hearing Research and the Human Auditory Development Laboratory, noted that programs like this help train the next generation of scientists and clinicians. “It was a great learning opportunity for all," stated Dr. Leibold. “ Boys Town Researchers were able to support students of color who are pursuing careers in audiology, speech-language pathology, and research. In turn, the students provided our researchers with insight into some of the difficulties they encounter in reaching their professional goals, such as racism, feeling isolated, poverty, opportunities to gain experience, and advocacy. “</p><p>Dr. Sullivan pointed out that the virtual tour of Boys Town's research facilities made a lasting impression on the students who attended. “They're working on a presentation for ASHA, and they specifically named some of the Boys Town labs that stuck with them. A year later, they are still talking about Chris Stecker's lab and Karla McGregor's mobile van to do language assessment. It's important to understand how participating in activities like these can spark and change the future of research," said Dr. Sullivan.</p><p>Boys Town looks forward to furthering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within our own Boys Town community and with further virtual and in-person activities with IMPACT scholars.  Both Boys Town and Drs. Sullivan and Calandruccio hope that by spotlighting this program, other universities will explore having an IMPACT program of their own for CSD students or similar programs for other career paths and graduate school programs that have under-represented populations.</p><p style="text-align:center;"> <img alt="IMPACT (Innovative Mentoring and Professional Advancement through Cultural Training) and Boys Town logos" src="" style="margin:5px;" /> </p>
Improving the Diagnosis of Otitis Media (Ear Infection) in Pediatric Patients<img alt="Toddler boy during hearing exam" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> the Diagnosis of Otitis Media (Ear Infection) in Pediatric Patients2021-11-29T06:00:00Z<p>​​Waking up in the middle of the night to a crying child suffering from an ear infection is an all too familiar event for many parents. In fact, most parents would not be surprised to learn that otitis media (ear infection) is the No. 1 cause for pediatric office visits, the No. 1 cause for antibiotic use in children, and the No. 1 cause for surgery in children. </p><p>Boys Town National Research Hospital is leading the way to discover new techniques that can determine the level and type of fluid in a child's middle ear, as well as whether the cause is bacteria, a virus, or fluid build-up due to anatomical differences in a child's middle ear. Having improved diagnostic tools will help physicians deliver the most accurate diagnosis and care plan for their patients. </p><h2>Improving Otitis Media Care and Treatment</h2><ul><li>Placing tubes in ​a child's ear, while a common procedure, is still a big deal for the child and parents. At Boys Town Ear, Nose and Throat, we deal with this every day. With the help of volunteer families, our researchers were able to gain valuable knowledge by examining and testing children before and after tubes were placed. We'll <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">use this research</span></a> to better understand how fluid in the ear affects hearing, and to determine the best treatments for ear infections.</li><li>To ensure proper treatment, getting an accurate diagnosis is vital, but making that diagnosis as simple and objective as possible is important when dealing with young children. The Boys Town research team is <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">studying a new objective middle-ear test</span></a> that involves simply placing an ear tip with a microphone in a child's ear. This new method gives us valuable information about middle-ear status, lessening the chance for a misdiagnosis.</li><li>Lastly, we are researching ways to refine the information we get from our <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">advanced diagnostic techniques</span></a>. This involves applying computational models to the data we get from an exam on a child with an ear infection to further improve the new diagnostic tools we are developing.</li></ul><h2> Accurate Diagnosis Means Improved Outcomes</h2><p>Getting the diagnosis right is of the utmost importance. While doctors do an admirable job of diagnosing and treating otitis media, there's a need for more accurate measures that can determine the level and type of fluid in a child's middle ear, as well as whether the cause is bacteria, a virus, or fluid build-up due to the dysfunction of the child's middle ear.</p><p>The Boys Town Center for Hearing Research is leading the way to discover new techniques. </p><p>"We want to better understand ear infections and differentiate between causes more effectively," said <a href=""><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Gabrielle Merchant, Au.D., Ph.D.</span></a>, Director of the Translational Auditory Physiology and Perception Laboratory. "By improving the diagnosis, we are improving the treatment and ultimately improving the lives of children." </p><h2> Three Recent Research Papers</h2><p>The Center for Hearing Research recently published three papers on improving diagnostic testing for otitis media.</p><p>"Our goal is to find objective ways to say 'yes, there's an ear infection' or 'no, there is not bacteria present' or 'it is caused by a virus,'" Dr. Merchant said. "Ultimately, we want to avoid unnecessary surgeries or unnecessary use of antibiotics while ensuring the child is properly treated."</p><p>The first paper, “<a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Audiologic Profiles of Children with Otitis Media with Effusion</span></a>," illustrates research done with children recruited from ear, nose and throat clinics who were having tubes placed. </p><p>The researchers first perform a battery of standard hearing tests, including tympanometry and behavioral audiometric testing, following up with experimental tests that are FDA-approved.</p><p>After the tubes are placed, the effusion is studied for the type and amount of fluid present, which is then compared to the results from testing. This work found that the amount, or volume, of effusion is an important determinant of the impact a given episode of otitis media has on a child's hearing. </p><p>The second paper, “<a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Improving the Differential Diagnosis of Otitis Media with Effusion Using Wideband Acoustic Immittance (WAI)</span></a>," utilizes a relatively new diagnostic tool called wideband acoustic immittance (WAI). WAI measures how the ear drum is moving in an affected ear. This, in turn, can tell us things about what is happening behind the ear drum. This paper found that WAI could determine the volume of effusion in a child's ear. This is particularly significant given the findings of the first paper, which demonstrated that volume is an important factor as to how a child is hearing. </p><p>"It's quick and easy," Dr. Merchant said. "We place a microphone in a child's ear, press a button, then take it out."</p><p>Dr. Merchant said that larger sample sizes are needed before moving this diagnostic tool to clinical settings. The advantage of WAI is that it takes the subjectivity out of assessment of ear drum and middle-ear status. </p><p>The third paper, “<a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">The Influence of Otitis Media with Effusion on Middle-Ear Impedance Estimated from Wideband Acoustic Immittance Measurements</span></a>," takes WAI testing further by applying computational models to the findings from the first and second papers to improve the diagnostic utility of WAI further. The models estimate characteristics of the ear canal and help isolate the influence of the effusion and ear infection on the ear drum motion, all to drive and maximize precision and accuracy.</p>
Unlike Any Other Physical Therapy Clinic – Introducing Boys Town’s Center for Human Performance Optimization<img alt="Boy excercising" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Any Other Physical Therapy Clinic – Introducing Boys Town’s Center for Human Performance Optimization2021-11-08T06:00:00Z<p>​The Center for Human Performance Optimization at Boys Town National Research Hospital is a place where adolescents who have a physical disability are surrounded by dedicated physical therapists, leading researchers and the most advanced motion technology and equipment to create a unique hybrid in neuroscience care.  This collaborative research style makes the center and the institute unique, not only in Omaha but also nationwide.</p><p>“We have built a world-class environment where we can research cutting-edge physical therapy interventions and training," said Brad Corr, PT, DPT, Associate Director of the Center for Human Performance Optimization (CHPO). “Father Flanagan recognized the importance and strong influence environment has in how we think, perform and learn. The environment in the CHPO is designed to feel more like a fitness or sports facility than a medical clinic."</p><div class="embed-container"> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div> <p>This 2,300-square-foot physical therapy center is filled with equipment that has been specially chosen to enhance skills for kids of all abilities, such as the 60+ foot track with overhead robotics to optimize walking and provide safely guided fall strategies without risk of injury, and specialized split belt and curved treadmills to increase leg power and improve gait. With the Institute for Human Neuroscience next door, collaboration will focus on developing rapid prototypes of technology and therapeutics so that every individual can have a breakthrough in improving their mobility. It is very unusual to find a scenario where science and clinical practices are almost indistinguishable from each other.</p><p>“Our mission is to change the way America cares for children and families," said Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Vice President of Boys Town Research. “Research plays a major role in that change. Boys Town has a unique approach of blending research and clinical care that generates new and better ways to improve and transform lives. It's what we do every day across all our research, guiding us to better outcomes and helping more children, everywhere." </p><p>Learn more about <a href=""><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Center for Human Performance Optimization</span></a>.</p>
The Dizzy Child<img alt="girl at playground" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Dizzy Child2021-10-14T05:00:00Z<p>​​​While <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Dizzy Child</em></a>, the title of a new paper published in the <em>Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America</em>, by Elizabeth Kelly, M.D., Neurotologist, Kristen Janky, Au.D., Ph.D., Clinical Audiologist and Research Scientist, and Jessie Patterson, Au.D., Ph.D., Clinical and Research Audiologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital, may sound somewhat lighthearted, up to 15% of children have problems with dizziness. </p><p>Unfortunately, most children with dizziness are diagnosed with "unspecified dizziness", which highlights the difficulty many practitioners have in determining the cause of dizziness in children. Therefore, understanding the cause of dizziness in children is a growing area of research.</p><h2>Difficulty in Diagnosing</h2><p>Young children have trouble communicating their symptoms, thus inhibiting medical provider's from making an accurate diagnosis. Balance problems can cause children a great deal of discomfort and stress because they can affect gross motor development and visual acuity. It's no surprise that balance disorders can then impact children's schoolwork, social life, and interactions with family. The longer dizziness goes on, the more a child is negatively impacted. Thus, it's important for caregivers to be aware of changes in a child's behavior or motor function.</p><h2>Aids for Caregivers</h2><p>Two pediatric questionnaires, the <a href="" target="_blank">Pediatric Dizziness Handicap Inventory</a> and the <a href="">Pediatric Vestibu​lar Symptom Questionnaire​</a>​ are both available for children age 6 and older to determine the severity of vestibular symptoms. The results garnered from these tools can help a child's medical provider identify the severity of dizziness and monitor changes in symptoms following treatment. </p><h2>Vestibular Evaluation in Children</h2><p>Vestibular loss often results in delayed gross motor skills, such as sitting, standing, and learning to walk. Thus, the medical history can play a critical role in determining whether a child has an underlying vestibular disorder. Children with hearing loss are more likely to have vestibular loss; therefore, children with history of gross motor delay and with history of hearing loss are good candidates for a vestibular evaluation. </p><p>There are a variety of reasons children can become dizzy. For example, vestibular migraines are the most common cause of dizziness in children. Thankfully, some modifications medical and vestibular assessments can be completed in children.</p><p>Learn more about our <a href="/services/ear-nose-throat-institute/hearing-balance/balance-vestibular-evaluations">Balance and Vestibular Evaluations</a> and the <a href="/services/ear-nose-throat-institute/hearing-balance/vestibular-tests-treatments">Vestibular Tests and Treatments</a> offered at Boys Town National Research Hospital. </p><p>To read the full article, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p>
Annual Research Project Review Showcases Collaboration<img alt="family participates in hearing research" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Research Project Review Showcases Collaboration2021-09-28T05:00:00Z<p>​We know knowledge is power and that when you collaborate with others it can lead to important insights and discoveries. That's the goal behind the External Advisory Committee at Boys Town's Center for Perception and Communication in Children.<br></p><p>Each year, a group of Boys Town scientists present their research projects during a two-day meeting with an external advisory group that includes five members who are national leaders in their field of study. Boys Town researchers gain valuable input and feedback from committee members, as well as experience presenting and discussing their research.</p><p>Our 2021 research presentations included: </p><ul><li> <strong> <em>Improving the Diagnosis of Ear Infections</em></strong><br> by <a href="">Gabrielle Merchant, Au.D., Ph.D.</a>, Director of Translational Auditory Physiology and Perception Laboratory</li><li> <strong><em>Understanding How Face Masks Affect Speech Perception </em></strong> <br>by <a href="">Kaylah Lalonde, Ph.D.</a>, Director of Audiovisual Speech Processing Laboratory</li><li> <strong><em>Development of Online Tool for Speech-Language Genetics Research </em></strong> <br>by <a href="">Hope Sparks Lancaster, Ph.D.</a>, Director of Etiologies of Language and Literacy Laboratory</li><li> <strong><em>Studying Self-Talk in Children </em></strong> <br>by <a href="">Angela AuBuchon, Ph.D.</a>, Director of Working Memory and Language Laboratory </li></ul><p> <a href="">Watch videos</a> on the four projects that were presented, and learn more about the External Advisory Committee supporting the Center for Perception and Communication in Children.</p><p>External Advisory Committee members include:  </p><ul><li>Lisa Bedore, Ph.D., a leading expert in developmental language disorders and language learning in children who are Spanish-English bilinguals</li><li> <a href="" target="_blank">Lisa Goffman, Ph.D.</a>, known for her work investigating how the integration of language, speech, and motor interactions impacts typical and atypical language development. </li><li> <a href="" target="_blank">Kevin Munhall, Ph.D.</a>, recognized for his work on the multisensory processes and brain structures involved in face-to-face communication.</li><li> <a href="" target="_blank">Andrew Oxenham, Ph.D.</a>, respected for his work on auditory and speech perception, addressing questions related to pitch, speech recognition with acoustic and/or electric hearing, and auditory scene analysis.</li><li> <a href="" target="_blank">Robert Shannon, Ph.D.</a>, known for his work on the perception of speech and non-speech sounds by people with cochlear implants, brainstem implants, and midbrain implants. </li></ul>
Three Boys Town Research Projects Receive ASHA Award<img alt="MRI Walkthru" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Boys Town Research Projects Receive ASHA Award2021-09-23T05:00:00Z<p>​<strong>​Three Boys Town Research Projects Receive the Distinguished Editor's Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) </strong></p><p>To have one researcher paper recognized for this award is impressive, but we are extremely proud to announce that three publications by four Boys Town researchers have received the Editor's Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).</p><p>Congratulations to Lori Leibold, Director, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Hearing Research; Heather Porter, Ph.D., Research Scientist at the Human Auditory Development Laboratory; Karla McGregor, Director of the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning; and Krystal Werfel, Ph.D., Research Scientist III, Written Language Laboratory, for receiving this highly esteemed award. </p><p>“We are honored to be recognized for our collaborative work, and hope that it shines some light on the communication challenges children face in noisy environments such as classrooms.," said Dr. Leibold. </p><p>Receiving an Editor's Award is one of the highest honors an individual can receive. It is presented to the editor's choice of the most commendable single article appearing in each journal in 2020. Winning articles are selected by the editorial team, including the editor-in-chief, based on experimental design, teaching-education value, scientific or clinical merit, contribution to the professions, theoretical impact, and/or other indices of merit. </p><p>“Being recognized by leaders in my profession is an honor but being recognized for work that was a product of my heart as well as my brain...even more so," said Dr. McGregor. “I am passionate about raising awareness of Developmental Language Disorder and maybe this award will shine a bit of light in that direction."</p><p>“We are honored to be recognized for this work addressing the complexities of literacy intervention for children with hearing loss and hope that this award will help to inspire and advance other research that addresses this critical issue," stated Dr. Werfel. </p><p>The following articles by Boys Town researchers were selected for this award: </p><p> <em><strong>Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools</strong></em><br><strong>Editor-in-Chief: Holly Storkel</strong><br><a href="" target="_blank">How We Fail Children With Developmental Language Disorder</a><br> Karla K. McGregor</p><p> <em> <strong>Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research</strong></em><strong>—Hearing Section</strong><br><strong>Editor-in-Chief: Peggy Nelson</strong><br><a href="" target="_blank">The Clear-Speech Benefit for School-Age Children: Speech-in-Noise and Speech-in-Speech Recognition</a><br> Lauren Calandruccio, Heather L. Porter, Lori J. Leibold and Emily Buss</p><p> <em> <strong>Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups</strong></em><br><strong> </strong><strong>Editor-in-Chief: Brenda Beverly</strong><br><a href="" target="_blank">Teaching Vocabulary to Improve Print Knowledge in Preschool Children With Hearing Loss</a><br> Emily Lund, Carly Miller, W. Michael Douglas and Krystal Werfel</p><p>Congratulations to Dr. Lori Leibold, Dr. Heather Porter, Dr. Karla McGregor and Dr. Krystal Werfel on this prestigious award! </p>
Cerebral Palsy: Microstructural Changes in the Spinal Cord Tied to Hand Motor Control<img alt="Spinal Cord Image" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Palsy: Microstructural Changes in the Spinal Cord Tied to Hand Motor Control2021-08-30T05:00:00Z<p>​While the study of brain structure and function in individuals with Cerebral Palsy (CP) is fairly common, until recently, the spinal cord has not been studied as closely due to difficulties with the spasticity caused by CP and the need to remain motionless during Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).</p><div style="width:100%;text-align:center;font-size:10px;margin-right:1rem;float:left;display:block;max-width:400px;"> <img alt="spinal cord image" src="" style="width:100%;display:block;" />Researchers at the Boys Town PoWER Laboratory have published research that ties microstructural changes in the spinal cord, including reduced grey matter in the cross-sectional areas, to deficits in manual dexterity.</div><p>But now, researchers at the Boys Town PoWER  (Physiology of Walking and Engineering Rehabilitation) Laboratory have published research that ties microstructural changes in the spinal cord, including reduced grey matter in the cross-sectional areas, to deficits in manual dexterity.</p><p>“Not only were we able to successfully image the spinal cord in adults with Cerebral Palsy, which has its challenges, but we were able to identify microstructural changes in the upper spinal cord and to connect these changes with hand functioning as measured by a clinical test," said Michael Trevarrow, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the PoWER Lab. </p><p>“By identifying alterations within the upper spinal cord and directly connecting those to sensory-motor impairments of the upper extremities, we are providing an avenue for future work to establish what other roles the spinal cord plays within this population," Trevarrow said. </p><p>For more information on this exciting new study from the PoWER Lab, visit: <a href=""><span style="text-decoration:underline;"></span></a> </p>
New MRI Study: Reduced Threat Responsiveness Corresponds with Aggressive Behavior<img alt="snake image" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> MRI Study: Reduced Threat Responsiveness Corresponds with Aggressive Behavior2021-08-24T05:00:00Z<p>​​​​​​​​In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at Boys Town National Research Hospital Center for Neurobehavioral Research have linked reduced threat and reduced emotional responsiveness to recorded aggressive behavior in researched adolescents during their first three months in the Boys Town residential setting.​​</p><p>Previous studies have attempted to examine relationships between brain responses and self-reported aggression. But this study is the first to have an <em>objective</em> (observed and recorded) measure of aggressive incidents, as judged by trained Family-Teachers® in the Boys Town program.</p><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;float:left;display:block;max-width:280px;width:100%;margin-right:1rem;"> <img alt="snake image" src="" style="width:100%;display:block;" />Researchers used images of human and animal figures that were neutral or aggressive to measure threat or emotional response. </div><p>Researchers recruited adolescents shortly after arrival at the Boys Town residential program and measured their threat and emotional response to pictured human and animal figures that were neutral or aggressive as they loomed toward or moved away in the adolescent's field of view. The responses were recorded using an MRI scanner and looking at the reactions in segments of the brain, including the inferior frontal gyrus and the amygdala.  Those brain responses were then related to the number of aggressive incidents shown during the first 3 months of stay at Boys Town.</p><p>Many factors can make a child/adolescent more prone to aggressive behavior, including economic deprivation, poor parenting, maltreatment and even ADHD. But this study looks beyond those factors to neurocognitive dysfunctions that may make an individual more inclined to aggression. The reduced reaction to threat and reduced emotional responsiveness directly (as measured in <strong>M</strong>agnetic <strong>R</strong>esonance <strong>I</strong>maging) correlated to increased recorded episodes of aggressive behavior. </p><p>The researchers hypothesized two potential reasons for this increase. The first being a lack of ability to formulate the consequences of aggressive acts and the second may be related to reduced empathetic responsiveness. Though that wasn't part of this study, the underlying architecture for threat is the same as that for empathy.</p><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;float:right;display:block;max-width:280px;width:100%;margin-left:1rem;">​ <img alt="Brain MRI Image" src="" style="width:100%;display:block;" />The responses were recorded using an MRI scanner and looking at the reactions in segments of the brain, including the inferior frontal gyrus and the amygdala. </div><p>​“What we clearly do show in this study is that lack of emotional response or reduced response to threat is a risk factor," said Dr. James Blair, Ph.D., one of the researchers and the Director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Research. “And we can understand why it is a risk factor with respect to poor decision making and corresponding empathic issues."</p><p>Asked about the future of this study and its findings, Dr. Blair stated, “We need better risk assessment tools – for aggression, self-harm and other mental health concerns.  This study is an early step in developing the next stage of assessment tools for aggression risk."</p><p>To learn more about the study and its findings, go to:​ <a href="" target="_blank">10.1093/scan/nsab058 </a></p>​<br>
Researchers from Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals Visit Institute for Human Neuroscience<img alt="Madonna Tour Participants" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> from Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals Visit Institute for Human Neuroscience2021-08-23T05:00:00Z<p>​​We were happy to welcome research colleagues from the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals for a tour at our Institute for Human Neuroscience on Boys Town campus. What an inspiring visit with so many smart minds in the room who work every day to advance research that improves the lives of patients, children and families.</p><div style="width:100%;text-align:left;font-size:10px;margin-right:1rem;display:block;max-width:830px;"> <img alt="Madonna Tour Participants" src="" style="width:100%;display:block;" /> <strong>Pictured Left to Right:</strong> Arash Gonabadi, MS, Assistant Research Director Rehabilitation Engineering Center, Madonna; Thad Buster, MS, Chief Research Analyst, Madonna; Judith M. Burnfield, PhD, PT, Director Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, Director Movement and Neurosciences Center, Madonna; <a href=""> Tony Wilson, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Human Neuroscience</a>, Boys Town; Guilherme Cesar, PhD, PT, Assistant Research Director Movement and Neurosciences Center, Madonna; Susan Fager, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director Communication Center, Madonna; Dr. Jason Bruce, Executive Vice President of Healthcare and Director of Boys Town National Research Hospital and Clinics; Dr. Deepak Madhavan, Executive Medical Director, Boys Town Pediatric Neuroscience; <a href=""> Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Director of Research, Boys Town;</a><a href=""> Karla McGregor, Ph.D., Director, Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning, Boys Town</a> </div>​<br>
Boys Town’s Morgan Busboom Awarded Foundation for Physical Therapy PODS I Scholarship<img alt="Morgan Busboom headshot" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town’s Morgan Busboom Awarded Foundation for Physical Therapy PODS I Scholarship2021-07-26T05:00:00Z<p> <img src="" alt="Morgan Busboom headshot" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:300px;height:300px;" />Morgan Busboom, PT, DPT, of the Institute for Human Neuroscience at Boys Town National Research Hospital, was recently awarded a PODS I Mildred Wood Award from the Foundation for Physical Therapy. Funding from the foundation was provided to 21 of the most promising physical therapist researchers to help these new investigators begin their research careers and complete doctoral studies. </p><p>The award provides professional development opportunities for Busboom, as well as supports her dissertation work that she will be doing at Boys Town. Busboom, a Ph.D., student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is working at Boys Town's Institute for Human Neuroscience in the <a href="">Physiology of Walking and Engineering Rehabilitation (PoWER) Laboratory</a> under the direction of Max Kurz, Ph.D. </p><p>With the help of this scholarship, Busboom will be focusing her dissertation on a project titled: Robotic Exoskeleton Gait Training in Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy. Through her research, Busboom will be studying new or better ways for patients with cerebral palsy to walk using robotic exoskeleton therapy and how the clinically relevant changes are connected with improvements in the brain and spinal cord activity. </p><p>“We're using the robotic exoskeleton in a way that is a little bit different than you would think. A robotic exoskeleton is used a lot of times in rehab to assist or support a patient as they perform gait training. I am proposing to use the robot to perturb the leg movements during physical therapy to enhance the nervous systems exploration of new and better ways to walk," explained Busboom of her dissertation work. </p><p>Having grown up in Nebraska, Busboom was familiar with Boys Town and is excited to be working in the Institute for Human Neuroscience. “I grew up in Nebraska and had heard about Boys Town. I wasn't aware of all the research opportunities here so that's been the most exciting thing - learning about Dr. Kurz and Dr. Wilson coming to Boys Town and their 'why' for coming here, as well as seeing all of the resources available at Boys Town and the excitement around research," said Busboom. </p><p>In addition to her work at Boys Town, Busboom also is a contracted pediatric physical therapist. “It's interesting to see both the hospital side of physical therapy and the research side. Seeing both helps me to develop new ideas for research." </p><p>“Morgan is extremely creative in her thought process and has a knack for disentangling the source of the movement challenges seen in the patients she treats. She is very deserving of this award and is well on her way towards making an impact on the treatment strategies used at Boys Town and across the clinics in the United States," said Dr. Kurz.</p><p> <em>The </em> <a href=""> <em>Institute for Human Neuroscience</em></a><em> at Boys Town National Research Hospital opened in March 2021. Located on Boys Town campus in Omaha, Nebraska, it is one of the most cutting-edge neuroscience research facilities in the nation and the only site in the world with two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems.</em></p>
Let the Children Talk (to Themselves) - It Helps Memory<img alt="Computers were used to present the stimuli making it possible to collect and organize data across multiple sites." src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> the Children Talk (to Themselves) - It Helps Memory2021-07-19T05:00:00Z<p>​​​​It's the middle of your remote workday. You leave your home office, but the moment you enter the kitchen, you've completely forgotten what you wanted in the first place. You muse aloud "why did I come in here?" and proceed to talk yourself through the sequence of events that led to your arrival in the kitchen. Adults commonly use these self-talk strategies to remember and problem solve. However, in these days of remote learning, you may have noticed that your children's memory lapses are less often accompanied by self-talk. In fact, it's long been thought that children younger than 7 are unable to use a self-talk tool called rehearsal to help them remember lists of things. But thanks to a modernized version of five-decades-old study, we now have a much better idea of when rehearsal develops.</p><p> <img src="" alt="Study participants point to the pictures, just as they did in the original Flavell study." style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><div> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">Study participants point to the pictures, just as they did in the original Flavell study</span>.</div><div> <br> </div><div>In 1966, Flavell, Beach, and Chinksy showed 60 children --5, 7, and 10-year-olds -- sequences of hand drawn pictures. After each sequence, the researchers laid out the pictures and asked the child to point to the pictures in the order. Meanwhile, another researcher discretely watched the child's mouth for subtle movement that indicate the child was talking to herself. In the original study, only the 7- and 10-year-olds spontaneously took advantage of rehearsal to help remember the lists.</div><p> <img src="" alt="The participants vision was obstructed during the delay period prior to recall, just as was done in the 1966 study." style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">The participants vision was obstructed during the </span> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References"></span> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">delay period prior to recall, just as was done in the 1966 study.</span> <p> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References"></span> <br></p><p>Fast forward to 2017. Dr. Emily Elliott of Louisiana State University, Dr. Candice Morey of Cardiff University and Dr. Angela AuBuchon of Boys Town National Research Hospital® struggled to reconcile the results from 1966 with new research from their colleague Dr. Chris Jarrold at the University of Bristol. Dr. Jarrold used different methods than the 1966 study, but his results suggested that 5- and 6-year-olds might also be using very simple forms of rehearsal on memory tests. </p><p> <img src="" alt="Care was taken to replicate the obstruction of vision during delay periods." style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">Care was taken to replicate the obstruction of vision during delay periods.</span> <p> <br> </p><p>Drs. Elliott, Morey, and AuBuchon decided to find out if the inconsistency could be explained by either the differing methods or the passage of time, so they proposed to lead a multi-site registered replication report of the 1966 study. After their proposal was accepted by the journal Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychology Science (AMPPS), they made all of their materials – from the study protocol and experimental program to the data analysis code – available on Open Science Framework (OSF). They invited researchers around the world to conduct the experiment in the own labs and contribute data. Ultimately, the replication included 977 children from 17 labs – including the three lead authors' and Dr. Jarrold's – representing not only the United States and the United Kingdom, but also Turkey, Norway, New Zealand, Germany, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria.</p><p> <img src="" alt="Study participants from 17 sites worldwide were observed as they provided verbal labels for items presented on the computer scre" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p> <span class="ms-rteStyle-References">Study participants from 17 sites worldwide were observed as they provided verbal labels for items presented on the computer screen.</span> <p> <br> </p><p>Careful attention was paid to preserving key elements of the original study. However, the replication was modernized to reflect current research practices. For example, pictures were presented on a computer to standardize the experiment across of the labs. They also video recorded the children, when possible, to assure that lip movements were reliably monitored.  The new study also included a subset of 6-year-olds to better asses the presumed transition from non-verbal memorization in younger children to rehearsal in older children.</p><p>The replication upheld the core of Flavell and colleagues 1966 finding – fewer 5- and 6-year-olds than 7- and 10-year-olds used self-talk. Importantly, though, many more 5- and 6- year-olds used self-talk than would have been predicted by the original 1966 study.  With the expanded study size, 75% of 5-year-olds were found to verbalize as a memory tool at least part of the time, versus 10% in the Flavell study. The updated research also suggests that increased verbalization led to increased memory span performance in the participating children regardless of the participants' age. The benefits of pointing and verbalizing in these memory exercises were particularly prominent in 6-year-olds, who were added to the replication study and were not present in Flavell's original study.</p><p> <a href="" target="_blank">Click here</a> to read the newly published replication study.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p>​<br>
Boys Town Researchers Find Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Adolescents Can Significantly Impair Quality of Life<img alt="GAD" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town Researchers Find Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Adolescents Can Significantly Impair Quality of Life2021-07-02T05:00:00Z<p>​​​​​​​​<img src="" alt="GAD" class="ms-rtePosition-2" />A quality life is where our goals and aspirations flourish.  But a quality life is more challenging for adolescents to achieve if they have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and are plagued with constant worries​ about almost everything.</p><p>This suffering is especially poignant for researchers at Boys Town, where 30% of the adolescents in the Family Home Program arrive with some level of generalized anxiety disorder. Until recently, GAD in adolescents has seen very little neuroimaging research.</p><p>“A major problem we see in adolescents with GAD is the recruitment of the brain regions involved in response control and attention," explained Karina Blair, Ph.D., Director of the Program for Trauma and Anxiety in Children (PTAC) at Boys Town National Research Hospital. “Response control and attention are what allows us to concentrate on useful activities. That part of the brain (top-down attentional control) helps us reduce distraction and lets us focus on what is necessary and what we need to do to achieve our goals in life."</p><p>Researchers believe that the difficulties that adolescents with GAD have in engaging top-down brain functions cause them to be more prone to distractions, especially distractions that are worrying. It is also possible that consistent worry interferes with their ability to control responses and attention, so the worry-distraction, distraction-worry scenario may be a two-way path.</p><p>Investigations like this one may pave the way for ​future brain-level studies that index treatment response. By understanding the brain-level difficulties face​d by adolescents with GAD, one can develop biomarkers of those difficulties so that we can be sure whether a treatment has helped or whether additional remedies need to be considered.</p><p>To read the full article, <a href="" target="_blank">click here</a>.<br></p> <style> .ms-rtePosition-2 { width:450px; height:auto; float:right; } @media only screen and (max-width: 600px) { .ms-rtePosition-2 { display:block; float:none; } } </style>​<br>
Introducing a Ground-Breaking New Institute at Boys Town National Research Hospital<img alt="Siemens Prisma MRI and next-generation MEG" height="450" src="" width="900" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> a Ground-Breaking New Institute at Boys Town National Research Hospital2021-03-29T05:00:00Z<p>​​Boys Town National Research Hospital® is revolutionizing child and teen brain research at the new <a href="">Institute for Human Neuroscience</a>, which opened in March 2021. The Institute is in a brand-new 15,000+ square foot research facility specifically built for this group of researchers and their state-of-the-art equipment. As one of the most cutting-edge neuroscience research facilities in the nation, it includes a high-performance research-grade Siemens Prisma MRI and two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems. </p><p> <a href="">Tony Wilson, Ph.D.</a>, tapped to lead the new Institute, has also been named the Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at Boys Town National Research Hospital.  </p><p>“One of the main reasons we came to Boys Town was the opportunity to build an incredible institute in an amazing environment. As the only site in the world with two next-generation MEG Neo systems, we'll have twice the capacity for major discoveries in pediatric neuroscience and neurotherapeutics and be able to impact the lives of children and families directly," said Wilson.</p><p>Wilson brings a team of almost 50 research scientists and staff who will work to understand how the brain changes as kids move through puberty and into young adulthood. The group will also study the impact of traumatic experiences on brain development and the brain changes associated with the emergence of psychiatric conditions like anxiety disorders, depression or schizophrenia. </p><p>The Institute of Human Neuroscience aligns directly with Boys Town's mission and growth of its Pediatric Neuroscience program. The emphasis will be on pediatric brain health and contribute directly to improved outcomes in children receiving care from our neurologists, neurosurgeons and behavioral health teams.  </p><p>For example, MEG is FDA-approved for use in identifying the focus of epileptic seizures. It creates the opportunity for neuroscience researchers to pinpoint the origin of such seizures, which can then be removed through surgery to maximize positive outcomes.</p><p>When the Institute is fully operational it will house nine to 10 different laboratories and 100 to 120 researchers, all under one roof. Each lab will focus on different sub-areas of human neuroscience using MRI, MEG and other state-of-the-art methods. Each laboratory will function independently, studying ​different disorders, different populations and different therapeutics.</p><p>“We're so excited to work in such a collaborative environment," noted Wilson. “We think it's going to give rise to a lot of​ great science that wouldn't have otherwise occurred."</p><p>“At Boys Town National Research Hospital our mission is to change the way America cares for children and families – and to do that, we've brought together the nation's best scientists to develop new and better treatments and intervention methods," said Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Director of Boys Town Research. “Dr. Wilson and his team bring that expertise in neuroscience. What is learned in the lab will directly apply to our clinical care so that more children and families can benefit from this life-changing research."</p><div class="embed-container"> <iframe src="" title="YouTube video player" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div>
Tony W. Wilson, Ph.D., Named Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience<img alt="Tony Wilson" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> W. Wilson, Ph.D., Named Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience2021-03-28T05:00:00Z<p> <a href="">Tony W. Wilson, Ph.D.</a>, Director of the new <a href="">Institute for Human Neuroscience at Boys Town National Research Hospital</a>, has been named the first recipient of the Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience. </p><p>Dr. Wilson is nationally recognized for his work utilizing neuroimaging to investigate typical and atypical brain development and use those findings to predict long-term outcomes and derive therapeutics.  He brings a team of almost 50 research scientists and staff who will work to understand how the brain changes as kids move through puberty and into young adulthood, which is obviously a period of major cognitive and emotional change.</p><p>Translating research to improve lives has been at the core of Boys Town Hospital since opening in 1977. Founding hospital director, Patrick E. Brookhouser, M.D. was a gifted physician and surgeon, and dedicated his life to being a steward of Father Flanagan's dream to help children. He was recognized across the U.S. for the ground-breaking research he initiated in the treatment and prevention of hearing loss and other communication disorders.  </p><p>“One of the unique things about holding the Brookhouser Endowed Chair is that I was fortunate enough to meet him when I first moved to Omaha", said Wilson. “Brookhouser believed that ground-breaking research wasn't enough. The findings need to be used to improve medical care and make lives better for children and families. One of the main reasons we came to Boys Town was the opportunity to build an incredible institute in an amazing environment to directly impact the lives of children and families. Boys Town has the infrastructure and a history of doing things like this and we are excited to carry on this critical mission. I think Dr. Brookhouser would have been excited about the unique opportunities that this Institute presents for pediatric brain health."</p><p>The Institute for Human Neuroscience is in a brand-new 15,000+ square foot research facility specifically built for this group of researchers and their state-of-the-art equipment. As one of the most cutting-edge neuroscience research facilities in the nation it includes a high-performance research-grade Siemens Prisma MRI and two next-generation MEG (magnetoencephalography) systems.</p>
Boys Town Leads National Research Efforts with Twice the Capacity for Major Discoveries in Pediatric Neuroscience<img alt="MEG w/Tony Wilson and Ryan McCreery" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town Leads National Research Efforts with Twice the Capacity for Major Discoveries in Pediatric Neuroscience2021-03-27T05:00:00Z<p> <em>​​“As the only site in the world with two next-generation MEG Neo systems, we'll have twice the capacity for major discoveries in pediatric neuroscience and </em> <em>neurotherapeutics</em><em> and be able to directly impact the lives of children and families. Boys Town has the infrastructure and a history of doing things like this and we are excited to carry on this critical mission," said </em> <a href=""> <em>Tony Wilson, Ph.D.</em></a><em>, Director of the </em> <a href=""> <em>Institute for Human Neuroscience</em></a><em> and Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience. </em></p><p>MEG (magnetoencephalography) is unique in that it can see what is happening in the brain at a very fast millisecond level – meaning that it will allow researchers to image the brain at the speed of thought. With MEG, it is possible to see thoughts and sensations evolving in the brain as one processes their environment.</p><p>“In some of our MEG experiments, we show individuals a picture of a word, then we can watch the portion of their brain that controls vision activate or light up," said Wilson.  “And from there, we can watch it progress through the brain and activate different regions as the person sounds out the word, then understands the meaning of the word, and then vocalizes the word."</p><p>MEG technology uses highly sensitive magnetic sensors that are configured into a helmet to measure brain function. The helmet is comfortable, and participants are typically seated with their head within the helmet throughout the study. MEG studies are noninvasive, totally quiet, and are often a better fit for children than an MRI given the comfort factor.</p><p>An example of a practical application is for patients who have brain tumors. In the case of a brain tumor, surgery is performed to remove the tumor. But outcomes are much better if important functions such as the motor control of hands, feet and face can be accurately mapped. Further, mapping the location of the person’s language function with MEG can help ensure the patient does not have a major language deficit following the surgery. The MEG map of these essential functions is passed on to the neurosurgeon so that these parts of the brain can be spared to the extent possible during the surgery.<br></p><p>The <a href="">Institute for Human Neuroscience</a> is one of the most cutting-edge neuroscience research facilities in the nation, and includes a high-performance research-grade Siemens Prisma MRI, two next-gene​ration MEG systems, a mock Prisma MRI scanner, and other state-of-the-art instruments for human neuroscience research. This technology supports the work of the research team to define normal brain development in children and identify the impact of traumatic experiences on brain development, as well as the brain changes associated with the emergence of psychiatric conditions like anxiety disorders, depression or schizophrenia.</p><h2>What is MEG (magnetoencephalography)?</h2><div class="embed-container"> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><h2>Cutting-Edge Neuroscience Technology</h2><div class="embed-container"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div>
Building a Center of Excellence in Neuroscience Research<img alt="Boys Town West Hospital" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> a Center of Excellence in Neuroscience Research2021-03-27T05:00:00Z<p>​​With the opening of The Institute for Human Neuroscience, Boys Town National Research Hospital is setting the pace for neuroscience research. </p><p>Unlike an already existing research center, the faculty at the Institute for Human Neuroscience had lots of input into creating this unique new workspace. They worked with the architects to make the building fit their vision for the best way to have patients and instruments all in the same spaces. Part of the plan was to develop a lab that would allow epilepsy patients to have a MEG and an MRI all in one visit. And having a research institute directly onsite means translating research to improve care can happen at a faster rate and help change the way America cares for children and families, everywhere.</p><p>“One of the main reasons we came to Boys Town was the opportunity to build an incredible institute in an amazing environment," said Wilson. “As the only site in the world with two next-generation MEG Neo systems, we'll have twice the capacity for major discoveries in pediatric neuroscience and neurotherapeutics and be able to directly impact the lives of children and families. Boys Town has the infrastructure and a history of doing things like this and we are excited to carry on this critical mission."</p><p>Also unique to this field of study is the work environment at Boys Town. When the Institute is fully operational it will house nine to ten different laboratories and between 100 to 120 researchers, all under one roof. Each of these labs will focus on different sub-areas of human neuroscience using MRI, MEG, and other state-of-the-art methods.</p><p>“All of us are different, we're experts in different things, and the niche that we know better than anything else is unique amongst all of us. We're excited to work in such a collaborative environment," noted Wilson. “We think it's going to give rise to a lot of great science that wouldn't have otherwise occurred."</p><h2>Six Neuroscience Research Labs…and Growing</h2><p>The breadth of study available from the moment the Institute opens will be impressive. With six key labs already conducting research on Boys Town campus with room to grow. </p><p>The <a href="">Dynamic Imaging of Cognition & Neuromodulation (<strong>DICoN</strong>) Laboratory</a>v uses multimodal brain imaging to investigate the neural dynamics that underlie visual processing, attention and motor control in children and adults. A key goal is to determine how these brain dynamics predict cognitive performance in real time.</p><p>The primary aim of the <a href="">Brain Architecture, Imaging and Cognition (<strong>BrAIC</strong>) Laboratory</a> is to investigate the architecture of the brain and its association with cognition in health and disease, using a combination of behavioral and neuroimaging techniques. The goal is to use an integrative approach to map the brain networks that support cognitive abilities, and understand how different factors, such as age, environment and disorders, impact their interactions. </p><p>The <a href="">Physiology of Walking & Engineering Rehabilitation (<strong>PoWER)</strong> Laboratory</a> primarily focuses on how humans process/attend to sensory information, produce motor actions and learn new motor skills. The laboratory uses a blend of MEG/EEG neuroimaging and advanced biomechanical engineering analyses. The outcomes are directed at the development of new technologies for rehabilitation and therapeutic approaches for improving the mobility of patients with developmental disabilities. </p><p>The <a href="">Developmental Clinical Neuroscience (<strong>DCN</strong>) Laboratory</a> seeks to better understand how serious behavioral problems, particularly aggression, dev​elop and to better understand why trauma and PTSD play a large role triggering serious behavioral problem in some, but not all, youth. The lab examines changes in the brain and in endocrine function (hormones) and how those changes can lead to understanding the origins of serious behavioral problems.</p><p>The overarching goals of the <a href="">Cognitive and Sensory Imaging <span><span>(<strong>CASI</strong>)</span></span> Laboratory</a> are to understand the interactions between sensory experience and higher-order cognition such as working memory and executive function, and to characterize what these interactions look like in the brain. Current research focuses on the impact of hearing loss, and the quality and frequency of subsequent hearing interventions, on cognitive and neural development in children and adolescents.</p><p>The <a href=""><strong>Neurodiversity</strong> Laboratory</a> is dedicated to studying individual variability in neurocognitive development during childhood and adolescence. Development is a dynamic process that is continually modulated by one's environment and experiences. This lab uses advanced statistical modeling techniques and cutting-edge neuroimaging to explain the complex interactions between brain, behavior and environment, with the goal of producing knowledge that helps families and individuals thrive.  </p><div class="embed-container"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div>
Physical Therapy May Hold the Key to Brain-Based Changes in Adults with Cerebral Palsy<img alt="Cerebral Graphic" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Therapy May Hold the Key to Brain-Based Changes in Adults with Cerebral Palsy2021-03-26T05:00:00Z<p>A recent study conducted by the <a href="">Power of Walking & Engineering Rehabilitation (PoWER) Laboratory</a>, part of the Boys Town National Research Hospital® Institute for Human Neuroscience, used MEG (magnetoencephalography) imaging to study the brain activity of people with cerebral palsy to sensations applied to the leg.  </p><p>“This study measures what happens as individuals move into adulthood, which is a critical window that changes their mobility and motor actions," said <a href="">Max Kurz, Ph.D.</a>, director of the PoWER Laboratory. “What we've found is that when those sensations are applied, the brain is not as active as it is for the general population."</p><p>As people age, they do not register sensations as acutely as when they were younger. This study finds that the population with cerebral palsy has an accelerated downward trajectory in their nervous system. Essentially, people with cerebral palsy have nervous systems that age faster. </p><p>That can have detrimental effects on the lives of patients with cerebral palsy since even everyday activities like the ability to button a shirt or brush their teeth can become difficult.</p><p>“So, we've identified these deficits," said Kurz. “Now the question is how we alter them? How can we make the decline not so steep so that it becomes more normalized and maybe their nervous system doesn't age as fast?" </p><p>Currently, the PoWER lab uses physical therapy for patients with cerebral palsy to keep sensations flowing to the brain, improving the brain's flexibility and maintaining its ability to register sensations. </p><p>For example, if you sit in a chair all day long, your muscle tone diminishes. If people with cerebral palsy move less as they enter adulthood, their brain loses tactile acuity, which makes registering sensations even more difficult. The effects of this loss can be spiraling. The less confident a person is in their ability to read sensations, the less likely they are to move and the more out-of-practice the brain becomes at interpreting the signals it does get.</p><p>“We've done a small study which is physical therapy-based. And what we're seeing is that the brain's reactivity and registry of sensations is improved," said Kurz. “ We're looking to start a larger clinical research project soon that will champion the use of physical therapy. We hope to understand the key ingredients for making these brain-based changes."</p><p>For more information about the study just published, visit: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p>
Boys Town National Research Hospital & Rush University Medical Center Receive a Shared NIH Research Grant<img alt="classroom" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town National Research Hospital & Rush University Medical Center Receive a Shared NIH Research Grant2021-03-18T05:00:00Z<p>​Anyone who has ever spent time in a highly interactive school environment knows how noisy all that input and feedback can be.  </p><p>That's why researchers <a href="">Katherine Gordon, Ph.D.</a>, Research Scientist in the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning at Boys Town National Research Hospital®, and Tina Grieco-Calub, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center, are studying how constant noise affects children's ability to learn and retain new words. This work is being funded by a grant through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).</p><div style="width:500px;margin:0px auto;display:table;"><div style="display:table-row;text-align:center;"> <span style="display:table-cell;"><img src="" alt="" style="border-radius:8px;width:200px;" /></span><span style="display:table-cell;"><img src="" alt="" style="border-radius:8px;width:200px;" /></span></div><div style="display:table-row;text-align:center;"><p style="display:table-cell;text-align:center;">Katherine Gordon, Ph.D.</p><p style="display:table-cell;text-align:center;"> Tina Grieco-Calub, Ph.D.</p></div></div><h2>A New Focus Brings New Collaboration</h2><p>Boys Town Hospital has been a leader in childhood hearing research since its inception in 1977. In recent years, interdisciplinary research questions on the relation between hearing and language arose. As a result, a team of language researchers was assembled to complement the team of hearing researchers, leading to many collaborative projects. </p><p>“In 2017, Boys Town National Research Hospital began building a program devoted to research in language science. Dr. Gordon was our first hire, and she continues to be an essential part of that program. Her newly funded project with Dr. Grieco-Calub marries our more recent focus on language with our traditional focus on hearing. I can't imagine a better team for advancing our understanding of the effect of noise on children's language learning," explained <a href="">Karla McGregor, Ph.D.</a>, and Director at the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning at Boys Town Hospital.</p><p>The two researchers were introduced by Lori Leibold, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Hearing Research at Boys Town Hospital, who felt that their unique sets of skills would work well together. </p><p>“After learning of their research interests, I told both that I thought they should meet. Dr. Grieco-Calub visited Boys Town National Research Hospital in person and we set up a meeting between Katie [Dr. Gordon] and Tina [Dr. Grieco-Calub]. The rest is history," recalls Leibold. Leibold serves as a consultant on the grant.</p><h2> Language and Noise</h2><p>Language learning is an established field, but for years it has not included the noise component. Research has been primarily conducted in quiet settings. On the other side is hearing science, which has mostly focused on how people perceive words they already know, not how they learn new words in noisy environments. Both fields have gaps in knowledge, and Gordon and Grieco-Calub are targeting those gaps together to figure out how children learn new words in noisy environments.  </p><h2> Noise and Environment</h2><p>Different types of environments contain different types of background noise. This grant will allow Boys Town Hospital and Rush University Medical Center to look at how those different types and intensities of noise affect word learning. For example, in a classroom, there might be a fan running and kids talking in the background; right now, the effects of these factors on new language acquisition are unknown. </p><p>Children live, play and learn in environments that are often noisy. To understand language development, it is essential to understand how children learn language in different types of noise. Furthermore, there are some children who may particularly struggle with learning language in noise, such as children who are hard-of-hearing and children with language disorders. This study's long-term goal is to determine factors that can be changed to support word learning in the typical classroom environment. This should benefit all children, but especially benefit children who are strongly affected by the noise in their environments. </p><p>For more information on the study parameters, see <a href="" target="_blank">Effects of background noise on word learning in preschool-age children</a>. As this study progresses, watch for Boys Town Hospital and Rush University Medical Center to publish additional updates. </p>
Do You Run Down the Mountain or Descend? That All Depends on Your Native Language!<img alt="BTNRH Logo" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> You Run Down the Mountain or Descend? That All Depends on Your Native Language!2021-03-18T05:00:00Z<p>​Have you ever wondered why a foreign language may sound “wrong" when you've translated it into English?  It's because that language may express certain parts of speech differently. Different groups of languages use verbs to express different aspects of motion, and the people who speak these different languages <span style="text-decoration:underline;">expect</span> to hear motion described in a certain way. </p><p> <img src="" alt="Samantha Emerson Lecture" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin:5px;width:285px;height:445px;" />Samantha Emerson, Ph.D., conducted a study focused on what listeners' expectations were for the expression of motion. For example, what does an English speaker expect to hear, versus what a Spanish speaker expects to hear, when discussing someone headed down the mountain? </p><p>An English speaker expects the manner of the motion (or how the motion verb is carried out) to be included in the verb or come first, hence, the phrase “run down the mountain." 'Run' describes how the subject is moving (the manner), and 'down' describes where the subject is moving (or, the path of the verb). A Spanish speaker, on the other hand, expects the path to be the important part; therefore, a phrase like “descend the mountain running" is used.  'Descend' tells us where the subject is going (the path), and 'running' tells us how the subject is moving (the manner).</p><p>“The important thing about this paper is it's the first one to show that not only do we talk about motion differently, but it effects the way we <span style="text-decoration:underline;">think</span> about motion, even though physical motions happen the same way regardless," noted Emerson, who is now a researcher at the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning at Boys Town National Research Hospital®. </p><p>The answers to these questions are important. The findings from this research could eventually help those trying to learn a second language. It could also assist people with developmental language disorder in understanding patterns beyond the basic rules of grammar in their native language. </p><p>“They tell us something about learning a new language," said Emerson. “Learning to speak a language fluently involves more than just the rules of grammar. This (study) provides a neural basis for observations about how we prefer to talk about motion, but also affects how easy it is to process other people's speech."</p><p>Learn how the researchers created this <a href="" target="_blank">fascinating study</a>.</p>
Lockdowns Increase Insomnia and Jeopardize Mental Health<img alt="woman in bed looking at clock" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Increase Insomnia and Jeopardize Mental Health2021-03-10T06:00:00Z<p>At the end of March 2020, more than 1.3 billion people in India entered a stringent 21-day lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. </p><p> <a href="">Sahil Bajaj, Ph.D.</a>, Director of the Multimodal Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory (MCNL) at the <a href="">Center for Neurobehavioral Research</a> at Boys Town National Research Hospital®, saw the need to quickly study how this would affect Indian residents' sleep health and how that could relate to millions of people across the world who were experiencing the same lockdown conditions.</p><p>The study looked at gender, age, income level and how worried respondents were about becoming ill using a Worry Scale, a Sleep-Quality Scale, and a Depression Symptom Scale. Residents completed the scales only during the weeks of lockdown. </p><p>A hefty 53% of respondents rated themselves as having low to severe insomnia during the COVID-19 lockdown.</p><p>Bajaj and his team wanted to make sure the insomnia was related to the COVID-19 pandemic and wasn't simply a pre- existing condition. The researchers considered that typically, 18.6% of the population suffers from insomnia, meaning that 34% of the insomnia reported could be directly related to the COVID-19 lockdown.</p><p>“People get worried. Worry leads to insomnia. Insomnia leads to depression. Our conclusion was if we can improve people's sleep during this pandemic situation, then that can lead to better mental health and less depression," said Bajaj.</p><p>Unfortunately, sleep studies tied to the pandemic have received little attention. </p><p>“It is very difficult to treat depression, so it's better if people understand that poor sleep and depression are related to each other," noted Bajaj. “The more we can raise awareness of this relationship, the more likely we are to create a positive impact on mental health during the pandemic."</p><p> <em>To find out which groups of people suffered the most insomnia, click the link below and read Dr. Bajaj's complete study.</em></p><p> <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p>
Remembering a Visionary, Dr. Pat Stelmachowicz<img alt="Dr. Pat Stelmachowicz" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> a Visionary, Dr. Pat Stelmachowicz2021-02-09T06:00:00Z<p>​​​​A leader, visionary and scholar in audiology research, Pat Stelmachowcz, Ph.D., will be remembered for her contributions to the field and their translational impact that improved the lives of so many with hearing loss.  </p><p>Pat passed away in January 2021. Her husband and research colleague, Michael Gorga, Ph.D., has established the <strong>Pat Stelmachowicz Audiology/Hearing Research Endowed Fund</strong> to help continue the legacy of Boys Town's nationally recognized translational hearing research. Contributions made in memory of Pat will with designated to the Fund. <a href="" target="_blank">Click here to donate</a>.<br></p><p>Pat began her Boys Town career in 1980. From 1994 until her retirement in 2014, Pat served as Director of Audiology & Vestibular Services. Her work fundamentally changed pediatric hearing aid research, clinical practice, and the design of hearing aids.</p><p>Although she retired from Boys Town in 2014, her legacy lives on through the important clinical and research programs she led in pediatric audiology. Serving as Director of Audiology & Vestibular Services for 20 years, Pat made many contributions to Boys Town Hospital, including her early mentorship of Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., current Director of Research, who started as an audiology intern.</p><p>“Dr. Pat Stelmachowicz was an internationally recognized leader in the field of pediatric audiology. Her research provided an important foundation for how audiologists fit hearing aids for infants and young children today," said Ryan.“She was an outstanding mentor to many audiologists and scientists and built theBoys Town audiology program into one of the best in the nation.  Pat will be greatly missed."</p><p>As a renowned researcher in her field, Pat had close collaborations with many national and international scientists working in the field of audiology research. She served as a mentor for many of the current leaders in pediatric audiology research who work across the United States.</p><p>Pat was recognized nationwide for her groundbreaking research, having received the  D​istinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Iowa and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 6th International Phonak Sound Foundations Conference in 2013; and in 2015, she was honored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) with the Honors of the Association award, which is the highest career achievement award bestowed by the organization. Pat was also a nominee for the 2013 Kleffner Lifeti​me Clinical Career Award by the Nebraska Speech Language and Hearing Association.</p><h2>Continuing Her Legacy – Research Endowed Fund</h2><p>Pat Stelmachowicz Audiology/Hearing Research Endowed Fund has been established to support translational hearing research at Boys Town. Donations in Pat Stelmachowicz's memory can be given in two ways:</p><ol><li>Mail check or cash to:<br> Boys Town<br> Attention: Pat Stelmachowicz Memorial<br> PO Box 8000<br> Boys Town, NE 68010</li> <br> <li> <a href="" target="_blank">Click here to donate.</a> Contributions designated in memory of Pat will be allocated to the Pat Stelmachowicz Audiology/Hearing Research Endowed Fund</li></ol>
$35,000 Research Grant Awarded to Boys Town Hospital Audiologists<img alt="ABR hearing test on baby" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />$35,000 Research Grant Awarded to Boys Town Hospital Audiologists2021-02-05T06:00:00Z<p>A team of research and clinical audiologists at Boys Town National Research Hospital<sup>®</sup> was recently awarded a $35,000 Researcher-Practitioner Collaboration Grant from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation).</p><p>The grant money is being used to improve high-frequency auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing. This test is important for identifying and measuring levels of hearing in individuals who are unable to provide reliable behavioral responses to sound, such as infants, very young children and individuals with significant developmental delays. At the time ABR testing was first being evaluated for clinical application, it was thought that high frequencies were not critical for speech understanding. However, more recent research suggests otherwise.</p><p>According to <a href="">Heather Porter, Ph.D.</a>, the study's co-investigator and a research associate, this research has the potential to improve the diagnosis of high-frequency hearing loss, which can be directly applied to hearing aid programming at high frequencies. Jan Kaminski, the study's other co-investigator and coordinator of Boys Town Hospital's Clinical Sensory Physiology Laboratory, was part of the Boys Town team who originally evaluated ABR testing for widespread clinical implementation. She understands first-hand the widespread impact that researcher-clinician collaborations can have on patient care.</p><p>“Our objective is to overcome obstacles to clinical implementation of ABR testing at high frequencies because we now know that high-frequency audibility is important for hearing in daily life," explained Dr. Porter. “A large body of evidence now shows that high-frequency information contributes to successful speech understanding, sound localization and listening in background noise. Many of these important findings came from hearing research done at Boys Town by our former Director of Audiology, Dr. Patricia Stelmachowicz." </p><p>The research is expected to have direct clinical application wherever ABR testing is performed. That is one of the primary reasons the grant was awarded to Boys Town. The ASHFoundation encourages collaborations between researchers and practitioners to increase knowledge that will improve and enhance the care provided to individuals with communication disorders. </p><p>“We are proud to continue the tradition of leadership in translational research established at Boys Town National Research Hospital by those that came before us," Dr. Porter said. “This study would not be possible if not for their example, research findings and development of the infrastructure to support this kind of collaborative translational research." </p><p>In addition to Dr. Porter and co-investigator Jan Kaminski, the research team includes clinical experts in ABR assessment, Drs. Anastasia Grindle, Brenda Hoover, Ashley Kaufman, Natalie Lenzen, Haley McTee and Susan Stangl. The team embraces participation of current audiology trainees Christina Dubas and Abigail Petty, as student involvement is an important investment in inspiring future generations to support translational research to advance evidence-based care for individuals with communication disorders.  </p>
Retrieval-Based and Spaced Learning: Two Strategies to Support Word Learning<img alt="Preschool teacher and student reading a book" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> and Spaced Learning: Two Strategies to Support Word Learning2021-02-02T06:00:00Z<p>​​Sometimes, tried-and-true teaching methods are just that – effective and for good reason. However, in the past that reason may not itself have been tested. That's why the new article: “The Advantages of Retrieval-Based and Spaced Practice: Implications for Word Learning in Clinical and Educational Contexts," is so significant.</p><p>In this article, Katherine Gordon, Ph.D., Director of the <a href="">Language Learning and Memory Laboratory</a> at Boys Town National Research Hospital®, has taken the outcomes of dozens of research studies with individuals who have language disorders and synthesized them to make a case for two of the oldest teaching methods and their use in classroom education. </p><p>Retrieval-based practice and spaced practice are effective learning strategies for children and adults with typical development. However, students who know fewer words can struggle to understand classroom content and miss out on a lot of important information. This is especially the case for students with language disorders, including students with developmental language disorder (DLD). </p><p>A key question of Dr. Gordon's review is whether proven teaching methods support vocabulary learning in children with language disorders. The answer to this question is “yes." </p><p>An essential part of the solution is to use teaching strategies that help children learn words during the lesson and remember the words long-term. Without this, educators are pouring water into a leaky bucket. Children may show good learning in the moment but quickly forget the words once the lesson is over.  </p><h2>Tried-and-True: Testing and Flash Cards</h2><p>During retrieval-based learning, the teacher asks the student to retrieve something that they learned previously from memory. However, this strategy does not need to use formal testing to be effective. Retrieval-based learning can occur anytime a teacher asks a student a question about key information. </p><p>Learning with flashcards is a common and familiar form of retrieval-based learning. The teacher is not just testing the student's knowledge of the information, but also supporting the student's ability to learn the information. By actively trying to remember the key information during a lesson, the student is more likely to remember that information when the lesson is over. </p><p>In the research reviewed by Dr. Gordon, it became apparent that word learning is achieved most effectively through effortful retrieval (testing) instead of passive listening for students with language disorders.  </p><h2>Key Components of Retrieval-Based Learning</h2><p>The literature reviewed by Dr. Gordon showed that retrieval-based learning benefitted adults and children with language disorders and promoted better learning and retention of the material over time. Most of the retrieval-based learning articles Dr. Gordon reviewed shared three key components. </p><h3>1. Opportunity for Effortful Retrieval of the Material Early in the Learning Session</h3><p>Learners do not like to be asked to remember information they've only heard a few times. </p><p>When teaching vocabulary to individuals with language disorders it seems logical to present the key words many times before asking the student about it. However, testing the student's memory for words early in the learning session produces better results. This may seem counterintuitive as students are likely to get the answer wrong if they are asked questions early in the lesson, however, trying to remember key information and getting an answer wrong can actually benefit learning if the student is given feedback. In general, students become more engaged and more aware of what they are getting from the lesson if they are asked questions early and often.</p><h3>2. Providing the Correct Answer Promptly and Explaining it Thoroughly </h3><p>As mentioned above, students are more likely to learn information after getting an answer wrong. They can become aware that they do not yet know the information fully and put in more effort to learn it. </p><h3>3. Providing the Learner Multiple Chances to Retrieve the Learned Information </h3><p>A vital element in this third aspect is having the learner retrieve information multiple times, even if they answered it correctly the first time. Repeated retrievals of learned words increased the chances that the information learned would be retained even after a delay.</p><h2>Cram for That Exam? Not the Best Way to Study.</h2><p>Spaced practice has been strongly shown to support learning in individuals with typical development. In her review, Dr. Gordon found that spaced practice supports word learning in individuals with language disorders. </p><p>When you think of spaced practice learning, think of your parents or junior high teachers telling you, “It's better to study it for 20 minutes every night than to cram for an hour before the test." Recent research demonstrates that they were right. </p><p>Spaced practice occurs when the same information is presented multiple times, but those presentations are spaced across time. A common example is a student studying with flashcards every day the week before an exam. In this way they introduce a space in time between each time the cards are studied. </p><p>Like retrieval-based practice, spaced practice is beneficial because it makes the student put in effort when trying to remember the key information. If a student is asked a question directly after they hear the information, it may be easy for them to remember the information. However, if asked a question after a delay, even a delay as short as 10 minutes, they must work harder to remember the information.</p><p>Educators and clinicians can introduce spaced practice during a lesson by asking about each key word at the beginning of a lesson, providing information about the key words in the middle of the lesson and then asking about each key word again at the end of a lesson. </p><p>Spaced learning can also be introduced across lessons. For example, students can be asked about words they learned yesterday or earlier in the week. Combining retrieval-based practice and spaced practice can be particularly powerful. By spacing out opportunities to retrieve information, educators can increase the likelihood that students, including students with language disorders, will remember the information long-term.</p><h2>Learning that Lasts</h2><p>To change the educational outcomes for individuals with language disorders, it is important to get past pouring water into the leaky bucket. Individuals with language disorders need to develop strong mem​ories for words that they are taught in lessons for them to be able to use those words in the classroom and in their everyday lives. </p><p>As all educators realize, meaningful word learning does not occur in one sitting. Learners need to be exposed to words repeatedly to commit them to memory. Using retrieval-based and spaced practice over repeated classes or language therapy sessions, is the best way to help students learn and remember words. Children with language disorders enrolled in therapy can receive retrieval-based and spaced practice that is more tailored to their individual needs.</p><p>For more information about how spaced and retrieval-based practice can be used to support vocabulary learning, read Dr. Gordon's full paper here: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p><a href="" target="_blank"></a><br></p><p> <strong>Dr. Gordon is continuing </strong>this research line to learn how to further optimize these learning techniques for the benefit of children with language disorders. By giving educators and clinicians the tools to support vocabulary learning that lasts, they can best support academic success for individuals with language disorders.</p>
Boys Town Researchers Featured in ASHA Top 10 Articles of the Year<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town Researchers Featured in ASHA Top 10 Articles of the Year2021-01-20T06:00:00Z<p>American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Journals Academy has released their top ten articles of 2020, and three publications by Boys Town researchers earned a spot on the list! </p><p>“This is really an incredible honor," says <a href="">Ryan McCreery, Ph.D.</a>, Director of Boys Town Research. “Having one article on this list is impressive. Having three truly speaks to the innovation, dedication and talent of our speech-language research team and path they are leading to change the way America cares for children with language disorders." </p><h2>Top Articles from Boys Town Research </h2><p> <a href="">Karla McGregor, Ph.D.</a>, Director of the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning, had two articles featured: </p><ul><li> <a href="" target="_blank">How We Fail Children with Developmental Language Disorder</a></li><li> <a href="" target="_blank">Developmental Language Disorder: Applications for Advocacy, Research and Clinical Service</a></li></ul><p> <a href="">Hope Sparks Lancaster, Ph.D.</a>, Director of Etiologies of Language and Literacy Laboratory, listed for:</p><ul><li> <a href="" target="_blank">Early Speech and Language Development in Children with Nonsyndromic Cleft Lip and/or Palate: A Meta-Analysis</a></li></ul><p>American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a national professional organization for audiologists, speech-language pathologists and hearing, speech and language researchers and students. </p><p>For more information on the top articles of 2020, <a href="" target="_blank">please click here. </a> </p>
Donation Helps Boys Town National Research Hospital in Eye Tracking/Listening Research Project<img alt="BTNRH Logo" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Helps Boys Town National Research Hospital in Eye Tracking/Listening Research Project2021-01-19T06:00:00Z<p>You may have noticed that it is hard to understand what someone is saying when they are wearing a face mask. That's because in face-to-face conversations, seeing a speaker's mouth move usually helps us understand them, especially in noisy places. Understanding speech in background noise is much more challenging for children than adults, and there is variability in children's ability to use visual speech cues, in other words, lipreading.</p><p>That's why a donation to purchase a Tobii Pro Nano eye tracker to support research on the subject was so appreciated by <a href="">Kaylah Lalonde, Director of the Audiovisual Speech Processing Laboratory</a> at Boys Town National Research Hospital. </p><p>Lalonde received the donation from an anonymous Boys Town donor about a year ago with the assistance of Boys Town development. The tracker, along with software that has been developed, will assist in planned studies that examine how much children and adults look at a speaker's face while listening to speech in noisy environments and to what parts of the face they look. Lalonde said this will help understand children's listening strategies.</p><p>The long-term goals of research in the audiovisual speech perception lab are to provide a unified account of how audiovisual speech perception develops, and ultimately to improve audiovisual communication outcomes for children with hearing loss. Lalonde said children with hearing loss benefit more from visual speech cues than children with normal hearing.</p><p>The eye tracker will be used to explore how much age- and hearing-related differences in audiovisual benefit observed in speech perception studies might be due to differences in looking behavior.</p><p>“Specifically, we will conduct standard auditory and audiovisual speech recognition tests while collecting data about whether and where participants look at or on the screen," Lalonde said. “The study will look at a variety of different age and hearing groups. With eye tracking data, we will determine the extent to which differences in looking behaviors among children explain individual, age-related and hearing-related differences in audiovisual benefit."</p><p>The eye tracker will serve as a control in future experiments in the lab. It will also serve as a tool for testing young children and infants without requiring overt responses. In future research, it will be used for more detailed studies of visual attention during audiovisual speech perception.</p><p>Lalonde said thanks to donations like this, Boys Town Hospital is able to continue its advances in studying how children tie together hearing with visual cues.</p><p>“Donations like this are important to Boys Town, because they allow us to be innovative in our research approach and support our goal of improving outcomes for children with communication difficulties," she said.</p>
Project INCLUDE Introduces Remote Testing Kits Due to Pandemic Constraints<img alt="Project Include Logo" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> INCLUDE Introduces Remote Testing Kits Due to Pandemic Constraints2021-01-14T06:00:00Z<p>Boys Town National Research Hospital® was in the middle of research for <a href="">Project INCLUDE</a>, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), when the pandemic upended how many things were being done nationally, locally and at Boys Town.  </p><p>Project INCLUDE measures language, problem solving and hearing abilities in background noise for children with Down syndrome to identify factors that contribute to successful listening in noisy situations – like classrooms. Because Project INCLUDE is conducting research with children who have Down syndrome, many of whom are medically fragile, project leader <a href="">Heather Porter, Ph.D.</a>, knew they had to find alternatives to in-person research methods.</p><p>“Right in the middle of our Project INCLUDE research, the pandemic hit, and we had to switch to remote testing to protect our participants and lab staff," said Dr. Porter Research Scientist in the Human Auditory Development Lab.</p><p>The first remote project tried sending a program over the internet for test participants to download and use on their personal computer using whatever headphones they had at home. However, this system proved to be unreliable. Some participants had results that were very different from other participants. Although it was most likely because of the various types of computer hardware being used across the test population, the results couldn't fully be explained and alternative solutions were developed.</p><p>“We developed test kits that included all of the hardware and software needed for the study," said Dr. Porter.  “These kits are being delivered contact-free to each individual's home. The kits include an iPad, two sets of headphones and an instruction binder, plus sanitizing and screen wipes. Lab staff and participants have their safety concerns met. As a bonus, participants can complete the study at their convenience in their own homes. The response has been super positive."</p><p>Once the remote test kits were up and running, it was simply a matter of dropping them off, picking them up, sanitizing them thoroughly and repeating the process. Most importantly, it meant that Project INCLUDE could proceed safely for both participants and researchers.</p><h2>Advancements in Adversity</h2><p>The changes the pandemic instituted are only the beginning for Boys Town Hospital researchers. The challenges of 2020 have pushed forward new ways of doing things, research included, that may have positive impacts in the future.</p><p>“There's always been a push from the NIH to have larger groups of participants included in Down syndrome research, but it can be difficult because there are only so many participants available locally," Dr. Porter said. “Remote test kits have the potential to help us exponentially, allowing us to collect data from all over the country." </p><p>Families of children with Down syndrome are also being interviewed using secure web-based platforms to find out what about listening and communication is most important to them. That information will be included in Boys Town National Research Hospital's next grant submission to the NIH, along with the possibility of expanded research cohorts created by working remotely and conducting research nationwide.</p><p>Additionally, Boys Town Hospital is looking into various remote test kit configurations to further the ability of all research areas to continue conducting remote research during the pandemic and beyond. </p>
Mapping Aging Brain Networks with the Groundbreaking Atlas55+<img alt="Atlas 55+ Brain Images" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Aging Brain Networks with the Groundbreaking Atlas55+2021-01-05T06:00:00Z<p>​Brain atlases of various kinds have existed for decades, each mapping various areas and centers of the brain. But up until now, most of these atlases created by various researchers have used subjects in early adulthood (typically 18 to 35 years old) for their studies.</p><p>Yet older individuals represent 15% of the United States population, and that segment is expected t​o continue growing significantly through 2050. This left a vacuum in the research arena when it came to looking at age-related brain changes and diseases, since no atlas for that age group existed, undermining the validity and reliability of neuroimaging research when it came to older adults.</p><p>That is what makes the Atlas55+ brain atlas, mapped by the <a href="">Boys Town Brain Architecture, Imaging and Cognition Lab</a> and its affiliates, so important. Now scientists researching brain and cognition changes in later adulthood have a reliable atlas of the brain networks that has been created using functional MRIs of healthy individuals between the ages of 55 and 95.</p><p>“By providing the first age-adapted brain atlas for late adulthood to the scientific community, this work has the potential to reveal how dysfunction of the brain networks contributes to neurodegenerative conditions like dementia," reported <a href="">Gaelle Doucet, Ph.D.</a>, Director of the Brain Architecture, Imaging and Cognition Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital®.</p><p>This brain atlas identified five major networks. The study conducted by Dr. Doucet found that three of these networks, the default-mode network (DMN), which is involved in internal-related functions such as thought generation and memory; the executive central network (ECN), which supports working memory, and the salience network (SAL), which helps the transition between different cognitive activities, showed the most changes in functional integrity in older adults, compared to younger adults.</p><p>These three networks “support high-order cognitive activity such as memory, attention and any type of mental activity that helps you work, live and think correctly," explained Dr. Doucet. “Our work showed that these three networks are particularly vulnerable to aging."</p><p>Though further research is needed, this new atlas of the aging brain may help explain why some adults struggle with cognitive decline as they age. This research suggests that interventions to prevent or attempt to reverse cognition loss should focus on the DMN, the ECN and the SAL since these are the major networks that lose functional integrity with aging.</p><p>Atlas55+ has been published and is available for other researchers to consult and use. </p><p>“We are hoping that other neuroscientists in the field of aging will use Atlas55+ as they conduct research with older populations," said Dr. Doucet. “Previously they only had atlases based on younger populations, which may create bias. Now there is an atlas available for working with studies of Alzheimer's, dementia and other age-related cognitive declines."</p><p>The end goal for Atlas55+ is that it can be used as a reference for any population above the age of 55 and that it will be able to aid in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer's disease by providing a comparative baseline for what a healthy aging brain networks look like.</p><p>The Atlas55+ research study was funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which is part of the National Institute of Health, the research agency of the DHHS. NIA's mission is to sponsor biomedical, behavioral and social research nation-wide to improve the health of older adults.  </p><p>“We know that age affects the brain throughout life, so my goal is to eventually take the same type of approach with children," said Dr. Doucet. “We need to create these same types of normative reference templates in children since none currently exist. I envision this eventually being done with 10- to 18-year-olds since younger children prove more difficult to get accurate brain scans from."</p><p>Researchers wishing to view the published article in the journal <em>Cerebral Cortex</em>, published by Oxford Academic Journals, should use the following link:  <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p><p> <img src="" alt="Atlas 55+ Brain Image Mapping" style="margin:5px;width:900px;height:463px;" /> <br> </p>
Voice of America Features Boys Town® Researcher Karla McGregor, Ph.D.<img alt="Karla McGregor Voice of America" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> of America Features Boys Town® Researcher Karla McGregor, Ph.D.2020-12-03T06:00:00Z<p> Recently, Voice of America (VOA), the United States' largest international broadcaster, featured an article about U.S. students with disabilities being afforded reasonable accommodations and the chance to succeed thanks to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.</p><p>Students as young as 3 years of age can access IEPs (individual education programs) that address a multitude of learning issues including developmental language disorder (DLD) and ADHD, as well as other physical, medical and learning disabilities. Reasonable accommodations such as extended test-taking time, dedicated note-takers and sign language interpreters can continue through college to help students reach their full potential.</p><p> <img src="" alt="Karla McGregor, Ph.D." class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:200px;" />“We want a diverse student population. And having these students included is super important," Dr. Karla McGregor, Director of the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning and professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, said in the VOA article. </p><p>However, only 33% of students eligible for reasonable accommodations at a college level receive them. This is due, in part, to the high cost involved in testing for accommodations, as well as the fear of being stigmatized, Dr. McGregor shared in the article.</p><p>Helping students with communication and learning disabilities is what led Dr. McGregor to her current position as Director of the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning at Boys Town National Research Hospital<sup>®</sup>. Dr. McGregor specializes in DLD, a neurodevelopmental disorder that limits a person's ability to learn, understand and use language.</p><p>DLD affects 7% of the population, which translates to about two children in every classroom. Despite its prevalence and impact on learning, listening and speaking, DLD has historically suffered from a lack of societal awareness and clinical studies. </p><p>Dr. McGregor often describes DLD as “a hidden disorder." Many children with DLD go unnoticed because they have mastered the minimums necessary for communication. DLD goes by many names – language delay, specific language impairment, expressive-receptive language disorder, speech-language impairment or language learning disability – and this, too, hinders understanding of the condition.</p><p>“Many children who are identified with DLD are diagnosed because they have a co-occurring condition such as a speech impairment, or a behavioral concern that is more noticeable to adults than immature language patterns. However, the consequences for academic success with DLD are often greater than those of co-occurring conditions," said Dr. McGregor.</p><p>Raising awareness of DLD is a major objective for Dr. McGregor. She is a founding member of, a website created by a nationwide panel of expert volunteers, with the mission of raising awareness amongst educators, parents and policymakers. <a href="" target="_blank"></a> provides an overview of DLD and articles summarizing the latest DLD research. </p><p>Dr. McGregor is also the U.S. representative on the board of <a href="" target="_blank">Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder</a>. This international organization hosts yearly DLD Awareness Day campaigns and on-going multimedia offers on DLD. The 2021 DLD Awareness Day is scheduled for October 15<sup>th</sup>.</p><p>Together these two organizations, along with researchers like Dr. McGregor, hope to alert parents and educators to the potential signs of DLD, as well as make clear the importance of spoken language development in children's academic and social success. </p>
New App Measures Attention in 2 to 5-Year-Olds<img alt="Girl playing game on tablet computer" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> App Measures Attention in 2 to 5-Year-Olds2020-11-13T06:00:00Z<p>​Designed with an engaging theme and graphics, the Visual Attention Processing Protocol (VAPP) application collects research data on how children between the ages of 2 and 5 process visual information in their environment.</p><p>Created by Anastasia Kerr-German, Ph.D., Director of the Brain, Executive Function and Attention Research Laboratory at Boys Town<sup>®</sup>, this app measures visual attention and brain processing efficiency during play, while keeping kids entertained and interactive. Available in the App Store, the VAPP application is accessible to researchers wishing to participate in normative data collection.</p><p>In keeping with the under-the-sea game format, the first thing children are asked to do is click on sea creatures as quickly as they see them. In the next tier of the game, children will have to make choices about the direction the fish are going and drag them to the right location on the screen. In the third part of the game, children will sort visual stimuli (sea creatures and sea trash) to the appropriate locations based on their labels.</p><p>This game tells us about how children see things and how they make choices about visual information in their environment. To keep the engagement level high, there are also parts of the game that are just for entertainment like a pop-the-bubbles segment and the ability to earn underwater treasure games. </p><p>The Child Visual Attention Protocol application gauges how children use categorical labels and visual attention to guide decision-making, both in the moment and during a task that requires attention skills. The Protocol tests what children know and how quickly they can process and make decisions about that visual information.</p><p> <img src="" alt="Child Visual Attention Protocol app" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin:5px 15px 5px 5px;width:370px;height:278px;" />For example, in the “<em>Find the Fish"</em> exercise, children can quickly tap a creature with little thought in one portion of the task, which allows us to gauge how quickly they can process those visual stimuli. During <em>“</em><em>Where Are They Going?"  </em>and<em> “Rescue or Recycle?"</em> children must not only see the object but must label it and then do something with it. That is where decision-making comes in. Both pieces are important when understanding the development of attention in young children.</p><p>So far, the Child Visual Attention Protocol has been piloted with a dozen or so 2 to 5-year-olds and the children have been enthusiastic about using the application. There is still a large amount of normative data to collect before this can become a potential diagnostic tool to identify children who may be at risk for developing disorders such as ADHD. But the information collected to date is promising and might eventually help identify risk for ADHD much earlier than is now possible.</p><p>This application may eventually allow for diagnosis and care of those at risk for ADHD long before the behavioral and psychological struggles these children face become disruptive to their day-to-day lives. If interventions could start early, before school age, these children may have an easier time adjusting and there may be less of an impact on their academic achievement and social-emotional health.</p><p>“My hope is that we can use this app to better understand typically developing children prior to school age so that we may begin to understand the evolution of disorders of attention and executive functioning such as ADHD. A portion of our children in the Boys Town Residential Treatment Center, as well as outpatient clinics, have ADHD, and this line of research is aimed at early identification of risk and earlier interventions," said Dr. Kerr-German.</p><p>Researchers interested in helping to collect data for this ongoing project should contact Dr. Kerr-German through the Brain, Executive Function and Attention Research Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital<sup>®</sup>.​</p> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Download on the iOS App Store" /></a>​<br>
Ears On An Evidence-Based Program to Improve Hearing Device Use in Children<img alt="Child with hearing aid participates in research study" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> On An Evidence-Based Program to Improve Hearing Device Use in Children2020-11-03T06:00:00Z<p>​ <img src="" alt="Child with hearing aid participates in research study" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px 10px;width:344px;height:333px;" />​For children with hearing loss, hearing devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants provide access to speech sounds that are critical to their development of spoken language. Ho<span class="ms-rteThemeFontFace-1">wever, children m</span>ust regularly wear their devices to receive the full language development benefits [1]. </p><p>Ears On is a program developed and evaluated by Sophie Ambrose, Ph.D., Coordinator of the Clinical Measurement Program and her team at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Ears On is designed to help parents ensure regular device use for their children. The program focuses on educating families of the importance of children consistently wearing their hearing devices and provides practical tips to help with compliance of wearing them. </p><h2>Practical Concerns Affect Hearing Device Use</h2><p>When it comes to getting children to wear hearing devices, there are some common challenges. We know children take them off without parents' knowledge. Parents may choose not to have kids wear their devices during some activities. Other caregivers may not realize the importance of the devices and may fail to encourage or enforce wearing them. And, families sometimes just forget [2-3]. </p><p>Some of these factors are made worse by a lack of understanding of the developmental importance of consistent hearing device use. Hearing the sounds of speech and language during critical developmental periods supports brain development that will affect a child's long-term academic, social and professional success.</p><h2>Ears On Education to Help Families Manage Hearing Device Use</h2><p>Ears On starts with ensuring parents understand their child's individual hearing loss, including the speech sounds their child will miss without amplification and the impact it can have on language development. The intervention also seeks to show parents how much of a difference they can expect in hearing and language development with regular device use and to empower parents to believe they can establish consistent device use.</p><p>To meet these goals, Ears On methods include reviewing the results of the child's previous hearing assessments, using simulations of the child's hearing with and without hearing devices, presenting video examples of the language development of children with hearing losses similar to their child's and discussion of related topics. </p><p>Finally, to help parents improve their child's hearing device use, Ears On includes sessions that support parents in identifying and becoming confident in using strategies to address each of the barriers the family faces in establishing consistent device use. For examples, parents may learn strategies to encourage their child not to remove his or her devices or advocacy strategies to use with other caregivers. </p><h2>Ears On Program Evaluation</h2><p>Dr. Ambrose and her team tested Ears On with three parent-child pairs, with the three children being from 16 to 33 months old at the time of entry into the study. After Ears On, they found that all three improved in hearing aid compliance, with two them meeting the program goal of eight hours of average daily device use [2].  This study shows early promise for supporting parents and children by offering an intensive intervention focused on hearing device use. One of the keys to the success of the intervention was the individualization based on each family's needs. Additional work by the research team has included developing and validating a measure of parents' perceived beliefs, knowledge, confidence, and actions related to supporting their children's hearing device use and language development. This tool, which is available in <a href="" target="_blank">a recent article in the Journal of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention</a>, can help clinicians individualize their efforts to support families in increasing device use. </p><p>Boys Town National Research Hospital is recognized around the world as a leader in hearing and language research. </p><h2>References</h2><ol><li>Ambrose, S. E., Appenzeller, A., Al-Salim, S., & Kaiser, A. P. (2020). Effects of an intervention designed to increase toddlers' hearing aid use. <em>Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 25</em>(1), 55-67. doi:10.1093/deafed/enz032</li><li>Moeller, M. P., Hoover, B., Peterson, B., & Stelmachowicz, P. (2009). Consistency of hearing aid use in infants with early identified hearing loss. <em>American Journal of Audiology</em>, <em> </em>(1), 14–23. doi:1059-0889_2008_08-0010</li><li>Muñoz, K., Rusk, S. E. P., Nelson, L., Preston, E.,White, K. R., Barrett, T. S., & Twohig, M. P. (2016). Pediatric hearing aid management: Parent-reported needs for learning support. <em>Ear and Hearing</em>, 37(6), 703–709. doi:10.1097/AUD.0000000000000338</li></ol>
Researchers and Kids Work Together to Create Scientific Article on Hearing Research<img alt="girl with glasses" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> and Kids Work Together to Create Scientific Article on Hearing Research2020-10-09T05:00:00Z<p>Imagine if kids were offered the opportunity to give input and ask questions for a scientific journal. </p><p>Boys Town researchers Angela AuBuchon, Ph.D., and Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Director of Research, are doing just that in a similar manner with the publication <em>Frontiers for Young Minds</em>, which offers a unique approach to do this in a scientific journal that is aimed at young audiences. What makes it remarkable is that this journal emulates other peer-reviewed scientific publications, but with kids serving alongside scientist mentors as the editors and reviewers of submitted papers.</p><p>In their article, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>When Choosing NOT to Listen Helps You Hear and Learn</em></a><em>, </em>Dr. AuBuchon and Dr. McCreery explain the science of sound and perception related to their research. Kids learn that decibels (dB) are the scale that scientist use to quantify sound levels. They learn things about the anatomy inside the ear that turn sound waves into information signals that the brain understands, and they learn the parts of the brain that allow us to understand and pay attention to the sounds that matter to us.</p><p>The researchers also present a piece of data in the article that shows one area where science is helping to improve hearing experience for kids and adults with hearing loss. Our brains help us focus on someone speaking, as kids must do in the classroom, even when surrounding noises could distract from or distort the speaker. For children with hearing loss, it is harder to separate a speaker from a noisy background as is shown in their article. The figure itself, can be found in <a href="">the article</a>, and serves as an example for the reviewers and readers of how to present data in a quickly understandable visual summary.</p><p>To complete the article, kids review the submission with their own scientific mentors. The young reviewers asked their questions and offered suggestions to Dr. AuBuchon and Dr. McCreery in the same way that scientific peers would review papers in other journals. According to Dr. AuBuchon, “This is a really great opportunity for our researchers to work with the kids to create educational scientific content. They learn about the scientific process and we have the privilege to help develop the next generation of scientists that will continue the pursuit of new knowledge."</p><p>During the current COVID-19 pandemic, families in search of educational materials for home have also discovered this article, and the Frontiers for Young Minds journal. Dr. McCreery and Dr. AuBuchon have been contacted by some of these families and are happy to learn that they are using the content as an enrichment activity with their kids. This is exactly what we would hope for and it is possible because <a href="" target="_blank">the Frontiers for Young Minds article</a> is also open access, so anyone can read it!<br></p><p>Boys Town National Research Hospital is a global leader in hearing research and works extensively with children with a range of hearing needs. It regularly communicates technical findings through a variety of professional research and clinical publications. The hospital also works to provide educational content that is accessible to patients and families.​<br></p><h2>References<br></h2><ol><li>AuBuchon A. and McCreery R. (2020) When Choosing NOT to Listen Helps You Hear and Learn. Front. Young Minds. 8:104. doi: 10.3389/frym.2020.00104</li></ol><h2>Research Newsletter</h2><p>Please sign up to receive occasional research news and events emails from Boys Town National Research Hospital.</p><div align="center"> <a class="button is-primary" href="" target="_blank">Newsletter Sign-Up</a></div>
Shining a Light on Developmental Language Disorder<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> a Light on Developmental Language Disorder2020-10-07T05:00:00Z<p>​Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a highly prevalent neurodevelopmental condition that limits a person's ability to learn and use language. Despite the importance of spoken language for success in school, social settings, career and quality of life, there remains major obstacles in securing the quality and quantity of care needed to help children with DLD to reach their full potential.  </p><p>Considering its prevalence and impact, DLD is greatly under researched relative to other neurodevelopmental disorders, a situation that has not improved over the past decade. The number of children with DLD who receive clinical services also falls far short of prevalence estimates. In a recent article, Karla McGregor, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language and Learning at Boys Town Hospital, explores reasons for the relative neglect of DLD in research and clinical realms [1]. She maintains that increasing public awareness of DLD is a key step forward. </p><h2>DLD Awareness is an Ongoing Problem </h2><p>Despite being recognized and studied by speech-language experts for many years, Dr. McGregor points out that DLD remains an “unknown disorder". A lot of the confusion arises because of the large mix of terms used for DLD. If your child has been described as having a language delay, specific language impairment, expressive-receptive language disorder, speech-language impairment, or language learning disability they may have DLD. Organizations like Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder (RADLD) are working to implement more uniform terminology and a greater understanding of the settings and reasons why one might encounter one term or another. </p><p>Another problem with awareness, as Dr McGregor describes it, is that DLD is “a hidden disorder". Children with DLD often don't stand out as different. They “can carry on a basic conversation, follow a simple command, and answer a routine question [1]." Many children who are identified with DLD are diagnosed because they have a co-occurring condition such as a speech impairment, or a behavioral concern that is more noticeable than immature language patterns to adults. However, the consequences for academic success with DLD are often greater than those of co-occurring conditions. </p><h2>Improving DLD Care for Future Generations </h2><p>Progress will almost certainly accelerate if we can help parents and educators understand the critical importance of spoken language development to academic and social success and to alert them to potential signs of DLD. Speech-language researchers and clinicians must ensure that evidence-based information is accessible to educators, families and policy makers.  </p><p> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> is a website founded by a nation-wide panel of experts to help. provides brief, readable summaries of evidence on a range of topics related to DLD such as <em>Causes of DLD</em>, <em>Gender Differences in Language Development</em>, the <em>Difference between DLD and Autism</em>, and <em>Test Score Interpretation</em>. Since 2017, has organized <a href="" target="_blank">DLD Awareness Day</a>, including events and multi-media campaigns designed to improve awareness. </p><p>This year's DLD Awareness Day is Friday, October 16, 2020. Keep an eye out for news, information and events on twitter and Facebook by following the hashtags #DLDseeMe and #DLDandMe. </p><h2>References </h2><ol><li>McGregor, K. A. (2020) How We Fail Children with Developmental Language Disorder. <em>Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch</em>. 5; 1–12. doi: 10.1044/2020_LSHSS-20-00003. </li></ol><h2>Research Newsletter</h2><p>Please sign up to receive occasional research news and events emails from Boys Town National Research Hospital.</p><div align="center"> <a class="button is-primary" href="" target="_blank">Newsletter Sign-Up</a></div>
Boys Town Collaborates to Expand Diversity in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Town Collaborates to Expand Diversity in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology2020-10-06T05:00:00Z<p class="MsoNormalCxSpFirst">​Boys Town National Research Hospital is pleased to announce that we are supporting faculty at Hampton University and Case Western Reserve University in a program designed to improve minority representation in speech language pathology and audiology graduate programs, clinics, and research. </p><p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">The IMPACT (Innovative Mentoring and Professional Advancement through Cultural Training) Program is a 1-year program that will provide formal mentoring to students in communication sciences programs from underrepresented backgrounds. Mentorship will be provided by diverse faculty at research-intensive universities and hospitals to enhance practical learning opportunities through research training, communication skills development, and formal test preparation to improve the students’ readiness in graduate school.</p><p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">The overarching goal of the IMPACT Program, according to co-collaborators Jessica Sullivan, Ph.D. at Hampton University and Lauren Calandrucio, Ph.D., at Case Western Reserve University “is to begin to train the next generation of speech-language pathology and audiology leaders who encompass inclusion, diversity, and compassion.”</p><p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">Boys Town Hospital researchers, Monita Chatterjee, Ph.D. and Daniel Rasetshwane, Ph.D. will join students in September for a virtual “family dinner” where they will discuss their experiences as prominent scientists from underrepresented minority groups. On October 22, multiple investigators from Boys Town Hospital Research will be conducting virtual lab tours and providing an overview of what it’s like to be part of our research team.</p><p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Director of Research, and Lori Leibold, Ph.D., Director of Hearing Research, will be supporting IMPACT Program initiatives at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Dr. Leibold explains that “Boys Town Hospital is committed to promoting inclusion and diversity. The IMPACT Program will give students who are traditionally underrepresented in hearing and language sciences insight into their fields of interest and prepare them to join the next generation of researchers and clinicians. We are proud to be a part of this effort, which will serve as a model for similar local programs in the future, supported by the IMPACT Program team.”</p><p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">The IMPACT Program is funded by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.</p><h2>About Boys Town National Research Hospital</h2><p>Boys Town National Research Hospital offers a broad range of hospital and clinic services, backed by 40 years of life-changing research to provide the latest, most innovative care to our patients. The Hospital is internationally recognized as a leader in hearing research and clinical care and is leading research efforts in language and neuroscience to improve the lives of children and families across America.</p><h2>Research Newsletter</h2><p>Please sign up to receive occasional research news and events emails from Boys Town National Research Hospital.</p><div align="center"> <a class="button is-primary" href="" target="_blank">Newsletter Sign-Up</a></div>
Language Benefits of Hearing Aid Use are Significant in Fourth-Grade Children<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> Benefits of Hearing Aid Use are Significant in Fourth-Grade Children2020-09-08T05:00:00Z<p>​While it is not the only factor, the quality of our children's hearing plays a pivotal role in how well they understand speech and develop spoken language skills. However, there is some ambiguity when it comes to assessing and treating kids with mild, bilateral hearing loss. In these cases, there is not always a strong clinical opinion for early fitting or consistent wearing of hearing devices. This is partly because these kids do not always appear noticeably different from their classmates in every day conversation, or on language tests, so clinicians and families may take a “wait-and-see" approach to hearing devices.</p><p>Scientists at Boys Town National Research Hospital and the University of Iowa have been collaborating on a series of studies to see what the real benefits of consistently worn and early fit hearing aids are for kids, and especially those with mild hearing loss. As part of this collaboration, Elizabeth Walker, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, and others recently assessed both written and spoken language skills of fourth-grade children to identify the language risks associated with mild hearing loss [1].</p><p>In this study, the team compared 60 children with mild, bilateral hearing loss and 69 peers with typical hearing. All participants were tested the summer after fourth grade. Dr. Walker and her team found that kids with hearing loss had significant deficits in spoken language comprehension and understanding of morphology—the structural parts of words that indicate verb tense or plurality, such as  the word endings in “He is play<em>ing</em>" or “She walk<em>ed</em>" or “many cat<em>s"</em>. In contrast, vocabulary and reading were not significantly different between the kids with hearing loss and typical hearing.</p><p>The goal of this study was not just to see what the language differences were, but also to see how intervention with hearing aids affected these outcomes. Therefore, Dr. Walker's team also needed to know from caregivers how much the kids in the hearing loss group wore their hearing aids. Kids with milder hearing loss, whose caregivers reported more time wearing hearing aids, did better with comprehension of spoken language than kids with more severe hearing loss and/or lower hearing aid usage.</p><h2>What These Findings Tell Us</h2><p>Findings from this study show us that consistent hearing aid use is important for kids to reach their full language potential. Furthermore, waiting to see how kids with mild, bilateral hearing loss do before recommending hearing amplification could come at the cost of some language ability. This is something clinicians should emphasize to families of children with mild hearing loss. Along with educating families, clinicians should strongly consider early hearing testing and intervention for children with mild hearing loss.</p><h2>Related reading</h2><p>Last year, Ryan McCreery Ph.D., Director of Research at Boys Town Hospital, and co-authors published a paper titled, <em>Audibility-based hearing aid fitting criteria for children with mild bilateral hearing loss [2]</em>. That paper outlines a set of guidelines for assessing when children with mild, bilateral hearing loss should be fitted with hearing aids based on language outcomes. <a href="/news/checking-speech-audibility-importance-when-assessing-hearing-loss">Read more about that study</a>.</p><h2>References</h2><ol><li>Walker E. A., Sapp C., Dallapiazza M., Spratford M., et. al. (2020) Language and Reading Outcomes in Fourth-Grade Children With Mild Hearing Loss Compared to Age-Matched Hearing Peers. <em>Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch</em>. 51(1):17–28. <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. </li><li>McCreery R.W., Walker E.A., Stiles D.J., Spratford M., et. al. (2020) Audibility-based hearing aid fitting criteria for children with mild bilateral hearing loss. <em>Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch</em>.​ 51(1): 55–67. <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</li></ol><h2>Research Newsletter</h2><p>Please sign up to receive occasional research news and events emails from Boys Town National Research Hospital.</p><div align="center"> <a class="button is-primary" href="">Newsletter Sign-Up</a></div> ​<br>
Alcohol and Cannabis Use Alter Emotional Processing of Future Events<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> and Cannabis Use Alter Emotional Processing of Future Events2020-08-27T05:00:00Z<p>​​Alcohol and cannabis are two of the most commonly abused drugs, and early use puts kids at higher risk of long-term cannabis and alcohol use disorders. Because their brains are still developing, there are substantial concerns about the long-term impacts of substance use. At Boys Town National Research Hospital, we often work with kids with substance use issues and our neurobehavioral research team is working to provide clinicians with a better understand of the impacts of substance use on the brain.<br></p><p>While most people understand that our short-term judgement is impaired under the influence of alcohol or cannabis, there is also evidence that regular substance use leads to longer term impairment in judging good or bad outcomes. With this in mind, the neurobehavioral research team, led by Joseph Aloi, M.D., Ph.D. and James Blair, Ph.D. recently conducted a study of 112 adolescents, 14 to 18 years old.  Their goal was to determine the extent the teens' prior alcohol and cannabis use affected how their processing of possible future outcomes.<br></p><div class="is-clearfix"><div class="inline-image is-size-7"> <img src="" alt="brain activity" style="max-width:100%;" /> <p>Figure 1. Brain regions involved in responding to emotional outcomes that are less responsive in those with heavier prior cannabis use.</p></div><p style="margin-bottom:1rem;">The researchers found that severity of prior cannabis use, in particular, changed how the adolescent’s brains responded to high-intensity good, or high-intensity bad possible futures. This activity can be seen on brain scans in brain regions known to respond to emotional outcomes.<br></p><p>Representing emotional outcomes well is important. To live well, we need to act to avoid highly negative futures and work towards highly positive ones. The data from this study showed that cannabis use significantly impairs this ability.. </p><p>This problem also has implications for treatment. When someone comes in for treatment, one of the tools clinicians rely on is the person’s motivation to change drug use. A diminished capacity to imagine and and work towards a positive future identifies yet another difficulty faced by adolescents with a history of high cannabis use.​</p></div><p>One thing we don't yet know is how long these changes are. It will be important to determine the extent to which successful treatment, including the Boys Town model, reverses this difficulty. </p><h2>References</h2><ol><li>Aloi, J., Blair, K. S., Meffert, H., et. al. (2020) Alcohol use disorder and cannabis use disorder symptomatology in adolescents is associated with dysfunction in neural processing of future events. Addict Biol; epub ahead of print. <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </li></ol><h2>Research Newsletter</h2><p>Please sign up to receive occasional research news and events emails from Boys Town National Research Hospital.</p><div align="center"> <a class="button is-primary" href="">Newsletter Sign-Up</a></div> ​<br>