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Participate in Research

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Explore Our Current Studies for Children and Adults

​​​​​For more than 40 years, Boys Town National Research Hospital has been translating research into premier clinical care. Our studies in neurological and behavioral health, hearing and language development are improving the care provided to children, adults and communities in Omaha and around the country.

Current studies are recruiting for all ages and include in-person and virtual opportunities. Participants will be compensated for their time.

Neurological Imaging and Neurobehavioral

  • ​Principal Investigator: Gaelle Doucet, P.D.

    The purpose of this study is to use brain imaging and cognitive information to understand how changes in the brain are related to thinking and memory abilities as we age and how this can vary from person to person. The participants will be asked to fill out questionnaires, play computer games and have a free brain MRI scan.

    • Who: Healthy Adults
    • Age: 19-88 years
    • Compensation: $50 (cash or Amazon eGift card
    • Time: A total of 4 hours organized in 1 to 2 visits.
    • VisitType: In-person
    • Location: Boys Town Campus
    • Requirements: Participants must not have any metal in the body or have been diagnosed with a neurologic or psychiatric disorder.

    Contact: 531-355-8914 or BRAIC.lab@boystown.org
    Sign-up: https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/brain-architecture-imaging-cognition/participate

  • ​Principal Investigator: Gaelle Doucet, Ph.D.

    The aim of this study is to use brain functional imaging results to understand the brain changes related to puberty and how they can lead to the onset of psychiatric disorders. Participants will be asked to fill out questionnaires, play computer games, and have a free brain MRI scan.

    • Who: Healthy Teens and Young Adults
    • Age: 12-25 years
    • Compensation: $50 (cash or Amazon eGift card)
    • Time: A total of 4 hours organized into 1-2 visits
    • VisitType: In-person
    • Location: Boys Town Campus
    • Requirements: Participants must not have any metal in the body or have been diagnosed with a neurologic or psychiatric disorder.

    Contact: 531-355-8914 or BRAIC.lab@boystown.org
    Sign-up: https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/brain-architecture-imaging-cognition/participate

  • Principal Investigator: Max Kurz, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to see how successful gait therapy (physical therapy focused on improving walking) is for individuals with cerebral palsy. Participants will utilize traditional therapeutic techniques or training with a robotic exoskeleton. Results from the therapy may differ between individuals, so the study will also look at how the brain works in order to better understand those differences. Adults who do not have cerebral palsy will be used as a comparison group.

    • Who: Children and adults with and without cerebral palsy  
    • Age: 11-30 years 
    • Compensation: Participants without cerebral palsy: $50 per baseline assessment visit – baseline assessment total up to $150; Participants with cerebral palsy: $50 per baseline assessment visit – baseline assessment total up to $300 (if baseline assessment completed before and after gait therapy/outcome assessment)
    • Tasks
      • MEG scan (1.5 hours): MEG is a type of neuroimaging that is non-invasive, completely silent and safe. It lets us see the activity of the brain. During the assessment, we would have you/your child play a few games while we scan their brain.
      • MRI Scan (1 hour): MRI is another non-invasive and safe scan that takes pictures of the brain. During the scan you/your child can sleep or watch a movie.
      • Clinical tests of spinal cord and mobility.
      • 8 weeks of free physical therapy (CP participants).
    • Time:
      • Baseline assessment: 3 visits, 1.5 to 2 hours per visit 
      • Outcome (results) assessment (if applicable): 3 visits, 1.5 to 2 hours per visit 
      • Gait therapy: 3 sessions per week for 8 weeks, 45 minutes per session
    • Visit Type: In-person  
    • Location: Boys Town Campus 
    • Requirements: Participants with cerebral palsy cannot have had orthopedic surgery within the past six months, and they must have some ability to walk with or without assistance. Participants who do not have cerebral palsy cannot have other developmental conditions, such as autism, Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, etc. All participants cannot have any non-removeable metal in their body. 

    Contact: 531-355-8951; Max.Kurz@boystown.org; Sarah.Baker@boystown.org; SarahJane.Walker@boystown.org

  • Principal Investigator: Max Kurz, Ph.D.​

    The purpose of this study is to examine how adults with Down syndrome age. Participants will do simple visual and tactile tasks in a non-invasive magnetoencephalography (MEG) imaging instrument and undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan during which they can sleep or watch a movie. A neuropsychological assessment involving a few questions and games will be conducted with Down syndrome participants.

    • Who: Adults with and without Down syndrome
    • Age: 19-45 years
    • Compensation: $50 Amazon eGift Card, per visit
    • Time:
      • Adults without Down syndrome: 2 visits (1 MEG - 1.5 hours; 1 MRI - 1 hour)
      • Adults with Down syndrome: 3 visits (1 MEG - 1.5 hours; 1 MRI - 1 hour; 1 Neuropsychological assessment - 1.5 hours)
    • Visit Type: In-person
    • Location: Boys Town Campus
    • Requirements: Participants cannot have an additional neurological/psychological diagnosis, such as dementia. No metal components in the head or mouth (braces, permanent retainers, etc.).

    Contact: Max.Kurz@boystown.org; Hannah.Bergwell@boystown.org

  • Principal Investigator: Tony Wilson, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to understand how the healthy brain matures and how hormones influence this development. As children mature into adolescence and adulthood, both their brains and cognitive abilities change dramatically. This study aims to identify those changes using non-invasive brain scans, neuropsychological and cognitive assessments, and saliva samples. Participants will receive a printed picture of their brain.

    Study details/Visit: https://diconlab.org/devmind/

    • Who:  Healthy Children
    • Age: 6-8 years; 11-13 years  
    • Compensation: Yes, Contact Michaela Frenzel for more information. 
    • Time: 2.5 to 3 hours per visit (Two visits per year for five years.)  
    • Visit Type: In-person 
    • Location: Institute for Human Neuroscience - Boys Town Campus
    • Requirements: Children who are willing to participate every year for five years and have never been diagnosed with a psychiatric or neurological disorder.

    Contact: 531-355-8920
    Visit: https://diconlab.org/devmind

  • Principal Investigator: Tony Wilson, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to measure the effects of aging on brain activity and to use a therapeutic technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Participants will have electrodes placed on their heads while completing a numbering ordering task, then they will undergo a non-invasive magnetoencephalography (MEG) scan while performing visual and attention tasks.

    Study details: https://diconlab.org/projects/

    • Who: Right-handed adults
    • Age: 19-35 years; 55-72 years
    • Compensation: $80 per visit (3 visits)
    • Time: 2.5 hours per visit
    • Visit Type: In-person
    • Location: Institute for Human Neuroscience - Boys Town Campus
    • Requirements: Participants must be right-handed, with no history of substance abuse or dependence.

    Contact: 531-355-8920;
    Visit: https://diconlab.org/participate/

  • Principal Investigator: Tony Wilson, Ph.D.​

    The purpose of this study is to investigate how HIV affects brain activity, cognitive functioning and aging in people who have HIV as compared to those who do not. Non-invasive brain imaging instruments will be used, and participants will complete a variety of mental activities.

    Study details: https://diconlab.org/projects/

    • Who: Adults with HIV and Adults without HIV 
    • Age: 19-78 years 
    • Compensation: $75 per visit
    • Time: 3 hours per visit  (3 visits)
    • Visit Type: In-person 
    • Location: Institute for Human Neuroscience - Boys Town Campus
    • Requirements: Have not had a stroke or been diagnosed with any neurological or psychiatric disorders; Able to complete a series of mental tasks; Are not pregnant.

    Contact: 531-355-8913; Rebecca.Losh@boystown.org
    Visit: https://diconlab.org/participate/

  • Principal Investigator: Tony Wilson, Ph.D.​

    The purpose of this study is to investigate how chronic cannabis use affects brain activity and cognitive functioning differently in people who are living with HIV compared to those who are not living with HIV. Non-invasive brain imaging instruments will be used, and participants will complete a variety of mental activities.

    Study details: https://diconlab.org/projects/

    • Who: Adults who Regularly use Cannabis
    • Age: 19-60 years
    • Compensation: $75 per visit
    • Time: 3 hours per visit  (3 visits)
    • Visit Type: In-person
    • Location: Institute for Human Neuroscience - Boys Town Campus
    • Requirements: Have not had a stroke or been diagnosed with any neurological or psychiatric disorders; Are able to complete a series of mental tasks; Are not pregnant; Regularly use cannabis.

    Contact: 531-355-8913; Rebecca.Losh@boystown.org; Hannah.Okelberry@boystown.org
    Visit: https://diconlab.org/participate/

Hearing

  • ​Principal Investigator: Ellen Peng, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to investigate how children locate sounds and understand speech in everyday indoor environments. This is done by using virtual reality in the lab.

    • Who: Children and adults with Normal Hearing
    • Ages: 7-30 years
    • Compensation: $15/hour
    • Tasks: A total of 1-2 visits for each study, each visit lasting 2-2.5 hours.
    • Visit Type: Mostly In-Person; Some components may be Virtual
    • Location: Boys Town East Hospital Campus
    • Requirements: Participants must be fluent in English-speaking (not necessarily native English speaker) who are typically developing. Participants cannot have a diagnosed developmental disability including Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down Syndrome.

    Contact: funlab@boystown.org

    Sign Up

  • ​Principal Investigator: Kristen Janky, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to find out how young children perform on a test of inner ear balance function. This is important to develop age-related normative values to be used in the clinic.

    • Who: Typically Developing Children
    • Ages: 6 months to 4 years
    • Compensation: $20 gift card
    • Tasks: Parents will complete a questionnaire on their child’s communication, motor skills, and personal and social development. Children will take a middle ear function test, known as tympanometry. During the test, a small probe will be placed in your child’s ear to measure ear drum movement. Additionally, to test the inner ear balance function we will use a rotary chair where your child will sit in your lap, in a car seat or a booster seat. Your child will wear sticker electrodes next to his/her eyes or video goggles to record eye movements. The rotary chair will move gently back and forth and is in a fully enclosed space. For more information, watch this video.
    • Time: A total of 1 visit lasting 1 hour.
    • Visit Type: In-Person
    • Location: Boys Town East Hospital Campus
    • Requirements: Participants cannot have known hearing loss, imbalance/dizziness and/or neurologic concerns.

    Contact: VestibularAndBalanceLab@boystown.org

  • ​Principal Investigator: Kristen Janky, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to investigate how inner ear balance function affects reading. This is important to determine whether children with a loss of inner ear balance function are at a risk for reading difficulties which may impact school performance.

    • Who: Children with Cochlear Implants or Normal Hearing
    • Ages: Ages 8-14
    • Compensation: $20 per hour
    • Tasks: : This study involves two visits. At the first visit, we will ask your child to complete reading, memory, and problem-solving tests followed by a hearing test. In the second visit, we will complete balance function tests and tests of visual acuity using eye tracking. For more information, watch this video.
    • Time: A total of 2 visits, each visit lasting 2.5 hours.
    • Visit Type: In-Person
    • Location: Boys Town East Hospital Campus
    • Requirements: Participants cannot have imbalance/dizziness, neurologic concerns, or active middle ear infection.

    Contact: VestibularAndBalanceLab@boystown.org

  • ​Principal Investigator: Aryn Kamerer, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to help us understand hearing loss and develop new tests for hearing. Participants will complete a hearing test, surveys, listening tasks and short memory tasks.

    • Who: Adults with no history of hearing aid use
    • Ages: 19-55
    • Compensation: $20/hour (cash or Amazon eGift card)
    • VisitType: In-person
    • Location: Boys Town Medical Campus – Downtown
    • Requirements: Participants must have no history of hearing aid use, no colorblindness and normal or mild hearing loss.

    Contact: auditory.processing@boystown.org or 531-355-6373
    Sign-up: https://hearingcomplaints.timetap.com/

  • Principal Investigator: Adam Bosen, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to identify the auditory and cognitive factors that determine speech understanding ability in individuals with cochlear implants. Participants will listen to speech in clear or degraded listening conditions and then repeat back what they hear. In addition, participants will complete a variety of cognitive and listening tasks to assess memory and hearing sensitivity.  

    • Who: Adults with cochlear implants or normal hearing  
    • Age:
      • 19-29 years (adults with normal hearing)  
      • 19-80 years (adults with cochlear implants who were deafened during adulthood) 
    • Compensation: $15 per hour (in-person), $15 Amazon eGift Card for each hour (virtual)  
    • Time: 1 to 3 hours per session  
    • Visit Type: Virtual and In-person
    • Requirements:  

    Contact: Adam.Bosen@boystown.org  

  • Principal Investigator: Ryan McCreery, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to identify and understand what type of intervention can help children better understand in noisy environments, such as classrooms. Participants will be asked to repeat words and sentences in quiet and noisy situations and play memory and attention games. Hearing tests will be given to those who have not had one in the past six months.

    Study details

    • Who: Children with or without hearing loss
    • Age: 6-12 years
    • Compensation: $15 per hour (cash or Amazon gift card)
    • Time: 3 to 4 hours total (1 to 2 visits)
    • Visit Type: In-person
    • Location: Boys Town Medical Campus – Downtown
      Requirements: Children with hearing loss who have permanent mild to severe hearing loss in both ears (hearing aids not required), no diagnosis of cognitive delay and English as their primary language.

    Contact: 531-355-6533; apclab@boystown.org

  • Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham

    Purpose/Overview: The goals of this study are to understand how a child's brain works during attention, memory, and language tasks, and whether hearing loss affects how these processes occur in the brain.

    Tasks: Participants will complete noninvasive imaging with magnetoencephalography (MEG) during a series of cognitive and language tasks, MRI, neurobehavioral testing, and an audiogram.

    • Who: Children with and without hearing loss
    • Age: 7-15 years
    • Compensation: Up to $170
    • Time: 3-4 visits of 1​-3 hours each
    • Visit Type: In-person
    • Location: Boys Town Campus
    • Requirements: Children with bilateral mild-to-severe hearing loss who wear hearing aids and children without hearing loss.

    Contact: 531-355-8937; CASI.Lab@boystown.org

  • Principal Investigator: Kaylah Lalonde, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to learn how children use visual cues on a talker's face (i.e., lip reading) to help understand speech in noisy backgrounds. Participants will complete vision, hearing and language tests.

    Study details

    • Who: Children and adults with typical development 
    • Age: 5-15 years; 19-29 years 
    • Compensation: $15 per hour 
    • Time: 1 to 4 hours, broken up into multiple sessions, as needed.
    • Visit Type: In-person 
    • Location: Boys Town Medical Campus - Downtown 
    • Requirements: Individuals must have normal hearing, normal vision (with or without glasses) and must have English as their first language.

    Contact: 531-355-6664; btnrh-avspeechlab@boystown.org

Speech/Language/Reading​

  • Principal Investigator: Angela AuBuchon, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to understand how early experiences with listening may relate to later skills that support reading and memory. Children and teens will be asked to play a game of computerized whack-a-mole. They will then be given sequences of the “mole hole" locations to remember. 

    • Who: Children and teens who have a cochlear implants and are native English speakers
    • Age: 7-15 years
    • Compensation: $15/hour and mileage (if over 50 miles)
    • Time: 1 visit of 1 hour and 30 minutes
    • VisitType: In-person
    • Location: Boys Town Medical Campus – Downtown (testing on Boys Town Campus may be accommodated)
    • Requirements: Children should be 7 – 15 years old. They should be native speakers of English who use spoken English as their primary mode of communication. They should be cochlear implant users who experienced severe to profound hearing loss before 1 year of age. Children should have normal or corrected to normal vision (including red/green colorblindness).

    Contact: btnrh-wmll@boystown.org

  • Principal Investigator: Katherine Gordon, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to identify teaching strategies that help children learn and remember school-based vocabulary. Guided by a researcher, participants will play word-learning games and through participation have the potential to add school-based words to their vocabulary.

    Study details

    • Who: Children with delayed language development  
    • Age: 4-6 years; 7-10 years 
    • Compensation: $10-15/hour, total up to $215-$220 (Amazon eGift Card)  
    • Time:
      • Qualification/eligibility visit: 1.5 hours
      • Two pre-training sessions: 30 minutes each 
      • Sixteen training visits: 15 minutes each 
      • Two post-test visits: 30 minutes each 
    • Visit Type: Virtual  
    • Requirements: Parental concern of lower language/vocabulary skills than same age peers or diagnosis of language delay/disorder; Normal hearing, no diagnosis of neurological conditions or intellectual disabilities. 

    Contact: 531-355-5006; Stephanie.Uglow@boystown.org

  • Principal Investigator: Anastasia Kerr-German, Ph.D.

    The purpose of this study is to understand how toddlers and young children learn about the world around them, how they make decisions based on what they look at and how their brain processes that information.

    • Who: Children with normal development or developmental concerns - normal hearing or using amplification 
    • Age: 2-5 years; 6-8 years 
    • Compensation: $25, toy, stickers and snacks (in-person), $25 Amazon eGift Card (virtual) 
    • Time: 
      • Ages 2-5 – 1 visit (1 hour)
      • Ages 6-8 – 2 visits (First Visit 1 hour, Second Visit approximately 45 minutes) 
    • Visit Type: In-person and Virtual
      • 2-5 age group: In-person 
      • 6-8 age group: One in-person visit and one virtual visit 
    • Location: Virtual and Boys Town Medical Campus – Downtown 
    • Requirements: For ages 2-5, typically developing with no diagnosis that would hinder understanding of instructions/tasks. For ages 6-8, no diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Tourette's or consistent seizures.    

    Contact: 531-355-5093; Bearlab@boystown.org

If you would like researchers to contact you when you are a good match for a research study, go to our Participate in Hearing and Communication Research page to be added to our research recruitment volunteer database. When you are contacted, the researcher will explain the study and you may decide if you want to participate.

Sign Up for Our Research Participant Databases

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Free Online Hearing and Language Screenings (Ages 3-18)

Are you concerned about your child’s talking, listening, reading or writing skills?

Childhood language problems are common, but they often go unrecognized. Finding out about struggles with spoken language as early as possible is important. Additionally, good hearing is important in development of language skills. If your child is 3-18 years old and you have concerns, your child may benefit from a free online language and hearing screening with us.