Overview: “How do children learning spoken language, who don’t have access to optimal auditory input, learn new words?” This question guides the work in our lab. We work with kids to try to understand how they learn new information and what we can do to help them better learn new information. Currently, we know very little about word learning in children with hearing loss who use cochlear implants (CIs), specifically, children with CIs who show above average difficulty learning new words. We are currently investigating differences in word learning success and strategies, at the level of the individual. The goal of this work is to better explain the large discrepancy in individual differences in learning across this population.

Facilities: Our research is conducted in the lab, in a sound-shielded booth. We use eye tracking and video recording cameras to record where children are looking when they are learning new information. We also examine the efficacy hearing assistive technologies, like remote microphones, in the lab space.

People: Kristen Thornton, Ph.D., is the laboratory director

Collaborators: Dr. Jillian McCarthy

Graduate Students: Tehila Adler, Katrina Seville, Jennifer Weber

Selected Publications:

Hedrick, M., Thornton, K.E.T., Yeager, K.R., Plyler, P.N., Johnstone, P.M., Reilly, K., & Springer, C. (2020). The Use of Static and Dynamic Cues for Vowel Identification by Children Wearing Hearing Aids or Cochlear Implants. Ear & Hearing,41(1), 72-81.

Johnstone, P.M., Mills, K.E.T., Humphrey, E., Yeager, K.R., Jones, E., McElligott, K., Pierce, A., Agrawal, S., Duncan, C., & Little, J.P. (2018). Using microphone technology to improve speech perception in noise in children with cochlear implants. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 29(9), 814-825.