Cochlear Implant Augmentation

  • Cochlear implant patient enjoys art class
  • Dr. Emily Tobey
  • Cochlear implant patient at summer camp

Project Overview

Young children who have reduced hearing often experience difficulty learning to communicate. These difficulties may be evident in their speech, language and reading abilities. One way teachers and clinicians help young children develop communication is to record a child’s speech and play it back to other listeners to determine how much they understand. As easy as this task may seem, it is a time-intensive endeavor and, therefore, often neglected in assessments. 

The purpose of this project is to develop computer-assistive techniques designed to record, edit and play samples of speech produced by young children in order for adult listeners to report back how much of the speech sample they understand. Outcomes from the project assist clinicians in determining what sounds are produced correctly and incorrectly, what types of sentences are the easiest and hardest to produce, and what techniques might facilitate better speech in people with reduced hearing.

Stage of Development

This project is funded by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. It is in the assessment and evaluation stage of development.

Development Team

The project is a collaboration among the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the Callier Center for Communication Disorders, Washington University Medical School, the University of Miami, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, the Johns Hopkins Medical Center and the House Research Institute. The investigators include:

Emily Tobey, PhD 

Tobey is the principal investigator and holds the Nelle C. Johnston Chair at UT Dallas. She has made some of the most important contributions concerning the longitudinal effects of cochlear implantation during her decades-long focus on speech production and oral language development in young people. Her work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other agencies since 1975, and she holds several active NIH grants. Her recent research has expanded to include the latest imaging techniques to study brain function and how it correlates to changes in adults' performance post-cochlear implantation.

Ann Geers, PhD

Geers is a developmental psychologist and research professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas. She has published more than 100 articles on the speech, language, cognitive and academic development of deaf children and has developed tests of speech perception, speech production, language and intelligence. Her current work focuses on children who receive cochlear implants in infancy.

Lisa Davidson, PhD

Davidson is an educational and clinical audiologist at the Central Institute of the Deaf in St. Louis. She has received multiple honors from the American Speech language and Hearing Association, including an Academic Research Career Award, the American Journal of Audiology Editor’s Award and Lessons to Success. She is interested in specifying perceptual and cognitive abilities in children with moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss.

Johanna Nicholas, PhD

Nicholas is the director of the Child Language Laboratory at the Central Institute of the Deaf at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. She is a developmental psychologist by training. The overarching goal of her laboratory is to understand the factors that lead to determining the best age for cochlear implant surgery in children with congenital severe-profound hearing loss.

Sishi Liu, MD, MS

Liu is a doctoral student in communication sciences and disorders at UT Dallas, and is a teaching assistant in the School of Brain and Behavior Science. She received her medical degree from Capital Medical University in China and her Master of Science in applied cognition and neuroscience from UT Dallas. 

Olga Peskova, MS

Olga Peskova is a doctoral student in the School of Behavior and Brain Sciences. She graduated from Russian State Pedagogical University and was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at UT Dallas, working in the Tobey lab. She has published several papers in Russia regarding family education of children with hearing loss.

Sujin Shin, MS

Shin is a certified speech-language pathologist in South Korea and is working toward a doctorate at UT Dallas. Shin worked with cochlear implant users for several years in South Korea. She is focusing her research on speech intelligibility in children with cochlear implants.