James Madison University

Laboratory for Auditory Perception in Children and Adults

Focus of Lab


Our lab focuses to study whether and how hearing loss affects the ability to use auditory cues for speech understanding differently in children and adults. The findings will inform researchers and clinicians which auditory cues are more accessible and important to individuals with hearing loss at a given age. Additionally, we seek approaches to compensate for the vital cues that are inaccessible to children and adults with hearing loss. The findings will provide insights for the design of sensory aids (e.g., hearing aids and cochlear implants) and auditory rehabilitation tools.

To fulfil our research goals, we conduct experiments in which participants perform listening tasks to identify target signals. Participants are individuals with normal hearing, or with hearing loss, or using cochlear implants. The signals involve natural speech, synthetic speech, and non-speech sounds presented in the presence or absence of various types of noise. With careful manipulations on physical properties (i.e., auditory cues) of signals and background noise, analysis of participants’ performance will provide answers to our research questions.

Personnel

  • Yingjiu Nie, Ph.D., Director
  • Taylor Arbogast (AuD dissertation)
  • Victoria (Tori) Whitney (AuD dissertation)
  • Harley Wheeler, Research/Teaching Assistant (AuD dissertation)
    • 2018 NIH T-35 training program participant at Boys Town National Research Hospital.
  • Diana Burke (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
  • Leanne Browning (AuD dissertation): Co-advising with Dr. Rout
    • Winner of the 2018 three-minute thesis (3MT) competition at JMU (2nd place)
  • Victoria Andre (AuD dissertation)

Alumni

  • Michael Morikawa, AuD (2018) (Audiologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital)
    • Dissertation: Melodic contour identification and speech recognition by school-aged children
  • Alexandria Matz, AuD (2018) (Audiologist at Eastern Virginia Medical School)
    • Dissertation: The build-up of auditory stream segregation in adult cochlear implant users: Effect of differences in frequency and amplitude-modulation rate
  • Sarah Troy, BS in CSD (2017) & Lindsey Seyfried, BS in CSD (2017)
    • Honors Project: Effects of age, timbre, pitch contour, and background noise on melodic contour identification and sentence recognition by children
  • Alexandra Short, AuD (2017)
  • Harley Wheeler, BS in CSD (2016)
    • Honors Thesis: Build-up effect of auditory stream segregation using amplitude-modulated narrowband noise
  • Abigail Compton, BS in CSD (2016)
  • Mary Shannon Carroll, BS in CSD (2015)
  • Caleb Harrington, BS in CSD (2015)
  • Mick Blackwell, BS in Engineering (2015)

Current Projects


* denotes student coauthor

Differential effect of amplitude modulation interference across speech frequency regions in adults and children with normal hearing and hearing loss

This project has been supported by the Teaching/Research Grant from the College of Health and Behavioral Studies. Portions of the results have been presented at the following two scholar meetings in 2015.

  • Nie, Y., Wheeler*, H., Short*, A., and Harrington*, C. (2015). Relative weight of temporal envelopes across speech frequency regions for speech intelligibility in hearing-impaired listeners and cochlear implant users. 169th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, May 18-22. Pittsburg, PA
  • Nie, Y., Short*, A., Wheeler*, H., and Harrington*, C. (2015). Relative weight of temporal envelope for speech perception across speech frequency regions in children and adults. 2015 Association for Research in Otolaryngology MidWinter Meeting, February 21-25, Baltimore, Maryland.

The attentional effect on the build-up of stream segregation in cochlear implant users

This project has been supported by the Teaching/Research Grant from the College of Health and Behavioral Studies. A paper was published at Frontiers in Psychology in 2015. An AuD student and an Honors student have completed  their dissertation and thesis in this area. Both students have presented their work at regional and national scholarly conferences.

  • Matz*, A. and Nie, Y. (2016, October). The build-up of auditory stream segregation in adult cochlear implant users: Effect of differences in frequency and amplitude-modulation rate. Poster presentation at The Ruth Symposium in Audiology and Hearing Science. Harrisonburg,
  • Wheeler*, H., Nie, Y., and Matz*, A. (2016, March). Build-up Effect of Auditory Stream Segregation Using Amplitude-Modulated Narrowband Noise. Poster presentation at the American Auditory Society 2016 Scientific & Technology Meeting. Scottsdale, AZ.
  • Wheeler, H.J., Nie Y (2016) Build-up Effect of Auditory Stream Segregation Using Amplitude-Modulated Narrowband Noise. In: Communication Sciences and Disorders, vol. Senior Honors  Harrisonburg: James Madison University. commons.lib.jmu.edu/honors201019/216/

Psychophysical mechanisms underlying reduced temporal masking release in hearing-impaired listeners and cochlear implant users

A manuscript analyzing and discussing a portion of the results has been submitted.

  • Nie, Y., Davies-Venn, E., Nelson, P., Svec, A., Detection of frequency-glides in gated and steady noise by listeners with normal hearing and hearing impairment (submitted).

Recent Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications

* denotes student coauthor

  • Nie, Y., Galvin (Jr III), J., Morikawa*, M., Andre*, V., Wheeler*, H., and Fu, QJ. (2018). Music and speech perception in children using sung speech. Trends In Hearing, 22, 1-16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/2331216518766810.
  • Sladen, D. P., Nie, Y., & Berg, K. (2018). Investigating speech recognition and listening effort with different device configurations in adult cochlear implant users. Cochlear Implants International, 19(3), 119-130. doi: 10.1080/14670100.2018.1424513
  • Nie, Y. & Nelson P.B. (2015). Auditory stream segregation using amplitude modulated bandpass noise. Frontiers in Psychology. 6:1151. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg. 2015.01151
  • Nie, Y., Zhang, Y., & Nelson, P. B. (2014). Auditory stream segregation using bandpass noises: evidence from event-related potentials. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2014.00277.
  • Jin, S., Nie, Y., and Nelson, P. (2013) Masking release and modulation interference in cochlear implant and simulation listeners. American Journal of Audiology, 22(1), 135-146.

Opportunities to Participate in Our Research


If you are interested in participating in our studies, please send email to either nieyx@jmu.edu or auditory.jmu@gmail.com. Alternatively, you can leave a voice message at 540-999-5221. If you meet the criteria, we will compensate your time for $10-12/hour and provide free parking during your participation. Currently, we are looking for the following two groups of volunteers to listen to some beeps, melodies, or utterances.

    • Children between ages 7 and 18 with either normal hearing or cochlear implants.
    • Adults (age 18 or older) using cochlear implants on one or both sides.