Areas of Study


“How do children with access to degraded auditory information 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, so 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


Our research is conducted in a sound-shielded booth. We use a Tobii ProFusion eye tracking system
and video recording cameras to record child looking behaviors while learning new information. We
also examine the efficacy hearing assistive technologies, like remote microphones, in the lab space.


PI: Dr. Kristen Thornton, Assistant Professor

Collaborators Include:
Dr. Cassie Bosworth, Columbia University
Dr. Claire Buxton, Children’s National Hospital
Dr. Katie Faulkner, Oticon, Denmark
Dr. Jillian McCarthy, University of Tennessee

Current Projects

  1. Looking Behaviors During Novel Word Learning: This project is investigating the benefit of
    combined auditory-visual speech information for novel word learning among children with CIs and
    control populations.
  2. Development and Validation of the Pediatric CISR: This goal of this project is to create and
    validate the Pediatric version of the CISR – a robust counseling tool for parents and educators of
    children with CIs.


Current funding for the KiWI lab includes:

  • A Small Research Grant from the Spencer Foundation: Investigating Word Learning Strategy
    Differences in Children with Typical Hearing and Children with Cochlear Implants; $50,000; 2022-2025
  • An investigator-Initiated Research Grant from the Cochlear Corporation: Creation and Validation of
    the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Skills Review; $22,580; 2021-2023 – Drs. Cassandra Bosworth (Columbia)
    and Claire Buxton (Children’s National) are collaborators on this project.
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Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences

SLCC 3110

(202) 568-8766

(202) 651-5327

(202) 448-7144


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