“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 population.


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.

Contact Us

The Learning Lab for Kids with Implants (KiWI Lab)

9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm

Select what best describes your relationship to Gallaudet University so we can effectively route your email.
By submitting this form, I opt in to receive select information and deaf resources from Gallaudet University via email.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.