The DeVault Otologic Research Lab carries out basic and clinical research for the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at IU School of Medicine. Studies performed in this laboratory provide groundbreaking knowledge on speech perception and language development in children and have led to a better understanding of children’s adaptive behavior development and executive function.
The DeVault Otologic Research Lab is staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of research and teaching faculty and staff, including David Pisoni, PhD; William Kronenberger, PhD; Shirley Henning, MS; Allison Ditmars, BS, CCRP; Valerie Freeman, PhD; and Cynthia Hunter, PhD. The Principal Investigators in the DeVault Lab are currently collaborating with colleagues around the world at The Ohio State University, The University of Texas at Dallas, Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and Hannover Medical School in Germany.
Focus of Inquiry
The DeVault Lab research team investigates
- Why some children with cochlear implants have good executive functioning while others do not: One of the goals is to identify the processes that contribute to good executive functioning in order to develop treatments to help children whose executive functioning is at risk.
- How executive functioning is used by children with hearing aids or cochlear implants to help with language processing: By understanding the role of executive functioning in language development in children with hearing loss, new ways to improve language outcomes can be developed.
- How families of children with hearing loss who use cochlear implants or hearing aids can help these children develop executive functioning and language skills: These discoveries can help families support young children with hearing loss in gaining these important skills.
Findings by investigators of the DeVault Otologic Research Laboratory demonstrate that cochlear implants, while providing access to sound and the ability to develop speech and language for most users, do not provide the same benefit to all users, and the variability observed in speech perception and spoken language outcomes cannot be completely explained by device type, age of implantation or communication mode. For the past decade, the DeVault Lab has focused on finding an explanation for these observed individual differences.
Increasingly, evidence suggests that a period of auditory deprivation and the accompanying language delays may affect a range of neurocognitive processes, and that some children with cochlear implants are at elevated risk for having problems with executive functioning, the brain-based processes that are responsible for staying focused, controlling behavior, and achieving goals. Explore the DeVault Lab’s active grants and recent papers.
An early pioneer in the field of cochlear implant surgery, Richard Miyamoto, MD, FACS, FAAP, chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine from 1987 – 2014, was instrumental in the conception and establishment of the DeVault Otologic Research Laboratory. Under his leadership, a core group of multi-disciplinary researchers was assembled to study speech perception, speech production, and language development in children with cochlear implants. This group included Karen-Iler Kirk, PhD, Mary Jo Osberger, PhD, David Pisoni, PhD, and Mario Svirsky, PhD. Named for its principal early benefactor, Virgil T. DeVault, MD (1901 – 2000), a native Hoosier and alumnus of Indiana University (BS, 1927; MD, 1929), the DeVault Lab continues to be a leader in advanced multi-disciplinary research with children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing.
DeVault Lab Testing Materials
To further advance treatment and outcomes for children with cochlear implants, researchers in the DeVault Lab have developed several tests of language, behavior, neurocognitive functioning, and family functioning. These tests are available to researchers and clinical professionals with the proviso that proper citation be provided when results are reported. Copies of any publications that may result from use of these tests are also welcomed.