Rochester, Minnesota


The primary research interests of Douglas P. Sladen, Ph.D., include hearing loss and the use of prosthetic devices called cochlear implants to manage severe hearing loss. In addition, Dr. Sladen is interested in auditory development both in typical and disordered populations.

Dr. Sladen's research interests also include aural rehabilitation and how it benefits children and adults with hearing loss. Specifically, he is interested in how speech understanding ability can be improved through various forms of auditory training or communication strategies.

Focus areas

  • Cochlear implants. Cochlear implants are auditory prosthetics used for people who have severe hearing loss and do not get much benefit from hearing aids. Dr. Sladen studies speech perception abilities of children and adults in an effort to better understand the processes used for decoding speech in noise.
  • Auditory development. Auditory development includes measures of auditory abilities in newborns all the way through adolescence. He also examines how non-auditory factors, such as working memory and language, interact with speech understanding.
  • Aural rehabilitation. This includes any form of technology, behavior or training that may improve the communication abilities of a person who has hearing loss. Dr. Sladen's work has focused on studying the impact of auditory training and the use of Clear Speech for children and adults with cochlear implants.

Significance to patient care

Hearing loss is among the most disabling of all conditions. The sensory impairment has cascading effects that negatively impact speech and language development and create social isolation, despair and depression. Cochlear implants are an effective means of treating severe hearing loss, but the underlying reasons behind successful cochlear implants are still not fully understood.

Research by Dr. Sladen and his colleagues in their facility relates to successful outcomes for adults and children with cochlear implants. Currently, they are studying how children and adults with cochlear implants process speech in the presence in background noise. In addition, they are investigating methods to improve speech in noise understanding.


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