Johanna Grant Nicholas, PhD

Associate Professor

Nicholas Lab Website
Program in Audiology & Communication Sciences Website

Mailing Address:

Washington University School of Medicine
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
660 S. Euclid Ave.-Campus Box 8115
St. Louis, MO 63110

Research Interests: Pediatric Cochlear Implantation The Child Language Laboratory is dedicated to studying and improving the process of spoken language acquisition in young deaf children.

At the present time we are focused on two lines of research:
1) the effects of age of cochlear implantation surgery on spoken language development
2) the development of the pragmatic aspects of language, i.e., the social purposes of language.

As the FDA guidelines have lowered the acceptable age for cochlear implantation surgery in the United States, many surgeons and parents of deaf children have sought to have cochlear implant surgery performed at the earliest possible age. In order to determine whether this is, indeed, the best approach for the development of spoken language acquisition in severely profoundly deaf children, we have designed a series of studies which test the language development of early cochlear implant recipients at various ages to document progress and to compare that progress to children with the same level of hearing loss who wear hearing aids (instead of a cochlear implant) as well as to that of normally hearing children. In addition to scores on traditional tests of spoken language, we attempt to measure the ease and success of children in everyday spoken language conversations, such as those that might occur with family or with friends at school.

Most of the studies undertaken in our laboratory have involved large numbers of children from across the United States and Canada, with cooperation from dozens of cochlear implant centers and educational programs for deaf children. The majority of our work is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

For more information visit Dr. Nicholas' Lab


  • B.A. Psychology, U. of Northern Colorado (1980);
  • M.A. Psychology, U. of Northern Colorado (1982);
  • Ph.D. Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis (1990)

Selected Publications

  1. Geers AE, Nicholas JG, Tobey E, Davidson L. (in press). Persistent language delay versus late language emergence in children with early cochlear implantation. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. (accepted Mar 2015)

  2. Salas-Provance MB, Spencer L, Nicholas JG, Tobey E. Emergence of speech sounds between 7 and 24 months of cochlear implant use. Cochlear Implants International, 2014: 15: 222-229. PMC in progress. NIHMSID: 529061

  3. Davidson L, Geers A, Nicholas JG. The effects of audibility and novel word learning ability on vocabulary level in children with cochlear implants. Cochlear Implants International, 2014: 15: 211-221. PMC3938995.

  4. Geers AE, Davidson LS, Uchanski RM, Nicholas JG. Interdependence of linguistic and indexical speech perception skills in school-aged children with early cochlear implantation. Ear and Hearing, 2013: 34: 562-574. PMC3740036

  5. Nicholas JG, Geers AE. Spoken language benefits of extending cochlear implant candidacy below 12 months of age. Otology & Neurotology, 2013: 34: 532-538. PMC3600165

  6. Geers AE, Nicholas JG. Enduring advantages of early cochlear implantation for spoken language development. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 2013: 56: 543-643. PMC3654086

  7. Nicholas JG, Geers AE. Expected test scores for preschoolers with a cochlear implant who use spoken language. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 2008: 17: 121-138. PMC2515171

  8. Geers AE, Nicholas JG, & Moog JS. Estimating the influence of cochlear implantation in language development in children. Audiological Medicine, 2007: 5: 262-273. PMC3020793

  9. Nicholas JG, Geers AE. Will they catch up? The role of age at cochlear implantation in the spoken language development of children with severe-profound hearing loss. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 2007: 50: 1048-1062. PMC3020793

  10. Nicholas JG, Geers AE. Effects of early auditory experience on the spoken language of deaf children at 3 years of age. Ear and Hearing 2006: 27: 286-298.

  11. Nicholas JG, Geers AE. Effect of age of cochlear implantation in receptive and expressive spoken language in three-year-old deaf children. International Congress Series: Special Issue, Cochlear Implants. 2004: 1273C: 340-343.

  12. Geers AE, Brenner C, Nicholas JG, Tye-Murray N, & Tobey EA. Educational factors contributing to cochlear implant benefit in children. International Congress Series 2003: 1254: 307-312.

  13. Nicholas JG, Geers AE. Hearing status, language modality, and young children’s communicative and linguistic behavior. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 2003: 8: 422-437.

  14. Geers AE, Nicholas JG, Sedey AL. Language skills of children with early cochlear implantation. Ear and Hearing 2003: 24 (Suppl): 46-58.

  15. Nicholas JG, Geers AE. Personal, social, and family adjustment in school-aged children with a cochlear implant. Ear and Hearing 2003: 24 (Suppl): 69-81.