Perception, Language and Attention in Youth (PLAY) Lab

The newly-founded Perception, Language and Attention in Youth (PLAY) Lab's aim is to understand how early sensory experiences shape our visual, cognitive, and language abilities later in life. We study how deaf and hearing children learn through visual sign language, with the goal of understanding human cognition and learning more broadly. We compare behaviors and abilities of deaf and hearing people -- across all ages -- who use signed or spoken language.

Current Research Projects

NSF Research Traineeship

Dr. Bosworth is a member of the faculty team of the AWARE-AI NSF Research Traineeship Program. Graduate students from associated RIT Ph.D. and MS programs are invited to review information on how to apply and benefits for Trainees at our NSF Research Traineeship website. Women, Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, and African American, Latino/a American, or Native American students are especially encouraged to apply. A video describing the program in ASL is available here.

Earn Pay or Course Credit as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Lab

Undergraduate students can receive pay or course credit working on research projects in the SPaCE Center. The Center is made up of several labs, including deaf x lab, NTID PLAY Lab, PAW Lab, and RITE Lab. This opportunity provides exposure to a variety of methods used in psychological research, including behavioral experiments (measuring response time and accuracy), eye tracking, EEG, and observational studies. This is ideal for NTID or RIT students majoring in psychology, cognitive science, language sciences, or computer science. Graduate students are also encouraged to apply using this form. Click here to complete an online form to apply.

Participate in a Study

PLAY Lab director and assistant observing mother and baby playing in PLAY Lab

Find out more about
baby/child studies

Find out more about
parent/adult studies

Meet Our Team

Our Founder/Director

Rain Bosworth

Dr. Rain Bosworth is an assistant professor in Department of Liberal Studies at RIT/NTID. She is an experimental psychologist, studying development of perception and language in deaf and hearing children using eye-tracking at the newly-founded Perception, Language and Attention in Youth (PLAY) Lab. She got her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, studying visual motion processing and attention in deaf adults. She is currently investigating gaze behavior in infants and children while they watch stories in American Sign Language (ASL). The broad aim is to understand how early sensory input shapes perception, cognition, and language processing.

Our Research Team

Karen Putz water skiing and giving 'ILY' sign. Karen Putz is the Communications Coordinator for the SPaCE Center and PLAY Lab. Karen has a master’s degree in deaf rehabilitation counseling from Northern Illinois University. She is the founder and past President of Illinois Hands & Voices and A board member of New York Hands & Voices. She is also an adjunct instructor at RIT teaching a wellness course called “Finding your Passion.” Karen is the author of multiple books, including The Parenting Journey; Raising Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, Unwrapping Your Passion, and The Passionate Lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. For fun, Karen can be found water skiing on her bare feet.
Adrita Arefin holding baby Adrita Arefin is currently a first year grad student of the Human-Computer Interaction Masters Program at RIT. She graduated with a BS in Computer Engineering from RIT, and shortly after, she worked for the Department of Defense in Philadelphia as a Computer Engineer in the Cybersecurity Department. After working there for some time, she realized that she was missing the “human touch” in her career, and thus decided to combine psychology with technology. Adrita is proud mother of her 1 year old daughter Arya. This inspired her to learn more about how digital media and iPad technology impacts infants’ cognitive development.
Olivia Borkowski leaning on a wall with country vista behind her. Olivia Borkowski is a research assistant working in the NTID PLAY Lab. She will focus on sharing research findings with the local Deaf community and with local parents. She is currently a fourth year undergraduate student enrolled in the American Sign Language and Interpreting Education (ASLIE) program at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. NTID/RIT cultivates a rich research environment that peaked her interest. Olivia has a passion for the Deaf community, language, and a growing curiosity for STEM and psychological research. In her free time, Olivia can be found in the great outdoors enjoying some of her favorite activities like hiking, camping, and snowboarding.
Nicole Taboada leaning against railing with blue sky behind her. Nicole Taboada is a graduate research assistant working in the NTID PLAY Lab. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from UCLA in 2020 and is currently working toward a Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology at RIT. Living and working in academia has only further developed her strong passion for advocacy, research, and deaf education. She hopes to see more Deaf researchers in the coming years and is eager to play her part in reaching that goal. Outside of academia, you can find Nicole playing Tetris on her Nintendo Switch or hanging out with her (5 year old) puppy, Teddy.
Savannah Tellander is a graduate research assistant working in the NTID PLAY Lab and SPaCE Center. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from California State University, Northridge and is currently working towards a Master’s in Science degree in Experimental Psychology at RIT. She has formal training in interdisciplinary study of Social Science and Brain & Psychological Sciences from UCSB. She also has over 5 years of experience working in early childhood education, childcare, and psychological assessment with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing children–as well as experience serving d/Deaf adult populations in social service and academic settings. She is excited to integrate her social science experience with her studies, and become a Deaf STEMist! When her nose isn’t buried in research, Savannah can be found writing fiction, testing (and tweaking) recipes, and enjoying long nature walks.
Headshot of Nick Despins Nick Despins is a research assistant working in the NTID PLAY Lab. He is currently a fifth year undergraduate student enrolled in the Biomedical Engineering (B.S.) and Exercise Science (B.S.) programs at RIT. During his time here at RIT, gaining exposure to Deaf culture has been very fascinating for him and he is excited to apply his technical background to research that takes advantage of the unique opportunities that are offered at RIT/NTID. Outside of academics, Nick is president of the RIT Running and Multisport Club here at RIT and enjoys art and playing sports.

Join our Lab

We are recruiting postdocs, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates! Coming together from a wide variety of backgrounds, our team members are the backbone of PLAY Lab. Their ideas bring diverse ideas to help shape the direction and mission of our research. Read on to learn more about how you can get involved.

More information and how to apply

Open Positions

PhD Graduate Student in Cognitive Science Click here for more information

Our Collaborators

Matthew Dye, PhD
Director of the Space Center
Allison Fitch, PhD
Department of Psychology
Sarah Hughes, PhD
Institute for Applied Health Research
University of Birmingham


NTID PLAY Lab “Brainy Day, Science-as-Play" – Happening Oct 14, 2023!

The NTID PLAY Lab will host “Brainy Day, Science-as-Play” community event on Saturday, October 14, 2023 from 11 am to 1 pm at the Rochester School for the Deaf.

Families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children of all ages will participate in various fun activities, related to neuroscience and the brain. They will make brain hats out of paper, learn about neurons, toss a brain, and see their own brains in action with an EEG brain recording machine.

Families will have an opportunity to meet deaf scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester to encourage getting kids excited about science.

Last year, Brainy day was a great success. “Brainy Day was an engaging hands-on event—it was fun watching my son being able to connect with Deaf scientists,” said Byron Behm, parent of a deaf son.

Volunteer interpreters will be available at the day’s event.

The NTID PLAY Lab, directed by NTID faculty member Dr. Rain Bosworth, has several ongoing research projects for parents and their children on the topics of play, exploration, vision and language. To learn more about our studies, contact our lab here: Learn more about the affiliated Sensory, Perceptual, and Cognitive Ecology (SPaCE) Center here:


  • May 9, 2022

    mother and child reading a Sesame Street book.

    New lab studies cognitive development in children

    Rain Bosworth, an assistant professor and experimental psychologist at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, has created a new research lab that will help scientists learn more about cognition, language, and perception in infants and young children.

  • January 31, 2022

    student wearing sensors on her head adjusts a robotic arm.

    AI research collaboration begins

    Cecilia Alm, an associate professor in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, was awarded nearly $2 million by the National Science Foundation to lead a team of RIT faculty addressing a lack of diversity in the artificial intelligence research community and gaps in AI curricula.


Please also see my Google Scholar or ResearchGate profiles for PDFs.

Bosworth, R.G., Hwang S.O., & Corina, D.P. (2022). Visual Attention for Linguistic and Non-Linguistic Body Actions in Non-signing and Native Signing Children. Frontiers in Psychology, 4799. (video abstract)

Bosworth, R.G., Tyler, S.C., Binder, E.M. & Morford, J.P. (2021). Automaticity of lexical access in deaf and hearing bilinguals: Cross-linguistic evidence from the color Stroop task across five languages. Cognition, 212, 104659.   (video)

Bosworth, R.G. & Stone, A. (2021).  Rapid Development of Perceptual Gaze Control in Native Signing Infants and Children. Developmental Science, doi:10.1111/desc.13086.

Bosworth, R.G., Stone, A., & Hwang S.-O.  (2020).  Effects of Video Reversal on Gaze Patterns during Signed Narrative Comprehension, Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 25(3).  283–297. 

Bosworth, R.G., Wright, C.E., & Dobkins, K.R. (2019). Analysis of the visual spatiotemporal properties of American Sign Language. Vision Research, 164, 34-43.

Stone, A. & Bosworth, R.G. (2019) Exploring Infant Sensitivity to Visual Language using Eye Tracking and the Preferential Looking Paradigm.  Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), 147, e59581.

Stone, A., Petitto, L.A., & Bosworth, R.G. (2017). Visual sonority modulates infants’ attraction to sign language. Language Learning and Development, 14(2):130-148.

Blumenthal E., Bosworth R.G., & Dobkins K.R. (2013).  Fast Development of Global Motion Processing in Human Infants. Journal of Vision, 13(13) article 8.

Bosworth, R.G., Robbins, S.L., Granet, D.B. & Dobkins, K.R. (2013).  Delayed luminance and chromatic contrast sensitivity in infants with Retinopathy of Prematurity. Documenta Ophthalmologica, 127(1), 57-68. 

Bosworth, R.G., Petrich, J.A.F., & Dobkins, K.R. (2013). Effects of attention and laterality on motion and orientation discrimination in deaf signers. Brain & Cognition, 82(1), 117-126.

Bosworth, R.G. & Dobkins, K.R. (2013).  Effects of prematurity on the development of contrast sensitivity: Testing the visual experience hypothesis. Vision Research, 82(19), 31-41.

Bosworth, R.G., Petrich, J.A.F. & Dobkins K.R. (2012). Effects of spatial attention on motion discrimination are greater in the left than right visual field. Vision Research, 52(1), 11-19.

Bosworth, R.G. & Emmorey, K. (2010). Effects of iconicity and semantic relatedness on lexical access in American Sign Language. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 36(6), 1573-81.

Bosworth, R.G. & Dobkins, K.R. (2009).  Chromatic and luminance contrast sensitivity in fullterm and preterm infants.  Journal of Vision, 9(13), 15, 1-16.

Dobkins, K.R., Bosworth, R.G., & McCleery, J. (2009). Effects of gestational length, gender, postnatal age, and birth order on visual contrast sensitivity in infants.  Journal of Vision, 9(10), 19, 1-21.

Emmorey, K., Bosworth, R.G., & Kraljic, T. (2009). Visual feedback and self-monitoring of sign language.  Journal of Memory and Language, 61, 398-411.


The PLAY Lab is a critical resource in building a better understanding of how early sensory experiences shape our children’s visual, cognitive, and language abilities later in life. A major portion of our research focuses on the development and support of Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing children. While we are fortunate to have received support for our research, there is an ongoing need for general operating support of the Lab. Funding to maintain equipment, employ research assistants, support travel to conferences, and more, is critical in facilitating our work and in disseminating all that we will learn. If you are interested in supporting the PLAY Lab, please contact Bryan Hensel, NTID Office of External Affairs, at or at (585) 475-6222. Thank you for your generosity.

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