SPaCE – Sensory Perceptual and Cognitive Ecology

The Sensory, Perceptual, and Cognitive Ecology (SPaCE) Center is an active research center funded by grants from NIH and NSF. We study the sensory, perceptual and cognitive abilities of deaf individuals over the lifespan, from infancy to adulthood. Our guiding philosophy is that deaf individuals are not just passively transformed by their deafness; they also actively engage with and shape their environments.

SPaCE promotes transparent ("open") science in an accessible environment free from harassment and judgment that allows all individuals to achieve their learning goals and desired employment outcomes. We encourage all interested students, staff and faculty to engage with us and learn more about what we do.

We are hiring! The NTID SPaCE Center ( is hiring! We are looking for individuals to support cognitive research in several labs: Senior Research Assistant, Research Laboratory Technician, Student Research Assistants, Student Communications Assistant. Positions open until filled. Inquire to Dr Bosworth Click for more information.

NTID SPACE is able to assist individuals and organizations by providing test scoring for the ASL Sentence Reproduction Test (Hauser et al., 2008). Our scorers have received extensive training on both ASL-SRT administration and scoring from Prof. Peter Hauser and his colleagues. Our rates for the 2021-2022 academic year are as follows:

  • Federally sponsored research $60/test
  • Others $90/test

Please contact our Staff Assistant if you have questions.

Latest News

Drs. David Meek and Michael Skyer, and Research Scientist Maggie Donaldson, traveled to San Antonio, Texas to provide a poster presentation about their current research at the 2023 Association of College Educators – Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACE-DHH) conference.

Their research, The Intersection of Online Distance Education and Deaf Education: Perspectives from Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students and Educators, focuses on the potential benefits and harms of online education for deaf and hard-of-hearing students where American Sign Language and English are the primary languages of instruction.

Photo of woman and man standing on each side of man seated, with presentation board behind them.

The NTID PLAY Lab hosted the first ever “Brainy Day, Science-as-Play” community event at the Rochester School for the Deaf. Families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children participated in various fun activities, related to neuroscience and the brain.  They made brain hats out of paper, learn about neurons, squeeze squishie brains, and were able to see their own brains in action with an EEG brain recording machine.  

Families were able to meet deaf scientist Victoria Popov, who is a PhD candidate in Neuroscience at the University of Rochester.  “Brainy day allowed me to be humbled by interacting with families and children who are excited about the future of science,” said Victoria. 

“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.

Special thanks to the students from the NTID Master’s in Secondary Education (MSSE) who volunteered for the day’s event.  For them, the event was equally as fun to see the curious eyes and wide smiles from babies to teens.  “What an enjoyable challenge, to communicate with the little ones and watch their neurons light up as they learned to create one with beads & string,” said Eric Pollard, current MSSE student.

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:

The SPaCE Center is proud to share that two of its summer interns under the direction of Dr. Allison Fitch presented at the RIT Undergraduate Research Symposium on July 28, 2022. Ana Joyce presented a poster titled “Joint Attention in Deaf Children: Pathways to Language Acquisition.” Ana is a senior, majoring in individualized study with a concentration in fine art, from Colorado. She was awarded the NTID Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). Jay Hemby presented a poster titled “Communicative Behaviors During Storytime in ASL for Deaf and HoH Children.” Jay is a second-year psychology major from the Bronx, New York and is a McNair Scholar.

Matt Dye and Brennan Terhune-Cotter have a new paper accepted for publication in a special issue of Memory & Cognition on Exploration of Human Cognitive Universals and Human Cognitive Diversity. The paper is titled Development of Visual Sustained Attention and Response Inhibition in Deaf Children.

Several members of NTID SPACE will be presenting at this year’s TISLR14 conference, in Osaka, Japan. Starting us off will be Geo Kartheiser, who has a poster presentation on Impact of Sign Language Exposure and Cochlear Implantation on Spoken Language and Cognitive Function in Deaf College Students.

On Thursday will be Matt Dye, who alongside Aline Normoyle will be giving a talk on Open-Source Pipeline for Skeletal Modeling of Sign Language Utterances from 2D Video Sources.

On the Friday, Rain Bosworth will be presenting Native Signing vs. Sign-Naïve Children’s Perceptual Gaze Patterns for Linguistic and Non-Linguistic Body Actions, followed by Ali Fitch whose talk is titled The Relationship Between Joint Gaze, Object Manipulation, and Sustained Attention in Deaf Children acquiring ASL.


Dr. Michael E. Skyer was featured in print and online editions of Scientific American where he was interviewed about the rapid shift to online modalities in deaf education. Skyer suggests that ASL has changed and continues being changed concurrent with an unprecedented increase of deaf students who use online education modalities.

Dr. Michael Skyer, a senior lecturer in MSSE, has joined SPaCE as co-PI on a project to study deaf innovations in online deaf education motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Skyer will be joining Dr. Meek and Dr. Dye as part of a multidisciplinary team looking to uncover insights that will benefit future remote learners, both DHH and hearing.

NTID’s PLAY (Perception, Language, and Attention in Youth) Lab, which officially opened on the campus of Rochester School for the Deaf in January 2022, is providing parents and educators with valuable information about how deafness and sign language impact cognition. The goal is to improve the way deaf and hard-of-hearing children are taught. Learn More.

Eye-tracking studies show different eye-gaze patterns in babies with deaf, signing parents compared to babies with hearing, speaking parents. Learn More.

Dr. David Meek released an article titled, “Dinner Table Syndrome: A Phenomenological Study of Deaf Individuals’ Experiences with Inaccessible Communication.” He interviewed Deaf participants from hearing families about their experiences during family dinner gatherings.  This was made possible with the support of mentors from the PAH! Academic Writing Retreat.  This article can be found at the following link

Dr. Rain Bosworth, assistant professor in NTID Department of Liberal Studies and Adam Stone (NTID alumnus) recently published in the journal Developmental Science. A video abstract is available here. In their previous work published last year, they found that Deaf native adult signers have very “face-focused” gaze, unlike novice hearing signers who have more variable gaze patterns. This study is the first to measure natural gaze behavior of young hearing native signers while viewing signed narratives on video. Gaze behavior in hearing infants and children exposed to American Sign Language at home were compared to hearing non-signers whose caregivers used only spoken English. Remarkably, 5.5-month-old native signers who are hearing resemble native deaf adults in their focused gaze behavior. This provides evidence that sign language has very early impacts on perceptual development.

Bosworth, R.G. and Stone, A. (2021), Rapid Development of Perceptual Gaze Control in Hearing Native Signing Infants and Children. Developmental Science. Accepted Author Manuscript e13086.

The SPaCE Center is excited to welcome Ali Fitch, Ph.D. Ali recently joined the RIT Department of Psychology as assistant professor. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental & Brain Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and completed postdoctoral work at Boston University with Amy Lieberman and Sudha Arunachalam. Her research addresses the complex interaction between word learning and the development of visual attention in both signed and spoken languages. Specifically, she is interested in how young children acquire language outside of the prototypical joint attention framework.

August 12, 2019

We are pleased to welcome Dr. David Meek as a postdoctoral research fellow funded by the Rochester Postdoctoral Partnership program. Dr. Meek received his Ed.D. from Lamar University and his research in SPaCE will focus on “Dinner Table Syndrome” and the educational and cognitive benefits to deaf children of accessible communicative interactions at home and in school. Welcome, Dr. Meek!

July 1, 2019

On July 1, the SPaCE Center officially opened! Located in Rosica Hall suite 1140, SPaCE provides office, meeting and collaboration SPaCE for faculty, research staff and students. If you’re in the area, please stop by and introduce yourself.

April 30, 2019

Micron logo: the word Micron with tilted circle around the M

Dr. Matt Dye and Dr. Janine Butler are part of a team that received a $50,000 gift from Micron. They will use these funds to conduct focus groups and surveys with hard-of-hearing individuals to determine their perspectives on how AI technologies can positively transform their lives.


The SPaCE Center is offering course NDLS 285 which provides research experience to undergraduates.

Learn more and how to apply

Open Positions

The NTID SPaCE Center is always looking to grow. We are currently seeking applicants to fill several open positions.

Learn More

SPACE Cadets

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Dublin (Donaldson)
Personal Assistant to Research Scientist

Matthew Dye
Associate Professor
Allison Fitch
Assistant Professor
Emmanuel Garcia
Senior Research Assistant
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Jay Hemby
Undergraduate Research Assistant

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Tadhg Hicken
Research Assistant

Geo Kartheiser
Post Doctoral Scholar
David Meek
Visiting Assistant Professor
Kierstin Muroski
Assistant Professor
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Karen Putz
Laboratory Coordinator

Anna Zieba
Undergraduate Student


Matt Dye, PhD
SPaCE Center Director
Phone: 585-475-2252 (V)

Samara Maldonado
Staff Assistant
Phone: 347-263-8387 (V)