Language acquisition, processing and disorders

The ‘Language acquisition, processing and disorders’ research group is part of the four communities of the University’s strategic theme Dynamics of Youth. Members of the group study the following and related topics:

First language acquisition

First language acquisition by investigating the role of a broad range of factors and mechanisms in various aspects of children’s language development (e.g., vocabulary, syntax, pragmatics, prosody) spanning from the last trimester of pregnancy to late childhood across languages. These factors include but are not limited to  

  • Biologically motivated innate mechanisms such as the Biological Codes 
  • The interplay between children’s language development and development in social cognition and identity 
  • Learning mechanisms such as statistical learning, associative learning   
  • Frequency, salience and iconicity of form-meaning mappings in the input  
  • Input in the visual modality such as co-speech gestures 
  • Presence of language disorders  
  • Musicality 


Multilingualism by investigating and comparing different types of multilingual development across a range of settings: 

  • Simultaneous bilingualism  
  • (Early) second language acquisition in naturalistic settings 
  • Interaction between early bilingualism and foreign language learning in school settings (L3 acquisition) 
  • Multilingualism in the context of language disorders

Language and speech production and processing

Language and speech production and processing, by comparing further sets of speakers: 

  • Healthy speakers – speakers with language-related neurocognitive deficiencies (e.g., autism) 
  • Speakers with innate disorders (DLD, dyslexia)– speakers with acquired deficiencies (aphasia) 
  • Monolinguals – multilinguals
An overarching goal is to shed light on the set of general issues having to do with how language structure interacts with language acquisition and language processing, and how these interactions are embedded within and determined by domain-general cognitive processes and social mechanisms.

Group website 

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