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Virginia Valian

Ph.D., Northeastern University


Department of Psychology
Hunter College, Room 510 TH
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Tel: (212) 772-5557
Fax:(212) 650-3247

Link to The Valian Lab Webpage

Link to The Language Acquisition Research Center

Link to Tutorials for Change

Link to The Gender Equity Project

Current Areas of Research:

     Current research in my laboratory investigates two- and three-year-olds' knowledge and use of language, computational models, second language learning, cognitive and linguistic processing in bilinguals, the role of input in syntax acquisition, and gender differences in achievement.

First and second language acquisition

     In first language acquisition, my laboratory investigates the nature of children's early syntactic knowledge, using a variety of methods and a variety of languages.   We videotape and audiotape spontaneous speech, we ask children to imitate, comprehend, or act out sentences with different properties, and we analyze existing corpora.   In second language acquisition, we ask many of the same questions, sometimes using very similar tasks and sometimes using tasks that only adults can perform.

Gender equity

     In gender equity, we develop web-based tutorials using voice-over narration with slides.   We conduct research on who receives prizes and awards.   We develop numerous how-to brochures to help graduate students, post-docs, and faculty be successful in academia, with an emphasis on the social and natural sciences.

We welcome students and interns in our lab.   A willingness to work hard, consistently, reliably, and meticulously is the most important prerequisite.   To find out more about what we are looking for in students and interns, please visit our websites:,,

Selected Publications:

Valian, V.  (in press).  Determiners:  An empirical argument for innateness.  In Sanz, M., Laka, I., & Tanenhaus, M.  (Eds.).  Language down the garden path:  The cognitive and biological basis for linguistic structure.  New York:  Oxford University Press.

Valian, V.  (in press).  Null subjects.  In J. Lidz, W. Snyder, & Pater, J. (Eds.), Oxford handbook of developmental linguistics.  Oxford, UK:  Oxford University Press.

Valian, V., Solt, S., & Stewart, J.  (2009).  Abstract categories or limited-scope formulae?  The case of children's determiners.  Journal of Child Language, 36, 743-778.

Bencini, G. & Valian, V.  (2008).  Abstract syntactic priming in 3-year-olds.  Journal of Memory and Language, 59, 97-113.

Valian, V.  (2007).  Women in science – and elsewhere.  In S. J. Ceci & W. Williams (Eds.), Why aren't more women in science?  Top gender researchers debate the evidence (Ch. 1, pp 27-37).  Washington, DC:  American Psychological Association.

Valian, V.  (1998).  Why so slow?  The advancement of women.  Cambridge, MA:  M.I.T. Press.  (Paperback published 1999.)