A baby smiles in the language lab

Language, Cognition and Expertise

About us

The research group includes:

  • Experts in language acquisition research (the Liverpool Language Lab), whose research goal is to determine how humans acquire language
  • Experts in the development of expertise in a range of complex cognitive skills including chess, scientific reasoning and engineering.
  • Experts in computational linguistics and bibliographic analysis, whose core activity is to develop and implement strategies that embrace both electronic and traditional information resources and address the needs of both research and learning.

Some key projects


As the Liverpool Language Lab, we are one third of the new ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (the ESRC LuCiD Centre). The Centre’s mission is to bring about a step change in our understanding of how children learn to communicate with language, and deliver the evidence base necessary to design effective interventions in early years education and healthcare.

The Language 0-5 Project is the largest-scale study of children’s language development in the UK. In December 2014, we began following 80 children from 6 months to 4 and a half years of age. By following children over a 4 year period, we hope to build a comprehensive picture of their language development from the very beginning right through to school.


Our goal is to understand the mechanisms underpinning the acquisition of expertise, in domains such as games, sports, science and engineering. We study different facets of expert behaviour (perception, learning, memory, decision making, emotions) using a variety of scientific methods (behavioural experiments, brain imaging, questionnaires, analysis of archival data and computational modelling).

Computational linguistics

The Cheshire digital library group develops next generation information retrieval technologies, including web search and related areas of text classification and text clustering, providing high-tech support for data preservation using advanced data management systems.

Computational modelling

We have extensive expertise in the creation and evaluation of computer simulations. Influential examples include:

  • MOSAIC, a model that simulates cross-linguistic variation in the developmental patterning of children’s early multi-word speech
  • CLASSIC/EPAM-VOC, a model that simulates developmental changes in children’s non-word repetition performance
  • CHREST, a general model of cognition
  • The Dual-Path model, a model of syntax acquisition/sentence production in different languages (e.g., English, Japanese, German)
  • AGT, a program that automatically generates scientific theories in psychology