About L3@BC

The Language Learning Lab at Boston College (L3atBC) is focused on some of the deepest, thorniest questions in the cognitive sciences:

How is language learning possible when so many philosophical arguments suggest it shouldn't be?
Why do babies succeed at learning language, when animals, machines, and even adults fail?
What is the structure of language, and how does it relate to the structure of thought?
Why is there more than one human language?

This might seem an impossible challenge, given that greater minds than ours have already tried and failed to solve these questions. Our approach is to find new, powerful methods that can provide critical insight that prior researchers lacked. This includes conducting massive citizen science projects with 100,000s of subjects, using novel analytics, and utilizing new & emerging computational modeling techniques. We also aim to speed discovery by making extensive use of methods for open, robust, & reproducible science.


We have recently started working on intuitive physics as a domain for understanding the relationship between language learning and conceptual development.

Our Research

Current research projects include efforts to:

  • Measure and characterize critical periods in language [1] [2] [3]

  • Understand how/whether the structure of thought constrains the structure of language [1] [2] [3]

  • Better understand the role of unsupervised learning in early language acquisition [1]

  • Characterize "social intelligence" and its relationship to language understanding

  • Characterize how children come to understand the physical environment

Contact Us

For general information, feel free to contact the lab directly:

McGuinn Hall 524
140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(email) (617.552.4336)