UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Prof Chris Donlan

Prof Chris Donlan



Chandler House
2 Wakefield Street,


  • Professor of Psychology and Language Sciences
    Language & Cognition
    Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences

Joined UCL


Specific Language Impairments (SLI) in childhood affect around 7% of the population, and provide a test case for developmental theories. The concept of SLI entails modularity, presenting a major challenge to neuroconstructivist approaches to development. By examining the extent to which SLI inhibits cognitive development in non-linguistic domains we can extend the evidence base for competing theoretical accounts. Recent work (e.g. Donlan et al.2007) showed that SLI exposes independence in development between language-dependent procedural skills (rote-counting) and higher-level conceptual understanding (application of arithmetic principles). This has practical as well as theoretical implications, motivating specific educational interventions. It also sets an agenda for further work exploring neural substrates and factors affecting their variability Work in progress in collaboration with Professor Cathy Price and Dr Michael Thomas explores long term developmental trajectories in SLI. Behavioural analyis of single cases suggest divergent long-term developmental profiles of functional language and phonological sysgtems which may be identifiable through fMRI. Donlan, C., Cowan, R., Newton E. Lloyd, D. (2007) The role of language in mathematical development: evidence from children with specific language impairment. Cognition, 103, 23-33.

Award year Qualification Institution
1993 PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
University of Manchester
1979 MSc
Master of Science
Human Communication
University of London
1975 PGCE
Postgraduate Certificate in Education
Training Teachers - Specialist
Leeds Polytechnic
1969 BA
Bachelor of Arts
Classics and English
University of Cambridge


PALS1003 - Introduction to Human Memory


Mahmoud Arif

Gemma Bagge

Maisie Bishop

Chloe Brace

Beverley Cooper-Simpson

Brendan Dunlop

Elisabeth Fahey

Tsun Hui

Mina Jeon

Elizabeth Kerr

Charlotte Lee

Ailbhe Ni Earrain

Suet Tiong

Yuliang Wang


Behavioural analysis|*|Cognition|*|Development|*|Language|*|Language and mathematical development and disorders|*|Learning disability