The Center for Language Sciences is an interdisciplinary center supporting research and training in natural language. We bring together faculty and students with interests in spoken and signed languages across departments and programs, including:

Our faculty have combined expertise in formal, behavioral, computational and imaging (fMRI, ultrasound) approaches to understanding the structure, processing, production, and acquisition of natural language. 

The center also features an active colloquium series, workshops, access to working papers, formal coursework in contributing departments, shared laboratory and computational facilities, and pre- and post-doctoral support from the University of Rochester.


The Center for Language Sciences originates in an inter-disciplinary colloquium series founded in 1988 by Thomas Bever and Greg Carlson (the latter insist that the former was the driving force). Made possible by a generous donation from Kodak, these colloquia fostered collaboration between the cognitive science, psychology, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and neuroscience. In 1996 negotiations led by Michael Tanenhaus with Deans Richard Aslin and Tom LeBlanc resulted in a more formal establishment of the center with support from the University of Rochester, including graduate support and an inter-disciplinary colloquium series. From 1993 to 2013 the Center for Language Sciences was funded by the National Institute of Health [T32 DC000035] (Bever was the original PI, with Tanenhaus serving as PI from 1995 to 2013) as one of the first and longest running training centers for multi-disciplinary research on language. The training grant provided funding for additional graduate researchers and post-docs.

Today CLS alumni have labs in many departments of the brain and cognitive sciences, computer science, psychology, and linguistics across the United States and beyond.

Since it’s official existence as a center, the following people have served as its directors:

  • 2014 - present: T. Florian Jaeger
  • 2009-2014: Jeffrey Runner
  • 2003-2009: Michael K. Tanenhaus
  • 2000-2003: Richard Aslin
  • 1997-2000: Michael K. Tanenhaus
  • 1996-1997: James Allen and Michael K. Tanenhaus
  • 1990-1996: Tom Bever