University College London
Centre for Developmental Language Disorders & Cognitive Neuroscience
Department of Human Communication Science


Job Description

University College London


Division of Psychology and Language Sciences


Salary: Grade 6 pt 24: £26,341 starting salary (inclusive of London Allowance).

Reports to: Professor Heather K. J. van der Lely

Start Date: From 1st November 2008 or as soon as possible afterwards

Duration: The post is grant funded and will be offered for one year with the possibility of extending this period.


A full time postgraduate research assistant position is available from November 2008 at the UCL Centre for Developmental Language Disorders and Cognitive Neuroscience (, University College London, UK.

The post holder will be contributing to the UK part of a 6-country partner project investigating specific language impairment cross-linguistically: "Cross-linguistic Language Diagnosis” (CLAD) as well as other related projects involving behavioural and neuroimaging investigations of language in language impaired, dyslexic and typically developing children.
He/she will be expected to contribute to the general mission of the DLDCN Centre with respect to understanding language disorders and the relations between brain, language and cognition. He/she will be also involved in general laboratory management and its administration.

The CDLDCN has a child-dedicated ERP lab and this work fits in with other ongoing work at the Centre investigating language and cognition in typically developing and language impaired individuals, from infants to adults, using both behavioural and other imaging techniques: Magneto-encephalography (MEG, with collaborators Friston, Wellcome Imaging lab, UCL, and Pulvermuller MRC-CBU, Cambridge), and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS, with collaborators Dupoux, ENS-CNRS, Paris, and Hebden, Dept of Department of Medical Physics & Bioengineering, UCL). He/she will be working under supervision of Prof. Heather van der Lely and in close collaboration with the postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students of the DLDCN as well as the partners from the aforementioned institutions.

CLAD Project Outline
SLI (specific language impairment) impairs language acquisition, affecting morpho-syntax, phonology and the lexicon. SLI and dyslexia are the most prevalent disorders in childhood, affecting 5% to 10% of children. The global aim of CLAD is to develop a set of diagnostic techniques that allow a fast and easy diagnosis of language impairment in five target languages: Romanian, German, Italian, English, and Lithuanian. The strategy of the CLAD project follows that of the GAPS test developed for English by Heather van der Lely and colleagues (2007): CLAD determines the validity of a set of clinical markers for types of language impairment. CLAD broadly targets phenomena in morphosyntax, morphophonology and semantics/pragmatics that current linguistic knowledge predicts to be clinical markers for language impairment across the five languages. We expect that these tests will provide a profile of SLI that is largely uniform across the five languages.


Main Duties of the Post
Under the supervision and support of Prof. Heather van der Lely/ Post doctoral scientist, the person will contribute to
• behavioural and neuroimaging studies investigating language processing in normally developing children and teenagers, and those with SLI and dyslexia.

• collaboration with our partners in the development of appropriate behavioural experiments for English-speaking children in morphosyntax, morphophonology and semantic-pragmatics.

• conducting behavioural investigations, in collaboration with partner countries on morphosyntax, morphophonology and semantic-pragmatics in the above English speaking subject groups

• collating and summarise research results for use in scientific papers and conference presentations

• maintaining good communications and relationships with parents, schools, teachers, speech and language therapists and other outside bodies who visit the testing laboratory or whom we visit by providing appropriate feedback about the research within the Centre.

• The person will provide lab management and administration support

• The postholder will actively follow UCL policies including Equal Opportunities and Race Equality policies

• The postholder will maintain an awareness and observation of Fire and Health & Safety Regulations



The ideal candidate would be an energetic investigator with a strong interest in multidisciplinary research of language, brain, and cognitive development and disorders.

The successful applicant must:

• have a background in speech and language sciences: psycholinguistics, or, cognitive neuroscience, or developmental psychology, or linguistics, or related discipline,
• have good basic technical skills and an interest in running behavioural and Electrophysiological EEG (ERP) studies of auditory language processing
• Experience with children and caregivers, liaising with people and organisations

Technical Skills:

• Good computing skills.
• Experience with analysing data sets and working with statistical packages such as SPSS
• Fluent or near fluent in the English Language

• A BSc or Masters in any of the relevant disciplines listed above

Personal Skills
• An ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing to scientists as well as lay-persons and children
• A willingness to learn ERP
• Ability to travel throughout the UK
• Ability to respond effectively to pressure in peaks of workload
• Ability to work as part of a team
• Ability to work independently
• Understanding of confidentiality issues
• Willingness to undertake a variety of tasks
• Subject to police checks for working with children (CRB checks)


The successful applicant should ideally:

• Have knowledge of speech and language pathologies (would be an asset but is not essential).
• ERP - acquisition, data processing, analysis
• Have some knowledge or willingness to learn programs such as SPM, Matlab, E-Prime etc.


How to Apply:

Applications for this post (one hard copy, together with a signed covering letter and one electronic copy) should include:

- UCL Application for Employment Form, which must be completed fully and signed and an Equal Opportunities Classification Form (which is included in the Application Form). These documents can be downloaded from or

- Signed covering letter (please include what you would hope to contribute to the Centre in addition to your role on this project).

- a curriculum vitae

- names and addresses of two referees

Applications should be sent to Mrs A Pozzuto, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, UCL, 2 Wakefield Street, WC1N 1PF, UK

Deadline for applications: October 1st 2008, or until position is filled.

Informal enquiries may be made to:

Research Staff
Progression through the salary scale is incremental. Cost of living pay awards are negotiated nationally and are usually effective from 1st August each year.
Appointments are subject to receipt of satisfactory references and a probationary period of 9 months.
Full time hours for Research staff average 36.5 hours per week
Annual leave is 27 working days for a full time member of staff.
UCL also closes for a period at Christmas and Easter, at which times staff benefit from a total of 6 ‘closure days' in addition to Bank Holidays.
The postholder will be eligible to join the Universities Superannuation Scheme, which is a final salary scheme with a current employee contribution rate of 6.35% and an employer contribution rate of 14% of salary.
A season ticket loan is available to staff who have successfully completed their probationary period with the facility to repay through a monthly deduction from salary.
Other benefits of joining UCL as a staff member are many and include:
• Access to an extensive range of in-house staff development opportunities. Staff have full use of the UCL libraries and UCL operates a Study Assistance Scheme for those undertaking part-time work-related study.
• An excellent location for transport networks being near Euston, Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations and a choice of underground stations connected to London's other mainline stations. A wide range of bus routes serves the area.
• UCL lies in Bloomsbury, just north of Oxford Street, Covent Garden and the heart of the West End with access to shops, theatres, cinemas, bars and restaurants. UCL also has its own 550 seat West End arts venue (Bloomsbury Theatre) which hosts drama, dance, music, debates and lectures during the year
• The main campus has subsidised cafeterias/bars and shops, gym, hairdresser and a travel agent. UCL staff can also benefit from corporate membership at a Tottenham Court Road gym.