Emily Atkinson

Emily Atkinson

Assistant Professor, Linguistics
Language Studies

Graduate Appointment: Graduate Linguistics Program

Emily is a psycholinguist with an interest in the development of the sentence processing mechanisms that allow us to comprehend language in real time. Her research investigates how children process sentences and how this relates to the acquisition of their first language, adult sentence processing, and the learning mechanisms that underly the change from the child system to the adult one. Outside of being an academic, she considers herself a reluctant runner and has completed several half marathons.

Current Courses

  • JLP285 (Language, Mind, & Brain)
  • JLP315 (Language Development)
  • LIN102 (Introduction to General Linguistics: Words, Sentences, their Structure and Meaning)


  • PhD, Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University 
  • MA, Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University 
  • MS, Linguistics, Georgetown University
  • BA, Psychology (Honours) & Linguistics, Georgetown University

Areas of Teaching and Research Interests

  • Psycholinguistics 
  • First language acquisition
  • (Developmental) sentence processing 
  • Long distance dependencies

Selected Publications


  • Boland, J. E., Atkinson, E., de los Santos, G., & Queen, R. (2023). What do we learn when we adapt to reading regional constructions? PLOS ONE, 18(4), 1–27. 
  • Atkinson, E., Wagers, M., Lidz, J., Phillips, C., & Omaki, A. (2018). Developing incrementality in filler-gap dependency processing. Cognition, 179, 132–149. 
  • Atkinson, E., Apple, A., Rawlins, K., & Omaki, A. (2016). Similarity of wh-phrases and acceptability variation in wh-islands. Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences, 6:2048. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.02048

Book Chapter

  • Atkinson, E. (2022). Sticking to what we know: Methodological limitations to generalizability. In K. Messenger (Ed.), Syntactic priming in language development: Representations, mechanisms and applications (Trends in Language Acquisition, Vol. 31). John Benjamins.