Nan Bernstein Ratner


Dr. Bernstein Ratner is an applied developmental psycholinguist whose research primarily centers on typical and disordered child speech/language development, and fluency disorder (with an emphasis on stuttering) across the lifespan. Among the specific populations she investigates are late talking children, children with Specific Language Impairment, seizure disorder (epilepsy), intellectual impairment and autism. A complementary theme across these populations is investigation of the role that parental input and interaction play in children’s communicative development. She studies development in both monolingual and bilingual populations.

Dr. Bernstein Ratner’s primary research approach is computational analysis of spoken language , using TalkBank utilities; she is currently working on an initiative with colleague Brian MacWhinney at Carnegie Mellon University to redevelop clinical norms for measures of child language ability, using the thousands of records of children’s spoken language held in TalkBank. Together with colleague Rochelle Newman, she has recently completed a large-scale longitudinal study of children’s language development in the first two years of life. Among other current collaborators are Allen Braun at the National Institutes of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Drs. Soo-Eun Chang and Ho Ming Chow at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Christine Weber (Purdue University), with whom she studies language processing in people who stutter, and predictors of recovery from early stuttering. She was previously a consultant to Dr. Erika Hoff’s study on language acquisition in Spanish-English bilingual preschool children, with colleagues at GWU (Shelley Brundage and Cynthia Core).

With Brian MacWhinney of Carnegie-Mellon University, Dr. Bernstein Ratner manages FluencyBank, a project of TalkBank ( This initiative is funded by the NIDCD and NSF (Linguistics) to track fluency development in typical children, those who stutter, late-talking children and children raised bilingually. In addition, FluencyBank seeks to archive and facilitate sharing of data relevant to fluency research.

Among Dr. Bernstein Ratner’s recognition for contributions in these areas of study are the Honors of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) and Maryland Speech-Language Hearing Association (MSHA), Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Distinguished Researcher Award from the International Fluency Association, the Miegunyah Distinguished Fellowship, University of Melbourne, and a Distinguished Alumna award from Temple University. In 2016, Dr. Bernstein Ratner was named Professional of the Year by the National Stuttering Association.

  • Ed.D. Boston University, Applied Psycholinguistics

1) Typical and disordered speech/language development in children, including special populations (later talkers, children with Specific Language Impairment, fluency disorder (stuttering), intellectual disability, autism, seizure disorder (epilepsy), children who are bilingual.)

2) Underlying deficit(s) that give rise to stuttering in children and adults, with emphasis on speech/language processing; predictors of spontaneous recovery from stuttering in children.

3) Contributions of parental input and interaction to children's speech/language and literacy development.

Dr. Bernstein Ratner also serves as the Director of the University of Maryland Autism Research Consortium (UMARC):


Former Students
  • Peitzu Tsai
    Assistant Professor, San Jose State University
  • Catherine Torrington Eaton
    Assistant Professor, Rockhurst University
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Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
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