Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto
Scientific Director, BL2 & Co-PI, VL2
Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto is the Scientific Director and Co-Principal Investigator of the National Science Foundation and Gallaudet University’s Science of Learning Center, Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2). Dr. Petitto is the founder of her Brain and Language Laboratory for Neuroimaging (BL2). She is also its Scientific Director. She is a Full Professor in Psychology at Gallaudet University and an Affiliated Full Professor in Psychology at Georgetown University. Dr. Petitto is known for her work on the biological bases of language, especially involving early language acquisition. Her studies of this topic span 30 years, beginning in 1973 with her research at Columbia University in which she attempted to teach sign language to a baby chimpanzee (“Project Nim Chimpsky”). She is presently known for her discoveries concerning how young human children acquire language, be it spoken or signed, and she has also probed the neural basis of language in the brain of adults using modern PET, MRI, fMRI, and functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) brain-imaging techniques.