Jill C. Thorson, Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Jill Thorson

Phone: (603) 862-5195
Office: Communication Sciences & Disorders, Hewitt Hall, Durham, NH 03824

How do children acquire language? My research focuses on the perception and production of prosody (i.e., the melody and rhythm of speech) at different stages in development, and how these early language processes impact successful communication. The goal of my work is to provide a better understanding of how the complex interaction between prosody and meaning develops over infancy and early childhood in both typical and atypical developing populations. My current work focuses on how to naturally assess prosodic abilities across the lifespan. Past work has also explored how prosody impacts early word learning as well as how the acoustic correlates of prosody are realized in the speech of minimally verbal school-aged children with autism. Additionally, I am interested in the role of prosody in the diagnosis and treatment of motor speech disorders. These lines of research not only inform how we classify language and learning difficulties across disorders but also offer insight into intervention, treatment, and earlier diagnosis.

I direct the Communication, Acquisition, and Translational Studies Laboratory (CAT Lab). See above for link to website.

Courses Taught

  • COMM 522: Language Acquisition
  • COMM 524: Clinical Phonetics
  • COMM 798/895: SpcTopic/Child Lang Acquistion
  • COMM 842: Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • INCO 590: Student Research Experience
  • INCO 790: Advanced Research Experience


  • Ph.D., Brown University
  • M.A., University of Rochester
  • M.S., Brown University
  • B.A., University of Rochester

Research Interests

  • Acoustics
  • Autism
  • Communicative Disorders, Speech
  • Language Acquisition and Development
  • Linguistics
  • Assessment development and validation

Selected Publications

  • Thorson, J. C., & Burdin, R. S. (2024). Phonetic implementation and the interpretation of downstepping in Mainstream US English. Journal of Phonetics, 105, 101340. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2024.101340

  • Thorson, J. C., Franklin, L. R., & Morgan, J. L. (2023). Role of pitch in toddler looking to new and given referents in American English.. Lang Learn Dev, 19(4), 458-479. doi:10.1080/15475441.2022.2149400

  • Gurevich, N., & Grindrod, C. (n.d.). Clinical Applications of Linguistics to Speech-Language Pathology. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781003045519

  • Miller, M., Thorson, J., & Robertson, P. (n.d.). Categorical Preference of the Mind. Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion, 8(1), 2-31. doi:10.1558/jcsr.20462

  • Thorson, J. C., & Morgan, J. L. (2021). Prosodic realizations of new, given, and corrective referents in the spontaneous speech of toddlers. JOURNAL OF CHILD LANGUAGE, 48(3), 541-568. doi:10.1017/S0305000920000434

  • Thorson, J. C. (2019). Prosody. In M. J. Ball, & J. Damico (Eds.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Human Communication Sciences and Disorders. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

  • Brumberg, J., Thorson, J. C., & Patel, R. (2018). The Prosodic Marionette: a method to visualize speech prosody and assess perceptual and expressive prosodic abilities. Speech Communication, 104, 95-105. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2018.09.009

  • Thorson, J., Meyer, S., Plesa-Skwerer, D., Patel, R., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2016). Assessing prosody in minimally to nonverbal children with autism. In Speech prosody Vol. 2016 (pp. 1206-1210). doi:10.21437/speechprosody.2016-248

  • Thorson, J., Borras-Comes, J., Crespo-Sendra, V., del Mar Vanrell, M., & Prieto, P. (2015). The acquisition of melodic form and meaning in yes-no interrogatives by Catalan and Spanish speaking children. Probus, 27(1), 73-99. doi:10.1515/probus-2013-0019

  • Prieto, P., Estrella, A., Thorson, J., & Vanrell, M. D. M. (2012). Is prosodic development correlated with grammatical and lexical development? Evidence from emerging intonation in Catalan and Spanish.. J Child Lang, 39(2), 221-257. doi:10.1017/S030500091100002X

  • Most Cited Publications