Barbara Landau

Dick and Lydia Todd Professor;
Director, Science of Learning Institute

Krieger 241A | Krieger 231 (lab)
By appointment
410-516-5255 | 410-516-4087 (lab)
Curriculum Vitae
Personal Website
Group/Lab Website
Google Scholar Profile


Barbara Landau has been the Dick and Lydia Todd Professor of Cognitive Science since 2001, and the Director of the Science of Learning Institute since 2013. Landau is interested in human knowledge of language and space, and the relationships between these two foundational systems of knowledge. Her central interests concern the nature of the cognitive "primitives" that are in place during early development, and support our remarkable capacity to recognize objects, move around space in a directed fashion, and talk about our spatial experience. Specific questions of interest include: How do children come to master the intricate relationships between meanings and their linguistic expression? How do we come to know about space, in order to recognize and remember objects, motions, and places in space? What is the relationship between language and space, and do these differ across different languages? How do humans use each system to enhance their use of the other system? When and how do the two systems come to "communicate" with each other?

In thinking about these questions, Landau's research draws on a variety of approaches, including traditional experimental and linguistic methods adapted for young children. Although much of her work concerns the mechanisms of normal development, she is also interested in unusual cases of development, which can shed light on normal development and cognition. For example, studies of congenitally blind children can shed light on the relationship between perception and language; studies of people with Williams syndrome (a genetic deficit associated with deletion of 25 genes on chromosome 7) can shed light on the effects of genetic deletion on spatial organization, and on the consequences of abnormal spatial knowledge on language learning. More generally, these cases of unusual development afford the opportunity to think about the relationships among genes, the developing brain, and cognition.

Landau is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Cognitive Science Society, and several other organizations. She was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2009, and is currently the Retiring Chair of the Psychology Section of the AAAS.

  • Cognitive Development
  • Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Research Seminar in Language and Cognition
  • Language and Thought
  • Classic papers in Language Learning

Displaying the 20 most recent publications. View the Google Scholar Profile for complete publications list.

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A Seydell-Greenwald, K Ferrara, CE Chambers, EL Newport, B Landau
Bilateral parietal activations for complex visual-spatial functions: Evidence from a visual-spatial construction task
Neuropsychologia 106, 194-206, 2017

FS Kamps, JB Julian, P Battaglia, B Landau, N Kanwisher, DD Dilks
Dissociating intuitive physics from intuitive psychology: Evidence from Williams syndrome
Cognition 168, 146-153, 2017

B Landau, K Johannes, D Skordos, A Papafragou
Containment and support: Core and complexity in spatial language learning
Cognitive science 41 (S4), 748-779, 2017

B Landau
Update on “What” and “Where” in Spatial Language: A New Division of Labor for Spatial Terms
Cognitive science 41 (S2), 321-350, 2017

K Johannes, C Wilson, B Landau
The importance of lexical verbs in the acquisition of spatial prepositions: The case of in and on
Cognition 157, 174-189, 2016

K Ferrara, M Silva, C Wilson, B Landau
Spatial Language and the Embedded Listener Model in Parents’ Input to Children
Cognitive science 40 (8), 1877-1910, 2016

K Ferrara, B Landau, S Park
Neural and behavioral sensitivity to boundary cues in Williams syndrome
Journal of Vision 16 (12), 12-12, 2016

K Ferrara, JE Hoffman, K O’Hearn, B Landau
Constraints on Multiple Object Tracking in Williams Syndrome: How Atypical Development Can Inform Theories of Visual Processing
Journal of Cognition and Development 17 (4), 620-641, 2016

E Gregory, M McCloskey, Z Ovans, B Landau
Declarative memory and skill-related knowledge: Evidence from a case study of amnesia and implications for theories of memory
Cognitive neuropsychology 33 (3-4), 220-240, 2016

K Johannes, C Wilson, B Landau
Systematic feature variation underlies adults’ and children’s use of in and on
Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the, 2429-2434, 2016

K Ferrara, B Landau
Geometric and featural systems, separable and combined: Evidence from reorientation in people with Williams syndrome
Cognition 144, 123-133, 2015

B Landau, LR Gleitman
10 Height Matters
Structures in the Mind: Essays on Language, Music, and Cognition in Honor of …, 2015

L Rissman, K Rawlins, B Landau
Using instruments to understand argument structure: Evidence for gradient representation
Cognition 142, 266-290, 2015

S Park, K Ferrara, B Landau
Impaired behavioral and neural sensitivity to boundary cues in Williams syndrome.
Journal of vision 15 (12), 115-115, 2015

K Ferrara, S Furlong, B Landau, S Park
Detailed visual memory capacity is present early in life.
Journal of vision 15 (12), 665-665, 2015

MP Cakir, T Cakar, Y Girisken
Neural Correlates of Purchasing Behavior in the Prefrontal Cortex: An Optical Brain Imaging Study.
CogSci, 2015

K Johannes, J Wang, A Papafragou, B Landau
Similarity and Variation in the Distribution of Spatial Expressions Across Three Languages.
CogSci, 2015

ME Libertus, L Feigenson, J Halberda, B Landau
Understanding the mapping between numerical approximation and number words: Evidence from Williams syndrome and typical development
Developmental science 17 (6), 905-919, 2014

AC Schapiro, E Gregory, B Landau, M McCloskey, NB Turk-Browne
The necessity of the medial temporal lobe for statistical learning
Journal of cognitive neuroscience 26 (8), 1736-1747, 2014

J Valtonen, E Gregory, B Landau, M McCloskey
New learning of music after bilateral medial temporal lobe damage: Evidence from an amnesic patient
Frontiers in human neuroscience 8, 2014