Barbara Landau

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

Telephone:  (410) 516-5255
Office:  241 A Krieger Hall
Lab: 231 A-C Krieger Hall; (410) 516-4087

Lab Website: Language and Cognition Lab

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Language and Space: Representation and Learning

I am interested in human knowledge of language and space, and the relationships between these two foundational systems of knowledge.  My 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: What are the semantic and syntactic representations that guide language learning?  What is the nature of our representations of spacein particular, representations underlying our ability 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 the products of the other system?  When and how do the two systems come to "communicate" with each other?

In thinking about these questions, my research draws on a variety of approaches, including traditional experimental and linguistic methods adopted for young children.  Although much of my work concerns the mechanisms of normal development, I am 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 relationship between genes, the developing brain, and cognition.


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