Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Landau, Barbara
Location Johns Hopkins University
Primary Field Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
 Election Citation
Landau studies spatial cognition and language in normally developing, congenitally blind, and Williams Syndrome children. She has produced groundbreaking findings on the development of spatial concepts and proposed an important theory of spatial representation and language development, involving the differential maturation rates of dorsal and ventral streams in the brain.
 Research Interests
Barbara Landau's laboratory carries out research on language and spatial cognition-- the nature and development of these systems of knowledge and the relationships between them throughout life. Specific questions concern the nature of cognitive structures and principles that are in place during early development, supporting our capacity to recognize and name objects, move through space in a directed fashion, and talk about our spatial experience. The lab's research draws on a variety of approaches, including traditional psychological experimentation and linguistic methods adapted for young children. Although much of the lab's work concerns mechanisms of knowledge acquisition in typically developing children, Landau and her colleagues have systematically examined cases of atypical cognition, including studies of congenitally blind children, individuals with relatively rare genetic syndromes that lead to unusual dissociations between different cognitive systems, and individuals who have sustained brain damage either in adulthood or early in infancy. These unusual cases of development have afforded Landau and her colleagues the opportunity to understand both typical and atypical development in ways that have led to the development of unifying theories about the relationships among genes, experience, the developing brain, and human cognition. ~

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