Participate in a Study

What We Do

We study the typical development of children’s language learning and their understanding of space, including how they learn to perceive spatial arrays, navigate through new environments, and learn to create and modify spatial constructions. We also study these abilities in individuals who develop atypically, for example, individuals with Williams Syndrome.

Our studies take place in a comfortable setting in the Department of Cognitive Science on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University. Children and their parents visit our lab and participate in games and other activities that help us understand how they learn language and think about spatial properties of the world. We aim to make the experience fun and satisfying for both children and their parents. We often include adults in our studies so that we can understand what the “endpoint” of development looks like.

Who Can Participate

We are looking for children of all ages (18 months to 18 years) to participate. Read more below about studies your child may be eligible for.

How to Participate

  1. Contact us through our online form to let us know you’re interested.
  2. A researcher will contact you to tell you more about studies your child is eligible for, and schedule a lab visit. We arrange appointments at a time that fits your family’s schedule.
  3. On the day of your visit, we’ll meet you at our reserved parking spots and escort you to the lab.
  4. At the end of your visit, your child can pick a toy or book to take home!

Ongoing Studies

Spatial Cognition and Block Building

This project focuses on block-building, such as Legos, as a window into understanding how complex spatial skills develop. Participants will build structures with blocks, match shapes, name pictures, and complete puzzles. See this video to learn more!

Age: 4–8 years

Eligible participants: Typically developing children


Social Skills for Word Learning

We’re studying how children use social cues like pointing to learn words. Participants will wear a camera attached to a hat so we can see what they’re looking at during pointing interactions and in a word-learning task.

Age: 18 months to 4 years

Eligible participants: Typically developing children and children with Williams Syndrome


The Language of Spatial Relationships

We’re interested in how children learning language choose to talk about where things are in the world. We play games in which we look at pictures and videos to find and talk about where everyday objects and toys are located.

Age: 3–5 years

Eligible participants: Typically developing children


The Language of Perception and Thought

Young children often use words to report on their perceptual experience– they say “I see Rover” and “That smells good”. They also use words to report on their mental experience– words like “think”, “know” and even “guess”. Both types of words describe people’s internal states, but they seem quite different. We are interested in how the two types of words are acquired, how their meanings might be different for children than adults, and the circumstances under which each type is used.

Age: 3-6 years

Eligible participants: Typically developing children