The Learning and Development Lab

The Learning and Development is part of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery and the Department of Neurology at Georgetown University. We study the acquisition of language, the relationship between language acquisition and language structure, and the recovery of language after damage to the brain.   



The Newport Lab includes two distinct but related lines of research.

The Learning and Development Lab focuses on studies of language acquisition, including studies of children acquiring English or American Sign Language as their native language and comparing children and adults learning miniature languages in the lab. Our primary questions concern understanding the mechanisms behind children’s remarkable abilities to learn languages (cf. statistical learning) and also the differences between children and adults in language learning.

Members of our lab include our project manager, Jaclyn Horowitz; graduate students from the Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience (IPN), the Department of Linguistics, and the Interdepartmental Concentration in Cognitive Science; and undergraduates from Georgetown University majors in Psychology, Linguistics, and Cognitive Science.

The Pediatric Stroke Research Project studies the neural and behavioral organization of language and visual-spatial skills in children and adults who have had a stroke. This project sheds important light on the capacity of the brain to reorganize language and cognitive functions after a brain injury.


We are currently looking for volunteers to participate in language learning studies. We are looking for children (ages 3 - 12 years) and adults (18 - 26 years). If you are interested in participating, please contact us. If you would like to learn more about the research we do, check out our Research page.



April 27, 2015

Dr. Newport has been awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science.

February 24, 2013

Dr. Newport has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Psychological Science, recognizing her extensive work on language acquisition. 

October 15, 2012

Dr. Newport, along with Maryia Fedzechkina and Dr. Florian Jaeger at the University of Rochester, have published a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which investigates theories on why and how languages come to be organized the way they are. The authors found evidence to support the idea that human language is based on certain "language universals," and that at least some of these universals have the purpose of faciliating clear and efficient communication. 


September 18, 2015

Dr. Newport and Dr. David Lightfoot will co-direct the new Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Concentration in Cognitive Science, which has been approved by the Graduate School Executive Committee and will be available to Ph.D. students in Linguistics, Philosophy, Neuroscience and other departments across the university.

July 12, 2012

Dr. Newport, along with co-director Dr. Alexander Dromerick, has established a new Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, a joint venture between Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. This center will serve to bridge the gap between research and clinical applications of such research.