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.   



We are currently looking for volunteers at Georgetown University to participate in simple language learning studies. We are looking for both 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.


Our study team at Georgetown is made up of our Principal Investigator, Dr. Elissa Newport; our program manager, Sarah Furlong; a Georgetown University Medical Center graduate student in Neuroscience, Kathryn Schuler; Georgetown University graduate students in Linguistics, Heidi Getz and Alix Handshuh; and our research collaborator, Dr. Jennifer Culbertson. To learn more about the Georgetown lab, check out our People page. We also collaborate closely with the Baby Lab at the University of Rochester, led by Dr. Richard Aslin, William N. Kenan Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences.

Our new lab at the National Rehabilitation Hospital focuses on applying our findings on learning and developmental plasticity to improve the recovery of language after stroke or other brain injuries in children and adults. At NRH our collaborators include Dr. Alex Dromerick, Director of Stroke Research at NRH and Vice Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine; Dr. Peter Turkeltaub, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Georgetown; Michelle Harris-Love, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine; and Dr. Peter Lum, Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Catholic University.



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.