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, or send us an e-mail directly.
  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!

Participate in Online Studies

Stuck at home? Participate in one of our virtual studies! All you need is your computer, access to internet, and Zoom (and we can definitely help you set up Zoom if you’ve been using another service). Our online studies pay in Amazon gift cards between $7 to $10 per hour. If you’re interested, email us!

Ongoing Studies

Memory and Language

We are currently investigating the relationship between memory and language in a new set of experiments that can be completed online! This study requires children to participate in 1 to 4 short experiments, which are all paid. Like all of our other projects, we schedule around your schedule. We are looking for typically developing children ages 5 to 7 years, and people with Williams syndrome at any age. If you’re interested, you can email us or contact Rennie Pasquinelli directly, at

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

Intuitive Physics and Spatial Language

This project investigates children’s knowledge of the spatial world around them, and what kind of language they use to describe it. We play a game on the computer where children answer questions from friendly cartoon characters.

Age: 4 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