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Barbara Lust

Professor Emerita

Barbara Lust

M Van Rensselaer Hall

Graduate Fields

  • Psychology


  • College of Human Ecology: Human Development


Dr. Lust's primary research concerns the child's acquisition of language, studied from a theoretical and experimental cross-linguistic perspective. Data from children acquiring more than 20 languages of the world are studied in the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab. Her interdisciplinary research program seeks both to identify the universals which characterize child language acquisition across all languages, and to explicate the nature of development of language during the time between birth and early childhood, as well as the nature of language loss with aging and dementia. A new theory of "Grammatical Mapping" has been recently articulated to capture this development.  

In the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab, both experimental and naturalistic studies of young children's acquisition of early syntax and semantics are conducted. In addition to research on first language acquisition, research is also now being conducted on the development of multilingualism in young children and providing evidence for its cognitive consequences.  Studies of adult second language acquisition are related.  Studies of language in normal healthy aging  and in patients with early Alzheimer's Disease are contrasted with the process of first language acquisition in the young child. Evidence is provided against the 'regression hypothesis' which proposed that acquisition and dissolution would be reversed. 

Research directed at the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab is linked to related research being conducted in several national and international universities through a developing  Virtual Center for Language Acquisition. Currently Dr. Lust is involved with an international agenda to develop 'linked open data in linguistics', especially as it impacts language acquisition data.