Who We Are

Susan Curtiss, PhD

Susan Curtiss is active Professor Emerita in UCLA's Department of Linguistics. She is probably most well-known for her work on the case of Genie, a modern day "Wild Child", which is one of the most well known cases of linguistic isolation and extreme social and physical deprivation. Her research has focused on the issues of a "Critical Period" for first language acquisition, the relationship between language and nonlinguistic cognition and atypical language acquisition and language breakdown. To that end, she has studied linguistic performance in the following populations: children and adolescents with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), children with hearing impairment, both children and adults with epilepsy, children who have undergone hemispherectomy (the removal or disconnection of one entire hemisphere of the brain) in treatment of catastrophic epileptic diseases, individuals with severe cognitive impairments, children with Turner syndrome, adolescents and adults with Klinefelter syndrome, children with Down syndrome, children with spina bifida, children with hydrocephaly, children with Noonan syndrome, children with agenesis of the corpus callosum, children with Fetal Alcohol syndrome (FAS), cases of linguistic isolation, individuals with Landau-Kleffnor syndrome, adults with acquired aphasia and adults with dementing diseases.

She has also studied the language of normally developing children and infants.

In the course of her research Professor Curtiss has developed many tests in addition to the CYCLE. In 2013, together with Dr. Yamada, she developed a new instrument, the CYCLE-Neurosurgical measures, the CYCLE-N. She is currently involved in a multi-disciplinary research project to determine the efficacy of using a test of grammar to better identify regions of the brain involved in language comprehension and production than standard measures currently used to guide surgical interventions.

Jeni Yamada, PhD

Jeni Yamada is the author of Laura: A Case for the Modularity of Language published by MIT Press: Bradford Books, based on her comprehensive study of a young woman who was significantly cognitively impaired, yet had sophisticated abilities in selected linguistic areas. As a graduate student at UCLA Dr. Yamada had the opportunity to join with Dr. Susan Curtiss in the study of Genie, as well as in research studying the relationship between language and cognition in development and breakdown.

In addition to illustrating and co-authoring the CYCLE she writes essays and stories, and does illustrations for books, dissertations, research articles, and tests for other researchers doing linguistic and cognitive studies on brain damaged, brain different, language delayed, cognitively impaired, and normal individuals.