My research examines the nature of linguistic competence and its origins. I seek to identify the constraints that shape the language system, examine their developmental trajectory, and determine the extent to which this system is specialized for the processing of linguistic information. Another line of research explores the effect of linguistic knowledge on reading ability. My approach is highly programmatic and interdisciplinary. I use experimental methods to test basic questions concerning the architecture of the language system and its origins, and I do so by relying on diverse populations—adult speakers of multiple spoken languages, signed languages, children and infants—and a wide array of tools, ranging from behavioral experiments to neuroimaging methods.