Fernanda Ferreira

Fernanda Ferreira
University of California, Davis | UCD · Department of Psychology

Doctor of Philosophy

About

159
Publications
51,067
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9,958
Citations
Citations since 2017
52 Research Items
3992 Citations
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20172018201920202021202220230200400600

Publications

Publications (159)
Article
Full-text available
As we age, we accumulate a wealth of information about the surrounding world. Evidence from visual search suggests that older adults retain intact knowledge for where objects tend to occur in everyday environments (semantic information) that allows them to successfully locate objects in scenes, but may overrely on semantic guidance. We investigated...
Preprint
Full-text available
As we age, we accumulate a wealth of information about the surrounding world. Evidence from visual search suggests that older adults retain intact knowledge for where objects tend to occur in everyday environments (semantic information) that allows them to successfully locate objects in scenes, but may over-rely on semantic guidance. We investigate...
Article
We report the results of a replication attempt of a foundational study by Cutler and Fodor (1979). This study sparked several lines of research into the role of information structure in language comprehension, based on the proposal that discourse characteristics, prosodic focus, and syntactic focusing constructions may all guide the comprehender’s...
Article
Prior research has shown that various types of conventional multiword chunks are processed faster than matched novel strings, but it is unclear whether this processing advantage extends to variant multiword chunks that are less formulaic. To determine whether the processing advantage of multiword chunks accommodates variations in the canonical phra...
Preprint
This paper presents a series of three experiments investigating the processing of nested epistemic expressions, utterances containing two epistemic modals in one clause, such as “he certainly may have forgotten”. While some linguists claim that in a nested epistemic expression, one modal is semantically embedded within the scope of the other modal...
Article
This article presents a series of three experiments investigating the processing of nested epistemic expressions, utterances containing two epistemic modals in one clause, such as “he certainly may have forgotten.” While some linguists claim that in a nested epistemic expression one modal is semantically embedded within the scope of the other modal...
Preprint
Full-text available
This work investigates the linearization strategies used by speakers when describing real-world scenes to better understand production plans for multi-utterance sequences. Scene meaning predicts visual attention across tasks, but does not predict the order in which objects in scenes are described, contrary to previous work suggesting a tight coupli...
Article
Full-text available
As we act on the world around us, our eyes seek out objects we plan to interact with. A growing body of evidence suggests that overt visual attention selects objects in the environment that could be interacted with, even when the task precludes physical interaction. In previous work, objects that afford grasping interactions influenced attention wh...
Preprint
As we act on the world around us, our eyes seek out objects we plan to interact with. A growing body of evidence suggests that overt visual attention selects objects in the environment that could be interacted with, even when the task precludes physical interaction. In previous work, objects that afford grasping interactions influenced attention wh...
Article
A key question in research on sentence processing concerns how sentences that have been misanalyzed are reinterpreted, and to what extent the parser’s attempts at revision are successful. Past work has shown that misinterpretations associated with a syntactic misparse linger even after the entire sentence has been processed (Christianson et al., 20...
Article
Neglecting native languages has repercussions for individuals and for society.
Preprint
A key question in research on sentence processing concerns how sentences that have been misanalyzed are reinterpreted, and to what extent the parser’s attempts at revision are successful. Past work has shown that misinterpretations associated with a syntactic misparse linger even after the entire sentence has been processed (Christianson, Hollingwo...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines the cognitive information processes that Turkish advanced non-native speakers of English employ in assigning the referents of this and that in reading and production. We predicted that these speakers would assign referents in relation to the linear distance between discourse-linked anaphors and their referents in the discourse (...
Article
Prediction in language processing has been a topic of major interest in psycholinguistics for at least the last two decades, but most investigations focus on semantic rather than syntactic prediction. This review begins with a discussion of some influential models of parsing which assume that comprehenders have the ability to anticipate syntactic n...
Article
Full-text available
According to the Gricean Maxim of Quantity, speakers provide the amount of information listeners require to correctly interpret an utterance, and no more (Grice in Logic and conversation, 1975). However, speakers do tend to violate the Maxim of Quantity often, especially when the redundant information improves reference precision (Degen et al. in P...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, a growing number of studies have used cortical tracking methods to investigate auditory language processing. Although most studies that employ cortical tracking stem from the field of auditory signal processing, this approach should also be of interest to psycholinguistics—particularly the subfield of sentence processing—given its...
Article
Full-text available
Misinterpretations during language comprehension are common. The ability to recover from processing difficulties is therefore crucial for successful day-to-day communication. Previous research on the recovery from misinterpretations has focused on sentences containing syntactic ambiguities. The present study instead investigated the outcome of comp...
Article
Full-text available
The world is visually complex, yet we can efficiently describe it by extracting the information that is most relevant to convey. How do the properties of real-world scenes help us decide where to look and what to say? Image salience has been the dominant explanation for what drives visual attention and production as we describe displays, but new ev...
Preprint
According to the Gricean Maxim of Quantity, speakers provide the amount of information listeners require to correctly interpret an utterance, and no more (Grice, 1975). However, speakers do tend to violate the Maxim of Quantity often, especially when the redundant information improves reference precision (Degen et al., 2020). Redundant (non-contras...
Article
Full-text available
Everyday speech contains disfluencies, including unintentionally spoken words. What is the fate of the misspoken word in the comprehender's memory? In this study, we asked whether: (1) the gender of misspoken words lingers and affects how the intended word is perceived, and (2) whether and how lingering representations can cause interference during...
Article
Full-text available
The complexity of the visual world requires that we constrain visual attention and prioritize some regions of the scene for attention over others. The current study investigated whether verbal encoding processes influence how attention is allocated in scenes. Specifically, we asked whether the advantage of scene meaning over image salience in atten...
Article
Full-text available
While listeners can infer the mood expressed by the music of a different culture, the question of whether strong felt emotional responses can also be induced cross-culturally remains unanswered. We address this question by measuring chill responses, sudden increases in emotional arousal, through self-report and skin conductance measures. Excerpts o...
Article
Full-text available
The world is visually complex, yet we can efficiently describe it by extracting the information that is most relevant to convey. How do the properties of real-world scenes help us decide where to look and what to say? Image salience has been the dominant explanation for what drives visual attention and production as we describe displays, but new ev...
Article
Writers of scientific articles are familiar with the advice to avoid using the passive voice. Prescriptivists argue that the passive leads to bloated, indirect, and even evasive writing, and they recommend that the active form be used instead. This article defends the passive voice against these charges and argues that this advice is misguided. The...
Preprint
Full-text available
The world is visually complex, yet we can efficiently describe it by extracting the information that is most relevant to convey. How do the properties of real-world scenes help us decide where to look and what to say? Image salience has been the dominant explanation for what drives visual attention and production as we describe displays, but new ev...
Article
Full-text available
Acceptability judgments have been an important tool in language research. By asking a native speaker whether a linguistic token is acceptable, linguists and psycholinguists can collect negative evidence and directly test predictions by linguistic and psycholinguistic theories, which provide important insight into the human language capacity. In thi...
Preprint
Full-text available
The complexity of the visual world requires that we constrain visual attention and prioritize some regions of the scene for attention over others. The current study investigated whether verbal encoding processes influence how attention is allocated in scenes. Specifically, we asked whether the advantage of scene meaning over image salience in atten...
Article
Previous research suggests that listeners can use the presence of speech disfluencies to predict upcoming linguistic input. But how is the processing of typical disfluencies affected when the speaker also produces atypical disfluencies, as in the case of stuttering? We addressed this question in a visual-world eye-tracking experiment in which parti...
Preprint
Successful language comprehension requires the ability to efficiently recover from processing difficulties. For example, sentences with lexically ambiguous words that are disambiguated to an unexpected meaning (The ball was crowded) require the detection of a violation to meaning coherence (crowded), and the resolution of this violation by accessin...
Article
Most research in psycholinguistics relies on online measures such as reading time to inform and test theories of language comprehension. However, the value of offline measures such as question-answering performance is sometimes overlooked in sentence processing work. Consequently, psycholinguists do not yet understand how the tasks and measures use...
Article
Full-text available
We examined whether the position of modifiers in English influences how words are encoded and subsequently retrieved from memory. Compared with premodifiers, postmodifiers might confer more perceptual significance to the associated head nouns, are more consistent with the "given-before-new" information structure, and might also be easier to integra...
Article
Speaking (1989) inspired research on topics such as word selection, syntactic formulation, and dialogue, but an issue that remains understudied is linearisation: the question of how speakers organise a series of utterances into a coherent sequence, allowing both speaker and listener to keep track of what has been said and what will come next. In th...
Article
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Everyday speech is rife with errors and disfluencies, yet processing what we hear usually feels effortless. How does the language comprehension system accomplish such an impressive feat? The current experiment tests the hypothesis that listeners draw on relevant contextual and linguistic cues to anticipate speech errors and mentally correct them, e...
Article
Full-text available
Current theories of language processing emphasize prediction as a mechanism to facilitate comprehension, which contrasts with the state of the field a few decades ago, when prediction was rarely mentioned. We argue that the field of psycholinguistics would benefit from revisiting these earlier theories of comprehension that attempted to explain int...
Article
The aim was to determine how backward-looking sentence processing is affected by typically disfluent versus stuttered speech. Two listener groups heard Garden Path (GP) and control sentences. GP sentences contained no disfluency, a silent pause, or a filled pause before the disambiguating verb. For one group, the sentence preambles additionally con...
Article
Full-text available
Intelligent analysis of a visual scene requires that important regions be prioritized and attentionally selected for preferential processing. What is the basis for this selection? Here we compared the influence of meaning and image salience on attentional guidance in real-world scenes during two free-viewing scene description tasks. Meaning was rep...
Article
Full-text available
The active voice and passive voice are complementary sentence forms that are available when describing a transitive event. In English, the latter has two variants: be-passive and get-passive. Numerous attempts have been made in the literature to represent the syntactic and semantic differences between these forms, while maintaining their shared fea...
Article
Young adults show consistent neural benefits of predictable contexts when processing upcoming words, but these benefits are less clear-cut in older adults. Here we disentangle the neural correlates of prediction accuracy and contextual support during word processing, in order to test current theories that suggest predictive processing mechanisms ar...
Article
Full-text available
While rhythmic expectancies are thought to be at the base of beat perception in music, the extent to which stress patterns in speech are similarly represented and predicted during on-line language comprehension is debated. The temporal prediction of stress may be advantageous to speech processing, as stress patterns aid segmentation and mark new in...
Article
What are the effects of word-by-word predictability on sentence processing times during the natural reading of a text? Although information complexity metrics such as surprisal and entropy reduction have been useful in addressing this question, these metrics tend to be estimated using computational language models, which require some degree of comm...
Preprint
What are the effects of word-by-word predictability on sentence processing times during the natural reading of a text? Although information-complexity metrics such as surprisal and entropy reduction have been useful in addressing this question, these metrics tend to be estimated using computational language models, which require some degree of comm...
Preprint
The reported studies investigate online processing of taboo words (e.g. shit) and their censored equivalents (e.g. s**t), relative to semantically matched non-taboo words (e.g. junk). Participants’ eyes were tracked as they read sentences which contained one of the critical words. In Experiment 1, participants also encountered censored-neutral word...
Preprint
Young adults show consistent neural benefits of predictable contexts when processing upcoming words, but these benefits are less clear-cut in older adults. Here we conduct two ERP experiments to examine whether aging uniquely affects neural correlates of prediction accuracy, as compared to contextual support independent of accuracy. In Experiment 1...
Preprint
Fame is often deserved, emerging from a person’s significant and timely contributions to science. It is also true that fame and quality clearly sometimes diverge: many people who do excellent work are barely known, and some people are famous even though their work is mediocre. Reliance on fame and name recognition when identifying psychologists as...
Article
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Previous eye-tracking research has characterized older adults’ reading patterns as “risky,” arguing that compared to young adults, older adults skip more words, have longer saccades, and are more likely to regress to previous portions of the text. In the present eye-tracking study, we reexamined the claim that older adults adopt a risky reading str...
Chapter
By convention, the term “sentence processing” refers to the subfield of psycholinguistics focusing on the interpretation of sentences. A range of information sources is used for successful sentence processing. Lexical and syntactic constraints are central for defining the structural alternatives, and information associated with the prosody of the s...
Article
Two experiments explored the hypothesis that anaphors and demonstratives signal different procedural instructions: while the anaphor it brings a concrete entity into a reader's focus, the demonstrative this directs the focus to a predicate proposition in a discourse representation. The findings from an online eye-tracking reading experiment confirm...
Article
Full-text available
We review previous research showing that representations formed during language processing are sometimes just “good enough” for the task at hand and propose the “online cognitive equilibrium” hypothesis as the driving force behind the formation of good-enough representations in language processing. Based on this view, we assume that the language co...
Chapter
The good-enough language processing approach emphasizes people's tendency to generate superficial and even inaccurate interpretations of sentences. At the same time, a number of researchers have argued that prediction plays a key role in comprehension, allowing people to anticipate features of the input and even specific upcoming words based on sen...
Article
In the current study, we examined the role of intelligence and executive functions in the resolution of temporary syntactic ambiguity using an individual differences approach. Data were collected from 174 adolescents and adults who completed a battery of cognitive tests as well as a sentence comprehension task. The critical items for the comprehens...
Book
This chapter focuses on how people establish reference to objects in the external world and the meaning of sentences more broadly. The review proceeds from psychological and computational models of semantic memory up to how people establish reference to particular objects in the environment via pre- and post-nominal (linguistic) modification. We al...
Article
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Two visual-world eye-tracking experiments investigated the role of prediction in the processing of repair disfluencies (e.g., "The chef reached for some salt uh I mean some ketchup . . ."). Experiment 1 showed that listeners were more likely to fixate a critical distractor item (e.g., pepper) during the processing of repair disfluencies compared wi...
Article
How is syntactic analysis implemented by the human brain during language comprehension? The current study combined methods from computational linguistics, eyetracking, and fMRI to address this question. Subjects read passages of text presented as paragraphs while their eye movements were recorded in an MRI scanner. We parsed the text using a probab...
Article
Christiansen & Chater's (C&C's) Now-or-Never bottleneck framework is similar to the Good-Enough Language Processing model (Ferreira et al. 2002), particularly in its emphasis on sparse representations. We discuss areas of overlap and review experimental findings that reinforce some of C&C's arguments, including evidence for underspecification and f...
Article
Keith Rayner, holder of the Atkinson Chair in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego, passed away on January 21, 2015, from complications due to cancer. Keith was born on June 20, 1943, in Dover, England. Keith was the major figure in the study of cognitive processes in reading, defining its approaches, techniques, and questions over...
Article
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Keith Rayner’s extraordinary scientific career revolutionized the field of reading research and had a major impact on almost all areas of cognitive psychology. In this article, we review some of his most significant contributions. We begin with Rayner’s research on eye movement control, including the development of paradigms for answering questions...
Article
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We report the results of an eye tracking experiment that used the gaze-contingent moving window technique to examine individual differences in the size of readers' perceptual span. Participants read paragraphs while the size of the rightward window of visible text was systematically manipulated across trials. In addition, participants completed a l...
Article
The lexical quality hypothesis (Perfetti & Hart, 2002) suggests that skilled reading requires high-quality lexical representations. In children, these representations are still developing, and it has been suggested that this development leads to more adult-like eye-movement behavior during the reading of connected text. To test this idea, a set of...
Article
Full-text available
Our proposal starts from the Overlay model of disfluency comprehension, which assumes that listeners identify a reparandum only after encountering a repair. The Overlay model explains why a reparandum lingers in a listener's representation of an utterance, but it does not capture anticipatory processing. We then develop a different model, based on...
Chapter
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If a pause occurs in the middle of a sentence, is it attributable to prosodic structure, planning problems, or both? And if both prosodic representation and performance constraints conspire to cause a speaker to divide a sentence into two units, can the durational effects that result be parsed into those two different sources? In this chapter, we a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Previous studies on reference tracking have established the importance of semantic factors in affecting the likelihood of re-mentioning a referent. This paper extends this line of research by investigating the interaction between syntax and semantics in this process. We conducted a Chinese sentence-completion experiment and found that the degree of...
Article
Full-text available
The existing literature presents conflicting models of how This and That access different segments of a written discourse, frequently relying on implicit analogies with spoken discourse. On the basis of this literature, we hypothesized that in written discourse, This more readily accesses the adjacent/right frontier of a preceding chunk of text, wh...
Article
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The length of a noun phrase has been shown to influence choices such as syntactic role assignment (e.g., whether the noun phrase is realized as the subject or the object). But does length also affect the choice between different forms of referring expressions? Three experiments investigated the effect of antecedent length on the choice between pron...
Article
Full-text available
In English, transitive events can be described in various ways. The main possibilities are active-voice and passive-voice, which are assumed to have distinct semantic and pragmatic functions. Within the passive, there are two further options, namely be-passive or get-passive. While these two forms are generally understood to differ, there is little...
Article
Full-text available
There has been little research on the fluency of language production and individual difference variables, such as intelligence and executive function. In this study, we report data from 106 participants who completed a battery of standardized cognitive tasks and a sentence production task. For the sentence production task, participants were present...
Article
Full-text available
This study presents the first experimental evidence that singing can facilitate short-term paired-associate phrase learning in an unfamiliar language (Hungarian). Sixty adult participants were randomly assigned to one of three "listen-and-repeat" learning conditions: speaking, rhythmic speaking, or singing. Participants in the singing condition sho...
Article
Studies have shown that speakers often include unnecessary modifiers when producing referential expressions, which is contrary to the Maxim of Quantity. In this study, we examined the production of referring expressions (e. g. the red triangle) that contained an over-described (or redundant) pre-nominal adjective modifier. These expressions were co...
Article
The perceptual span during normal reading extends approximately 14 to 15 characters to the right and three to four characters to the left of a current fixation. In the present study, we investigated whether the perceptual span extends farther than three to four characters to the left immediately before readers execute a regression. We used a displa...
Article
In this study, we examined sentence production in a sample of adults (N = 21) who had had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as children, but as adults no longer met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria (APA, 2000). This “remitted” group was assessed on a sentence production task. On each trial, participants saw two objects and a verb. Their tas...
Article
Full-text available
Speakers often include extra information when producing referring expressions, which is inconsistent with the Maxim of Quantity (Grice, 1975). In this study, we investigated how comprehension is affected by unnecessary information. The literature is mixed: some studies have found that extra information facilitates comprehension and others reported...
Article
A prominent behavioral manifestation of impulsivity in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is inappropriate language production, such as talking excessively, blurting out answers, and interrupting others. In this study, we examined language production in ADHD and non-ADHD controls to determine whether these types of langua...
Article
The effect of language-driven eye movements in a visual scene with concurrent speech was examined using complex linguistic stimuli and complex scenes. The processing demands were manipulated using speech rate and the temporal distance between mentioned objects. This experiment differs from previous research by using complex photographic scenes, thr...
Article
We examined temporarily ambiguous coordination structures such as put the butter in the bowl and the pan on the towel. Minimal Attachment predicts that the ambiguous noun phrase the pan will be interpreted as a noun-phrase coordination structure because it is syntactically simpler than clausal coordination. Constraint-based theories assume that int...
Article
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Disfluency is a common occurrence in speech and is generally thought to be related to difficulty in the production system. One unexplored issue is the extent to which inhibition is required to prevent incorrect speech plans from being articulated. Therefore, we examined disfluency production in participants with attention-deficit/hyperactivity diso...