Kara D Federmeier

Kara D Federmeier
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | UIUC · Department of Psychology

Ph.D.

About

202
Publications
36,830
Reads
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14,206
Citations
Introduction
Work in the Cognition and Brain Lab at UIUC's Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology is centered on understanding how the brain builds and stores meaning representations during language comprehension, memory, and other cognitive tasks. For reprints, see: https://internal.psychology.illinois.edu/reprints//index.php?site_id=46
Additional affiliations
August 2002 - present
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Education
September 1994 - June 2000
University of California, San Diego
Field of study
  • Cognitive Science
August 1990 - May 1994

Publications

Publications (202)
Article
To test theories that posit differences in how semantic information is represented in the cerebral hemispheres, we assessed semantic priming for associatively and categorically related prime-target pairs that were graded in relatedness strength. Visual half-field presentation was used to bias processing to the right or left hemisphere, and event-re...
Article
Full-text available
Stimuli are easier to process when context makes them predictable, but does context-based facilitation arise from preactivation of a limited set of relatively probable upcoming stimuli (with facilitation then linearly related to probability) or, instead, because the system maintains and updates a probability distribution across all items (with faci...
Article
Full-text available
Our behavior is shaped by multiple factors, including direct feedback (seeing the outcomes of our past actions) and social observations (influenced, in part, via a drive to conform to other peoples’ behaviors). However, it remains unclear how these two processes are linked, particularly in the context of behavioral change. Notably, behavioral chang...
Article
Full-text available
Can a single adjective immediately influence message-building during sentence processing? We presented participants with 168 sentence contexts, such as "His skin was red from spending the day at the …" Sentences ended with either the most expected word ("beach") or a low cloze probability completion ("pool"). Nouns were preceded by adjectives that...
Article
The ability to rapidly and systematically access knowledge stored in long‐term memory in response to incoming sensory information—that is, to derive meaning from the world—lies at the core of human cognition. Research using methods that can precisely track brain activity over time has begun to reveal the multiple cognitive and neural mechanisms tha...
Article
Objective: Alcohol cue salience is considered core to the broader understanding of drinking behaviors. In the present research, we sought to build the knowledge of alcohol cue salience by exploring P3 responses to alcohol images among social drinkers within a large-scale alcohol-administration study. Method: Participants (N = 246) were randomly...
Preprint
Full-text available
Stimuli are easier to process when the preceding context (e.g., a sentence, in the case of a word) makes them predictable. However, it remains unclear whether context-based facilitation arises due to predictive preactivation of a limited set of relatively probable upcoming stimuli (with facilitation then linearly related to probability) or, instead...
Article
Predicting upcoming events is a critical function of the brain, and language provides a fertile testing ground for studying prediction, as comprehenders use context to predict features of upcoming words. Many aspects of the mechanisms of prediction remain elusive, partly due to a lack of methodological tools to probe prediction formation in the mom...
Article
Although we often seem to successfully comprehend language in the face of distraction, few studies have examined the role of sustained attention in critical components of sentence processing, such as integrating information over a sentence and revising predictions when unexpected information is encountered. The current study investigated the impact...
Article
Full-text available
Predictive coding models can simulate known perceptual or neuronal phenomena, but there have been fewer attempts to identify a reliable neural signature of predictive coding for complex stimuli. In a pair of studies, we test whether the N300 component of the event-related potential, occurring 250–350-ms poststimulus-onset, has the response properti...
Preprint
Full-text available
Can a single adjective immediately influence message-building during sentence processing? We presented participants with 168 sentence contexts, such as “His skin was red from spending the day at the …” Sentences ended with either the most expected word (“beach”) or a plausible completion with low cloze probability (“pool”). Nouns were preceded by a...
Article
Amid increasing interest in the role of prediction in language comprehension, there remains a gap in our understanding of what happens when predictions are disconfirmed. Are unexpected words harder to process and encode because of interference from the original prediction? Or, because of their relevance for learning, do expectation violations stren...
Article
Although the P3b component of the event‐related brain potential is one of the most widely studied components, its underlying generators are not currently well understood. Recent theories have suggested that the P3b is triggered by phasic activation of the locus‐coeruleus norepinephrine (LC‐NE) system, an important control center implicated in facil...
Article
Background An understanding of alcohol’s acute neural effects could augment our knowledge of mechanisms underlying alcohol-related cognitive/motor impairment and inform interventions for addiction. Focusing on studies employing event-related brain potential (ERP) methods, which offer a direct measurement of neural activity in functionally well-char...
Preprint
Although the P3b component of the event-related brain potential is one of the most widely-studied components, its underlying generators are not currently well understood. Recent theories have suggested that the P3b is triggered by phasic activation of the locus-coeruleus norepinephrine (LC-NE) system, an important control center implicated in facil...
Article
Full-text available
When we use language, we combine sounds, signs, and letters into words that then form sentences, which together tell a story. Both language production and language comprehension rely on representations that need to be continuously and rapidly activated, selected, and combined. These representations are specific to language, but many processes that...
Preprint
Full-text available
Predictive coding models can simulate known perceptual or neuronal phenomena, but there have been fewer attempts to identify a reliable neural signature of predictive coding for complex stimuli. In a pair of studies, we test whether the N300 component of the event-related potential, occurring 250-350 ms post-stimulus-onset, has the response propert...
Article
To understand the effects of literacy on fundamental processes involved in reading, we report a secondary data analysis examining individual differences in global eye-movement measures and first-pass eye-movement distributions in a diverse sample of community-dwelling adults aged 16 to 64. Participants ( n = 80) completed an assessment battery prob...
Chapter
The cognitive, neural, and linguistic mechanisms underlying the comprehension and production of language are complex. This complexity is compounded when we consider the fact that the majority of people in the world learn, master, and switch between multiple languages. One way that we can track the complex dynamics of language use in the brain is th...
Preprint
To understand the effects of literacy on fundamental processes involved in reading, we report a secondary data analysis examining individual differences in global eye-movement measures and first-pass eye-movement distributions in a diverse sample of community-dwelling adults aged 16 to 64. Participants (n = 80) completed an assessment battery probi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Predicting upcoming stimuli and events is a critical function of the brain, and understanding the mechanisms of prediction has thus become a central topic in neuroscientific research. Language provides a fertile testing ground for examining predictive mechanisms, as comprehenders use context to predict different features of upcoming words. Although...
Article
Objects are perceived within rich visual contexts, and statistical associations may be exploited to facilitate their rapid recognition. Recent work using natural scene–object associations suggests that scenes can prime the visual form of associated objects, but it remains unknown whether this relies on an extended learning process. We asked partici...
Article
Little is known about conceptual integration processes and their contributions to memory representations that are constructed in sentence comprehension among adults with underdeveloped literacy skills. We measured word-by-word reading time to examine variation of responsiveness to demands of lexical and conceptual processing during sentence compreh...
Article
In the current paper, we examined the effects of lexical (e.g. word frequency, orthographic neighborhood density) and contextual (e.g. word predictability in the form of cloze probability) features on single-trial event-related brain potentials in a self-paced reading paradigm. Critically, we examined whether individual differences in reading speed...
Article
Full-text available
It is well-established that aging impairs memory for associations more than it does memory for single items. Aging also impacts processes involved in online language comprehension, including the ability to form integrated, message-level representations. These changes in comprehension processes could impact older adults’ associative memory performan...
Article
Full-text available
When people process language, they can use context to predict upcoming information, influencing processing and comprehension as seen in both behavioral and neural measures. Although numerous studies have shown immediate facilitative effects of confirmed predictions, the downstream consequences of prediction have been less explored. In the current s...
Article
A number of studies have found that older adults' sentence processing tends not to be characterized by the prediction-related effects attested for young adults. Here, we further probed older adults' sensitivity to predictability and congruity by recording event-related brain potentials (ERPs) as adults over age 60 read pairs of sentences, which end...
Article
Recent event-related brain potential (ERP) experiments have demonstrated parafoveal N400 expectancy and congruity effects, showing that semantic information can be accessed from words in parafoveal vision (a conclusion also supported by some eye-tracking work). At the same time, it is unclear how higher-order integrative aspects of language compreh...
Article
Language comprehension is shaped by world knowledge. After hearing about “a farm animal,” meanings of typical (“cow”) versus atypical exemplars (“ox”) are more accessible, as evidenced by N400 responses. Moreover, atypical exemplars elicit a larger post-N400 frontal positivity than typical and incongruous (“ivy”) exemplars, indexing the integration...
Article
Since its discovery in the 1960s, the P300 has been contributing both directly and indirectly to language research. Perhaps most notably, it has been suggested that the P600, an ERP component that was first characterized in the context of syntactic processing, could be a variant of the P3b subcomponent of the P300. Here, we review studies on both s...
Article
Pronouns serve a critical referential function, yet the cognitive processes engaged during pronoun comprehension remain incompletely understood. One view is that encountering a pronoun leads the comprehender to reactivate the semantic features of its antecedent. We examined this by manipulating the concreteness of a noun antecedent and assessing wh...
Article
Full-text available
Prediction can help support rapid language processing. However, it is unclear whether prediction has downstream consequences, beyond processing in the moment. In particular, when a prediction is disconfirmed, does it linger, or is it suppressed? This study manipulated whether words were actually seen or were only expected, and probed their fate in...
Article
Arabic numerals have come to be used for many purposes beyond representing a particular quantity (e.g., as a label for an athlete on their jersey), but it remains to be determined how this type of meaningfulness is accessed and utilized by readers. Motivated by previous work showing that item-level ratings of personal familiarity can influence trad...
Article
We investigated how struggling adult readers make use of sentence context to facilitate word processing when comprehending spoken language, conditions under which print decoding is not a barrier to comprehension. Stimuli were strongly and weakly constraining sentences (as measured by cloze probability), which ended with the most expected word based...
Article
The current study reports the effects of accumulating contextual constraints on neural indices of lexico-semantic processing (i.e., effects of word frequency and orthographic neighborhood) as a function of normal aging. Event-related brain potentials were measured from a sample of older adults as they read sentences that were semantically congruent...
Article
Full-text available
Stimulus processing in language and beyond is shaped by context, with predictability having a particularly well-attested influence on the rapid processes that unfold during the presentation of a word. But does predictability also have downstream consequences for the quality of the constructed representations? On the one hand, the ease of processing...
Article
"Two route" theories of object-related action processing posit different temporal activation profiles of grasp-to-move actions (rapidly evoked based on object structure) versus skilled use actions (more slowly activated based on semantic knowledge). We capitalized on the exquisite temporal resolution and multidimensionality of Event-Related Potenti...
Article
Normative aging is associated with deficits in visual acuity and cognitive control that impact the allocation of visual attention, but little is known about how those changes affect information extraction and integration during visual language comprehension in older adulthood. In the current study, we used a visual hemi-field flanker RSVP paradigm...
Article
The facilitation of word processing by sentence context reflects the interaction between the build-up of message-level semantics and lexical processing. Yet, little is known about how this effect varies through adulthood as a function of reading skill. In this study, Participants 18-64 years old with a range of literacy competence read simple sente...
Article
Recent ERP data from young adults have revealed that simple syntactic anomalies elicit different patterns of lateralization in right-handed participants depending upon their familial sinistrality profile (whether or not they have left-handed biological relatives). Right-handed participants who do not have left-handed relatives showed a strongly lat...
Article
We employed self-paced reading and event-related potential measures to investigate how adults of varying literacy levels use sentence context information when reading. Community-dwelling participants read strongly and weakly constraining sentences that ended with expected or unexpected target words. Skilled readers showed N400s that were graded by...
Article
A long-standing core question in cognitive science is whether different modalities and representation types (pictures, words, sounds, etc.) access a common store of semantic information. Although different input types have been shown to activate a shared network of brain regions, this does not necessitate that there is a common representation, as t...
Article
Arithmetic expressions, like verbal sentences, incrementally lead readers to anticipate potential appropriate completions. Existing work in the language domain has helped us understand how the two hemispheres differently participate in and contribute to the cognitive process of sentence reading, but comparatively little work has been done with math...
Article
Full-text available
When meaningful stimuli such as words are encountered in groups or pairs (e.g., "elephant-ferry"), they can be processed either separately or as an integrated concept ("an elephant ferry"). Prior research suggests that memory for integrated associations is supported by different mechanisms than is memory for nonintegrated associations. However, lit...
Article
Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) have revealed multiple mechanisms by which contextual constraints impact language processing. At the same time, little work has examined the trial-to-trial dynamics of context use in the brain. In the current study, we probed intraindividual variability in behavioral and neural indices of context processing dur...
Article
An important question in the reading literature regards the nature of the semantic information readers can extract from the parafovea (i.e., the next word in a sentence). Recent eye-tracking findings have found a semantic parafoveal preview benefit under many circumstances, and findings from event-related brain potentials (ERPs) also suggest that r...
Chapter
Full-text available
Recordings of electrical brain activity allow researchers to track multiple cognitive subprocesses with high temporal resolution. This chapter discusses how the electroencephalogram (EEG) is generated and recorded, and how it is analyzed, including filtering, artifact rejection, and statistical testing. It shows how electrophysiological methods hav...
Chapter
Delineating the neurobiology of language comprehension calls for an understanding of when and how (and not just where) inputs make contact with semantic memory (semantic access) to yield meaning. We examine this temporally extended function through the lens of event-related brain potentials (ERPs) measured to linguistic in comparison with nonlingui...
Article
When we view a picture or read a word, we evoke its meaning (semantics) based on prior knowledge of the concept. We previously showed that pictures and words describing scene categories evoke similar representations in the inferior frontal gyrus, precuneus, angular gyrus and ventral visual cortex. Although we know the neural representations of pict...
Article
The current study investigates the online processing consequences of encountering compound words with transposed letters (TLs), to determine if cross-morpheme TLs are more disruptive to reading than those within a single morpheme, as would be predicted by accounts of obligatory morpho-orthopgrahic decomposition. Two measures of online processing, e...
Article
In 2 experiments, we examined the impact of foveal semantic expectancy and congruity on parafoveal word processing during reading. Experiment 1 utilized an eye-tracking gaze-contingent display change paradigm, and Experiment 2 measured event-related brain potentials (ERPs) in a modified flanker rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) paradigm. Eye-...
Article
Full-text available
Despite strong evidence for prediction during language comprehension, the underlying mechanisms, and the extent to which they are specific to language, remain unclear. Re-analysing an event-related potentials study, we examined responses in the time-frequency domain to expected and unexpected (but plausible) words in strongly and weakly constrainin...
Article
There is growing recognition that some important forms of long-term memory are difficult to classify into one of the well-studied memory subtypes. One example is personal semantics. Like the episodes that are stored as part of one's autobiography, personal semantics is linked to an individual, yet, like general semantic memory, it is detached from...
Article
Gender-based political stereotypes pervade the media environment in the United States, and this may cause voters to automatically activate these stereotypes while evaluating politicians. In the research reported here, we investigate whether voters are able to reduce the automatic activation of unwanted stereotypes and how political sophistication i...
Article
Humans are extraordinarily quick at processing natural scenes. Furthermore, good exemplars of natural scene categories are not only categorized more easily but are also more readily detected than bad exemplars. However, it remains unclear when and how this good exemplar advantage arises. To address this question, we measured event-related potential...
Article
The amplitude of the N400-an event-related potential (ERP) component linked to meaning processing and initial access to semantic memory-is inversely related to the incremental buildup of semantic context over the course of a sentence. We revisited the nature and scope of this incremental context effect, adopting a word-level linear mixed-effects mo...
Article
Full-text available
Behavioral and neuropsychological evidence suggest that abstract and concrete concepts may be represented, retrieved, and processed differently in the human brain. As reviewed in this paper, data using event-related potential measures, some in combination with visual half-field presentation methods, have offered a detailed picture of the nature and...
Article
We used eye tracking to investigate the downstream processing consequences of encountering noun/verb (NV) homographs (i.e., park) in semantically neutral but syntactically constraining contexts. Target words were followed by a prepositional phrase containing a noun that was plausible for only 1 meaning of the homograph. Replicating previous work, w...
Article
Although left-hemisphere (LH) specialization for language is often viewed as a key example of functional lateralization, there is increasing evidence that the right hemisphere (RH) can also extract meaning from words and sentences. However, the right hemisphere's ability to appreciate syntactic aspects of language remains poorly understood. In the...
Article
Full-text available
Many theories of visual word processing assume obligatory semantic access and phonological recoding whenever a written word is encountered. However, the relative importance of different reading processes depends on task. The current study uses event related potentials (ERPs) to investigate whether - and, if so, when and how - effects of task modula...
Article
Differences in how the right and left hemispheres (RH, LH) apprehend visual words were examined using event-related potentials (ERPs) in a repetition paradigm with visual half-field (VF) presentation. In both hemispheres (RH/LVF, LH/RVF), initial presentation of items elicited similar and typical effects of orthographic neighborhood size, with larg...
Article
A long-standing core question that has remained unanswered in cognitive science is: Do different modalities (pictures, words, sounds, smells, tastes and touch) access a common store of semantic information? Although different modalities have been shown to activate a shared network of brain regions, this does not imply a common representation, as th...
Article
Gesture facilitates language production, but there is debate surrounding its exact role. It has been argued that gestures lighten the load on verbal working memory (VWM; Goldin-Meadow, Nusbaum, Kelly, & Wagner, 2001), but gestures have also been argued to aid in lexical retrieval (Krauss, 1998). In the current study, 50 speakers completed an indivi...
Article
Full-text available
Visual word recognition is a process that, both hierarchically and in parallel, draws on different types of information ranging from perceptual to orthographic to semantic. A central question concerns when and how these different types of information come online and interact after a word form is initially perceived. Numerous studies addressing aspe...
Article
Full-text available
A large and growing body of work, conducted in both brain-intact and brain-damaged populations, has used the free viewing chimeric face test as a measure of hemispheric dominance for the extraction of emotional information from faces. These studies generally show that normal right-handed individuals tend to perceive chimeric faces as more emotional...
Book
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Conference Paper
Research over the last decade has shown that brain-computer interfaces (BCI) based on electroencephalography (EEG) can provide an alternative input paradigm for both clinical and healthy populations. Currently, the majority of BCI paradigms rely on a limited number of brain potentials; thus there remain many EEG signals to be explored for BCI appli...
Article
Eye tracking was used to investigate how younger and older (60 or more years) adults use syntactic and semantic information to disambiguate noun/verb (NV) homographs (e.g., park). In event-related potential (ERP) work using the same materials, Lee and Federmeier (2009, 2011) found that young adults elicited a sustained frontal negativity to NV homo...
Article
Full-text available
The N400, a component of the event-related potential (ERP) associated with the processing of meaning, is sensitive to a wide array of lexico-semantic, sentence-level, and discourse-level manipulations across modalities. In sentence contexts, N400 amplitude varies inversely and nearly linearly with the predictability of a word in its context. Howeve...
Article
Full-text available
Voters tend to misattribute issue positions to political candidates that are consistent with their partisan affiliation, even though these candidates have never explicitly stated or endorsed such stances. The prevailing explanation in political science is that voters misattribute candidates’ issue positions because they use their political knowledg...