Kara D Federmeier


Research Interests

Language processing

Semantic memory


Hemispheric differences

Electrophysiology (EEG, ERPs)


Research Description

Certain sensory stimuli -- words, pictures, faces, environmental sounds -- seem to immediately and effortlessly bring to mind a rich array of knowledge that we experience as the "meaning" of those cues. My research examines the neurobiological basis of such meaning, asking how world knowledge derived from multiple modalities comes to be organized in the brain and how such information is integrated and made available for use in varied contexts and often in only hundreds of milliseconds. I use human electrophysiological techniques in combination with behavioral, eye movement, and other brain imaging methods to examine how semantic information is structured as a function of modality and stimulus type, how it is brought to bear during language comprehension by younger and older adults, and how it is differentially accessed and used by the two hemispheres of the brain.


Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

Recent Publications

Federmeier, K. D., & Kutas, M. (2019). What's “left”? Hemispheric sensitivity to predictability and congruity during sentence reading by older adults. Neuropsychologia, 133, [107173]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.107173

Hubbard, R. J., Rommers, J., Jacobs, C. L., & Federmeier, K. D. (2019). Downstream Behavioral and Electrophysiological Consequences of Word Prediction on Recognition Memory. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, [291]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00291

Leckey, M., & Federmeier, K. D. (2019). The P3b and P600(s): Positive contributions to language comprehension. Psychophysiology, [e13351]. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13351

Lucas, H. D., Gupta, R. S., Hubbard, R. J., & Federmeier, K. D. (2019). Adult Age Differences in the Use of Conceptual Combination as an Associative Encoding Strategy. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, [339]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00339

Payne, B. R., Stites, M. C., & Federmeier, K. D. (2019). Event-related brain potentials reveal how multiple aspects of semantic processing unfold across parafoveal and foveal vision during sentence reading. Psychophysiology, 56(10), [e13432]. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13432

View all publications on Illinois Experts

In The News

  • Researchers in the Cognition and Brain Lab, led by Kara Federmeier, have recently published a paper in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience that investigates how predicting during sentence comprehension affects memory.

  • We are proud to announce the following grants have been awarded to faculty in the Psychology Department over the Fall 2020 semester.  

  • Predictions were recently proposed to be the core mechanism organizing brain functioning at all levels and in all domains. However, in contrast, within language comprehension, evidence for predictions has not been ubiquitous across participants, tasks, and materials.

  • The proposed research examines language comprehension differences across the two cerebral hemispheres and as a function of age in order to understand what factors characterize and promote effective language processing, not only for immediate comprehension but for the longer-term retention of verbal material.