Kara Federmeier


831 Psychology
2115 Beckman Institute
Office: 333-8303

Mail to:
Department of Psychology, UIUC
603 E. Daniel St.
Champaign IL 61820
Lab Page
Curriculum Vita

Kara Federmeier

Professor, Department of Psychology
B.S., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
M.S. and Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
2016-13 Named a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Centennial Scholar

2016-10 James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award

2015-12 University Scholar

2013 Named the Emanuel Donchin Professorial Scholar in Psychology

2012 Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science

2010 Cognitive Neuroscience Society Young Investigator Award

2009, 03 Arnold O. Beckman Research Award, University of Illinois

2008 Helen Corley Petit Scholar

2006 Society for Psychophysiology Award for Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychophysiology

Currently Teaching

NEUR 450 - Cognitive Psychophysiology

Language, memory, hemispheric differences, and cognitive neuroscience

Human beings inhabit a world that seems infused with meaning. Our senses encounter colors, shading, lines, and curves; pitch and volume; texture. From these complex arrays of sensory information, the brain discerns the form of written and spoken words, pictures, objects, scenes, faces, and environmental sounds. And it then seems to immediately and effortlessly link those forms to a rich set of knowledge, stored in memory, that we experience as the "meaning" of those inputs.

My work is centered on understanding how the brain builds and stores meaning representations, during language comprehension, memory, and other cognitive tasks. We do this by noninvasively measuring brain electrical signals millisecond by millisecond as people look, listen, read, remember, interpret, and make decisions. We combine these electrophysiological measures with assessments of behavior and eye movements, and with other techniques for measuring brain structure and function. Our goal is understand how younger and older adults make sense of language and of the world around them, and ultimately to uncover ways to keep cognition "meaningful" across the lifespan.

Research Area

Representative Publications


Coronel, J. C.; Federmeier, K. D., The N400 Reveals How Personal Semantics Is Processed: Insights into the Nature and Organization of Self-Knowledge. Neuropsychologia 2016, 84, 36-43.


Payne, B. R.; Lee, C. L.; Federmeier, K. D., Revisiting the Incremental Effects of Context on Word Processing: Evidence from Single-Word Event-Related Brain Potentials. Psychophysiology 2015, 52, (11), 1456-1469.

Stites, M. C.; Federmeier, K. D., Subsequent to Suppression: Downstream Comprehension Consequences of Noun/Verb Ambiguity in Natural Reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology-Learning Memory and Cognition 2015, 41, (5), 1497-1515.

Wlotko, E. W.; Federmeier, K. D., Time for Prediction? The Effect of Presentation Rate on Predictive Sentence Comprehension During Word-by-Word Reading. Cortex 2015, 68, 20-32.


Coronel, J. C.; Federmeier, K. D.; Gonsalves, B. D., Event-Related Potential Evidence Suggesting Voters Remember Political Events That Never Happened. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 2014, 9, (3), 358-366, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nss143.

Gillespie, M.; James, A. N.; Federmeier, K. D.; Watson, D. G., Verbal Working Memory Predicts Co-Speech Gesture: Evidence from Individual Differences. Cognition 2014, 132, 174-180.

Laszlo, S.; Federmeier, K. D., Never Seem to Find the Time: Evaluating the Physiological Time Course of Visual Word Recognition with Regression Analysis of Single-Item Event-Related Potentials. Language Cognition and Neuroscience 2014, 29, (5), 642-661, DOI:10.1080/01690965.2013.866259.

Fischer-Baum, S.; Dickson, D. S.; Federmeier, K. D., Frequency and Regularity Effects in Reading Are Task Dependent: Evidence from ERPs. Language Cognition and Neuroscience 2014, 29, (10), 1342-1355, DOI:10.1080/23273798.2014.927067.

Dickson, D. S.; Federmeier, K. D., Hemispheric Differences in Orthographic and Semantic Processing as Revealed by Event-Related Potentials. Neuropsychologia 2014, 64, 230-239, DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.09.037.


Awni, H.; Norton, J. J. S.; Umunna, S.; Federmeier, K. D.; Bretl, T.; Towards a Brain Computer Interface Based on the N2pc Event-Related Potential, In 2013 6th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering. IEEE, New York, 2013, 1021-1024.

Stites, M. C.; Federmeier, K. D.; Stine-Morrow, E. A. L., Cross-Age Comparisons Reveal Multiple Strategies for Lexical Ambiguity Resolution During Natural Reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology-Learning Memory and Cognition 2013, 39, (6), 1823-1841, DOI: 10.1037/a0032860.

Wlotko, E. W.; Federmeier, K., Two Sides of Meaning: The Scalp-Recorded N400 Reflects Distinct Contributions from the Cerebral Hemispheres. Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences 2013, 4, (181), 1-15.


Huang, H. W.; Meyer, A. M.; Federmeier, K. D., A "Concrete View" of Aging: Event Related Potentials Reveal Age-Related Changes in Basic Integrative Processes in Language. Neuropsychologia 2012, 50, (1), 26-35.

Laszlo, S.; Stites, M.; Federmeier, K. D., Won't Get Fooled Again: An Event-Related Potential Study of Task and Repetition Effects on the Semantic Processing of Items without Semantics. Language and Cognitive Processes 2012, 27, (2), 257-274.

Lee, C. L.; Federmeier, K. D., Ambiguity's Aftermath: How Age Differences in Resolving Lexical Ambiguity Affect Subsequent Comprehension. Neuropsychologia 2012, 50, (5), 869-879.

Wlotko, E. W.; Federmeier, K. D., Age-Related Changes in the Impact of Contextual Strength on Multiple Aspects of Sentence Comprehension. Psychophysiology 2012, 49, (6), 770-785.

Coronel, J. C.; Duff, M. C.; Warren, D. E.; Federmeier, K. D.; Gonsalves, B. D.; Tranel, D.; Cohen, N. J., Remembering and Voting: Theory and Evidence from Amnesic Patients. American Journal of Political Science 2012, 56, (4), 837-848

Huang, H. W.; Federmeier, K. D., Dispreferred Adjective Orders Elicit Brain Responses Associated with Lexico-Semantic Rather Than Syntactic Processing. Brain Research 2012, 1475, 62-70.

Voss, J. L.; Federmeier, K. D.; Paller, K. A., The Potato Chip Really Does Look Like Elvis! Neural Hallmarks of Conceptual Processing Associated with Finding Novel Shapes Subjectively Meaningful. Cerebral Cortex 2012, 22, (10), 2354-2364.

Wlotko, E. W.; Federmeier, K. D., So That's What You Meant! Event-Related Potentials Reveal Multiple Aspects of Context Use During Construction of Message-Level Meaning. Neuroimage 2012, 62, (1), 356-366.

Wlotko, E. W.; Federmeier, K. D.; Kutas, M., To Predict or Not to Predict: Age-Related Differences in the Use of Sentential Context. Psychology and Aging 2012, 27, (4), 975-988.


Voss, J. L.; Warren, D. E.; Gonsalves, B. D.; Federmeier, K. D.; Tranel, D.; Cohen, N. J., Spontaneous Revisitation During Visual Exploration as a Link among Strategic Behavior, Learning, and the Hippocampus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2011, 108, (31), E402-E409.

Lee, C. L.; Federmeier, K. D., Differential Age Effects on Lexical Ambiguity Resolution Mechanisms. Psychophysiology 2011, 48, (7), 960-972.

Kutas, M.; Federmeier, K. D., Thirty Years and Counting: Finding Meaning in the N400 Component of the Event-Related Brain Potential (ERP), In Annual Review of Psychology; Fiske, S. T., Schacter, D. L., Taylor, S. E., Eds. 2011; Vol. 62, 621-647.

Voss, J. L.; Federmeier, K. D., FN400 potentials are functionally identical to N400 potentials and reflect semantic processing during recognition testing. Psychophysiology 2011, 48, (4), 532-546.

Voss, J. L.; Gonsalves, B. D.; Federmeier, K. D.; Tranel, D.; Cohen, N. J., Hippocampal brain-network coordination during volitional exploratory behavior enhances learning. Nature Neuroscience 2011, 14, (1), 115-U152.

Kutas, M.; Federmeier, K. D., Thirty Years and Counting: Finding Meaning in the N400 Component of the Event-Related Brain Potential (ERP). In Annual Review of Psychology, Annual Reviews: Palo Alto, 2011; Vol. 62, pp 621-647.

Laszlo, S.; Federmeier, K. D., The N400 as a snapshot of interactive processing: Evidence from regression analyses of orthographic neighbor and lexical associate effects. Psychophysiology 2011, 48, (2), 176-186.Huang, H., Lee, C., and Federmeier, K. D. (2010). Imagine that! ERPs provide evidence for distinct hemispheric contributions to the processing of concrete and abstract concepts. Neuroimage, 49, 1116-1123.


Kandhadai, P. and Federmeier, K. D. (2010). Automatic and controlled aspects of lexical associative processing in the two cerebral hemispheres. Psychophysiology, 47, 774-785.

Meyer, A. M. and Federmeier, K. D. (2010). Event-related potentials reveal the effects of aging on meaning selection and revision. Psychophysiology, 47, 673-686.

Federmeier, K. D. and Laszlo, S. (2009). Time for meaning: Electrophysiology provides insights into the dynamics of representation and processing in semantic memory. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Volume 51 (pp 1-44). Burlington: Academic Press.

Gratton, C., Evans, K. M., and Federmeier, K. D. (2009). See what I mean? An ERP study of the effect of background knowledge on novel object processing. Memory and Cognition, 37, 277-291.

Lee, C. and Federmeier, K. D. (2009). Wave-ering: An ERP study of syntactic and semantic context effects on ambiguity resolution for noun/verb homographs. Journal of Memory and Language, 61, 538-555.

Federmeier, K. D., Wlotko, E., and Meyer, A. M. (2008). What’s “right” in language comprehension: ERPs reveal right hemisphere language capabilities. Language and Linguistics Compass, 2, 1-17.

Evans, K M. and Federmeier, K. D. (2007). The memory that's right and the memory that's left: Event-related potentials reveal hemispheric asymmetries in the encoding and retention of verbal information. Neuropsychologia, 45, 1777-1790.

Federmeier, K. D. (2007). Thinking ahead: The role and roots of prediction in language comprehension. Psychophysiology, 44, 491-505.

Gutchess, A. H., Ieuji, Y, and Federmeier, K. D. (2007). Event-related potentials reveal age differences in the encoding and recognition of scenes. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 1089-1103.

Laszlo, S. and Federmeier, K. D. (2007). Better the DVL you know: Acronyms reveal the contribution of familiarity to single word reading. Psychological Science, 18, 122-126.

Wlotko, E. and Federmeier, K. D. (2007). Finding the right word: Hemispheric asymmetries in the use of sentence context information. Neuropsychologia, 45, 3001-3014.

Hannula, D. E., Federmeier, K. D., and Cohen, N. J. (2006). Event-related potential signatures of relational memory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 1863-1876.

Complete Publications List (PubMed)