Kara Federmeier

Profile picture for Kara Federmeier

Contact Information

831 Psychology; 2115 Beckman Institute


Kara D. Federmeier received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego. She is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois and a full-time faculty member at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, where she leads the Illinois Language and Literacy Initiative and heads the Cognition and Brain Lab. 

Research Interests

language comprehension, semantic memory, age-related cognitive change, hemispheric differences, event-related potentials (ERPs)

Research Description

Dr. Federmeier's research uses 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.



1994: B.S., Summa Cum Laude, in Honors Biology, University of Illinois 

2000: Ph.D. in Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego



A Process View of Reading among Adult Literacy Learners

IES 392 DE R305A130448; PIs: Anderson, Cohen, Federmeier, and Stine-Morrow

This project takes advantage of behavioral, eyetracking, and psychophysiological (ERP) methods to examine the nature of language processing in adult literacy learners as a précis to the development of instructional principles.


Hemispheric Differences in Memory and Language

R01, NIA, AG026308; PI Federmeier           

This project empirically tests models of language and memory asymmetries and examines their implications for age-related cognitive change.


Awards and Honors

Elected President of the Society for Psychophysiological Research  2016 - 2019

Named a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Centennial Scholar  2013 - 2016

James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award, Understanding Human Cognition Initiative   2010 - 2016

Named a University Scholar  2012 - 2015

Named a Fellow of the Psychonomic Society 2013

Named the Emanuel Donchin Professorial Scholar in Psychology     2013

Named a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science          2012

Member of Gesellschaft für Unendliche Versuche (GUV)     2004 - 2012

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Young Investigator Award  2010

Arnold O. Beckman Research Award, University of Illinois   2009, 2003

Helen Corley Petit Scholar, University of Illinois 2008 - 2009

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

Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowship in Biological Sciences 1994 - 1999

McDonnell-Pew Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Fellow   1994 - 1999

Philanthropic Educational Organization Scholar Award        1997 - 1998

Teaching Excellence Award, Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego            1996

All School Distinction Award, University of Illinois School of Life Sciences  1994

University Honors “Bronze Tablet”  1994


Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, Psychology
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

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

Smith, C. M., & Federmeier, K. D. (2019). What does “it” mean, anyway? Examining the time course of semantic activation in reference resolution. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(1), 115-136. https://doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2018.1513540

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

Ryskin, R., Ng, S., Mimnaugh, K., Brown-Schmidt, S., & Federmeier, K. D. (2019). Talker-specific predictions during language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2019.1630654

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