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Kara D Federmeier



Kara Federmeier is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and a full time faculty member at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, where she leads the Illinois Language and Literacy Initiative. She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego in 2000. Research in her lab, the Cognition and Brain Lab, has been funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation. She was President of the Society for Psychophysiology (2017-2019). She is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Psychonomic Society, the Society for Psychophysiological Research, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She edits The Psychology of Learning and Motivation.

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. Kara's 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. Her research group 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.


Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of California at San Diego (2000)

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, Psychology
Professor, Linguistics
Professor, Kinesiology and Community Health
Professor, Neuroscience Program
Professor, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

Recent Publications

Deng, W., Federmeier, K. D., & Beck, D. M. (Accepted/In press). Highly Memorable Images Are More Readily Perceived. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Hubbard, R. J., & Federmeier, K. D. (2024). The Impact of Linguistic Prediction Violations on Downstream Recognition Memory and Sentence Recall. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 36(1), 1-23.

Lai, M. K., Payne, B. R., & Federmeier, K. D. (2024). Graded and ungraded expectation patterns: Prediction dynamics during active comprehension. Psychophysiology, 61(1), Article e14424.

Murray, M. M., Middelmann, N. K., & Federmeier, K. D. (2024). Animal cognition: Dogs build semantic expectations between spoken words and objects. Current Biology, 34(9), R348-R351.

Smith, C. M., & Federmeier, K. D. (2024). Multiple mechanisms of visual prediction as revealed by the timecourse of scene–object facilitation. Psychophysiology, 61(5), Article e14503. Advance online publication.

View all publications on Illinois Experts