Home | People |

Fernanda Ferreira


  • Ph.D., Psychology, Univ. of Mass., Amherst 1988
  • M.A., Linguistics, Univ. of Mass., Amherst 1986
  • M.S., Psychology, Univ. of Mass., Amherst 1985
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Manitoba, Canada, 1982


In addition to her academic role, Fernanda Ferreira serves as an elected member of the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society and serves as an associate editor of the journal, Cognitive Psychology and an editor of Collabra. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) and the Association for Psychological Science (APS).

Research Focus

Professor Ferreira’s area of research is psycholinguistics. She uses basic insights from formal linguistics, especially theories in sentence phonology and syntax, to develop models of processing. Her empirical work relies both on behavioral and neural measures, including eyetracking (for measurement of fixations, saccades and pupil diameter) and the recording of event-related potentials (ERPs). The fundamental aim of her research is to uncover the mechanisms that enable humans to understand and generate language in real time and in cooperation with other cognitive systems.

Read More

Selected Publications

Engelhardt, P.E., Nigg, J., & Ferreira, F. (2017). Executive function and intelligence in the resolution of temporary syntactic ambiguity: an individual differences investigation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 1263-1281.

Ferreira, F.., & Lowder, M.W. (2016). Prediction, information structure, and good enough language processing, Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 65, 217-247.

Henderson, J. M., Choi, W., Lowder, M. W., & Ferreira, F. (2016). Language structure in the brain: A fixation-related fMRI study of syntactic surprisal in reading. NeuroImage, 132, 293-300.

Lowder, M. W., & Ferreira, F. (2016). Prediction in the processing of repair disfluencies: Evidence from the visual-world paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 1400-1416.

Clifton, C. Jr., Ferreira, F., Henderson, J. M., Inhoff, A. W., Liversedge, S. P., Reichle, E. D., & Schotter, E. R. (2016). Eye movements in reading and information processing: Keith Rayner’s 40 year legacy. Journal of Memory and Language86, 1-19.

Ferreira, F., & Çokal, D. (2015). Sentence processing. In G. Hickok & S. L. Small (Eds.), Neurobiology of language (pp. 265-274). Academic Press.

Ferreira, F., Foucart, A., & Engelhardt, P. E. (2013). Language processing in the visual world: Effects of preview, visual complexity, and prediction. Journal of Memory and Language. 69, 165-182.

Engelhardt, P. E., Demiral, S. B., &  Ferreira, F. (2011). Over-specified referential expressions impair comprehension: An ERP study. Brain and Cognition, 77, 304-314.

Ferreira, F., Apel, J., &  Henderson, J. M. (2008). Taking a new look at looking at nothing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12, 405-410.

See All


Professor Ferreira teaches in the areas of cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics, language comprehension, language production, prosody and disfluency, individual differences, and working memory and language processing.


Professor Ferreira has won numerous awards throughout her career, including the 1996 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career

Contribution to Psychology (Cognition and Human Learning).