Professor Ferreira 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.
Fernanda Ferreira, Ph.D.
Phone: (530) 752-5497
Cassandra is a language researcher of many hats. Her research applies techniques from natural language processing, learning, and memory to the study of language processing. She is especially interested in how recent and lifelong experience with language can influence the words and phrases speakers select and the expectations that comprehenders have about what they will hear or read.
Gwendolyn studies how people use acoustic and syntactic information to process spoken sentences in real-time. She is interested in how people apply their linguistic knowledge to language processing tasks, and whether they are able to learn from recent experience in order to improve processing efficiency.
I was born in Italy, where I lived until 2012. In May 2016, I graduated from Bard College (NY) where I finished a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Mind, Brain and Behavior. My senior thesis explores strong emotional responses to music from familiar and unfamiliar cultures. Previously, I studied acoustic cues of incoming syntactic structure at Rutgers University, as part of an REU internship. Supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, I am now in my second year at UC Davis, pursuing a PhD with Dr. Ferreira. I plan to continue conducting research in Psycholinguistics and in music cognition at UC Davis.
Eleonora Judith Beier
I am a graduate student in the Linguistics PhD. program, working with Professor Ferreira since 2017. I am interested in how functional pressure influences the selection of syntactic structures during language production, and how people communicate with superficial interpretation of linguistic input.
Harvey (Zhuang) Qiu
I am a graduate student in the Psychology PhD program, working with Dr. Fernanda Ferreira. I am interested in the cognitive and neural processes underlying language comprehension and production. Before coming to UC Davis, I received a double degree in psychology (BSc and BA) from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and the University of Queensland, Australia.
Nene (Suphasiree) Chantavarin
I am a first year PhD student in Perception, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience, working with Dr. Fernanda Ferreira. My academic interests lie in psycholinguistics, specifically, in questions of lexical disambiguation, sentence and discourse comprehension and underlying brain mechanisms. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and Master’s degree in Cognitive Studies, both from Saint Petersburg State University, Russia.
Tanya (Tatiana) Matyushkina
I did my Bachelor’s degree on language teaching and testing in Iran. Then, I moved to Scotland to do my Master’s in Psychology of Language at the University of Edinburgh. I started working towards my PhD under Dr. Ferreira’s supervision in 2012 and I am now a post-doc at Penn State University. My research interest is discourse processing in general and pronoun processing in particular. How do we manage establish a meaningful link between subsequent reference to a previously-encountered entity in discourse? This is particularly interesting when reference is ambiguous and multiple entities could potentially be chosen as the referent. Under these conditions, psychological biases for information processing are revealed. I use behavioral techniques such as sentence completion, reaction time and eye-tracking (both in reading and in the visual world paradigm) as well as non-behavioral techniques such as ERPs (Event-Related Potentials) to investigate my questions.
Dr. Matthew Lowder was a post-doc in Fernanda Ferreira’s Psycholinguistics lab and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Richmond. Matt’s research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms that contribute to language comprehension, from lower-level processes of word recognition to higher-level processes of sentence interpretation.