The Ferreira Lab conducts research in the area of psycholinguistics. We take advantage of basic insights from formal linguistics, especially theories in sentence phonology and syntax, to develop models of processing. Our 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 this work is to uncover the mechanisms that enable humans to understand and generate language in real time and in cooperation with other cognitive systems.

We are interested in questions such as these:

  • How do people parse sentences?
  • How are disfluencies handled by the comprehension system?
  • How does the comprehension system recover from garden-paths?
  • Do we sometimes create underspecified representations during processing?
  • How does the language system make use of prosodic information?
  • How do the visual and language systems interact?
  • How do speakers plan their utterances?
  • How do speakers choose a particular syntactic and prosodic structure for a sentence?
  • At what point during production do speakers realize they’re about to produce a grammatically illegal sequence, and what do they do about it?
  • Is language production incremental?
  • What is the relationship between prosody and disfluency in production?

The Ferreira Lab promotes equality, diversity, and inclusion in achieving and sustaining excellence in our science and public outreach. We are committed to an intellectual climate that is at once welcoming, nurturing and challenging, and that respects the full spectrum of human diversity in race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, socio-economic status, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, and religion. Members of the Ferreira Lab work actively to create and maintain an environment of safety, mutual respect and support. (Text adapted from Jim Coan, University of Virginia.)


If you are interested in working as an undergraduate research assistant in our lab, please fill out this form! We look forward to hearing from you.