My research program is aimed at investigating the functional architecture of the language system and its relationship with other cognitive systems (such as the fronto-parietal "multiple demand" network, which supports a wide range of goal-directed behaviors, and the cognitive/neural system that supports social cognition). My primary methods include functional MRI and behavioral measures.
Although many cortical and subcortical regions have been implicated in linguistic processing, precise functional characterization of these regions has proven challenging. One difficulty plausibly has to do with anatomical variability present in the human brains. Standard fMRI methods, which rely on aligning individual brains in a common stereotaxic space, suffer from a loss of sensitivity and functional resolution because activations do not line up well across brains. In an attempt to circumvent this problem and adopting standard practices from the field of fMRI vision research, I developed a functional localizer that quickly and reliably identifies all the key brain regions that support high-level linguistic processing (read more about our approach here). In current work, I am studying these regions in an effort to address the following questions:
1. What aspects of linguistic processing do these regions support?
2. Are these regions functionally specialized for linguistic processing, or do they also support some non-linguistic processes, such as music perception, solving arithmetic or logic problems, or general memory processes?
3. How do these regions interact with one another in the course of language comprehension and production, and how do they interact with other cognitive/neural systems?
The answers to these questions will jointly enable us to make inferences about the representations that each brain region stores/manipulates and the computations that each region performs.
Papers for download (in reverse chronological order):
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[NB: E-mail me to get the latest versions of the manuscripts that are listed as "submitted / in revision" on my CV.]
Accepted / in press:
Levy, R., Fedorenko, E. & Gibson, E. (in press). The syntactic complexity of Russian relative clauses. Journal of Memory and Language.
Fedorenko, E., Woodbury, R. & Gibson, E. (2013). Direct evidence of memory retrieval as a source of difficulty in long-distance structural dependencies in language. Cognitive Science.
Mahowald, K., Fedorenko, E., Piantadosi, S. & Gibson, E. (2013). Info/Information theory: speakers choose shorter words in predictive contexts. Cognition, 126, 313-318.
Gibson, E., Piantadosi, S. & Fedorenko, E. (2013). Quantitative methods in syntax / semantics research: A response to Sprouse & Almeida (2013). Language and Cognitive Processes.
Gibson, E. & Fedorenko, E. (2013). The need for quantitative methods in syntax and semantics research. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28(1-2), 88-124.
Fedorenko, E., Piantadosi, S. & Gibson, E. (2012). The interaction of syntactic and lexical information sources in language processing: The case of the noun-verb ambiguity. Journal of Cognitive Science, 13(3), 249-285.
Fedorenko, E., McDermott, J., Norman-Haignere, S. & Kanwisher, N. (2012). Sensitivity to musical structure in the human brain. Journal of Neurophysiology, 108, 3289-3300.
Fedorenko, E., Duncan, J. & Kanwisher, N. (2012). Language-selective and domain-general regions lie side by side within Broca's area. Current Biology, 22, 2059-2062.
Nieto-Castañon, A. & Fedorenko, E. (2012). Subject-specific functional localizers increase sensitivity and functional resolution of multi-subject analyses. Neuroimage, 63, 1646-1669.
Julian, J., Fedorenko, E., Webster, J. & Kanwisher, N. (2012). An algorithmic method for functionally defining regions of interest in the ventral visual pathway. Neuroimage, 60, 2357-2364.
Fedorenko, E., Nieto-Castañon, A. & Kanwisher, N. (2012). Lexical and syntactic representations in the bran: An fMRI investigation with multi-voxel pattern analyses. Neuropsychologia, 50, 499-513.
Fedorenko, E., Nieto-Castañon, A. & Kanwisher, N. (2012). Syntactic processing in the human brain: What we know, what we don’t know, and a suggestion for how to proceed. Brain and Language, 120, 187-207.
Fedorenko, E., Piantadosi, S. & Gibson, E. (2012). Processing relative clauses in supportive contexts. Cognitive Science, 36(3), 471-497.
Levy, R., Fedorenko, E., Breen, M. & Gibson, E. (2012). The processing of extraposed structures in English. Cognition, 122, 12-36.
Frank, M., Fedorenko, E., Lai, P., Gibson, E. & Saxe, R. (2012). Verbal interference suppresses exact numerical representation. Cognitive Psychology, 64, 74-92.
Fedorenko, E., Behr, M. & Kanwisher, N. (2011). Functional specificity for high-level linguistic processing in the human brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(39), 16428-33.
Fedorenko, E. & Kanwisher, N. (2011). Some regions within Broca’s area do respond more strongly to sentences than to linguistically degraded stimuli: A comment on Rogalsky & Hickok (2010). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(10), 2632-2635.
Fedorenko, E. & Kanwisher, N. (2011). Functionally localizing language-sensitive regions in individual subjects with fMRI: A reply to Grodzinsky’s critique of Fedorenko & Kanwisher (2009). Language and Linguistics Compass, 5(2), 78-94.
Bedny, M., Pascual-Leone, A., Dodell-Feder, D., Fedorenko, E. & Saxe, R. (2011). Language processing in the occipital cortex of congenitally blind adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(11), 4429-4434.
Breen, M., Fedorenko, E., Wagner, M. & Gibson, E. (2010). Acoustic correlates of information structure. Language and Cognitive Processes, 25(7/8/9), 1044-98.
Gibson, E. & Fedorenko, E. (2010). Weak quantitative standards in linguistics research. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(6), 233-34.
Fedorenko, E., Hsieh, P.-J., Nieto-Castañon, A., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S. & Kanwisher, N. (2010). A new method for fMRI investigations of language: Defining ROIs functionally in individual subjects. Journal of Neurophysiology, 104, 1177-94.
Tily, H., Fedorenko, E. & Gibson, E. (2010). The time-course of lexical and structural processes in sentence comprehension. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63(5), 910-27.
Fedorenko, E. & Gibson, E. (2010). Adding a third wh-element does not increase the acceptability of object-initial multiple-wh questions. Syntax, 13(3), 183-95.
Fedorenko, E. & Kanwisher, N. (2009). Neuroimaging of language: Why hasn’t a clearer picture emerged? Language and Linguistics Compass, 3, 839-65.
Fedorenko, E., Patel, A., Casasanto, D., Winawer, J. & Gibson, E. (2009). Structural integration in language and music: Evidence for a shared system. Memory and Cognition, 37(1), 1-9.
Frank, M., Everett, D., Fedorenko, E. & Gibson, E. (2008). Number as a cognitive technology: Evidence from Pirahã language and cognition. Cognition, 108, 819-24.
Fedorenko, E., Gibson, E. & Rohde, D. (2007). The nature of working memory in linguistic, arithmetic and spatial integration processes. Journal of Memory and Language, 56(2), 246-69.
Fedorenko, E., Gibson, E. & Rohde, D. (2006). The nature of working memory capacity in sentence comprehension: Evidence against domain-specific resources. Journal of Memory and Language, 54(4), 541-53.
Costa, A., Kovacic, D., Fedorenko, E. & Caramazza, A. (2003). The gender congruency effect and the selection of freestanding and bound morphemes: Evidence from Croatian. Journal of Experimental Psychology: LMC, 29(6), 1270-82.