Research

 

Language is one of the few uniquely human cognitive abilities and a core foundation of human culture and civilization. What cognitive and neural mechanisms enable us to produce and understand language? Since Broca's and Wernicke's (and Dax's) seminal discoveries in the 19th century, a broad array of brain regions have been implicated in linguistic processing spanning frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes of both hemispheres, as well as subcortical and cerebellar structures. However, characterizing the precise contributions of these different structures to linguistic processing has proven challenging. The goal of my research program is to understand the computations we perform and the representations we build during language processing, and to provide a detailed characterization of the brain regions underlying these computations and representations both in healthy individuals and individuals with neurodevelopmental and acquired disorders.

Central to my research was my development of new techniques – adopted from fMRI methods that have been successful in the field of vision research – to functionally “localize” brain regions sensitive to high-level linguistic processing, based on a contrast between sentences and pronounceable non-words (Fedorenko et al., 2010; read more about my approach here). These regions, each present in every individual subject, can be defined in just 10-12 minutes of scanning and are highly replicable, both within and across scanning sessions. Furthermore, the localizer contrast is robust to changes in materials, task and modality of presentation (visual vs. auditory). Although most of my current work relies on functional fMRI, I continue to pursue behavioral research aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying language comprehension and production. In addition, I have begun several collaborations that use an array of other methods and thus enable me to tackle a wider range of research questions. These include intracranial recordings from epilepsy patients (ECoG); behavioral and neuroimaging investigations of patients with neurodevelopmental and acquired brain disorders; genotyping methods; transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS); etc.

 

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:

Fedorenko, E. & Thompson-Schill, S.L. (in press). Re-working the language network. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Fedorenko, E., Hsieh P.-J. & Balewski, Z. (in press). A possible functional localizer for identifying brain regions sensitive to sentence-level prosody. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience (formerly Language and Cognitive Processes).

 

2013

Levy, R., Fedorenko, E. & Gibson, E. (2013). The syntactic complexity of Russian relative clauses. Journal of Memory and Language, 69, 461-495.

Fedorenko, E., Duncan, J. & Kanwisher, N. (2013). Broad domain-generality in focal regions of frontal and
parietal cortex.
PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1315235110.

Perrachione, T., Fedorenko, E., Vinke, L., Gibson, E. & Dilley, L. (2013). Pitch processing is shared between
language and music
. PLoS ONE, 8(8): e73372. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073372.

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, 37, 378-394.

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, 28(3), 229-240.

Gibson, E. & Fedorenko, E. (2013). The need for quantitative methods in syntax and semantics research. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28(1-2), 88-124.

 

2012

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.

 

2011

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.

 

2010

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.

 

2009

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.

 

2003-2008

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.